adhesive label designProducing, distributing, and selling soap products in the U.S. is often more confusing than businesses realize. That’s because the applicable regulations for soaps largely depends on its intended use and the ingredients it contains. In order to ensure compliance with your adhesive label designs, it’s essential that you understand which government agency will determine the necessary regulations.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are concerned with protecting the public. After all, 85% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are informed by reading a product’s packaging while shopping. It makes sense, then, that both agencies would want to ensure that product branding, ingredient information, and applicable warning labels provide adequate information to keep the public safe.

However, the products monitored by these agencies differ. The FDA’s regulations apply to food, pharmaceutical medications, cosmetics, and tobacco products. The CPSC focuses on other kinds of consumer goods, such as toys, clothing, cleaning products, sporting goods, and more. It might seem like a pretty clear-cut distinction, but soap-makers have to pay very close attention to what differentiates the two.

That’s because the soap category can be rather confusing. To have a product be considered a soap by the FDA, it must:

  • Be composed mainly of alkali salts of fatty acids
  • Have the resulting cleaning action be a direct result of those alkali salts of fatty acids
  • Be labeled and marketed only for use as a soap

In other words, a product may be regulated as a soap only if it’s comprised mainly of alkali salts of fatty acids and that those alkali salts are what causes the soap to provide cleaning actions (e.g., if synthetic detergents are what’s used for that purpose, it cannot be labeled as a soap). The labels for your business’s soap products must also clearly market it for cleaning purposes. If it’s intended for purposes like deodorizing or moisturizing, it’s actually considered to be a cosmetic; if it’s intended to treat skin conditions like eczema or acne, it’s considered to be a drug. However, in those cases, your adhesive label design can still include the word “soap.”

Assuming your soap product meets the qualifications outlined by the FDA, the product will actually fall under the watch of the CPSC. (We told you it was confusing!) So if all three of those points applies to your product, you would refer to the CPSC with any questions labeling companies might have about what needs to be included.

If your soap falls under the cosmetic or drug categories (meaning it doesn’t meet one or more of those requirements listed above), the FDA is your regulative agency. It’s important to note that your custom labels can still include indicators that your product is a soap, even if it’s regulated as a different type of item by the FDA. In cases of cosmetics, neither the ingredients nor the final product requires FDA approval (aside from the use of color additives). Products that are considered to be drugs need to follow applicable drug requirements and the company must also register their firm. In some cases, soap products may be defined as both cosmetics and drugs; to be considered compliant, your product will have to meet requirements for both of these categories.

Before you can actually get started on your adhesive label design elements, you’ll need to determine the category under which your product falls and the agency in charge of regulating it. Once you’ve done that, you can work with your labeling company to come up with something exciting and durable that will meet all regulations.