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Monday Mailbag – Natural, Pesticides, Using Wine or Beer in Cosmetics, the “e” symbol


One of the things I love about the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry is how so many people are willing to share and help others. I’m a member of a number of Facebook groups covering different aspects of soap and cosmetics and I am always inspired by the amount of care that the members have for have for each other. Whether it’s advice about how to accomplish something, suggested resources or just a pat on the back for a job well done, these are generally friends you can count on.

In brief, the questions for this week are:

  1. Licensing needed for bath and body products containing wine or beer?
  2. “100% natural” with fragrance oils?
  3. Essential oils as inert ingredients in bug repellent?
  4. What does that “e” symbol mean?

Packaging & Labeling – More than just the requirements


When we talk about soap and cosmetic labeling, very often the discussion is about the regulations and the requirements. It’s true that the package label must contain very specific elements, but what about the rest of the label content? What about the “labeling,” defined as the materials and text that goes with the product (like promotional materials and website content)?

On your actual product labels and in your accompanying materials, you have many, many opportunities to present your product and your business to your customers and the world. Just because you can’t say that your soap cures eczema or reduces acne, doesn’t mean you can’t say plenty of other good things about the product and the company.

Monday Mailbag – Patents, Sunscreen, Certification, Private Label and Hydrogenated OIls


This is the first of my new blog post series, Monday Mailbag, in which I’ll answer soap or cosmetic labeling or GMP related questions that have been sent to me. We’re starting out with an eclectic mix this week – from patenting soap to how to list hydrogenated oils in the ingredient declaration.

If you have a question that you would like answered, please email it to me at hello AT mariegale.com. I hope to be able to answer 5 – 10 questions each week

Insect Repelling Soap and Cosmetics

mosquitoSeveral people have asked me recently about soaps and cosmetics that repel insects. What are the regulations and how do they get labeled?

Once there’s a “pesticide” claim (i.e. that the product repels insects), the product falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA, under the authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The EPA are the ones that protect us from unsafe, toxic and mis-used poisons.

Generally, insecticides quite understandably require safety substantiation, registration and pre-market approval. However, there are provisions for “minimum risk” pesticides (think citronella candles, for example).

What About “Natural”?

calendulaCan you call a cosmetic product “natural”? And what does that really mean, anyway?

Nowadays, there are so many products of all types being marketed as “natural” it’s getting crazy!  I recently saw some piece of furniture marketed as “natural” because it was made (mostly) of wood.  Where does it end?

The first thing to know is that, when it comes to soap and cosmetics, there is no regulatory definition of “natural”.

Ingredient Names From 1977 Still Good?

Second Edition (1977)

Second Edition (1977)

The Code of Federal Regulations specifies where to find the names by which cosmetic ingredients should be identified in the ingredient declaration on a cosmetic. First are any names “established by the Commissioner” (there are a few) and then the CTFA Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary, Second Ed., 1977.

After some searching, I was finally able to locate a copy of this elusive book ($200 from an online used book distributor). Now I’ll share what I found in the book.

Using an Ingredient Name in a Product Name

2014-03-14-choose-cosmeticOver the years, one small section in my book, Soap and Cosmetic Labeling, has probably generated the most question and online discussion than any other.  That section covers “Using an Ingredient in the Name” and discusses the FDA regulations that prohibit the use of the name of one ingredient in the name of the product (if it has two or more ingredients).

What about “Goat Milk Soap” or “Oatmeal Soap” or “Luxe Lotion with Shea Butter”? On the one hand, those product names seem reasonable.  But first, let’s take a look at why the regulation might be there in the first place.