Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Look for the Label

I was on the phone the other day with a customer. She was interested in a particular fragrance and was looking for a local vendor so she could avoid high shipping charges. She joked that I should be ready for lots of business as she has a lot of co-workers. I joked back that I had to check if I had enough labels. She told me that it was okay, she’d buy the products without labels. I told her that I couldn’t sell her products without labels – it’s the law.

Cosmetic manufacturers must label their products. The label must include
1) the identity of the product - what the product is (e.g. body wash, lotion, scrub)
2) name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
3) how much of the product is in the container. If the product is liquid, the label must show the net weight of the product in both fluid ounces and milliliters. If a product is non-liquid, the label must show the net weight of the product in both ounces and grams.
4) an ingredient list - The ingredients must be declared in descending order of predominance. The ingredient list should show the common name of the ingredient as well as the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name. (e.g. cocoa butter, a common ingredient in cosmetics, would be listed as Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter)
Source: United States Food and Drug Administration website

(Note: Soap is sometimes exempt from these rules. We’ll discuss that further in a future blog post.)

My customer was surprised to learn about this information. While we were on the phone, she looked at a bottle of perfume she had recently purchased. Armed with this new knowledge, she was shocked that the only information on the label was the name of the company and the name of the fragrance.

Want more info on cosmetic labeling regulations? Check out the FDA's Labeling Regulations Applicable to Cosmetics.


  1. Very good information. Labeling can be so confusing and frustrating.
    Just to note: The bottle of perfume probably came in a box. If the box was labeled with ingredients and other information, it does not have to be on the bottle itself.
    This is called Off Package Ingredient Labeling(21 CFR 701.3)
    There are many products that come in packaging that has the ingredient info listed on a separate piece that may be thrown away.
    I hope this helps.

  2. Thanks Jennifer. That's what I was thinking too, but no box. You brought up some great information. Much appreciated.

  3. Hi Sue, I'm just visiting. Hope things are well with you.


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