Melt & Pour Soap: Soap or Cosmetic?

"Wild Child" Melt & Pour soap by Cari Harris

“Wild Child” Melt & Pour soap by Cari Harris

I’m often asked if melt and pour soap is a soap or a cosmetic.  The answer, to quote one of my favorite law blogs1, is “it depends.”

Definitions

It all comes down to definitions, and the word “soap” has several. Sometimes they overlap, and sometimes they are completely different.

General Definition

The common or general definition of soap found in most dictionaries is:

Soap is a product that is used with water to make suds and is used for cleaning.

By this general definition a wide array of products could be considered soap, including not only soap (by the chemical definition below) but also synthetic detergents, various surfactants and even some plants, such as soapwort (Saponaria).

Chemical Definition

This is the very specific, chemical definition:

Soap is the  alkali salt of fatty acids.

In other words, soap is the result of mixing an alkali (sodium or potassium hydroxide) with animal or vegetable fats or oils (which are triglycerides and contain fatty acids).

For simplicity sake, I generally refer to this type of soap as a “true soap”

FDA Definition

The FDA, in clarifying what they meant when they said “except soap” in the definition of a cosmetic,  defined soap in the regulations as:

(1) The bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the detergent properties of the article are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds; and

(2) The product is labeled, sold, and represented only as soap.2

In this case, soap must chemically be “soap” AND it must be labeled, sold and represented as soap.

Melt and Pour Soap

Melt and pour soap base is used to make products that are used with water  to make suds and clean. So it is “soap” by the general definition.

A closer look, though, shows that some melt and pour soaps are “true” soaps and some are detergent based (making them soaps in the general sense, but not in the chemical sense).

Your supplier should be able to provide you with an accurate ingredient declaration and help you determine if the product meets the FDA definition of a true soap or not.

Example 1

Brambleberry.com offers Stephenson Suspending Melt and Pour Base which has an ingredient listing of:

Water, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Stearate, Glycerin, Sucrose, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sorbitol, Sodium Laurate, Sodium Mysistate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Silica, Sodium Chloride, Stearic Acid, Lauric Acid, Pentasodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate.

While it does contain some true soap (sodium stearate, sodium laurate, and sodium mysistate), it also contains detergents (sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate) as well as a number of other non-soap components.

It is a “soap” in the general sense, partially  a “true” soap, and NOT a soap in the FDA definition.

Example 2

Brambleberry.com also offers  SFIC Clear Melt and Pour Soap Base which lists ingredients:

Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerin, water, Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Sorbitan oleate, Oat Protein.

Based on that ingredient list3 the product would be a “true soap” because the bulk of the product is the result of the saponification of the coconut, palm and safflower oils with the sodium hydroxide.

Example 2 1/2

The explanation of the SFIC Clear Melt and Pour Soap Base includes claims that the sorbitol and oat protein are “moisturizing.” If the soap made from the base were to be touted as “moisturizing”, then the product would be (partly) a “moisturizer” and not just a “soap” – so it wouldn’t fit under the FDA definition of a soap.

Soap or Cosmetic?

A melt and pour product that meets the FDA definition of soap IS NOT A COSMETIC and is regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (for safety) and by the Federal Trade Commission (for labeling). The ingredient declaration is not required.

A melt and pour product  that does not meet the FDA definition of soap IS  A COSMETIC and is regulated by the FDA.  An ingredient declaration is required on the package label.

Chart of Possibilities

In these examples, all of the products fit the GENERAL definition of soap.

In column one, “true soap” means it meets the chemical definition of soap and “detergent” means that it contains all or some non-true-soap cleansing ingredients (generally detergents).
In column two, “moisturizes” is a cosmetic claim. Any other cosmetic claim would have the same result in the chart.

Soap Type Claims Called It is a…
True Soap Cleans Soap Soap
Detergent Cleans Soap Cosmetic
True Soap Moisturizes Soap Cosmetic
Detergent Moisturizes Soap Cosmetic
True Soap Cleans Beauty Bar Cosmetic
Detergent Cleans Beauty Bar Cosmetic
True Soap Conditions Shampoo Cosmetic
Detergent Conditions Shampoo Cosmetic

Note that there is only ONE combination of product type, claims and name that is a soap under the FDA definition. All others are cosmetics and fall within the FDA regulations for cosmetics.

