Ask an Analyst - Cosmetic Broadcast Advertising

Our answers pertain to the following:

  • Broadcast advertising under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations
  • Health Canada’s Guidelines for Cosmetic Advertising and Labelling Claims


I just received a comment back from you for my cosmetic SPF foundation submission that says this product is actually a drug and needs to be sent in for drug review. I’m confused.


In Canada, any product with a SPF, i.e. Sun Protection Factor, is classified as either a drug or a natural health product because of its therapeutic sunburn protection benefit.



Can a facial cleanser make the claim "dissolves blackheads"?


The acceptability of a “dissolves blackheads” claim depends on the regulatory classification of the facial cleanser.

If the cleanser is a cosmetic, the claim is not permissible. As outlined in Health Canada’s Guidelines for Cosmetic Advertising and Labelling Claims, cosmetics cannot claim to fight/reduce/control acne, blackheads, pimples, zits etc., since such a benefit is considered a therapeutic drug claim.

If it is a health product, i.e. a drug with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a natural health product with a Natural Product Number (NPN), that has been authorized by Health Canada to make acne claims, claims about blackheads are permitted.

The context in which the claim is made and the visual depiction always needs to reflect the Health Canada authorized indication.


Ad Standards Disclaimer

Finally, there are a few important points to remember. First, Ad Standards' brief answers to your questions do not replace, and don’t carry the same weight as, Ad Standards' formal response to the advertising material you submit to us for approval. You must still submit advertisements for approval. To be safe, be sure to submit them to us before, not after, you’ve produced the advertising. Second, it’s not possible for Ad Standards to provide totally comprehensive and all-inclusive answers to your questions. What you’ll read here are specific answers from us to your specific questions. Even a slight change in the facts could alter our response. And third, it should be understood that our answers to your questions are intended to provide nothing more than guidance. In the same vein, Ad Standards disclaims liability for any errors, inconsistencies or omissions.

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