I mentioned Aust L number in my previous post of a Missha BB Cream, and after speaking to Ponikuta and seeing the latest BB Cream post from Add to Cart, realised I better explain what it is and where to find it.
This is one of the downsides of being in the beauty industry – there are terminologies that I live and breathe everyday I forget they are not common knowledge… sorry…
The TGA (Therapeutics Goods Adminstration) is the Commonwealth version of the FDA – so its role is to regulate the supply of medicines (prescribed and over-the-counter) and therapeutic products such as sunscreens over SPF4 and many vitamin, mineral, herbal and homoeopathic products (including essential oils).
There are strict rules that the product AND the supply facilities must adhere to, in order to be approved by the TGA. Medicines are then issued with Aust R numbers, whilst therapeutics are issued with Aust L numbers. These numbers must be shown on the front of pack (ie. what is visible to the consumer at point of purchase and usage).
Here are some examples – these are SPF 30+ sunscreens:
For products under SPF30+, Aust L numbers are required for products that have their principle function as sun-protection. So, a face moisturiser with SPF15 does not need an Aust L number, but a SPF15 sunscreen does. The easiest way to differentiate is that sunscreens have a water resistancy claim, whilst moisturisers have skin nourishing claims.
Here is a SPF15 sunscreen:
Cosmetic items, do not need to have Aust L numbers. This can be a difficult distinction but one of the easiest ways for a product to be considered “cosmetic” is to have a tint/colour. So lipsticks, tinted moisturisers, foundations, BB Creams technically do not need to have Aust L numbers.
Some suppliers though, claim their face sunscreens have “invisible tint” to avoid dealing with the TGA – in my personal opinion, that is a bit cheeky.
Here is an example of a SPF30+ tinted moisturiser with Aust L number:
So what does it mean?
Speaking to our R&D Manager, I discovered that SPF testing is quite standard around the world. So if you pick up an item that states SPF30+ overseas, it most likely would also be considered SPF30+ in Australia.
Water resistancy is a different matter, so if you’re picking a body sunscreen, I recommend that you pick one with Aust L number (and thus by default, sold in Australia).
The only potentially problematic products, would be those with no Aust L number AND sold in Australia. Whilst the SPF would be up to scratch at the point of manufacture (in its country of origin, where it would need to be certified by the regulating body there), how do you know that it’s been kept in satisfactory conditions on the way to Australia, or how it’s being warehoused in Australia?
The TGA regularly audits the facilities where the sunscreens are manufactured AND warehoused. Without their stamp of approval, there is no certainty that the product will perform to its stated claims after purchase.
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