For more details on the applicable regulations and how to label soap and cosmetic products, see my book, Soap and Cosmetic Labeling, available at Amazon.com.

References   [ + ]

1. The Legal Genealogist is one of my favorite blogs because she is constantly delving into laws and regulations – mostly from the past – and helping people understand them. And she is forever answering legal questions with “it depends.”
2. 21 CFR 701.20
3. The product listing at Brambleberry.com includes a note saying that the manufacturer uses additional “processing aids” which are not disclosed.

Comments

  1. Hi again Marie –

    I wanted to know if you know of any other M&P suppliers, besides Brambleberry, who provide “true” M&P soap that would meet the FDA regulations?

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.

    Blessings –
    Ronda

    1. Author

      I don’t know of any particularly. There are actually just a handful of MP manufacturers, but their products are sold under several different names. There are probably several different suppliers that provide the different “brands” of MP soap.

  2. Other suppliers sell SFIC-manufactured MP Base which has a similar ingredients list as the Brambleberry bases. Soap Goods, Bulk Apothecary are 2 off the top of my head that I know sell SFIC base.

  3. Hi Marie,

    I am confused. 🙀 So, if it is a soap it is regulated by FDA? And I label my “soaps” as shampoo bars. How bad is that?

    I just relocated and I am starting to sell my batches again in March. But, I want to make sure I am in good standing. I will only offer my shampoo bars and conditioner bars and I sell in small batches. The changes you made to your garage i wouldn’t be able to do because I don’t have a garage. Should I rent a space out? Please help.

    1. Author

      The devinition of a cosmetic is a product that is applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying or promoting attractiveness … except soap.

      But in order to qualify for the exemption, the “soap” in question must be 1) the alkali salt of fatty acids (lye/water/oil) AND be identified and marketed as “soap”.

      So a “shampoo bar” is not being marketed as “soap” …. it’s being marketed as a shampoo. Same with a conditioner bar. Or a moisturizing soap.

      If a soap is NOT exempt from the definition of a cosmetic, it must be labeled as a cosmetic. If it IS exempt, it must be labeled in accordance with the FTC regulations (like all products). The only real difference is that a cosmetic requires the ingredient declaration. Otherwise they both require the statement of identity (what it is), the net weight and the business name and address.

  4. Is a cold process salt soap bar considered a cosmetic or soap?
    Is a cold process shaving soap bar considered a cosmetic or a soap?

    1. Author

      A cold process salt bar would qualify as a soap because it is the alkali salt of fatty acids, BUT it would depend on whether it was identified as “soap” and only claimed to clean. If there were claims for moisturizing or exfoliating or something else, then it would be a cosmetic (because of the cosmetic claims).

      A shaving soap is a cosmetic, because it is being identified and marketed as more than just “soap” and “cleansing” (since it’s used for shaving, it has a purpose of improving appearance).

  5. So if i make a cold process soap that can be used for shaving and do not identify or market it as a shaving soap and maybe naming it something like “Thick & Luxurious Bubble Soap”, it would be considered a soap and not a cosmetic?
    Thanks for the response Marie!

    1. Author

      So long as the soap is cold process, is labeled and marketed as “soap” that “cleans” … then it is a soap and exempt from the definition of a cosmetic. Note, however, that any disucssion of it being a “shaving soap” ANYWHERE (website, facebook, marketing materials, signage) would be considered cosmetic claims in the “labeling” of the product (not just the label itself).

      It’s not that big a deal if it is a cosmetic – you have much more flexibility on what you can say and all you really need to do is put the ingredients on the label. Everything else required for a cosmetic label (identity, business name and address and net contents) are required on a soap label anyway.

      Of course, if it is a cosmetic, you may only use approved color additives.

  6. I just posed a question to you about labels for small containers, now I’m curious about soaps. I will only offer 2 soaps, and I suppose they could be described as moisturizing. I’m ok sharing the ingredients, because it shows that they are all natural (nothing synthetic), and many of the ingredients lend themselves to being moisturizing. If I sell these online, I can list the ingredients in the description. However, I’d like to ship them without additional packaging – such as boxes, kraft paper labels, plastic wrap, etc. I hate to create additional waste! Again, is a biz card with a QR code ok to enclose with the shipment? If I sell these in a shop, can the display contain the ingredients?

