Cosmetic Regulations – Ohio

A woman recently contacted me and told me that a representative of the Ohio Department of Agriculture had told her that cosmetics couldn’t be made “at home” and she’d need to be licensed in order to make or sell cosmetics.

Is that correct? Umm, no, not at all.

Updated 9 November 2021

Cosmetic manufacturing facilities ARE required to be inspected based on June 2021 publication by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. See Ohio Regulations – 2021

The Ohio Small business Development Center has a page about starting a business in Ohio which includes checklists for a whole bunch of different businesses.  One of those is the 1st Stop Checklist for Cosmtic Sales / Manufacturing.  The document is quite short and lists out only a few points under the Requirements and Regulations.

Comply with the Ohio Food, Drug, Cosmetic and Device law

Ohio’s Food, Drug, Cosmetic and Device law can be found in the Ohio Revised Code, Section 3715.  I didn’t read the entire thing, when it comes to cosmetics (which is covered in parts 3715.66, Adulterated Cosmetics, and 3715.67, Misbranded Cosmetics) it looks very similar to the US Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Essentially, cosmetic products cannot be adulterated or misbranded – and that’s about it.  There isn’t anything about registration, licensing, or inspections for cosmetics.

Comply with Ohio’s labeling rules

Ohio’s labeling rules are found in the Ohio Administrative Code, primarily 901:6-30-01 through 901:6-3-12.  The rules are  almost identical to the Uniform Packaging and labeling Regulations provided by the National Institute of Technology in their handbook.

One thing that is different from the Federal labeling regulations is that there are requirements for labeling NON-CONSUMER products – which includes packages of products intended for wholesale distribution and for institutional use.

Other Ohio Regulations

There are some other Ohio regulations that apply, depending on how you sell the cosmetics.

  • If you sell in-home (door-to-door), you must comply with the Ohio Home Solicatation Sales Act.
  • If you sell via mail, telephone or Internet, you must comply with the Ohio Telephone Solicitation Sales Act.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office can provide information about these Acts (and you can also find information online).  These are somewhat similar to the Federal regulations about phone and in-home sales.

Sales Tax

If you sell product in Ohio, you must have a Vendor’s License, collect sales tax, file tax returns and keep compelte records of transactions.  The Ohio Department of Taxation can help with that (or go to http://www.tax.ohio.gov).

And an odd quirk

In looking through the regulations, I did find one small item in the prohibited acts of the Ohio Food, Drug, Cosmetic, and Device law, about selling products at a flea market (the excerpt below only contains the pertinent sections):

(1) No person at a flea market shall sell, offer for sale, or knowingly permit the sale of any of the following products:

(b) Any drug, cosmetic or device;

(2) [This] does not apply to a person who keeps available for public inspection an identification card identifying the person as an authorized representative of the manufacturer or distributor of any drug, cosmetic or device, as long as the card is not false, fraudulent or fraudulently obtained.1ORC 3715.52(B)

So apparently you could sell your OWN products (if you have a valid card showing you are an “authorized representative”), or could sell products for a company that you representated (maybe Avon or Mary Kay, for example), but you couldn’t just go to the Dollar Store, buy a bunch of cosmetics and then resell them (since you wouldn’t be an “authorized representative” of the companies that made the products).

But do you need to be registered or licensed to make or sell cosmetics in Ohio? No.

Sign up for my newsletter to get notifications of new blog posts and occasional newsletters with general information.

I don’t spam! Read the privacy policy for more info.

Like this? Please Share!
Follow by Email


1 ORC 3715.52(B)


46 responses to “Cosmetic Regulations – Ohio”

  1. Hello, Looking to start a beard product company (beard oil, beard balm) and was curious about manufacturing. The law, from my understating, you cannot have pets in the home. But, I did hear, if you had a separate room, not accessed by your pet, it is allowed. I have a room, in basement, that is a separate and locked room with stove, refrigerator and sink. Would this be allowed under Ohio law to make my beard products. I can’t seem to find an answer in the laws. I ask, because in the law it refers to “home” and it talks of having one cooking area. Also, if it is not allowed, do you offer any recommended co-packers and/or “shared kitchen” locations in the Cleveland, Oh area. Thanks so much for your help and appreciate any advise. Thank you. Mark

    1. Marie Gale

      The Ohio 1st Stop Checklist for Cosmetics doesn’t list any specific requirements for home or inspections. When you are looking at the laws, I think you might be looking at the food laws? Ohio has adopted the Uniform Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, so it is nearly idential to the federal law. It prohibits adulterated and misbranded cosmetics. The standards to determining if a product may be or become adulterated are based in good manufacturing practices … and those would include making the product in a space that is clean and where the product is not likely to get contaminated.

