Thursday, 18 July 2013

Product Labeling: Fact or Fiction?

Mock up cream with unrestricted
product claims.
Australians are potentially being misled when it comes to product claims and ingredients lists on toiletries and cosmetic products. 

'Dermatologically Approved', 'Hypoallergenic' and 'Our studies show...' are just a few of the typical labels bombarding shoppers as they walk through the cosmetic product aisle of their local pharmacies. 

Such claims require no testing or evidence of proof and no industry-wide definitions have been set out as to how a product can attain these labels. With no regulation or structure in place, there is no way to judge the truth in such claims. 

To the average Australian, 'Dermatologically Approved' implies a product has gained medical approval while 'Hypoallergenic' implies a product is unlikely to cause allergic reactions and is therefore best for those with sensitive or irritated skin. Similarly, 'Our studies show...' implies a product has undergone thorough testing by the company. 

While there is no denying the fact these claims may hold true for some products, the lack of regulations and restrictions means there is no way for shoppers to determine which claims are true, misleading, false or exaggerated. 

How to avoid being misled

MooGoo Skin Care Director Craig Jones said it is more important for Australians to be conscious of the ingredients inside products rather than the claims on the outside labeling. 

"Having no requirements set in place when it comes to product labeling creates a loophole which allows some brands to make claims which may not be entirely true," said Mr Jones. 

"It is important for people to turn the package around and check the ingredients of the products they are buying for themselves and their families and to not let the wool be pulled over their eyes by a few cleverly placed labels and approval ticks."

Australians should focus on the back ingredient
list of skin care products rather than the
product claims on the front. 
When it comes to cosmetic products, it is more critical to focus on the ingredients used and the independent, published studies behind the effectiveness of such ingredients, especially since many used are chemical based. 

Mr Jones said it is also important to remember some classes of products, such as sunscreens and therapeutic products are not required to show all their ingredients on the label. For anyone who has allergies or is mindful of what they apply to their skin, this can be a problem. 

"If a skin cream lists only its 'active' ingredients, it may mean that users will not know what over 90% of the remainder of the ingredients are; these are the 'excipient' ingredients and these don't have to be shown on the label, despite them usually forming the majority of the cream," said Mr Jones. 

"Skin care products should be treated like food, where people are entitled to know every ingredients they put on their skin, not just those nominated as 'active' by the manufacturer."

For more information on current Australian cosmetic product labeling requirements, visit 

I'd also love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please pop your comments below. :)

By Daniella de Azevedo


  1. Wow this is so surprising I didn't know this I thought those things were tested. Its rather disappointing and it shouldn't happen they should have 2 be tested 2 claim that

    1. Hi Bear, Thank you for writing. Yes, we believe that skin care products should be treated like food whereby consumers know exactly what is contained within each product and all ingredients are listed.