    Thanks for your time and sharing your knowledge! Your blog has been straight to the point of some of these questions that many of us need answered to comply appropriately!

    Colette

    1. Author

      Even if you ship them without “additional packaging” you still need to ensure that you provide the consumer with the identity of the product (what it is), the net contents and the business name and address. If they soaps are cosmetics (i.e. there are any cosmetic claims made for them) then the ingredients are also required If they are sold “naked” in a shop, they should still have the same information provided, both on the display and in a way that the consumer can take the information home with them.

      Besides being per the regulations, it’s good business since the consumer will have some way to know/remember where they got the product and/or to order more!

  7. Hello!
    This blog is so helpful! Thank you! So, if I use a ‘true soap’ MP base, call it soap and do not make any claims other than cleaning, it is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic, and an ingredient declaration is not required? However, if I want to provide my customers with information, but do not want to include a lengthy ingredient list of the MP, can I simply say ‘made with: melt and pour soap base (or glycerin soap base), fragrance oil, mica, etc?

    Thank you again!

    1. Author

      If your MP soap is a “true soap” (that is made with lye/oil/water), the ingredient declaration is not required.

      I wouldn’t recommend putting “made with melt and pour soap base” or “made with glycerine soap base” on the labe because that doesn’t really tell your consumers anything … remember, they probably don’t know the difference between the different kinds of soap. The reason for standardized ingredient declarations is because it helps consumers understand. “mp soap base” or “glycerin soap base” doesn’t help consumer understanding.

      That said, that is MY personal recommendation. Regulation-wise, you can say whatever you want so long as it isn’t false or misleading.

  8. Hello,
    Does mica colors and ingredients like turmeric , clays and oatmeal r considered as true soap ? As long as I don’t claim them as cosmetic or drugs??

    1. Author

      The actual definition of a soap exempt the cosmetic regulations is that the “bulk of the non-volatile portion is the alkali salts of fatty acids”. So color or other additives don’t really change the BULK of what it is. So they shouldn’t change it from being “true soap” and exempt from the definition of a cosmetic.

  9. So technically speaking, if I use a goats milk SFIC and a Clear version of SFIC from Brambleberry, and call it soap, I should be GOOD in Florida I think right? I know my state has strict rules. I like to use mica to color my soaps though would that affect it? Also, could I call it Beard Soap, to clean your beard? I’d be good as long as I don’t call it shave soap or hair softening soap etc?

    https://www.brambleberry.com/SFIC-Clear-Melt-And-Pour-Soap-Base-P3189.aspx

    https://www.brambleberry.com/sfic-goat-milk-melt-and-pour-soap-base-p3184.aspx#reviews

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Author

      It looks like both of those are what I would call “true soap” — that is, they are the alkali salt of fatty acids. So long as all the say is that it is soap, you aren’t making a cosmetic. So no registration in Florida.

      Once you start qualifying it as “Beard Soap” you are into a slightly gray area — but it’s probably not TOO likely someone from the state would say you are now selling a cosmetic.

      1. Thank you! I think we’re going to call it Beard and Body Soap. You have helped us immensely, thank you!

  10. Marie,
    I realize you’ve explained in detail about Melt and Pour soap bases. I’d just like to confirm this point:

    I only use Wholesale Supplies Plus DETERGENT FREE Melt and Pour soap bases….mainly the 3 Butter, Baby Buttermilk, Goat’s Milk, and Clear. Since none of these Melt and Pour soap bases contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLES) would all 4 of these soap bases be considered ‘True Soap’ and therefore NOT require an ingredient list – as long as there is no claim other than ‘Cleans’ and there are no other additives except for body safe liquid colors, micas, and glitters?

    Thank you.

    1. Author

      So long as the soap (whether you make it or buy a base) is the alkali salt of fatty acids (that is, made with oil and lye) AND it is identified as “soap” AND it only claims to clean — then it is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic and is what I call “true soap”.

      The bulk of the product must be true soap – so you can use colors, mica and glitter or other additives.

