5 Do’s and Don’ts of Labeling

You can have the most fantastic, most luxurious, most incredible product in the entire handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry, but if it’s labeled wrong it might as well be a lump of rock in a nice package.

Labeling is crucial to ensuring both you and your customer’s safety and also maintaining the integrity of the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry as a whole. As with many instances, there is no such thing as herd immunity when it comes to labeling your products; just because everyone around you is labeling correctly does not mean you won’t be singled out if you don’t.

Labeling guidelines are not always the easiest to understand, so we’ve compiled a quick and soapy list of five do’s and don’ts you need to adhere to when you’re labeling your products.

  1. No fantastic claims, please. We all want a magical soap or lotion that makes us thin, smooth and 20 years younger but we also all know that soap and cosmetics don’t do that. So, while you might get a lot of attention by advertising your product as the miracle cure to a common skin ailment or sickness, we can guarantee you two things: a.) the majority of that attention will likely be from the government, and b.) the rest of it will be from angry customers who are still suffering from said skin ailment. Resist the urge to be a carnival barker and stick with approved benefits like…
  2. It moisturizes, it has skin-loving ingredients! That’s what we (and the government) want to hear. Tell your customers that it exfoliates and luxuriates, tell them that the scent will give them visions of tropical islands and faraway places. In essence, tell them what the experience will be like, as opposed to promises you cannot deliver on.
  3. Do list the weight. In this situation, as in every situation where weight is involved, you should not exaggerate the heaviness of your product. We all know that shrinking happens when soap cures, and it might not be the weight it started out at when you packaged it. That’s fine-what isn’t so fine is if you list the pre-shrinkage weight on the package, and your product reduces in size. Now, you have (perhaps unintentionally) sold a lighter product to your customer than what you’ve advertised, and that is a big no-no. The very preferable thing to do is reserve a few bars and let them sit for a few months, then re-weigh them. By that time, they would have shrunken and you will have a better idea of what the correct weight should be.
  4. Be up front and on the front. The name of the product or product type and the net weight all need to be prominently displayed on the front label. That means no hard to read text which includes fancy fonts, or text that is too small, too faint, etc. Then, list your ingredients on the back in descending quantity so that your customer knows what’s in it.
  5. Some things need to have a warning label. There are certain cosmetics that require a warning label. Examples are bubble bath, tanning products without sunscreen and feminine deodorant sprays. Don’t ignore this step-although we would like to think that most people will use the product as intended, there are a select few that may not, and this is where trouble pops up.

Think of all of the things you look at on a label when you purchase something at the store. You check to see who makes it, you look at the ingredients if it’s a food, drug, etc., and you probably look to see how much is in the package. It’s no different with your products. Your customer will expect the same transparency and so does the government; properly label your products so you, your customer and the government can all get along.

Need an in depth explanation? The HSCG is proud to carry Marie Gale’s full book collection! Check it out at https://www.soapguild.org/cart/books/145/complete-works-of-marie-gale.php

All About Melt & Pour: What it is and How it Works

When we talk about soap, there are a few different types that we could be talking about. There is cold process, which is a method that involves melting and combing oils and lye water and allowing the soap to go through the saponification process over a certain time period. There is hot process, which is when a soapmaker combines melted oils and lye water in a heat safe container and cooks the batter through the saponification process, allowing for a vastly reduced cure time. Then, there is melt & pour, and this is the process we’ll be discussing today!

What is it? 

Melt & pour is a soapmaking method where a soapmaker takes an already saponified base, melts it, and combines it with fragrances, colorants, exfoliants and more of their choosing and then pours it in a mold. This is a great option for the beginner soapmaker, and has the potential for advanced artistry, too.

Is it Soap? 

Simply put, yes. A common misconception about melt & pour is that it is lye-free. In solid bars of soap, lye is also called sodium hydroxide, and it is an essential and mandatory part of the saponification process. No lye, no soap! While someone utilizing the melt & pour method may not physically come into contact with lye, it was still used to make the meltable base they used.


Melt & pour is very versatile; bases are available in many different “flavors”! A melt & pour base is soap that is ready to use as is; you could simply cut it and sell it, if you wanted to (but what’s the fun in that?). Bases typically come in transparent, white, or ivory, depending on the base you’ve purchased. A few examples of popular additives in bases are goat’s milk, aloe and shea butter.


