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Your Guide to Cosmetic Labeling

Jenna Wagner

Your Guide to Cosmetic Labeling


The cosmetic industry faces strict labeling requirements to protect consumer safety and promote transparency. While the cosmetic space and the labeling regulations associated with it aren’t new, it’s a growing market. According to a 2022 report by Industry Research, the global Cosmetic Skin Care market was valued at $55 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $89 billion million by the end of 2027, growing at a CAGR of 7.1% during 2021-2027. 


In this blog, learn what qualifies as a cosmetic, the requirements for a cosmetic product label, and how to choose the best cosmetic labeling software.


Product Selector Tool


What is considered a cosmetic? 


The first step in labeling cosmetic products is answering the following question: is my product considered a cosmetic or a drug? 


Defining a cosmetic 


The US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) defines cosmetics as “articles intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body's structure or functions.” This includes lotions, perfumes, shampoos, lipsticks, eye makeup, fingernail polish and more.  


Defining a drug 


On the other hand, the FD&C defines drugs as “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease" and "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.”  


Products that are both cosmetics and drugs 


While there are two clearly separate definitions for drugs and cosmetics, they are not mutually exclusive; some products can be considered both a cosmetic and a drug. The difference comes down to the intent of the product: Is the product intended to cleanse or promote attractiveness, or does the product affect the structure or function of the body? For example, deodorant masks odor, but when antiperspirant is included, the function of the product alters your body by restraining sweat, classifying the product as both a cosmetic and drug. Shampoo cleans your hair, but anti-dandruff shampoo is also considered a drug because of the intended use of treating dandruff.  


Classifying your product as a cosmetic, drug, or both is essential because it determines what is required on your label.  



If your product is considered both a cosmetic and a drug, the product label must adhere to both sets of regulations.  


To learn more about what is considered a cosmetic vs. a drug, see the FDA’s article, “Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both?”


What is required on a cosmetic label? 


There are three main categories of requirements on cosmetic product labels: the Principal Display Panel, the Information Display Panel, and other requirements related to formatting and use of language.  


Requirements of a cosmetic label


1. Principal Display Panel (PDP) 


The PDP is the portion of the label that is most visible, and the part of the product that is facing outwards on a retail shelf (21 CFR 701.10). The PDP must include the following: 



2. Information Display Panel (IDP) 



3. Other Cosmetic Labeling Requirements



To see the full requirements of cosmetic labeling, see the FDA’s Cosmetic Labeling Guide.  


What to consider when choosing cosmetic labeling software


Make your cosmetic products stand out while staying compliant


When it comes to marketing and selling your cosmetics, having eye-catching product labels and packaging is crucial. But while your products need to stand out, they also are required to contain all the necessary information to stay compliant. You will need to choose cosmetic labeling software that can accommodate both the creative aspect of your cosmetic label by allowing high-res artwork, and the compliant aspect by allowing warning symbols, statements, and ingredient lists.  


Easily create multiple labels for different cosmetic product variations 


Typically, cosmetic products come in various sizes, shades, or scents. This means one cosmetic product, such as a lip balm, might need to have identical labels apart from having different scents. Instead of creating 10 separate labels to change the scent name, your cosmetic labeling software should give you the ability to design label templates where you only need one label template with variable fields. 


Keep your cosmetic labels secure 


Since cosmetics labels have mandated requirements by the FDA, it’s critical that your cosmetic labeling software keeps your labels protected from unwanted changes. If someone who isn’t familiar with cosmetic labeling requirements decreases text size, deletes a warning statement, or moves an element on the label, this could qualify your product as mislabeled or misbranded. 


The best cosmetic labeling software 


Label design software 


When you need to design cosmetic product labels that are compliant and stand out, CODESOFT is the best label design software to meet your needs. CODESOFT supports all common file formats, including .jpg, .png, .gif, .eps, .tif, .bmp, .pdf, which gives you the ability to import any artwork. Either import your artwork as a background image that is static to your label templates or import your artwork as variable images that automatically populate with each product type or variety. Learn more about how to make your product labels stand out in our blog.   


Smart label templates in CODESOFT enable you to minimize the number of label files and increase efficiency and speed in your labeling process. Instead of having countless separate label files for each product variety, scent, or shade, simply create one label template that pulls in variable information from a database or spreadsheet. To learn more about creating database connections in CODESOFT, watch our webinar Creating Database Connections with TEKLYNX Software


Learn more about CODESOFT or download a free 30-day trial


Label security and traceability software 


To keep your labels protected from unwanted changes, LABEL ARCHIVE is the best cosmetic labeling software for security. LABEL ARCHIVE integrates with CODEOSFT and gives you the ability to set up a custom label approval process, ensuring all cosmetic product labels are approved and compliant before sending to print. Through user permissions, ensure only authorized users can edit or print labels, so labels don’t become non-compliant through an unintended edit. If a labeling mistake is made such as printing the wrong label or changing a label template, LABEL ARCHIVE offers a full traceability audit and version history to pinpoint the exact date, time, location, and user to give a diagnosis of the error.  


Learn more about LABEL ARCHIVE or request a demo.


If you want to learn more about our cosmetic labeling software or how to make your cosmetic product labels compliant, talk to one of our labeling experts. 



About Jenna


Jenna Wagner, Global Marketing Director, is a successful strategic marketing executive with over 20 years of marketing experience in software technology and consulting services. She is a creative, dynamic, results-driven leader who possesses a passion for developing her teams.  She leverages her deep understanding of the solutions and industries she serves to deliver impactful customer value throughout the global supply chain to help organizations barcode better.    


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