In recent years, Australia’s independent beauty scene has exploded and created an extremely saturated marketplace. However, regulations have not kept up with this boom and have remained optional for end-product manufacturers.
“Basically, Australia doesn't really have any regulations. We're not regulated like the EU or the US. We follow certain regulations, but none of our regulations here are mandatory. People can put their products on supermarket shelves, or retail them online and sell via Instagram. There is no regulation, no one checks, no one does anything,” explained Rita Sellars, the director and chief chemist of pH Factor, an Australian formulating laboratory.
She added that the lack of mandatory regulation has been detrimental to both beauty brands and consumers.
“We're starting to see a lot of our indie brands wanting to export over to the UK, the EU or the US. The problem is they are being blocked because they haven't done any of the required testings.”
Meanwhile, consumers are faced with thousands of brands that may or may not have undergone the right processes that ensure the product is safe.
“We're seeing a massive rise in indie brands and we need some better education around how we go about showing them the right way,” said Sellars.
“My motto has always been: if you want customers to invest in your brand, then you need to invest in your brand. That means you've got to show your customer that you've done everything possible to make that product the best it can be. And that means making sure it's safe, making sure you've got a preservative in there, making sure it's stable, making sure it's shelf-ready.”
Unfortunately, Sellars said many indie brands are more concerned about pouring resources and effort into marketing.
Mandatory regulations would ensure that companies will have to make the effort to create products that are safe and as effective as they claim.
“It needs to be a bit more difficult for people to create a brand. We’re don’t want to hinder this, but there’s got to be some regulation so not every man and his dog can create an Insta-brand,” said Melinda Tizzone, brand development manager, pH Factor.
“Ultimately, [the lack of regulation] is devaluing our industry. I see a lot of devaluing in our industry because anyone can put up a Tiktok post and become instant millionaires because they’ve sold a million units of something that’s crap,” said Sellars.
Sellars and Tizzone told us that they were planning to start lobbying for mandatory cosmetic legislation in Australia. However, they acknowledged that they were facing an uphill battle.
“No one really policing the cosmetic industry and I just think it's a lack of resources and infrastructure. From a government or an industry point of view, nothing seems to be happening yet. I can't see it changing immediately because there's no one being an advocate for it,” said Tizzone.