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Perfume & Fragrance Labeling FAQs

May 20, 2019

If you plan on manufacturing a personal product that's sold in stores, you'll need to comply with applicable federal regulations when designing your packaging and custom labels. Even the fragrances we wear need to be labeled properly in order to ensure consumers are safe and well-informed. Perfumeries and other cosmetics proprietors should pay close attention to this post to make certain that your final product's label design will accurately reflect its contents and national guidelines.

How is My Product Classified?

First, you will need to determine how your product is classified; without this information, you won't be able to discern which regulations apply to your product. It really comes down to the intended purpose of the item. Products like perfume, cologne, and aftershave all fall under the label of cosmetics. Essentially, their purpose is to make the consumer more attractive or to smell nice. There are other fragranced products that may be intended to lubricate the skin, which will also fall under the cosmetic category.

Typically, if a fragranced product is used to treat a health condition, prevent a disease, or provide relief from pain, it may be classified as a drug (or may be both a cosmetic and a drug). There are also other products that contain fragrances but that are not classified as cosmetics or drugs; items like laundry detergents or room fresheners are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, rather than the FDA.

How Do Fragrances Need to Be Featured in Product Labeling?

If your product is regulated by the FDA (meaning that it is a cosmetic), you will need to list your ingredients on your packaging or product labeling. In many cases, these ingredients do need to be listed individually and in descending order of predominance.

However, the law cannot force an organization to reveal trade secrets through their labeling. Because many fragrance formulas are complex and highly detailed, the ingredients used (and the order in which they are displayed) may technically be a trade secret that could be used against your organization by your competitors. In some cases, businesses may be able to simply declare "fragrance" on the label, which can sometimes relate to hundreds of different ingredients. In addition, you may not have to declare a fragrance product that's used to mask the odor of other ingredients. What's more, the terms "fragrance free" and "unscented" are not regulated by the FDA and have no legal definition; in some cases, businesses will use these designations on their unique labels even if there are ingredients within the product that have a fragrance.

A Note About Safe Fragrances

Research shows that 65% of shoppers spend less than one minute using their smartphones to research products in the grocery store prior to making purchase decisions. It's likely that most consumers will spend barely more than that amount of time reading the labels on cosmetic items. However, consumers who have allergies or chemical sensitivities may pay close attention to the custom labeling and packaging utilized by makers of fragrances, perfumes, and other similar items.

It's important to note that the FDA does not have the same requirements for allergen labeling on cosmetic items as it does for food items. Although the FDA does ban a small number of chemicals from being used in cosmetics and fragrances, certain legal ingredients used in cosmetics can produce strong allergic reactions in some individuals. There are industry trade organizations that issue recommendations pertaining to safe ingredients used in fragrance products, but individual manufacturers are not required to adhere to these recommendations.

Although some fragrance companies will view the ability to forsake disclosure of all ingredients as a plus, refraining from listing these ingredients can ultimately cause you to lose out on customers. Consumers are now willing to put in the effort to find out exactly what ingredients they might find in their personal products. Being purposefully vague as part of your product labeling strategy could backfire. In some cases, it might be better for your branding to disclose these ingredients to show your trustworthiness and how safe your product is.

To learn more about how we can assist with fragrance product labeling, please contact us today.

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