  11. Hi Marie, thanks for your help, it is very useful. Do you know if FDA have a MP bases list for true soap. I would like to be sure that I am using the right base (soap, not cosmetic)
    Most of the detergent free base content sorbitol and for that reason is a cosmetic. That’s why a prefer to find a list of a melt and pour base SOAP (FDA approved)
    Thanks again
    Sorry about my English

    1. Author

      the FDA doesn’t review or approve cosmetic products or soap bases. If you want a non-cosmetic soap base, the definition is that the “bulk of the non-volitile portion is the alkali salts of fatty acids”. In other words, it is made by the reaction between lye and oil – which causes the alkali salts of fatty acids (and glycerin). Note that it is the BULK — so it could still have other ingredients. But the cleaning must come from the lye/oil combination.

      Normally you can tell from the MP soap base ingredients — they would include either oils and sodium hydroxide (lye) OR they would include the alkali salts … that is sodium cocoate, sodium olivate, sodium palmate, etc. If you have a question about a specific MP base, you should contact the supplier for any additional information they can provide.

      And remember that this is true ONLY IN THE US. All other countries consider soap used on the body to be a cosmetic – there is no soap exemption except in the US.

  12. Thanks, I appreciate your help
    Question:
    Although the base contains sorbitol, if in the label it only appears as soap without mentioning its moisturizing properties, it still meets FDA definition of soap?

    1. Author

      MP soap bases have various ingredients added to make them “meltable” and “pourable” — I think sorbitol is one of those ingredients. So long as the BULK of the non-volitile portion is the alkali salt of fatty acids, they would still be exempt from the definition of a cosmetic (so long as no cosmetic claims are made).

  13. Excellent, just one more question, what do you recommend regarding insurance and how could I get them based on your experience?
    Thank you very much for your kind replies

    1. Author

      Personally, I recommend the insurance you can get through the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild. The insurance is discounted from what you can normally find for business insurance, has the option to cover personal property (so your stuff is covered – it’s not JUST liability), there are some other perks. You have to be a member of the HSCG at the professional level (so there are additional membership dues) – but you can get a LOT of value from the membership alone.

  14. WOW!! Excellent advice and questions. And I agree…So generous to share your knowledge and educating the newbie soapers like myself. That’s one of the things I’m loving about soaping is it seems like such a sharing online community. Thank you very much😊

    1. Author

      If your MP soap is made from the combination of lye and oil (NOT a synthetic detergent), then you can label it as soap, exempt from the definition of a cosmetic if you want.

      To be on the SAFE side, just label your product as a cosmetic (that is, you need to include the ingredients) … you can still identify it as “soap”.

  15. If you buy the melt and pour soap and add a fragrance oil do you need to get them tested has with it being a melt and pour would this not already of been tested for them to sell at hobbie craft ext thank you In advanced

    1. Author

      If you are selling the soap you make, then you need to put the ingredient declaration on the package. If you are purchasing from a hobby or craft store, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct ingredients.

      In the US there are no requirements for getting the product TESTED in order to sell it – so long as you know what the ingredients are and can correctly list them on the label.

      If you are planning to sell MP soap products that you make, I would suggest that you purcase in bulk from a reputable vendor. That way you can not only keep your costs down, you can also be certain what the ingredients are.

      (Also remember that if you add any color additives those must be approved for cosmetic use and be listed in the ingredient declaration.)

  16. So on the FDA’s website it says as one of the 3 measures if something is a true soap or not that:

    To be regulated as “soap,” the product must be composed mainly of the “alkali salts of fatty acids,” that is, the material you get when you combine fats or oils with an alkali, such as lye.

    I’m looking to make my own melt and pour base and there are lots of great recipes out there for it. They usually start with making a soap base and then adding solvents such as polypropylene glycol, glycerin, alcohol and sugar to make it remeltable and/or clear. So to make sure mine is mainly of the “alkali salts of fatty acids,” and be classified as true soap ( and not a cosmetic) is there any guidelines on what % of the recipe needs to be the soap and what % can be the solvents?

    1. Author

      The key here is that the “bulk” of the product is the alkali salt of fatty acids AND that the detergent properties come from the alkali salt (not additional detergents). Generally speaking, MP soaps made from lye/water/oil are usually considered “soap” even though they have solvents in them. However, if the MP soap is made with a DETERGENT (not lye/water/oil soap) then it IS a cosmetic – regardless of how it is marketed.

