Saturday, July 7, 2012
Question: Why can't we make claims about our products?
If you make a medical claim for your cosmetic product, it turns it into a drug, and you have to go through a whole battery of tests to make sure it actually works in that capacity. You can get in huge trouble claiming that your product soothes, cures, fixes, eliminates, or generally makes better a problem you might have.
If you claim your lotion moisturizes your skin, that's a cosmetic claim, and that's fine. But if you claim that your lotion will heal eczema, that's a medical claim. If you want to say your body wash cleans your skin or makes you feel more hydrated, that's fine. If you claim it will soothe itchiness, you can't do that.
I know, I know, there's some woman at your local market who makes a sunscreen or a balm that she claims cures eczema or a bug repellant spray. She's breaking the law. Don't bother trying to convince her that she can't make those claims - she won't listen to you, and your day will be ruined as you clench your teeth to avoid yelling at her! Just walk away and hope that no one gets hurts by her claims. (I say this after attending our Party in the Park last night and having to endure the Kapangi water people, who sell their alkaline water that will prevent cancer. What the heck is a micro-cluster of water? It's nothing, that's what? ARGH! Walk away, Susan. Walk away!)
A few examples from Health Canada...Antidandruff shampoos are drugs since they correct an abnormal physical state of dandruff production, while regular shampoos are cosmetics. Antiperspirants modify the organic function of sweat production and are therefore considered drugs. Deodorants only mask odours and are therefore cosmetics.
If you want to use a nail polish to make your nails look pretty, that's a cosmetic. If you want to make a nail polish that claims to heal split nails and awful cuticles, that's a drug.
This is what the FDA has to say: What about therapeutic claims? Promoting a product with claims that it treats or prevents disease or otherwise affects the structure or any function of the body will cause the product to be considered a drug under the FD&C Act, section 201(g).
This is one of the reasons we don't make sunscreens around here - they're drugs, not cosmetics!
If you want to sell your products, you will want to make sure you make the cosmetic labelling laws in your country your new favourite book!
Yep, my anti-itch lotion above would violate the rules, but I'm only making it for my husband and named it that so he'd know which one contained the ingredients I hope will reduce his itchiness. If I were to give this to anyone else, I wouldn't call it that! Calling my lotion an "anti-itch lotion" makes it a drug! And my "possibly a dandruff shampoo" definitely falls into the realm of drug...but again, that was labelled that way for a friend so he'd know which of the many shampoos I'd made him contained ingredients that might be helpful for dandruff. I would never sell either of these products with these labels!
Related posts and links:
Guide to Cosmetic Ingredient Labelling (Health Canada)
Labelling cosmetics (specifically about claims) from Health Canada
Mandatory labelling for cosmetics in Canada (Health Canada)
FDA Cosmetic Labelling guide (USA)
FDA Cosmetic Labelling & Claims
FDA: Is it a cosmetic, a drug, or both? (Or is it soap?)