How to Label Cosmetic Products

My first experience with cosmetic labeling came in college when I turned over the bottle of a shampoo and looked at the ingredient list. It was right around the time when I was learning how to name chemicals and I was confused why I couldn’t recognize almost any of the ingredients. It turns out that the cosmetic industry doesn’t follow the IUPAC system which is what they teach you in college. It follows the system set up by the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) as described in the INCI Dictionary. See our previous post on cosmetic labeling and the naming conventions in it. cosmetic label reading

But the ingredients names in your formula are only part of the labeling process. You also have to follow the labeling rules laid out by the FDA that affect ingredient order, placement on the label, text size, language and more. Here are the relevant facts.

Cosmetic ingredient list

In the United States, it is a requirement that all cosmetics be labeled with their ingredients. The LOI (list of ingredients) is supposed to be printed on the container and needs to follow some rules when listing ingredients.

  1. Ingredients above 1% need to be listed in order of concentration
  2. Ingredients 1% or below can be listed in any order
  3. Exception: Color ingredients are listed at the end

The names of the ingredients must be those found in the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) Dictionary.

Where does the list go?

Once you have the list, you’ll have to put it on the package in the proper position. The FDA requires that it be put on the principle display panel which in most cases just means somewhere on the primary package where people can read it. See this for details.

What kind of font?

To ensure that the ingredient list is readable, the FDA requires that the font size be no smaller than 1/16th of an inch unless your packaging is really small in which case you can make the font 1/32nd of an inch.

What language?

Products sold in the United States must be written in English.

What else do you include?

Other information you need to list includes

  1. Name of the product (e.g shampoo, lipstick, eyeshadow)
  2. Name of manufacturer or distributor
  3. Address of manufacturer including city and zip code
  4. Net contents in container
  5. Warning statements if required

For more details about what and how you specifically need to list information on your labels in the United States, see this section on the FDA website.

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