Imagine walking into a store; let’s say it’s a grocery store. You’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, ready to pick up your weekly supplies. As you meander down the vitamin aisle, you stop; a bottle on the shelf reads “Drop 25 pounds in one week AND grow 4 inches taller!”.
Now, most people will pass by this very confident weight loss/height enhancing bottle, but there are some that won’t. The people that do not walk past it will spend whatever amount is on the sticker and will inevitably be disappointed when seven days have passed and not only are they still the same height, but they are also the same weight. This is an example of dishonesty in marketing, and we’re going to talk about why that’s a no-no.
Staying in the same diet pill vein, think of the diet pill industry as a whole. Typically, that industry has been riddled with bogus products that claim to offer benefits that are never delivered. At this point, it would be very difficult for consumers like you or I to trust a diet pill claim, even with medical proof to back it up.
This is exactly the same case with handcrafted soap and cosmetics!
Perhaps you have a fantastic product, a beautifully moisturizing, luxuriously lathering product that you are selling at your local farmer’s market. A few tables down, a competing handcrafter is selling exactly the same product, but they are saying it will cure eczema, treat psoriasis, and turn back your face’s clock ten years! People will buy this, hopeful people that suffer from these sometimes severe skin conditions, and they will be disappointed. The following week, they will come back and see your stand; but they won’t buy from you. It isn’t because you’ve been dishonest, but because your competitor has failed to deliver on their claims; in the eyes of a consumer, you are no different.
As an industry, the production of handcrafted soap and cosmetics has grown by leaps and bounds. Despite its growing popularity, there are still many who falsely advertise their products as curing or preventing a disease without being approved as a drug by the FDA; this is the type of marketing that must be avoided. Industry standards are not the same as herd immunity; it should not be assumed that if the majority follow the rules, others will be protected. In order to protect the integrity and quality of handcrafted soaps and cosmetics and more importantly to earn and keep the trust of the general public, it is imperative to be honest and legally compliant with your claims!
What Can I Say?
There are many words that you can use to describe your product’s benefits without tripping and falling into FDA drug territory. For example, you can say that your product is moisturizing, since this is a way to beautify the skin. You can also say that your product is conditioning, calming, beautifying, deodorizing, hydrating, and cleansing! That is a pretty great arsenal of descriptive words that can help set reasonable and attainable expectations for your customers.
You cannot say that your product cures or prevents acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, sunburns, or provides an SPF or anti-aging benefit unless you have registered your product as a drug with the FDA. If you are making these claims with no legal grounds, you may be opening yourself up to financial disaster, leading up to and including the closure of your business.
Your product takes you precious time and effort to produce, and no curative claim is worth losing all of the blood, sweat and tears that you’ve poured into your products (hopefully not literally)! Do yourself and your fellow handcrafters a favor and check out the FDA Cosmetic guidelines, and the drug guidelines too; your industry thanks you!
What do you suggest we say to those whom we find making these drug claims or the consumers who wonder why we don’t make those claims too? I
Although it can be frustrating to see a fellow handcrafter making claims you know are not legal, it is better to take the high road and not confront them. Their customers will find out quickly that their product does not deliver the miracle it claims to!
As for customers who ask about the medicinal uses of your product, explain that making claims is against the law. Try to avoid insulting the handcrafter they might be comparing you to, and again-take the high road! Explain the benefits of your product and turn it around to highlight what your product can do-then you can turn them into yourcustomer!
Amazed at how many I still see advertising FO scented soap as EO scented. Misleading. It’s probably the most common lie I see. And also awkward when you have customers request custom soaps and ask you to use things like *apple essential oil*, and insist it’s available, despite you telling them there isn’t an EO for that. They pretty much force you to reveal the lying nature of whatever competitor they got this notion into their heads from.