How Health Canada Regulates Cosmetics in Canada

Lipsticks, nail polish and powders

Health Canada regulates all cosmetics in Canada (as well as drugs, pesticides, natural health products, etc.) and each classification has their own list of requirements. First, let’s start by looking at how Health Canada defines a cosmetic:
"Any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth, and includes deodorants and perfumes."

All products meeting the cosmetic definition, no matter where they are from, MUST have a Cosmetic Notification Form (CNF) submitted to Health Canada. This form contains:

  • Address and contact information
  • Format (solid, oil, cream, gel, etc.)
  • Purpose of the cosmetic
  • Ingredients and their concentrations

Submitting the form ensures that the ingredients used, and their proportions, are within acceptable guidelines. Health Canada reviews the CNF and follows up with any questions, but they never approve products. This process can take six months to a year!
Is it effective enough? Let’s look at what other countries are doing:

  • Canada bans and restricts hundreds of chemicals Hot List
  • Europe bans 1328 chemicals (as of 2009)
  • USA bans or restricts only 11 chemicals and has no review in place

So, we fall somewhere in the middle which isn’t too bad, but there’s always room for improvement. I’m not one for mediocrity! Industry exerts a large amount of pressure and influences some decisions, not necessarily for our health or benefit. More on that another time…!
Additionally, cosmetics also have to follow the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.
If you’re shopping in another country, you might want to pay attention to the ingredient lists. And what about right here at home? Handmade markets are always offering cosmetics for sale, but the makers may not be aware of the requirements. If you’re concerned, ask the vendor if they’ve filed anything with Health Canada. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.