I am a label reader and have been for several years. It started off with reading food product labels and looking at food ingredients and just naturally expanded to other products. When I first had the idea of starting a company and selling body care products, one of my first thoughts was “Finally! I can create a product and have a label that is straightforward and easy to understand.” Oh the things we don’t know about when we start out!

I have a wonderful graphic designer, Suzanne (http://www.tickingtimebomb.ca/), and I love the look of my labels. And, if it is possible, I became even more impressed with her work once I knew how much information is required to be on the label!

Label requirements were one of the things we talked about briefly in the classes I took last fall. And Jan gave us a link to the site for the Canadian regulations for cosmetic products. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/cosmet-person/index-eng.php Here I found 5 different documents (a total of 150 pages) that outline what you have to include on your labels, a ‘hot list’ of things you can’t have in your products, and what advertising claims you can and cannot make. A bit overwhelming the first time through!

It was at this time that I was also introduced to INCI names! INCI stands for International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient. When listing ingredients for your products they must be listed in order of the amount used (from highest to lowest percentage) and the ingredients must be listed with either their Latin name or their INCI name. Not an easy task if you are using an ‘uncommon’ cosmetic ingredient – and sometimes the simplest natural ingredient is ‘uncommon’ for the cosmetic industry.

Aside from just not having enough hours in a day to experiment with new products, labels are one of the reasons why it sometimes takes me longer to launch a new product. Aside from the work involved in the actual label, you also have to file paperwork with the government for each product. It is a 2 page form (with a 29 page guide on how to fill it out!) that lists what your product is, what it is for, who it is for, and what it contains. And as with most government paperwork, it is never just straightforward. You have to search their list so you can choose the corresponding number to go with your product type. That’s right – you can’t just say Body Lotion. In one box you put ‘28 – Skin Moisturizer’ and in another box you put ‘10 – Lotion’. Never straightforward.

And all of that is just for cosmetic products. I’m still working on finding the regulations for household products!