      COMMON SENSE tells us that a space in which there are animals running around is likely to have animal fur or dander and that is’s very possible that a product made in that space could get pet fur or dander in it. But is that in the actual laws and regulations? No. What’s in the law is that your product cannot be adulterated.

      Where did you get the information about pets and a separate room?

      1. Mark

        Hi, thanks so much for your answer. I was just speaking to a few people and someone mentioned that a garage was used and they had pets, but couldn’t find anything specifically written in the law. I was hoping if I had a separate kitchen area, that that may be acceptable. Oblivious still following GMP where pets would not be accessible. This was ODA – stating no pets, but didn’t know if having separate kitchen, made a difference. I appreciate your fast response. ODA – What are the licensing requirements for producing and storing a cosmetic?
        Cosmetic manufacturers and warehousers must be inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food Safety. There is no license or registration issued, and there is no fee for the inspection. The site of production and storage must be inspected prior to the start of operation. Subsequent inspections will be conducted on a routine, unannounced basis.
        Cosmetics may be produced in a home or commercial setting. Pets are NOT permitted in either a commercial or residential setting.

      2. Marie Gale

        Thanks for the information! I did some additional research. I’ve updated this blog post and written a new one: Ohio Regulations – 2021 with the most pertinent data.

      3. Marie Gale

        Thank you. The FDA has also issued a Cosmetic GMP Guidance (Draft). It little clearer and easier to follow.

  2. Emily

    After reading this, I’m a bit nervous. I am signed up for my first ever craft and vendor show. I’m selling herbal products, namely: teas, salves, lip balm, solid perfume, bath salts. I think I have gleaned this information correctly: I fall under cottage laws for the tea, but not for any of the body care products. If I sell the salves, lip balms, etc, I need to get a license? I make everything in my home. My labels include weight, ingredients, and use. They are clearly for topical application. Not labeled as medicine. Could you tell me what I need to do to be compliant? I’m in Ohio. I mean, do I need to register my business name, license anything, collect sales tax, etc. Thank you for the guidance!

    1. Marie Gale

      Your salves, lip balms, solid perfume and bath salts are all cosmetics. In Ohio, you are required to have the properly labeled, in accordance with the Ohio labeling laws (which are the same as the FDA labeling laws). No cosmetic manufacturer’s license is required.

      Depending on where you live, you MIGHT need to get a local license for where you make your products (that totally depends on the local zoning laws). You do need to comply with the basic laws for ANY business … If you are selling, you need to register to collect and turn in sales tax. If you are operating under a business name other than your own name, you need to register it with your state.

  3. Hi Marie!

    I’ve been trying to research and do you know of any laws in Ohio that would prevent someone from selling and manufacturing products in the same building in Ohio? For example, I want a storefront and then to have a product area behind and separate from the sales area. I had heard a rumor you couldn’t but can’t seem to find any evidence of that.

    1. Marie Gale

      As far as I have been able to determine, there are no Ohio State regulations that cover selling and manufacturing cosmetics in the same building. There may be LOCAL regulations (if any, they would most likely be zoning regulations) that apply to where manufacturing and retail sales can be carried out within a city or county. You’d have to check your city/county for zoning regs (and/or possibly zoning permits) to see if there are any restrictions on where types of businesses may be located within the city/county.

  4. Emily

    So to make handmade soap and sale online am i able to do it in the comfort of my OH home?And do i need a license to sale? I’ve already formed my LLC. I’m just stuck on what next steps to take as i don’t want to make any mistakes. And just to confirm , i do need to label ingredients used in the soap?

    1. Marie Gale

      The certainty of the answer depends on the type of soap you are making.