  17. I have triple butter melt and pour base from stephensons. Would these ingredients be considered a “true soap” or “cosmetic”?
    qua, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Laurate, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Oleate, Sodium Myristate, Sodium Chloride, Glyceryl Laurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Sodium Thiosulfate, Sodium Citrate, Titanium Dioxide, Citric Acid, Trisodium Sulfosuccinate, Pentasodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate

    1. Author

      In order to qualify as a “true soap” the part that cleanses and makes bubbles (the surfactant action) must be the alkali salt of fatty acids -0– that is, made with lye and oils. The soap you listed there has sodium stearate (which is the sodium salt of stearic acid), but is also contains a large percentage of sodium laurate (a detergent surfactant NOT made from lye and oil). Considering that and the other ingredients, I would consider that MP base to be a cosmetic, not a true soap.

      If you have questions about it, you could contact Stephenson and see if they will give you any additional information.

  18. I’m still confused about the melt and pour bases. I use Stephenson HCVS M&P clear base. These are the Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Stearate, Sorbitol, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Laurate, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Sodium Thiosulfate, Pentasodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate. So, eventho I only claim this as ‘soap’ and don’t say its moisturizing, I don’t have to list the entire ingredients? I’ve read the descriptions about both types of soap and still aren’t sure which has to list and which doesn’t have to. I always thought my M&P wouldn’t be ‘cosmetic’. I also use the suspension soap. Can u tell me, is Example 1 exempt from ingredient listing? I’m so confused here.

    1. Author

      Let’s start from the basics.

      A COSMETIC is anything that is applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying or promoting attractiveness.

      Generally, that would include soap. All soap, any soap.

      BUT, the definition for a cosmetic says “except soap“.

      Since lots of substances can be called “soap” the FDA needed a clear-cut definition of what would be considered “soap” to be exempt from the definition of a cosmetic. Their definition is:

      • The bulk of the product must alkali salt of fatty acids (that means lye and oil soap) AND
      • The detergent properties of the article are due to the alkali-fatty acid compound AND
      • Marketed and sold only as “soap”

      Some melt & pour soap meets that definition; some does not. Mostly it has to do with what ingredients create the “detergent” (or washing, foaming, cleaning) properties.

      The ingredient list you posted includes sodium stearate, which is the alkali salt of fatty acids, but ALSO does includes detergent properties from sodium Laureth sulfate and sodium saurate. So it does NOT meet the requriements of a soap to be exempt from the definition of a cosmetic. So all of the ingredients need to be listed on the label – just like any other cosmetic.

      For a historical perspective, which might help putting it all together:

      Up to the mid-1920s, all soap was made with lye and oil. Soap manufacturing produces glycerin as a byproduct which can be removed and is used in many industries, including munitions (ie nitroglycerin). In the mid-20s detergents started to be created. They cleaned, but they did not produce glycerin. Move forward to the mid-30’s (and the coming of WW2), and the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act is created. It creates a definition for cosmetic that exempts soap – but only soap that produces glycerin. Personally I think that was because soapmakers were needed for the defense industry – but that’s my opinion.

  19. Pouring over all these blogs, I think I understand most of the ingredient list as the bulk of the product must be alkali salt of fatty acids (that means lye and oil soap) without added detergents. Where it becomes a little murky is with adding an additive like coffee grounds, seeds, etc If I am reading it correctly, adding coffee grounds, poppy seeds, etc would make it a cosmetic due to the exfoliating properties even though I call it soap with no mention to exfoliating properties. Is this the correct interpretation? Appreciate your feedback.

    1. Author

      Hi Roxanna –

      When you put an additive into the soap it normally doesn’t change the source of the detergent properties (what causes it to bubble, foam and clean). That’s still true if the additive is scratchy or not.

      However, once you say that the soap will do more than clean (exfoliate, for example) THEN the soap is most definitely a cosmetic, regardless of anything else.

  20. We are having one nasty debate in a M&P page! My next question is… Since SFIC base has oat protein and sorbital (seems every single one I’ve come across has those 2 additives), according to the paragraph, Example 2 1/2.. just having those 2 on the list makes this a cosmetic. Is this correct? Sorry to be a pain about all this..

    1. Author

      The determining factor as to whether a soap is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic is:

      (1) The bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the detergent properties of the article are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds; and

      (2) The product is labeled, sold and represented only as soap.

