Etsy Updates Policies on Cosmetics Making Claims

The Soap Queen Lab by SoapQueenLab on Etsy 2012-08-23 13-55-49

Etsy recently updated their policy on a variety of products that many Soap Queen readers and Bramble Berry customers make: products to help with acne (usually containing Tea Tree Essential Oil), anti-wrinkle creams and serums (often containing luscious ingredients like Tamanu Oil or Seabuckthorn Extract), diaper rash creams (often containing zinc oxide) and anything making anti-itch statements (often with additives like calamine or calendula-infused oils). This move has caused some confusion and frustration in the Etsy marketplace. Bottom line: follow the current, existing FDA guidelines for labeling cosmetics and you will be in compliance with Etsy’s new policy.

For the long post details, including actual languaging from FDA Warning Letters, links to the FDA site, statements from Etsy on the issue, continue reading by clicking “more”.

You can read Etsy’s full and official policy here. At the same time they changed their policy regarding cosmetics making medical claims, they also prohibited actual drugs (like Spice), body parts (teeth and human remains), flammable items and motor vehicles. The FDA has clear definitions on what a soap, a drug and a cosmetic are. You can read those definitions here. Full FDA labeling laws are here. Full FDA Cosmetic Links page is here. I find Marie Gale’s book Soap and Cosmetic Labeling very helpful when trying to make sense of the FDA jargon.

This is a good example of medical claims that are unacceptable taken directly from the FDA site: “Some examples are claims that products will restore hair growth, reduce cellulite, treat varicose veins, increase or decrease the production of melanin (pigment) in the skin, or regenerate cells…. a fragrance marketed for promoting attractiveness is a cosmetic. But a fragrance marketed with certain “aromatherapy” claims, such as assertions that the scent will help the consumer sleep or quit smoking, meets the definition of a drug because of its intended use.” Etsy has taken the policy that if you are making medical claims about any particular item (prevent, treat, or cure a medical condition of any type), you are out of compliance and cannot sell on Etsy. This is in line with current law written by the FDA, so Etsy’s rules aren’t anything new.

There is a difference between scientific evidence and anecdotal evidence. According to the FDA, you cannot make scientific claims without the backing of scientific studies. Anecdotal evidence is not allowed to be used on packaging or in advertising of cosmetics. It is important that we follow existing FDA guidelines both for ourselves and for our customers. Additionally, with the pending legislation that may affect our industry, it helps everyone when current small batch producers follow existing law.

Lauren Engelhardt, representing Etsy had this to say about cosmetic based claims:

I’ve seen some questions raised about cosmetic products. It’s OK to describe a product as having cosmetic properties or benefits, like saying it is moisturizing, conditioning, softens skin, deodorizes, beautifies, de-tangles hair, etc. Those are not medical drug claims; those cosmetic descriptions do not correlate the product to the cure or treatment of a health condition.

Using language like “this product MAY have an effect to cure or treat a health condition or illness” is still considered a medical drug claim under this policy.

Using a disclaimer is not an acceptable workaround for stating a medical drug claim in your listing. You are welcome to keep any accurate disclaimers or warnings. But all medical drug claims will still need to be removed from the presentation of your item.

The policy prohibits medical drug claims about an item. Etsy is not banning any specific words from being used in a listing; words like “cures” or “helps” on their own do not necessarily indicate a medical drug claim. However, if you are using those words to imply that using the item will cure or help relieve a health condition or illness, then you will need to remove that from your listing. Similarly, avoid using disease or illness terms to imply your product is useful for curing or treating those afflictions. This includes use in title and tags, as well as description.

As long as you exclude any medical drug claims, you can still mention folklore, mythology or historical/cultural significance of item, materials and ingredients in listings.
The policy pertains to all listings on Etsy. A seller may not make claims that using their product (whatever the item may be) correlates with the cure or relief of a health condition or illness. This includes historical, folklore or “time-tested claims that make a correlation between the product and the cure or relief of a health condition or illness.