      If the soap is the alkali salt of fatty acids (made with lye and oil) AND you only market it as “soap” … then you are exempt from cosmetic regulations. In that case, I don’t know of any prohibition to making and selling your soap. You will need to label correctly (that’s for all products – not just soap) and make sure you have your business details in order (such as the LLC, sales tax collection, etc).

      If the soap is NOT exempt from the definition of a cosmetic, I haven’t been able to find anything that says you cant make and sell it from your home (with the restrictions noted in the post above).

  5. Sarah Colopy

    So I’m currently battling ODA on all of this exact stuff. The situation someone that kept bees posted where they came and shut them down stating they can because of the way they “interpret” the laws? Yep that is EXACTLY what I’m dealing with. Someone else at my farmer’s market was selling items that are clearly labeled as, intended to be used as, make medical claims for etc etc that fall in line with drugs. Someone reported her and now I’ve been shut down except for soaps. It’s a very long and detailed situation, I can get into it if desired but basically they’re stating that the law does not explicitly state that it IS legal to do from your home, so you can’t. They’re saying the part that gives them right of entry to where cosmetics are manufactured does not specifically give them right of entry into someone’s home, so you cannot make them from your home. I’ve been given a lot of contradictory information from two different reps from ODA and one even specifically stated that the law does not specifically say it’s illegal, but since it does not say it is… etc. Unfortunately I’m stuck because my market won’t let me continue until ODA clears me, yet ODA themselves cannot even give me a list of “you need to do or meet or have xyz in your facility to pass this inspection”. They sent me a 41+ page document listing GMPs that basically all related to food service and honestly don’t make much sense at all for a small-time cosmetic company. I have a culinary arts degree so I’m comfortable with food GMPs and whatnot as well and they just don’t translate over to cosmetics all that well. The reps from ODA were quite annoyed with my continued questioning and kept repeating the same nonsense and citing the same areas of ORC that the legal team “interprets” to mean that we cannot do this. When I asked how they enforce this and why there is literally nothing anywhere I can find that anyone has ever dealt with this or that it is law I was told I’m not the first and they enforce it uniformly. Clearly this is nonsense. I also asked who legally gave their team the power to use their interpretations as legal guidelines, as last I checked that doesn’t fall within an attorney’s scope, but I got crickets on that question. I have a shed out back we are trying to transform, I’m lucky I can do that, but again it’s all “interpretation” so I don’t even know WHAT I’m being meant to put in and even if I follow girl a’s wording to a T it’s become apparent that an inspector could come and “interpret” differently. So. It is happening. ODA does think they have the power. And I lost holiday season during a pandemic that took my real job while having a 1 year old and currently 36 weeks with #2 🙂 it’s been fun. ODA is a nightmare and can’t even keep their claims straight in writing in their own emails. If anyone else has dealt with them since or are now… please reach out. If anyone has any idea what type of attorney I could contact to question if this truly is legal and/or fight it that would also be great because I cannot get a single one to return a call or email! I need someone who kind of specializes in Ohio Revised Code and how everything surrounding the wording of it and interpretations work but google isn’t helping me and none I have tried will call back. I will finish this shed and play their game if they will just give me what I need to do to pass that isn’t absurd but they can’t even do that since it isn’t actual law and I don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on plan a for the shed just for inspector to interpret different and demand other changes. I just want my hard-earned micro business back!!!!

    1. Marie Gale

      Wow – that sounds like a nightmare!

      Instead of looking for an attorney who is familiar with cosmetic regulations, see if you can find someone who is general help with “regulations”. Sometimes small business assistance services can help with that. Maybe the mentor program through the small business administration? Or some colleges have small business programs that provide assistance and consulting for small businesses?

      Also, you might check with the Attorney General office for the state — they sometimes will weigh in on misapplication of regulations or deciding if a regulation is being incorrectly enforced.

      Another avenue is a carefully crafted letter to the head of the division or department in which the guys who are giving you cross-directions are located. Be sure to mention the safety of your products, the actual LAW and the confusion, interpretation and opinions in enforcing the regulations, and how it is impacting your small business.

      Please keep me posted on what works out.

    2. Kerry

      here is my email, please contact me! I could use your help. kerrylpn@hotmail.com

  6. Rosann Pasko

    I would like to purchase wholesale soap and just re-sale it. Do I still need a license to sale the soap? Again, I will not be making any soap. Also, if I don’t resale the soap, do I still need insurance? Thank you for your comment.

