General Health Tips & News

Regulation of Cosmetics in Canada

By A.S. (staff writer) , published on August 17, 2023

Medicine Telehealth Health


Introduction: Ensuring Safe Cosmetics for Consumers

In Canada, cosmetic products encompass a wide range of substances or mixtures intended for various uses, including cleansing, improving, or altering the complexion, skin, hair, or teeth. This category also includes products like deodorants and perfumes.

For any cosmetic product to be legally sold in Canada, it must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Canadian Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic Regulations.

The primary focus of these regulations is to ensure that every cosmetic product is safe for use and poses no health risks. Manufacturers and importers bear the responsibility of proving and demonstrating the safety of their products. They must also stay informed about emerging scientific findings and risks associated with the substances used in the cosmetics they sell.

This oversight is crucial in guaranteeing the safety of cosmetics and minimizing potential health risks for consumers.



Defining Cosmetics and Their Scope

Cosmetics as substances or mixtures intended for cleansing, improving, or altering the complexion, skin, hair, or teeth, the Canadian regulations cover a wide range of beauty products, including deodorants, perfumes, and even handmade items sold by small businesses or distributed in bulk to institutions, like soaps.





Cosmetic Notification: The Manufacturer's Responsibility

Manufacturers and importers of cosmetics have the responsibility to submit a Cosmetic Notification (CNF) to Health Canada, providing specific and essential information about their products. The CNF includes details about the purpose, form, and ingredients of the cosmetic, along with the concentrations of each ingredient used in the product. However, it is important to note that the submission of the CNF does not automatically grant approval for the sale of the cosmetic. Manufacturers and importers must still ensure that their products comply with all relevant regulations and safety standards before they can be legally sold in the market.

Moreover, manufacturers and importers must verify that all the ingredients used in their cosmetics are present on either the Domestic Substances List (DSL) or the Revised In Commerce List (R-ICL). These lists identify substances that are considered to have been in commercial use in Canada and have been assessed for potential risks to human health and the environment. If an ingredient in a cosmetic is not found on either of these lists, the company may need to undergo a separate process known as a New Substance Notification (NSN) to obtain approval for its use.

In summary, submitting the CNF is a critical step for manufacturers and importers to provide necessary information about their cosmetic products to Health Canada. However, approval for sale is contingent upon complying with all applicable regulations, including adherence to the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist and ensuring that ingredients are listed on the Domestic Substances List or Revised in Commerce List.




The Role of the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist

The Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist contains substances that are either restricted or prohibited in cosmetics, and manufacturers must ensure that their products do not include any of these ingredients. Proper labeling is also essential, with all cosmetic products requiring a clear and specific list of ingredients adhering to established standards. Ingredients not listed under the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) must be provided in both English and French to comply with Canadian law.



Risk Assessment and Product Safety

The risk assessment process plays a crucial role in preventing harm to customers when using cosmetics as intended. Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety Program ensures that all cosmetic products undergo thorough risk assessments during production and distribution. This assessment considers potential injuries or consequences resulting from unintended usage, as well as the severity of those consequences.



Packaging and Storage

Labels of cosmetic products must meet specific requirements outlined by the Food and Drugs Act, the Cosmetic Regulations, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations. These requirements include providing ingredient lists using the INCI system, product identity in both English and French, net quantity statements in metric units, and manufacturer or distributor details. Warnings or cautions, as well as directions for safe use, must also be included, and for Canada's bilingual nature, parts of the label must be written in French, depending on the province.

Specific requirements apply to cosmetics containing certain substances, such as mercury, coal tar dyes, or chloroform. These substances may be restricted or prohibited in cosmetics.

Certain cosmetics, especially those in pressurized containers or with flame projection properties, must have appropriate warnings and hazard statements on their labels.



Recent Developments in Canada

Recent developments in Canada include the announcement of the Toxic Substances Warning Label Act (Bill C-266), which aims to inform consumers about products containing toxic substances. The bill prohibits the sale, importation, and advertisement of such products unless they carry warning labels. Additionally, public consultations have taken place to address the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in consumer and commercial products from 2021 to 2028, seeking to meet commitments under the Ozone Annex to the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement





Canadian Cosmetic Regulations. (n.d.). Retrieved from COSMERG:

Cosmetic Regulations. (2023, July 27). Retrieved from Canada.Ca:,_c._869/fulltext.html

Regulatory information for cosmetics. (2022, November 1). Retrieved from Health Canada:



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