Etsy appears to be trying to understand their new policy. It’s clear from the paragraphs above that things are still a little grey in Etsyland. Which is understandable given that labeling cosmetic products is complicated. Another sign that Etsy is still working out the kinks is that one Etsy seller said that they received clarification from the Etsy team that it was okay to mention traditional uses as long as you don’t mention a particular disease. “This herb has long been used to promote calmness.” versus “This herb is a traditional insomnia remedy.” Again, Bramble Berry’s position is that all sellers in any marketplace (your own website, Farmer’s Market, Etsy, Artfire etc…) should always follow the FDA guidelines on making medical claims. More information and clarification on medical claims below, taken directly from FDA warning letters to vendors.

The FDA has cited the following language as medical claims with respect to product ingredients and products marketed as cosmetics. According to public records readily available on the FDA website, the products were considered drugs by the FDA ( and there are many, many more).

Examples of medical claims below taken from a letter to M.W. Laboratories (full text of letter here).

*”a powerful combination of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that help reduce stress and inflammation of the skin.”

*”Protection Lotion is a unique lotion formulated for inflamed skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, radiation burns and stretch mark prevention.”

*”Helps reduce inflammation and pain associated arthritis and muscular discomfort”

“A uniquely formulated lotion that helps to reduce inflammation as well as minimize and potentially prevent bruising.”

“Can be used in conjunction with Post-Op to minimize scarring.”

“an incredible scar and keloid reducing formula”

“helps to reduce inflammation and scarring”

“accelerate the skin’s healing processes”

“formulated to help reduce the inflammation and irritation associated with minor skin irritations, insect bites and minor sunburn.”

“Helps reduce stress and inflammation of acne skin.”

“Accelerates healing, regulates sebaceous output, reduces bacterial”

“Soothes inflamed skin and reduces bacteria.”

“Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and healing agents will help reduce the effects of environmental stresses to the skin”

The listed ingredients of this product include:
Water, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Glycerin, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parakii (Shea Butter), …

“…In evaluating the regulatory status of this product, we considered that the labeling does not differentiate between the active and inactive ingredients. Therefore, it is our position that the components listed above as “Ingredients” for J Hansyd Hand and Nail are all active ingredients. Under 21 C.F.R. § 201.66(b)(2) any component in a drug that is intended to furnish pharmacological activity or other direct effect in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to affect the structure or any function of the body of humans, would be considered an active ingredient.” Full letter here.

Of another specific product described as:

“A specially formulated lotion designed to help reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritic pain and muscular discomfort.”

‘Based on its labeling, including the online brochure, Deep Pain Care Hot is a topical product used to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and muscular discomfort. As described in more detail below, Deep Pain Care Hot does not conform to the TFM for OTC External Analgesics; it is not eligible for the OTC Drug Review; and it violates various provisions of the Act.’

**The ingredient list for this product:

“Water, Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM), Arctium Majus Root (Burdock) Extract, Zingiber Officinate (Ginger) Root Extract, Piper Nigrum (Pepper) Seed Extract, Capsicum Annuum Extract, Artemisia Absinthium (Wormwood Oil), Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Menthol, Cinnamomum Camphora (Campohor) Bark Oil, Xanthan Gum, Eugenol, Glucosamine Sulfate, Sodium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Trideceth-10, Phenoxyethanol, Iodobutylcarbamate.”

… evaluating the regulatory status of this product, we considered that the labeling does not differentiate between the active and inactive ingredients. Therefore, it is our position that the components listed above as “Ingredients” for Deep Pain Care Hot are all active ingredients. Under 21 C.F.R. § 201.66(b)(2) any component in a drug that is intended to furnish pharmacological activity or other direct effect in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to affect the structure or any function of the body of humans, would be considered an active ingredient.
All referenced from this warning letter from the FDA
www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2009/ucm212634.htm

********************************

Anther letter sent to a company specializing in Aloe Vera based products:

Examples of some of the product-specific claims observed on your website:

“Apricot Kernel Oil [an ingredient in your product] supplies . . . a natural source of cancer fighting laetryl lipids.”

