One of the main factors in determining whether a product is a cosmetic or a medicine (or a medical device) is the claims made about the product. For example, moisturisers that contain a sunscreening agent as a secondary component and have a stated therapeutic purpose (e.g. 'helps protect skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation') are medicines.


Even if a product is intended for marketing as a cosmetic, it may be classified as a medicine. This depends on:

  • its ingredients
  • the route of administration
  • if therapeutic claims are made on its label, or in advertising.