Labeling Laws for Personal Care Products: Potential Pitfalls for the Consumer

Evelyne Tantry; Ariadna Perez-Sanchez, MD; Shelly Fu; Shravya Potula; Rajani Katta, MD


Skin Therapy Letter. 2021;26(5):1-6. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Consumers of personal care products must be made aware of the potential pitfalls that arise from current labeling practices and regulations. For example, terms such as "hypoallergenic", "sensitive skin", and "baby product" lack legal definitions, and terms such as "fragrance-free" are frequently misinterpreted. Personal care products are a general category that includes such items as cosmetics, drugs, dietary supplements, and consumer goods. This overview of current US FDA regulations of products in this category reviews pertinent regulatory policies and highlights potential consumer pitfalls when evaluating product labels. In particular, current labeling laws permit the use of language that may be incomplete, misinterpreted, or applied solely for marketing purposes. It is important that consumers understand the meaning of labeling terms, the regulations that govern them, and especially understand the potential pitfalls related to these terms.