In the soap making world there's been a lot of talk about a bill before congress that could affect soap and cosmetic makers. It's called the Personal Care Products Safety Act.
Without getting into the details of the bill, I did want to talk to you about some of the reasons there is an interest in drafting such a bill.
With the trend to natural and the availability of information on the internet, there are many more people who are making and selling their handmade soaps. Alas, what is a lot less interesting to soap makers are the regulations that we must follow when selling our products.
Quiz 1: Which of the following is "Soap" as defined by the FDA?
To be soap in the eyes of the FDA, it has to consist primarily of alkali salts of fatty acids (fancy talk about the end result of when you mix lyes and oils) and its intended use has to be for cleansing.
Irish Spring and other commercial soaps don't qualify because most if not all use surfectants or other synthetic compounds as one of their key ingredients. They are then considered a cosmetic.
At 444Farm Soaps, we like to talk about the different properties in the ingredients we use and also about the glories of glycerin (soap w lotion in it). Because of that, we break the "for cleansing" part of the definition and are also considered a cosmetic.
Because we are a cosmetic, we have to follow the regulations in the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and also the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. Fortunately, us small soapmakers have Marie Gale on our side and she muddles thru the regulations and puts it in soapmaker speak in her books.
Quiz 2: Which of the following are cosmetics?
Answer: #2 is a cosmetic. #1 is questionable - because she is making claims that it cures disease, she would actually probably be considered a DRUG! (She so does not want to be considered a drug as that would require FDA approval before being sold!)
Yup, we soapmakers have to mind our P's and Q's! And if we don't...well, someone will slap our hands and will submit legislation to make us do so!
But for the most part that's ok. The regulations are there to protect you, our customers. I WANT to follow them - I kinda like my customers :).
There's a lot of common sense in the new legislation but they added just a couple things that will make it very difficult for us small makers. I also have an obligation to my industry to follow current legislation to do my part for not forcing overregulation.
We have a lot going on in our industry and I want to always deliver quality to my customers. It is for those reasons that it was important that I became a certified soap maker and a member of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild (HSCG).
Consider buying your handcrafted soap from certified soap makers!