When it comes to your handmade goods, if you’re
selling personal care products, you must follow labeling requirements…..which
are extensive. It can seem overwhelming at first so we thought this guide would
be helpful to those getting started. And even to those who already have a
business selling bath and body products but want to be sure they’re labeling
If you're selling handmade goods other than cosmetics, you may be interested in our labeling guides:
This is a guideline for labeling cosmetics
in Canada and is in no way legal advice. You are 100% responsible for ensuring
you understand your government’s laws and are applying them properly. If you’re
unsure about anything, please follow the resource links at the end of each
article for more information on the subjects or get in contact with the proper
organizations. We put several calls in, to be sure we understood these rules
properly and also spoke to really helpful people.
1: BE SURE YOUR PRODUCT IS A COSMETIC, NOT A DRUG OR NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCT
important to understand the difference because they follow a very different set
of rules and regulations when it comes to labeling, packaging and selling,
which are not outlined in this article. You also need to be careful because if
you’re selling a cosmetic but you represent it as a drug by claiming that it
“treats” an ailment, you may effectively be classifying that cosmetic as a
“drug” according to Health Canada. The presence of a particular ingredient may also
classify your cosmetic as a drug.
the claims of a product are both Cosmetic and Drug in nature, regulations
pertaining to Drugs take precedence over those of Cosmetics. If your product is
categorized as a Cosmetic, you can only make cosmetic claims. If your products
is categorized as a Drug, you may make both drug and cosmetic claims for it.
A cosmetic is defined by Health Canada as; any substance or mixture of
substances, manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving
or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth and includes deodorants and
perfumes. Also stated in their legislation; “handmade” cosmetics sold at craft
sales or home-based businesses are included. Another good reminder that
regardless of how small your business, you’re still responsible for following
need to follow:
& Natural Health Products
is defined by Health Canada as; any substance or mixture of substances
manufactured, sold or represented for use in:
- The diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease,
disorder or abnormal physical state, or its symptoms, in human beings or
- Restoring, correcting or modifying organic functions in human beings
- Disinfection in premises in which food is manufactured, prepared or
need to follow:
Natural health products are defined by
Health Canada as; a substance set out in Schedule 1 or a combination of
substances in which all the medicinal ingredients are substances set out in
a homeopathic medicine or a traditional medicine that is manufactured, sold or
represented for use in:
- The diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease,
disorder or abnormal physical state or its symptoms in humans
- Restoring or correcting organic functions in humans
- Modifying organic functions in humans, such as modifying those
functions in a manner that maintains or promotes health.
However, a natural health product does not
include a substance set out in Schedule 2,
any combination of substances that includes a substance set out in Schedule 2
or a homeopathic medicine or a traditional medicine that is or includes a
substance set out in Schedule 2.
For a more in depth look at whether your
product is classified as a Cosmetic, Drug or Natural Health Product, please click here. As mentioned, this article only outlines
labeling and packaging for cosmetics.
STEP 2: FILL OUT YOUR NOTIFICATION OF
The Cosmetic Regulations requires
manufacturers (and importers) to notify Health Canada within 10 days after they
first sell a cosmetic in Canada. As well, if you make changes to the cosmetic’s
formulation, name, discontinue sale of it or change your company’s name,
address or contact information, you must submit another form notifying Health
For more info on completing the form and
for the form itself, you can follow this link.
STEP 3: ENSURE YOU ARE LABELLING YOUR
Cosmetic labels must include:
- The identity of the product
(i.e hand cream)
- Quantity (i.e. 100ml)
- Name and address of the
- Warnings, cautions and
avoidable hazards presented by the cosmetic
- An ingredient list – you must
follow the INCI system
On top of that, they are asking you to be
sure that your products are safe for consumer use.
The mandatory INCI ingredient labeling does
not apply to drugs or natural health products.
Incidental ingredients do not need to be
included on the label. As defined by Health Canada, Incidental Ingredients are:
any processing aid
added and removed or converted to a declared ingredient, or any ingredient of
another ingredient or processing aid present at an insignificant level and
having no technical or functional effect.
testers do not need to supply an ingredient list as they are usually close to
the actual product for sale where consumers can read the ingredient list.
product must be identifiable
are certain rules that you have to follow when it comes to selling a product
that has both inner and outer labels. For example if you buy a bottle of
shampoo that comes in a box. The inner label would be the bottle the shampoo
comes in and the outer label would be the box that bottle comes in. For the
sake of this article, we’re going to assume if you’re a small handmade
business, you’re trying to watch your costs when it comes to packaging and you’re
not packaging a package within a package. If you are, you can read up on
regulations when it comes to inner and outer labels in section 4.
you’re selling a product that only has an inner label, you can follow the
guidelines below as taken from Health Canada’s website:
declaration of identity must appear in English and in French on the principal
display panel. The declaration must contrast clearly with the background and
all other information that appears on the label.
expressions are considered officially bilingual in themselves, such as:
"parfum," "eau de toilette," or "cologne."
labels of some prepackaged products are composed of one or more additional
panels of the same size and prominence as the principal display panel. The
product identity may be given on the principal display panel in only one of the
two official languages, provided that it is also given in the other language on
one of the other panels.
is no restriction concerning the typeface that may be used. The information,
however, must be legible.