“Borage Oil equals the GLA content found only in mother’s milk. These unsaturated fats are incorporated into cell membranes to help with electron movement and insulate the body against heat loss. They prevent drying and flaking of skin; the precursors of hormone-like substances that supply collagen and elastin for better skin tone.

“Natural B vitamins in the soy and safflower oils help in cell formation and build skin immune functions.”
“Soy protein [an ingredient in your product] is often documented as a cancer preventative agent

“Apricot kernel oil [an ingredient in the product] is high in gamma-linolenic acid that prevents the breakdown of elastic fibers and collagen that restores firmness to the tissues. These essential elements . . . are a natural source of cancer fighting laetryl lipids.”

“Natural B-vitamins in the safflower and avocado oils [ingredients in this product] help in cell formation and build skin-immune functions. These oils renew skin flexibility by permeating natural vitamins A and E into skin cells, making regeneration of these cells occur faster.”

““Natural B vitamins in the soy and safflower oils [ingredients in this product] help in cell formation and build skin immune functions. These oils renew skin flexibility by permeating vitamins A and E into skin cells, making regeneration of these cells occur faster. For these reasons soy oil is often suggested as a cancer preventative.””

“First Aid in a Bottle”
“[S]tops acne eruptions and irritations . . . .”
“[A]ntiseptic for aftercare, helps with ingrown hair, acne eruptions.”
“[T]reatment for psoriasis and eczema.”
“[A]ids wounds and areas of infection.”
“[H]elp to prevent injuries to the skin tissues and increase the healing rate when these tissues are damaged.”
“Aloe vera [an ingredient in your product] is an antiseptic, fungicide and a bactericide. This natural wound serum speeds relief for burns, cuts, abrasions, and stops itch caused by tissue restoration or bug bites.”
“[U]se Aloe Comfrey Gel generously . . . to heal the affected skin tissue area.”

Chamomile [an ingredient in the product] is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial herb. This, along with the aloe, soothes irritation and reduces swelling or puffiness. This product is excellent for use on skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis . .

“Aloe Stic contains 11% of this [tea tree oil] anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial substance.”

“The lipophilic nature of tea tree oil enables it to chemically combine with fats and other lipids. The strong solvency of this oil assists in cleaning out and dissolving pustules and cysts. This obviously makes a great acne treatment.”

“Use this Aloe Stic to ease the dry, flaking and cracking skin on psoriasis areas. Comfort comes immediately to dry cracked feet by eliminating the inflammation of corns, calluses and bunions.

Itching from insect bites, poison oak or rashes is stopped for hours after applying Aloe Stic.”
“[S]lows recurring cold sores.”

Full letter here.

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Here is a letter regarding essential oils and claims:

www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2006/ucm075968.htm

******************************

I hope this helps to clarify the difference between cosmetic claims and medical claims. By understanding the FDA rules and regulations and complying with them, you will be in compliance with the new Etsy rules and regulations.

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39 Comments

  1. Khris says

    I have a question about being able to say that my soaps are gluten free do you know if that is o.k. to do? Because I started to make soaps for my daughter because she has celiac disease and now would love to sell them for people that would like to have gluten free soaps and so on. If your not sure could you direct me to where I can find the 1-800 number to call to find out.

    • says

      Good morning, Khris!

      As long as you don’t claim your soaps can cure, heal or treat a disease, you can label them gluten-free, vegan or dairy-free (as long as they ARE gluten-free, vegan or dairy-free!) I hope this helps! :)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

      • Khris says

        This helps a lot. Thank you very much!!!! *Big Hug*
        I have to say *Everyone* at Brambleberry are *AWESOME*

  2. says

    What I find confusing and somewhat annoying about this, is that this legislation is all US based and even though Etsy is open to sellers from all countries, people not in the US are somehow subject to it? I’d be curious to see what would happen if I stopped posting to the US, I wonder if that would change anything.

    Does anyone know anything about how these regulations impact country of origin??

    x

    • says

      If you sell on Etsy, you have to comply, even if you’re not in the U.S. At least, that’s how I read the rules. You should write them for full confirmation.