      Note that is says that the “detergent properties” are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds. In other words, what causes the product to foam and bubble and clean comes from the lye/oil saponification process.

      Sorbitol (different than sorbitan) is listed as an ingredient in most SFIC MP soaps (see SFIC ingredient lists) is a sugar alcohol (see sorbitol in Wikipedia) and is probably used as either part of the “melt and pour” aspect of the soaps or contributes to the clarity.

      Sorbitan oleate is listed in the SFIC ingredient lists – as an emulsifier. It’s probably some sort of surfactant, but likely has little impact on the “detergent properties” of the product, especially since it is so low in the ingredient list.

      Neither oat protein nor wheat protein (used in some of the soaps) create detergent properties.

      So — from what I see in the ingredient declarations for the SFIC MP soaps, vegetable oils, water and sodium hydroxide are the primary ingredients in the ingredient lists — so the bulk of the nonvolatile matter consists of the alkali salts of fatty acids and the detergent properties come from that.

      HOWEVER, at the bottom of the ingredient declaration, there is a statement that “processing aids” may be used in the products. While the statement says they are “not essential for product function” (by which I assume they mean the detergent properties), they are used to provide various features such as rementing and rebatching, final aproduct appearance, etc. The products MAY include cocamidopropylamine oxide (a surfactant/detergent), disodium sulfosuccinate (also called disodium laureth sulfosuccinate – a sufactant used for foaming and foam boosting), and cocamidopropyl betaine (surfactant/detergent).

      In my opinion, the inclusion of these “processing aids” potentially causes the product to no longer be exempt from the definition of a cosmetic – it’s hard to know what impact these ingredients (if used) have on the “detergent properties” of the soap.

      Further, I don’t personally think that these additional ingredients do, in fact, fall under the definition of a “processing aid” to be exempt from the ingredient declaration. In order to be omitted from the ingredient declaration, a processing aid is defined as (from 21 CFR 701.3(l)(2):

      (i) Substances that are added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetic but are removed from the
      cosmetic in accordance with good manufacturing practices before it is packaged in its finished form.

      (ii) Substances that are added to a cosmetic during processing for their technical or functional effect in the
      processing, are converted to substances the same as constituents of declared ingredients, and do not
      significantly increase the concentration of those constituents.

      (iii) Substances that are added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetic for their technical and
      functional effect in the processing but are present in the finished cosmetic at insignificant levels and do not
      have any technical or functional effect in that cosmetic.

      SFIC says, “In order to provide our customers with various desired features such as ease of remelting and re-batching, finished product final appearance, etc. we may or may not use small amounts of the following (or similar) materials:” So obviously they are in the finites product for their technical or functional effect.

      You might want to consider asking SFIC for the actual ingredient declaration for the actual product you are using, including the ingredients they have omitted as “processing aids” so you can make a determination for yourself.

  21. If I am making a cp soap, and wish to label ingredients, do I have to follow a specific format? Can I keep my ingredient names simple?

    1. Author

      A CP soap is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic IF it is only marketed and sold as SOAP. No other claims – like it would moisturize or otherwise improve appearance.

      If it is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic the ingredient list is not required. HOWEVER, if you DO choose to put the ingredients on the label, the point you want to cover is that your information is not false or misleading in any way. Make sure that you present the ingredients in a way that either conforms with what consumers expect of an ingredient declaration OR that it is done in a way that they understand it is NOT per the cosmetic ingredient declaration requirements.

  22. Is the difference between the two just the labeling? Does the FDA need to test the product if it you make a claim on the soap before you can sell it?

    1. Author

      In the US, cosmetics don’t require testing before being offered for sale; the FDA doesn’t test anything except colors. The only claims claims and statements you can legally make are cosmetic claims – that is, claims that the product will beautify or improve appearance. Any further claims (that it will DO anything like treat acne or clear up poison oak rashes) cause the product to become an unapproved new drug.

      That said, the primary difference between a soap as a soap and a soap as a cosmetic is the labeling. The only other issue is that cosmetics may only use color additives that are approved for use in cosmetics. A color additive is anything that is intended to change the color of the product – so a soap that is a cosmetic shouldn’t be colored using non-approved color additives.

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