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Rules Every Cosmetic Label Must Follow

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Cosmetics companies are faced with a slew of FDA regulations concerning their labels. The requirements for any individual product include the net amount of the cosmetic container, the size and placement of the cosmetic label, the address of the manufacturer and batch codes among other things. These regulations are closely enforced by the FDA as a means of promoting safety and valuation of cosmetic products based on the claims of the manufacturer. 

The Principal Display Panel

A term that comes up frequently in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act is the Principal Display Panel (PDP). The PDP refers specifically to the side of the container that will most likely be seen by the consumer in a retail environment. There are a variety of different requirements that the PDP must meet, but in general the PDP must make up 40% of the overall size of the container, or one full size of a rectangular carton. In some cases, containers have multiple PDPs, and the information must be duplicated on all of them. 

The PDP must display the following four items to be in compliance with FDA regulations:

  • Product Name
  • Identity
  • §740.10 Warning
  • Net Quantity of Contents

The label and display guidelines allow for this information to be included in a graphic design, such as a logo or full color graphic with subtext. Under all circumstances, the PDP must be both prominent and conspicuous, using language that will generally be understood by the consumer base and which is easily visible at the time of purchase. 

Informational Panels

Any area of the container outside of the PDP is generally referred to as an informational panel. Informational panels are home to several other important pieces of information including: directions for safe use, warnings, name and place of manufacture, ingredient list, batch and lot codes, and any other details. Some of the most common cosmetic label warnings include notifications that the safety of a particular item has not been tested, or to avoid getting the cosmetic in the eyes or mouth. There are also rules set forth for the size and type used in the printing of cosmetic label ingredient lists. Ingredients are to be listed in descending order based on predominance of each ingredient, followed by a separate listing of any additives used for flavor or color. The ingredient list must use industry standard names for each ingredient with the exception of trade secrets, which will be identified as "And Other Ingredients". 

The purpose of these cosmetic label regulations is to ensure that consumers are able to make informed purchasing decisions about the products they are putting on their body, and to ensure that any claims made by the manufacturer can be verified for accuracy. Since cosmetics come in a wide range of container shapes and styles, many with stylistic elements, it is also important that manufacturers clearly and accurately label the net contents of their product for fair marketing. In order to be compliant with federal regulations, all labels must be durable and easy read, requiring a high quality print that will remain intact through transportation and onto retail shelves.