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What Regulations Apply to Ingredient Labels for Hair Gel?

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What Regulations Apply to Ingredient Labels for Hair Gel?


When listing ingredients on a jar of hair styling gel, if the gel is all natural, can you list some of the product’s ingredients as a proprietary blend?


The labeling of cosmetics, including hair styling gel, falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA is not required to approve cosmetic labels before products are placed into commerce.  However, the Agency does impose certain limits with respect to cosmetic labeling claims.
Under the law, information on cosmetic labeling, including claims, must be truthful and not misleading.  FDA has not defined the term “natural” and has not established a regulatory definition for this term in cosmetic labeling.  The Agency advises not to use terms such as “natural” as part of an ingredient statement because ingredients must be listed by their common or usual names without additional description.
FDA regulations require cosmetics produced or distributed for retail sale to bear an ingredient declaration (see Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) §701.3). The ingredients are required to be listed in descending order of predominance unless an exemption exist.
Cosmetic manufacturers, packers, or distributors can submit a request to FDA to exempt an ingredient from public disclosure. 
Directions for requesting confidentiality of the identity of cosmetic ingredients are found in 21 C.F.R. §720.8(b). The request must contain a full statement of the factual and legal grounds for the request. FDA explains that the statement of the factual grounds should include scientific or technical data, reports, tests, and other relevant information that addresses the following factors: 

  1. The extent to which the identity of the ingredient is known outside petitioner's business;
  2. The extent to which the identity of the ingredient is known by employees and others involved in petitioner's business;
  3. The extent of measures taken by the petitioner to guard the secrecy of the information;
  4. The value of the information about the identity of the claimed trade secret ingredient to the petitioner and to its competitors;
  5. The amount of effort or money expended by petitioner in developing the ingredient; and
  6. The ease or difficulty with which the identity of the ingredient could be properly acquired or duplicated by others.
  7. If FDA determines that the identity of an ingredient qualifies as a trade secret, it may be listed as “and other ingredients.”

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