Readability and Character
information that is required to appear on a label, other than the declaration
of net quantity (see
"Character Height" in section 5.1.1, "Outer Label
Requirements"), must be shown in a manner easily legible under
normal or customary conditions of sale or use and must be in letters of not
less than 1.6 mm in height. When the area of the principal display surface is
less than 10 cm2, the information may be in letters of no less than
0.8 mm in height.
minimum height of the characters corresponds to the height of an upper-case
letter when only upper case is used. The minimum height corresponds to the
height of the lower-case letter "o" when words appear in lower case
only, or when both upper-case and lower-case letters are used.
further details, consult sections 14, 15, and 16, of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations.
certain cases the identity of a product such as a lipstick, an eyebrow pencil,
an automatic mascara applicator, or a compact including powder and puff may be
considered obvious. A written declaration of product identity would not be
necessary. If the product is in an opaque container, the identity of the
product must be expressed.
The Cosmetic Regulations do not require a
declaration of net quantity of your product however the Consumer Packaging and
Labelling Act and Regulations does. You can read over our guide here under 2) Product Net Quantity for more information.3) NAME
& ADDRESS OF MANUFACTURER
name and address on your products must match the name and address you entered
on your Cosmetic Notification Form. The name and address must appear on the
outside surface of any package, anywhere except the bottom (unless it is an
HAZARDS & CAUTIONS
section applies if you are selling items that present a hazard to the health of
the user or are selling a flammable product or products in pressurized metal
containers. When this is the case, you must clearly communicate the risk on the
label and include instructions on how to eliminate the risk. These may be communicated through a
combination of instructions, cautions, and symbols in both English and French.
fully read section 7 if you are selling; mouthwashes,
hair dyes, mercury-containing products, genital deodorants in pressurized
containers or using pressurized metal containers in general.
every hazard is explicitly prescribed in the Cosmetic Regulations. It is your
responsibility to recognize an avoidable hazard and to eliminate it.
Cosmetic Regulations require that all cosmetic products sold in Canada must
list the ingredients on the label using the INCI labeling system.
refers to the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredient name assigned
to an ingredient in the International Cosmetic Ingredient (ICI) Dictionary and
Handbook. Basically it is the terminology you must use when listing the
ingredients for your cosmetics on your labels. These do not need to appear in
English and French as INCI names are considered multi-lingual. The handbook is around $500 or you can search wINCI for an online version but that will cost you around $500 as well as you need a membership to view it. We don't want to lead anyone astray here so we'll tap the disclaimer at the top and warn that the official handbook will have the most up to date and proper information; however, you are able to find several INCI names online for free by Google-ing them. There are over 16,000 names in the handbook so if your ingredient lists are extensive, you may want to invest but Wikipedia has several common ones listed as one free example.
cosmetic ingredient does not have an INCI name, the ingredient must be listed
by its chemical name from a recognized source. Most ingredients do have an INCI
may not use extra descriptive or marketing terminology in the ingredient list
however you can include it elsewhere on the label. For example if you're using Rose Water as an ingredient. You would need to list it as Rosa Damascena Flower Water in the ingredient list. If you also wanted to mention that the rose water is soothing, you may not include that text next to the ingredient but you can state it elsewhere on the label.
list of ingredients must appear so that the consumer can clearly read the list
before purchasing. If you have an inner and outer container (i.e. shampoo is
packaged in a bottle and that bottle is then packaged in a branded box), the
ingredients must appear on the outer container as well.
bottom of a container may be used for the placement of the ingredient list when
the shape of the container is flat. You may also use peel back labels or
accordion type labels as long as they can stay intact and put back in place
after being peeled back for reading. You also must indicate on the front of the
label that the ingredient list is found behind the label.
- Bulk - if you’re selling your cosmetics in bulk or in a form that
you’re unable to attach a tag or label to them, you must have a leaflet that
can accompany the product at the point of sale.
- Small Containers - When the container is too small to list the
ingredients on, you must have a tag attached to it in some manner. You may not
use tear-away tags or leaflets in this case.