    1. Marie Gale

      If you purchase packaged soap and resell it, you are just a typical retailer like a store. You may need business insurance, but it’s unlikely that you need product insurance.

  7. Connie

    Love following your posts!

  8. Mercedes Gonzalez

    I’m looking to start my own business making body scrubs……. I’m so confused now…. can I make them from home or not lol

    1. Marie Gale

      There doesn’t seem to be anything in the Ohio regulations that say you can’t make cosmetics (which includes body scrubs) from home.

      Regardless of where you make them, do be sure that your space is clean the products are correctly made and the labels are right. those requirements apply no matter what.

  9. Ilir

    Thanks for your input Gale! The new China regulations is putting a provision to provide a GMP Certificate for the manufacturing site that manufacture the product. That is a new requirement that replaces Certificate of Free Sale.

  10. John

    The thing the I read is the requirements for certificates of freesale, which are then incorporated into the department of agriculture, where “Certificates of Freesale. The Division of Food Safety helps assure consumers are provided foods, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements and cosmetics that are safe, unadulterated and honestly presented. Division staff members work toward this goal through regulatory oversight of the wholesale and retail industry and through contracts, partnerships and educational activities with federal, state and local food regulatory agencies.” this registration form includes cosmetic manufacturing in the application and subsequent registration. The secondary concern would be if the zoning in your area supports manufacturing. Are certificates of Freesale requirements for the licenses in Ohio?

    1. Marie Gale

      A Certificate of Free Sale, sometimes called a “Certificate for Export” or “Certificate to Foreign Governments,” is evidence that goods, such as food items, cosmetics, biologics, or medical devices, are legally sold or distributed in the open market, freely without restriction, and approved by the regulatory authorities in the country of origin (United States). (from export.gov)

      The FDA issues certificates of free sale for food, drugs and cosmetics and many states also have systems in place for issueing them. As noted in the definition, they are used when exporting products – not usually for selling them within the US. Florida used to require them as part of the process of registering each cosmetic, but that law was changed several years ago. Ohio may ISSUE the certificates, but they are not required to sell the products within Ohio or the US.

      1. ilir

        Does any one know if State of Ohio issues GMP certificates attesting that a manufacturing site of cosmetics operating in Ohio follows Good Manufacturing Practices and applicable regulations for cosmetics. Some foreign countries, like China request such certificates issued by a government agency in order to register products for sale in that country.

      2. Marie Gale

        As far as I know, the State of Ohio doesn’t inspect or approve cosmetic manufacturing facilities.

        Cosmetic GMP is in the form of guidelines in the US … not in regulation. There are some third-party companies that “certify” GMP compliance, but they are issuing their own certification; it’s not a government approval. I understand they are expensive as well, but I don’t have any other data.

        Are you sure they are looking for a GMP certificate … or a Certificate of Free Sale (which is something else entirely). You can get a Certificate of Free Sale from the FDA, and may be able to get one from the state of Ohio.

  11. Sam

    Hi Marie. I’ve read over this thread for Ohio and I’m curious to see what was found out from the February 2019 post where the dept of AG was questioned. I am interested in launching my new business, but I have run in to a lot of gray area with if it’s truly legal or not to produce “cosmetics” in home. This thread is on the right track! There is a lot of misinformation out there. If there are not any Ohio specific restrictions, is home production of “cosmetics” legal or not? (In conjunction with following all other laws and regulations.)

    1. Marie Gale

      I never heard anything back from the woman who posted. I know there are many people in Ohio that DO make cosmetics without any additional registration. I’ll do some more research.

      1. Sam

        Great! Thanks for the response. I’ve thought about going to the local SBA office, but I’m fearful to receive a biased or incorrect answer, seeing what others have been through.
        For most of the products I’m selling, they could actually fall under cottage food law as the ingredients are able to be used as food (dried herbs.) I feel certain this is legal, but again, there seems to be some gray area with actually being allowed to produce this in home in a similar fashion to the cottage food laws.
        I would hate to have someone try to tell me “you’re doing this illegally” when, with all do respects, it’s COMPLETELY okay!

