Legal Requirements For The Sale of Cosmetic Products

Legal Requirements For The Sale of Cosmetic Products

Creating cosmetic products at home and selling to the public requires adherence to federal regulations and labeling requirements.

Last updated: July 30, 2016

Question from HBT reader: I’ve been making a bees wax hand cream at home which I would like to sell. What are the regulations in doing this?


The Food and Drug Administration regulates cosmetics, which they define as products that are for“cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance without affecting the body’s structure or function.”

That’s a fairly broad stroke. Even water alters the body’s appearance. It could be argued that the law is cleverly worded to even include nature in a bottle. Regardless, your bees wax hand cream will be subject to compliance with the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

This doesn’t mean you must seek FDA approval. However, it does mean you need to stay within the limits of the Act. For instance, imported animal products and restricted dyes are forbidden, and the conditions under which your product is prepared and packaged must be sanitary.

You will also be required to follow the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.  Your labels must include ingredients, quantity, your place of business, safe use instructions, and appropriate warnings for consumers. You can read all the juicy details in the Cosmetic Labeling Guide.

Of special concern is to avoid remarks which claim to “cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease, or to affect the structure or any function of the human body.” That is the definition of a drug. Drugs must be FDA approved.

For instance, asserting that your product cures arthritis is a no-no, Even the less obvious act of listing an “active ingredient” on your label is forbidden. Doing so effectively makes the claim that your cosmetic product functions as a drug.

Lastly, you should take steps to legally structure your business. This article will help you prepare: Making Your Business Legal.

Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. He is the founder of HomeBizTools and the publisher of Straight Talk, a syndicated column that offers a unique perspective on today’s business issues.

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