- Ornamental - if the container is ornamental and has a surface that
doesn’t allow you to put an ingredient list on, you may affix it using a tag,
tape or card. If you’re placing the ornamental container in a package, you must
place the ingredient list on the outside of the package.
- Gift Sets - if you are packaging several cosmetics into one package,
you must list the ingredients of all the cosmetics included in the kit on the
outside of the package. If you’re creating a gift basket that is wrapped in
cellophane, this is considered ornamental so you can attach a card to the
outside of the basket with the ingredient list.
- Testers - as mentioned earlier, testers generally appear next to the actual cosmetic that is for sale, which should be properly labelled, therefore testers do not need an ingredient list.
- Samples - you must label samples in the same manner you label all other cosmetic products.
There is no set font type or size that you
have to use but your ingredient list must be clearly legible and remain so for
as long as the consumer uses the product. This means you can’t use ink that will rub or
rinse off as the consumer handles the package.
Shades and Colors
When selling cosmetics that come in a
variety of shades and colors such as nail polish, eyeshadows, etc. you may use
a"±" symbol or
“may contain”. That way you can create one ingredient label for all shades you
sell and list all the colors used in your creations, instead of creating
different labels for each color. In this case, you must list those ingredients
last. Please see section 5 for more info on this.
Botanical Ingredients & Ingredients on
You must use the genus and species names of
the ingredients or the complete INCI name. Please see section 6 for more info.
The Cosmetic Regulations has names listed in
the Schedule, which are considered “Trivial Names”. You must use the names
exactly as they are mentioned in the Schedule of the Cosmetic Regulations.
Please view their Appendix for a list of 57 ingredients that must appear exactly as they show them.
They are shown in 3 columns
- EU Trivial Name
- English Equivalent
- French Equivalent
You may choose to list these ingredients in
EU form, English & French or using all 3 forms (EU, English & French).
You must list your product's ingredients in
decreasing order by amount. The amount is determined by their concentration of
weight (this does not necessarily apply to fragrance agents or coloring
If there is a concentration of 1% or less,
they may be listed in random order after the decreasing order of ingredients
present in more than 1%
Parfum & Aroma
You may use the following INCI terms for
fragrance or flavor ingredients:
“Parfum” is used to indicate that
ingredients have been added to mask a particular odor. You are able to use the
term “parfum” on its own or accompanied by “fragrance” (i.e. parfum OR
parfum/fragrance), however you are not permitted to use “fragrance” on it’s
own, it must appear with “parfum” (i.e. fragrance (parfum))
“Aroma” is used in an ingredient list to
indicate that substances have been added to the cosmetic to product or mask a
particular taste. You may use the term “aroma” alone or with “flavor” (i.e.
aroma OR aroma/flavor), however you are not able to list “flavor” on it’s own,
it must be accompanied by “aroma” (i.e. flavor (aroma)).
Please see section 10 for more information
on these rules
Ingredients that have been translated into
French, or ingredients listed in foreign languages must be listed separately,
not mixed with INCI names. A separate (but identical) ingredient list using
another nomenclature system or language may follow the INCI list.
Ingredients in cosmetics must not be
separated as medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients (or active/inactive
ingredients), since this would imply that the product is a drug or natural
Ingredients must not have descriptions
(e.g. super-oxygenated water).
Order of ingredients: [ingredients in
descending order of concentration] + [flavour] + [fragrance] + [± or "may
contain/peut contenir" colouring agents].
the difference between different ingredients must be clear.
may also want to include user instructions on the label.
& DRUG ACT
You should also have a good look over the Food & Drug Act; the very basics that you need to know when it comes to selling your
- You cannot sell any cosmetics that may cause injury to the health of
- You cannot sell any cosmetic that has any filthy or decomposed
substance in it or that was made, stored or packaged under unsanitary conditions.
- You cannot mislead the consumer in any way when it comes to your
The proper labeling of personal care
products was the most extensive of the guides we created. We aren't able to cover everything in this article and it is meant to be an overview to
relieve some confusion around it. Before you label or sell and personal care
products, please thoroughly read through the complete acts and guidelines.
If you live in Quebec, they have their own
set of provincial rules when it comes to the labeling of products.
Please visit this website for more info: http://www.olf.gouv.qc.ca
You may also be interested in the Cosmetic
Ingredient Hotlist, which is a list of prohibited and restricted ingredients
For more information on cosmetic safety, ingredients,
labeling, etc, visit this page: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/cosmet-person/index-eng.php
There are regulations when it comes to
containers and being child resistant. Please have a read over the Consumer
Chemicals and Containers Regulations.
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