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Personal appearance and grooming

As a rule, you can't claim the costs of personal grooming or cosmetics.

Last updated 25 April 2023

What you can and can't claim

Costs related to personal appearance, including cosmetics or makeup, skin care, shaving products, haircuts, hairdressing and hair products, aren't deductible. These are private expenses.

This is the case even if your employer expects you to maintain certain standards of grooming, or pays you an allowance to cover your grooming expenses.

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Example: cosmetics used for personal grooming

Isabella works as an executive assistant to the managing director of a large company. She is required to be well groomed at work and her employer has advised that her presentation will be regularly monitored. In recognition of the importance of grooming to her employer, Isabella is paid a grooming allowance of $50 a week, which she includes in her assessable income.

Even though Isabella uses the allowance to buy cosmetics that she uses solely for work, and her employer expects her to be well groomed, she can't claim a deduction. The connection between Isabella's expenditure on cosmetics and her employment activities is insufficient.

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Example: haircuts not deductible

Hugo is in the army and is required to maintain a short hairstyle. Hugo can't claim a deduction for the cost of haircuts, as this is a private expense.

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In limited circumstances, there may be sufficient connection between personal appearance expenditure and earning your employment income to make the expenditure deductible.

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Example: performer's hairdressing and makeup expenses

Johannes is employed to perform in a touring production that runs for 6 months. The role requires him to keep his hair in a short buzz cut and he buys makeup to age his appearance by 20 years.

As the makeup and hairdressing expenses have a sufficient connection to earning his employment income, Johannes can claim a deduction.

End of example

For more information see Taxation Ruling TR 96/18 Income tax: cosmetics and other personal grooming expenses.

Cosmetics containing sun protection

Some creams and cosmetics can function both as sun protection and as a cosmetic. If the primary purpose of the item is for use as a cosmetic or the product is marketed as a cosmetic, it generally won't be treated as a sun protection product.

You can only claim a deduction for the cost of a product containing sun protection if:

  • your work exposes you to the effects of the sun because you are required to perform your duties for prolonged periods outdoors
  • you wear a sunscreen while you are at work to protect you from that risk.

If you use a sunscreen for private purposes and work purposes, you need to apportion for your private usage. You can only claim for the work-related use of these products.

Is your product a sunscreen or a cosmetic?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) determines if a product is safe and effective as a sunscreen.

If a product is safe and effective as a sunscreen, it's given an Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods identification (ARTG ID) number by the TGA. This is displayed on the product as an AUST L number. The AUST L number is different from the SPF number.

Any product with an ARTG ID and an AUST L number on the label will be accepted as sunscreen.

To find out whether a product has been given an ARTG ID you can visit the TGA websiteExternal Link.

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Example: no deduction for product that is not a sunscreen

Jackie is a teacher and has bought a cosmetic with added sunblock. Once a week, Jackie is required to supervise pupils at their sports afternoon outdoors. Jackie wears the cosmetic every day and she finds it suitable as sun protection, but it isn't a sunscreen approved by the TGA.

As Jackie uses the product primarily as a cosmetic, she can't claim a deduction for buying it.

If the product Jackie purchased had an ARTG ID from the TGA, she can claim a deduction but would have to apportion her claim to account for her personal use. Her personal use would include the time Jackie does not spend in the sun performing her duties and any other time she wears the cosmetic outside school hours.

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Start of example

Example: deduction allowed for cosmetic containing sunscreen

Wendy works as a gardener and spends the majority of her working day outdoors.

Wendy buys a tinted moisturiser with a high-level sunblock to use on her face when she is working, along with a sunscreen for her arms and legs. She doesn’t use these products when she isn't working.

Wendy checks the TGA website and finds that both the products she uses have an ARTG ID.

As Wendy is exposed to the sun for long periods while performing her duties and she only wears the products when she is working, the cost of the products is incurred in earning her assessable income. This means she can claim a deduction for the tinted moisturiser and sunscreen.

End of example