      2. Marie Gale

        There is a BIG difference between the cosmetic laws and the cottage food laws. I can’t give you any information about the foods.

        For cosmetics, I have not found anything that requires cosmetic registration in Ohio except what one gov’t worker said to one person. Ohio isn’t even metioned in a federal summary document I found that lists the states that do have cosmetic regulations.

        If you are selling items to be ingested, then they aren’t cosmetics and would fall under the food regulations in Ohio. And those most certainly DO exist.

  12. Leah

    Hi Marie, I am in Ohio and currently researching the cosmetics laws in Ohio. I read exactly the same things as you have written in this article. I emailed the AG Dept and they got back to me stating that I cannot manufacture cosmetics in my home. It has to be a commercial manufacturing place that can be inspected. I emailed back asking for the exact law codes written with this information as I couldn’t find it. We shall see what they say. I cannot afford to manufacture outside of my home. This may have quashed any ideas I had of having a business..

    1. Marie Gale

      Please let me know what you hear back from the AG. You can post here or email me personally.

  13. Christina

    Great Post!!

    I am currently making and selling Jams and Jellies through Cottage Food here in central Ohio, soon to be at my local farmers market. I am wanting to widen my sales to homemade soaps, jelly soaps, lip scrubs and other body products related. I guess my question is… Do I need a Vendors license and what are the restrictions? Im new to the sale of these items but I am confused on the rules and regulations but I dont want to do anything to get in a bind.

    1. Marie Gale

      As far as I understand, the Vendor’s License in Ohio is the for selling and collecting sales tax. If you were selling food, you probably didn’t need to collect sales tax. If you are selling cosmetics or other non-food items, then you probably do need to collect (and report and turn in) sales tax …. for which you need a Vendor’s License (if I’m reading it right). Other than that, there aren’t Ohio-specific restrictions on making or selling cosmetics.

      Generally, to make and sell cosmetics, the product cannot be adulaterated or misbranded. In other words, they should be safe and clean, well made so they won’t go rotten, and properly labeled.

  14. rabia

    if i have vendors liscence and liability insurance is that enogh to start bussiness online orin market I make handmade soaps?????

    1. Marie Gale

      It depends on what state you are in. Since you are commenting on the page that covers Ohio regulations, I’m assuming you are in Ohio. In that case, if you have a business name, you need to register that with the Ohio Secretary of State (or Department of Corporations, maybe).

      I don’t know about the “Vendor’s License” you are referring to – that may be local. Or for sales tax?

      If you sell retail, you’ll need to collect and pay sales tax. I don’t know what the current laws are in Ohio for sales tax on online sales – you should check with the taxing authority.

      Finally, having insurance is definitely a good idea. You should make sure you have not just GENERAL liability, but also PRODUCT liability. And probably some property insurance as well.

  15. I am trying to see do you need a vender license to sell body scrub or what type of license do i need.

    1. Marie Gale

      As far as I can tell, in Ohio you don’t need special permission to MAKE cosmetic products.

      You may need some license to SELL products (any products): If Ohio has sales tax, then you will probably need to get registered with the Ohio tax folks to collect, report and send in sales tax.

      If you are oprating your business under a name different than you own name, then you will probably need to file the ficticious name with the Ohio dept of Corporations (or whatever they call it in Ohio).

      Your local county or city may require that you have a business license to conduct business at all … that varies widely.

      Some things to think about!

      1. Joyce

        I want to sell homemade lotion in a local shop here in Ohio. The ingredients are 4 creams, lotions and items you can buy at the drug store. Do I need to include all the ingredients us of all the bottles on my packaging? Also I want to use a name for my product. Must I file a fictitious name registration in the state of Ohio?

      2. Marie Gale

        I am confused by what you say the ingredients are for your creams and lotions. If you are making homemade lotion from ingredients you purchase retail, you are going to have difficulty ensuring that your ingredient declaration is correct. You DO have to list ALL of the component ingredients from a blended ingredient.

        If you plan to sell, research thoroughly and ensure that you are producing safe products for which you know all the ingredients and components. Make sure they are properly labeled. And, especially, make sure that the preservative system keeps the products safe (so no nasties grow in them!)

