The South African cosmetic industry is regulated by a very powerful self regulatory system.

The reason that self regulation is very powerful is that the cosmetic industry itself becomes the “watchdog”, so to speak. No manufacturer or distributor wants another company to have the competitive edge. Should a company, or a consumer for that matter, feel that a cosmetic is making unsubstantiated claims, using ingredients that are not allowed, or that it is of substandard quality they can raise a complaint through the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa). Companies generally try to avoid ending up in wrangles through the ASA, as this causes bad publicity for the company and can be detrimental to their business if they are found to have contravened the self regulatory code.

The industry abides by the requirements as set out in the CTFA Cosmetic Compendium. The CTFA works together with industry, the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards), the DOH (Department of Health) and international bodies to develop regulations that are pertinent to the South African cosmetic industry, whilst taking into account Global Harmonisation and the removal of barriers to trade where possible. Sections of the regulations are based on the European Cosmetic Directive, which lays out the requirements for cosmetics sold in the European Union.

South Africa plays an active role on ISO (International Standards Organisation) in order to further remove barriers to trade. The ISO Technical Committee, TC 217 Cosmetics, consists of members from over 60 countries around the globe all striving to find “common” standards. The work that has been done by South Africa on ISO since 2002 has culminated in the adoption of seven ISO Standards which currently form a substantial part of the CTFA Cosmetic Compendium. Continued work in this area is key for South Africa because by participating at ISO we can ensure that the ISO Standards reflect the South African perspective. Harmonised international standards also reduce barriers to trade and by adopting these international standards it helps to make locally compliant companies more export ready.

Definition of a cosmetic:

 “A cosmetic product shall mean any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body ( epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance and/or correcting body odours and/or protecting them or keeping them in good condition” 

except where such cleaning, perfuming, protecting, changing, keeping or correcting is wholly for the purpose of treating or preventing disease.

When is a product considered a cosmetic?

  • When it fulfills the definition of a cosmetic.
  • If it contains only allowed cosmetic ingredients at safe and stipulated levels.
  • Does not make any medicinal claims.
  • The packaging clarifies the status of the product as a cosmetic.



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