One of the biggest benefits of melt & pour is the ability to use glittery, shiny micas to color it! If you choose a transparent melt & pour base, these colors will retain their shimmer for a truly striking product. Just make sure that you are using skin and soap safe colorants so that your customer’s skin stays as beautiful as your soap!

The Drawbacks of Melt & Pour

There are drawbacks to using melt & pour, although they are very few! One major drawback is the durability of the product. If you are showing outdoors, you will need to take care to keep your soap out of direct sunlight to prevent melting and fading. Along the same vein, melt & pour will not last quite as long as cold or hot process bars in the shower; the same additive that helps the base to melt easily can also contribute to a quick fading bar. Design-wise, it is also more difficult to attain a swirl in melt & pour.

Benefits of Melt & Pour 

Melt & pour can be every bit as beneficial as cold or hot process bars. The time saved by not having to melt oils and combine them with lye water is a big benefit in itself. The ability to use shimmering colors also expands your design potential exponentially! Also, if you are looking for a great project to do with older kids, melt & pour is the safest of the three methods to use. And, let’s not forget that once the bar hardens, it’s ready to go-no curing, no waiting!

Final Thoughts 

Melt & pour is a great way for beginners to get into soapmaking, especially if there is a concern about handling a caustic chemical like sodium hydroxide. There is a lot of potential for beautiful designs and additives; grab a base and try your hand at this fool proof method!

Common Scents: Patchouli

Welcome back to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a collection of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting. This week, we’ll talk about patchouli! 

Scent is an incredible sense. A certain smell can make you remember a person or place, or can be associated with a whole group of people; kind of like the smell of patchouli! Patchouli has long been considered a “hippie” smell and is definitely the kind of aroma you either love or hate.

Patchouli or pogostermon cablin is a perennial herb that originated in Southeast Asia. Patchouli prefers tropical jungles, but will also grow in elevations up to 6,000 feet. It is a squat, bushy herb that can grow to around 2-3 feet in height, and can be found growing wild in Java and Sumatra.

Patchouli is harvested 2-3 times per year for the production of essential oil. The leaves are hand picked and the herb is fermented before the oil is extracted. Because patchouli is so easy to grow and is harvested so frequently, the price of patchouli tends to stay reasonable with a very low adulteration rate.


Patchouli has been used in traditional medicine for centuries in Asia. Countries like Malaysia, Japan and China trusted patchouli to treat ailments like eczema, dermatitis, acne, dandruff, oily scalp and other skin conditions.

Patchouli was first exported from India during the 19th century and was used in cloth to repel moths and other destructive insects. Because patchouli was so frequently used for this purpose, dishonest merchants seeking to reap the profits of oriental fabric without providing the same quality would scent their fabric with patchouli, too; this was the only way to trick customers into believing it was official!

Patchouli in Soap and Cosmetics 

Patchouli is very popular in fragrance blending, and is considered to be a base note. It is also classified as fixative, which means that it slows down the speed of evaporation for other volatile oils it is mixed with and can prolong the amount of time the aroma is released. Patchouli mixes well with vetiver, rosemary, sandalwood, lemongrass, citrus type oils, rose, frankincense and bergamot, making it a very versatile oil with a spicy aroma. This warmth lends well to incense, and patchouli is very popular as a scent for many different kinds.

Use in Aromatherapy and Medicine 

As mentioned above, patchouli has been used in traditional Asian cultures medicinally for centuries. Today, patchouli is thought to aid in the prevention of fevers, as an immune system booster, and also as a remedy for insect and snake bites. In aromatherapy, patchouli is used to restore mental and physical balance, and is thought to bring prosperity and abundance to whomever uses it.

Please note: the HSCG makes no medical claims and does not give medical advice. The FDA has not approved patchouli for use medicinally; this information is provided strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. 

Final Thoughts 

Patchouli has a very distinct smell that your customers will either snap up or pass up; blended with other warm, comforting scents, patchouli makes a great addition to any bath line!

Do you make any products with patchouli? Drop us a comment here on our blog, or on the Facebook post for this article!

Do you love fragrance blending? Check out our article titled Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them, available on Cut to the Trace now! http://www.cuttothetrace.com/2016/11/fragrance-bending-how-to/