Canadian Cosmetic Act FAQ

Do I need to register my products with Health Canada prior to sale?


Notification is a mandatory requirement for the sale of cosmetics in Canada, according to section 30 of the Cosmetic Regulations. This entails submitting a fully completed Cosmetic Notification Form (CNF) to Health Canada within the first 10 days that a cosmetic is available for sale. The completed CNF provides specific product information, including:

  • address and contact information of associated companies;
  • purpose of the cosmetic (for example: shampoo, skin cleanser);
  • form of the cosmetic (for example: gel, solid, liquid);
  • ingredients of the cosmetic;
  • and concentration or concentration range of the ingredients.


There is no fee associated with the cosmetic notification process. Failure to notify may result in a product being refused entry into Canada or removed from sale. Notification is not a product evaluation nor an approval procedure, and acceptance of the completed CNF by Health Canada does not constitute in any way agreement that the product is classified as a cosmetic or is in compliance with all regulatory requirements.


What information do I need on my label?

Cosmetic labels must supply:

  • an ingredient list;
  • the identity of the product, in English and French;
  • a statement of net quantity in metric units of measurement;
  • the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor; and
  • directions, warnings or cautions, in English and French where necessary for safe use of the product.


Ingredients must be listed on all cosmetic products, using recognized names from the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system as found in the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.  


Can I sell a natural insect repellent?

No.  All pest control products, including personal insect repellents, are regulated in Canada under the Pest Control Products Act. Before a product is registered for use, it must undergo a comprehensive and rigorous scientific assessment to ensure the product does not pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment and to assess its efficacy to ensure that the lowest effective rate is used. If the assessment does not indicate that a product can be used safely, it is not registered for use in Canada. The same approach is taken during the re-evaluation of registered pesticides.


Companies that wish to have the right to sell a pest control product in Canada must submit detailed information and data to be evaluated by the PMRA. Companies must provide all the scientific studies necessary for determining that the product is acceptable in terms of safety, merit and value. Depending on the complexity of the submission, a complete evaluation can take anywhere from a number of weeks, to a year or more. The evaluation results either in the product being granted registration and allowed for sale and use in Canada, or in the product being refused registration.


Can I sell a natural sunscreen product?

No.  Some cosmetic products are regulated as drugs if they have a therapeutic effect on your body, such as preventing or controlling disease. For example fluoride-containing toothpastes, sunscreens, and antiperspirants are all regulated as drugs because they may help to prevent a disease (cavities), abnormal physical state (sunburn), or modify an organic function (perspiration). Claims made for a cosmetic on a label or in an advertisement must be accurate so that they do not mislead the public. Certain claims such as increased attractiveness or masculinity, are subjective, and therefore, cannot be regulated. Therapeutic claims, on the other hand, are never acceptable for cosmetic products. Any product that is a drug must have a Drug Identification Number (DIN).


If something is approved by the FDA, does that mean it is also approved in Canada?

No.  The United States Food and Drug Administration (or FDA) is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, the nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation in the United States.


Canada has an equivalent regulatory body called Health Canada.  Although both bodies agree and work together on many of the same issues, they are not one and the same.  Each country has its own rules and regulations that must be followed.  


Where do I find more information about the Canadian Cosmetic Act and regulations pertaining to the sale of cosmetics in Canada?

Click HERE to view the general requirements for the sale of cosmetics in Canada.  Know it, live it, love it...  it is mandatory and not an option.  


As of March 24th, 2012 those that do not comply with the rules will be fined between $1,000 to $25,000 per offence.  


For more information please view the Health Canada Website "Cosmetics and Personal Care".

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