        As for your product name — you don’t need to file a ficticious name for the PRODUCT, but if you have a business name that you are using, you do need to register the ficticious business name. You won’t be able to get a bank account in the business name, or accept and depost checks made to the business without providing the details to your bank.

  16. Dulcie Marshall

    Hi, Marie, =)

    Love your page and thanks for all your hard work. I was wondering, I’m looking for this kind of info for NY and FL and can’t seem to find anything. Would you happen to know is you can make ‘cosmetic’ products in your home in NY and Fl. I’d read somewhere in a blog that FL is a no-go. But I can’t find info for NY anywhere. Was hoping you could help me.
    I appreciate anything you could provide. =)
    Thanks a bunch!

    1. Marie Gale

      As far as I know, NY doesn’t have any regulations that restrict the manufacture of cosmetics (registrations, fees, etc). Florida does, but has recently revised the law so that there are fewer fees for cosmetic manufacturers.

  17. Jeannie Saum

    We were also making dietary supplements with bee propolis, so yes, the cosmetics were caught in the mix and some were mislabelled. But they specifically told us that we could not make cosmetics in home or store them there!! Not sure what Avon and Mary Kay reps are supposed to do! I asked for the ORC number where it says this and they just referenced the whole section on the requirements of the space. But nowhere does it say it can not be your home! The inspectors seem to be able to interpret the laws the way they want! Even the governors Common Sense Initiative would not help us.

    1. Marie Gale

      Oh. Dietary supplements are a different animal altogether. They have considerably stricter regulations under the FDA. For one, the FDA has good manufacturing practices for dietary supplements in the regulations, so there is little wiggle room in the application (unlike cosmetics, for which GMP is presented as guidelines).

      I checked the Ohio law, and it treats dietary supplements with the same regulations as for food (ORC 3715.81). So a separate, non-residence kitchen and storage requirements make sense and specific GMP requirements are very likely (I didn’t look into the food regulations in any detail).

      I still couldn’t find anything in the code that indicates that the same requirements apply to cosmetics, and I never heard anything back from the Ohio agency. However, there is a sort of convoluted logic to what you are being told. Since the regulations DO state that a cosmetic product cannot be adulterated, and the general idea is that good manufacturing practices are what keep a product from being adulterated, and the GMP for food is in the regulations (and applicable to the dietary supplements you are making) … one could extrapolate that the cosmetics are potentially adulterated.

      The FDA works on a somewhat similar basis. If they wind up inspecting a cosmetic manufacturer’s establishment, they inspect based on their Cosmetic GMP Inspection Checklist and/or the more recent Draft Guidance for Cosmetic GMP. While those points are not required by REGULATION to be in place, if they find any of the issues on any points of the inspection checklist, they can require that the issues are fixed on the basis that otherwise the product would/could be adulterated – and it IS is the regulations that they can do something about adulterated products.

      I did notice that the Ohio food regulations have much simpler requirements for small honey producers that have their own hives. I expect that it was moving into more than just honey that led to this unfortunate regulatory red tape snaggle. I hope you are able to resole the issues and continue with your production.

  18. Interesting that SBDC has a publication on this as we work under them and they’ve never given this to us. ODA came to our home and shut down our manufacturing of cosmetics in our home, made us destroy products and change labeling. We were told by ODA officials that in Ohio, one could not make cosmetics in the home, or even store them in our home or attached garage, even though FDA says you can. (The shed out back with no heat, AC or electricity would be okay!) Wonder what all the Avon and Mary Kay reps. do?? They could not ever show us where in the Ohio Revised Code is says this (because it doesn’t)! They evidently are free to “interpret” the law any way they want. We are now driving 60 miles one way to make our products in an FDA/ODA certified production space!

    1. Marie Gale

      I checked the regulations again and can find nothing relating to cosmetics. However, it looks like (from your email address) that you may be keeping bees and maybe making honey? Could it be that the food regulations were the ones being implemented, for any food being produced and the cosmetics just got caught in the mix? Also possible is that the cosmetic labeling was incorrect or the manufacturing practices were such that the product could become contiminated (that would be under the ODA jurisdiction).

      In any event, I have sent an email to the authorities in Ohio asking for additional clarification and will post what I find out.

  19. Eu Sei

    Incredible, to make soap and sell I have to bow to Big Government. This country is most definitely screwed up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *