Article by: Perry Romanowski

I just saw that the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) revamped their cosmetics information website. This is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to know what the US government has to say about cosmetics. Here are some of the highlights.



FDA Cosmetic Regulation

Many people erroneously claim that the cosmetic industry is not regulated, but in the United States this responsibility falls on the FDA. Their specific responsibilities are outlined on this page. Basically, the FDA takes a hands-off approach with the mandate that cosmetic manufacturers are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products. They don’t tell you specifically what testing proves safety so that’s where things get a little fuzzy.

FDA and cosmetic claims

There is a section outlining what the FDA considers appropriate cosmetic labeling and claims. The requirements are not too stringent but they do say things like you can’t put false or misleading information on the label. Required information on the label includes the following

1. Identity statement
2. Accurate quantity
3. Name & place of business
4. Directions for use
5. Appropriate warning statements
6. Ingredient list

Definition of Cosmetic

If you ever wonder what makes something a cosmetic or not, just check out this page on the new FDA cosmetic website. It comes right out of the FD&C Act sec. 201(i). This definition covers pretty much any kind of personal care product you can imagine (except soap). Other products that are not technically cosmetics are products classified as OTC drugs. This would be things like dandruff shampoos & sunscreens.

More FDA Cosmetic Information

The FDA has published about some specific cosmetic topics which they presumably were asked to do. This includes subjects like Mad Cow Disease, 1,4-dioxane and other potential cosmetic contaminants. They also have written about villified compounds such as parabens, phthalates, and color additives. Finally, there is some specific product information regarding hair color, makeup, etc.

The FDA takes a lot of heat from consumer protection groups but they do try and provide the public important information about cosmetics. As a cosmetic scientist, you should be familiar with all of the information on their new website. It will make you a better formulator if you do.

Have any questions about cosmetic formulas?  Leave a question in the comments section below.



  1. Avatar
    Leatrice Vassel

    Good morning 🙂 I am currently in the process of starting an organic skincare line which includes sugar scrubs for the lips and body, facial sprays, shaving creams , lip balms and body butter. Aside from gaining legal protection and backing from an LLC , marketing, branding etc. what other steps do I need to take in order to ensure that I have covered all of my bases during this business venture.

  2. Avatar
    Reda Ghandour

    Where can I find relevant informations and formulas of ethnic care products?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      See our post on where to find free formulations.

  3. Avatar
    Sophia Coleman

    I have a question about “HD Makeup”…what makes up the formula?

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