Since time immemorial, people have emphasized on their looks and
beauty. Several beauty products have been invented and used to
elevate the personality of an individual. Mythological beliefs
indicate that even ancient kings and queens such as the Ptolemaic
ruler of Egypt Queen Cleopatra had a great fascination towards
beautifying herself by using products such as eyeshadows, etc. With
plethora of products having varied properties mushrooming in the
market, the consumers have access to different means to contribute
to their appearance and in the manner they deem fit. However,
diversity cannot only be observed in the product range, but also in
India’s culture, with its spiritualism, head-strong beliefs and
community preferences, hence, always keeping the Indian government
on its toes.

Cosmetics: Legal framework in India

The Indian cosmetics industry is governed by multiple
legislations and their correlating rules. The commercialization of
cosmetics is regulated under the provisions of the Drugs
and Cosmetics Act, 1940
(hereinafter referred to as the
“Cosmetics Act”), in consultation with the Drugs
Technical Advisory Board (DTAB)
, to ensure that the
products being sold comply to safe manufacturing practices and are
of good quality.

In addition to the above, it is mandatory for the products being
sold in the market to adhere to the appropriate packaging and
labelling requirements, describing vital information pertaining to
the constituents as well as origin and manufacturers under the
provisions of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and
the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules,
(hereinafter referred to as the “Legal metrology

Definition of Cosmetics

Section 3(aaa) of the Cosmetics Act defines
‘cosmetic’ as an article which is intended to be
rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, or introduced into, or
otherwise applied to
, the human body or any part thereof for
cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the
appearance, and includes but are not limited to:

  • body care products (face creams, locations, etc.)

  • make-up products (concealer, foundation, etc.)

  • hair-care products (shampoo, conditioners, etc.)

  • oral hygiene products (toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.)

  • perfumes

Previous legislative attempts

In India, it is mandatory for manufacturers to display the color
code, in order to identify the origin source on packaged foods,
such as Green Dot (Vegetarian) and
Red/Brown Dot
(Non-vegetarian/Eggetarian)1. With a view to create
awareness amongst the consumers regarding the source-origin of
cosmetics and toiletries being purchased by them, the Ministry of
Consumer Affairs had primarily introduced an amendment to the Legal
Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, vide its notification
dated June 16, 20142, wherein as per Rule 6
sub-rule (8)
(Declarations to be made on every
) product packages containing soaps, shampoos,
toothpastes and other cosmetics and toiletries, are required to
mention on their display panel a green dot indicating vegetarian
origin, or a red/brown dot indicating non-vegetarian origin.

The amendment was subsequently challenged in the Bombay High
Court by Indian Beauty and Hygiene Associate (IBHA)3,
wherein Justice Kode, in lieu of the judgment delivered by the Apex
Court in Indian Soaps and Toiletries Makers Association v.
Ozair Husain and Others4
, held that the power
to amend the provision with respect to declarations of labels of
cosmetics or drugs, rested with the Centre under the Drugs and
Cosmetics Rules, 1945 in consultation with the Drugs Technical
Advisory Board only.

Current scenario

As of yet, the Cosmetics Act had not specified a mandatory
provision for declaration of vegetarian or non-vegetarian labels on
toiletries and cosmetics. However in 2019, due to religious
sentiments as expressed by the Jain community and Department of
Consumer Affairs, a proposal in this regard had been approved by
the DTAB to subsequently amend the Drug and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
5 The move was supported by the Ministry of Health and
Family Welfare, as it comes in the wake of government considering
to use colour-code to segregate generic medicines from patented
branded ones6.

The Indian cosmetics industry is expected to cross the threshold
of USD 20 billion by 20257 and there is a surge in the
market for a growing preference of all-natural and herbal cosmetics
and toiletries. Being in multi-religion country like India, where
consumers choices are radically driven by their faith, the
legislative attempt to amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Act is much to
be lauded, as it keeps the consumers’ need on the forefront of
the government agendas.

Related Posts


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1 Rule 32 read with Rule 42 (zzz)(16) of the Prevention
of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955;;
accessed on May 20, 2020

2 Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules, 201;;
accessed on May 19, 2020

3 Indian Beauty and Hygiene Association and Ors. Vs. UOI;;
accessed on May 19, 2020

4 (2013) 3 Supreme Court Cases 641

5 Colours soon to specify if your cosmetics are veg or
non-veg products;;
accessed on May 19, 2020

6 Das, Sohini; Govt plans to specify a unique colour code
for generic medicines;;
accessed on May 20, 2020

7 Cosmetics market to grow by 25% to $20 billion by 2025;;
accessed on May 20, 2020

Originally published May 22, 2020

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

Are Your Cosmetics Veg Or Non-Veg? – Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences

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