  3. says

    According to the admin on Etsy forums, you cannot use any folklore, mythology or historical/cultural significance whether it’s for soap, bath or skin care product, aromatherapy or essential oil’s historical usage or any gem stones with cultural or historical properties. That implies a medical claim which the FDA doesn’t look upon kindly and Etsy does not allow. You should not use the word “cure”. That implies a medical claim and as such makes it a drug.

  4. says

    Wow – interesting stuff. I’m going to have to re-read this a few times and check out the full FDA letter. This is a lot to digest. I’m definitely going to review my Etsy postings to make sure that I’m not inadvertently claiming something that doesn’t comply. I’ve always been diligent about labeling, but again, it’s a good reminder. Thank you so much for sharing this info Anne-Marie. I’m sure it was a lot of work putting this together but well appreciated.
    ~Evie

  5. says

    Hi Anne-Marie,
    I really appreciate this post! I try so hard to follow the FDA labeling requirements and it frustrates me that others either don’t know the regulations or choose not to follow them.

    I was talking with some friends over the weekend who purchased some handmade sunscreen on Etsy. I cringed on the inside because I’m not sure about claiming that a product has sun protection and marketing it as a sunscreen. If I read the Etsy policy doesn’t it seem that anything branded as sunscreen would fall into the “drug” category and not be allowed to be sold on Etsy?

    Thanks,

    Rachel

    • says

      Yes, as far as our research has shown claiming a specific SPF is a drug claim and you have to have your product tested to ensure that the SPF is correct.

      So I agree with you. Claiming that a product is a sunscreen is a drug claim and requires special labeling. It’s one of the reasons Bramble Berry doesn’t sell SPF additives, we don’t want our customers to get in trouble!

  6. says

    I appreciate the time and effort that you put into this article for us.

    Having read all pertinant information over and over again it is so wonderful to be reminded and brought up to date about the etsy! I suggest that you publish this article for your customers perhaps bi-annually. I appreciate the nudge Anne-Marie thank you muchly!

  7. Kara says

    I’m getting a better picture of the FDA & Etsy do’s and don’ts. ***Except for one thing: Listing “Active” and “Inactive” ingredients. Do you only have to specify which ingredient is which if you’re making a drug? Or do you have to specify them even if you’re producing (let’s say) lip balm and making no medical claims about it whatsoever? If so, could you please provide an example of an ingredient label that’s appropriately marked with “Active” and “Inactive ingredients for a product which makes no medical claims whatsoever?

    This is the last piece of the puzzle for me. (I hope!)

    • says

      Active and Inactive ingredient labeling is just for pharmaceuticals. So if you are just making a cosmetic you do not need to worry about that.

  8. Mariah says

    Thanks for the fantastic overview…you have made a big bowl of jargon a little bit clearer for me. As others have commented, I wish everyone played by the rules! I have been disappointed by purchases from fellow soap makers on Etsy when their product arrives without any labeling AT ALL (!) or ingredient list…what’s up with that?!?
    Thanks again!
    Mariah

    • says

      If it is soap- soap isn’t a cosmetic and doesn’t need to be ingredient labeled. Most soapers do it as a service type of thing. I label all of mine but I can see where some don’t as long as it’s soap.

      Finally, someone is bringing light to this problem. That yellow snow cream did nothing for my fine lines. :)

    • says

      I read the letter you posted, since I too use essential oils (as do most of us!). The FDA isn’t saying that one can’t use EOs, but that particular company made therapeutic claims, and that was the problem, not the oils themselves: ‘According to information on your website, these “Therapeutic Essential Oils” are intended to prevent, treat, or cure disease conditions.’

      You can use tea tree oil; you cannot say that it will cure or treat athlete’s foot, for example. After all, look at what that company was claiming these “therapeutic oils” could do! Treat TB and hepatitis? That’s just plain dangerous to the consumer.

    • says

      I agree with Mellifera. It isn’t that you can’t use Essential oils it’s that they haven’t been tested to cure arthritis, asthma, etc. as the manufacturer is claiming and that is what the FDA is concerned about. So, as long as you don’t make a drug claim you can use essential oils in your cosmetics.

  9. says

    Most excellent info!!!

    Long ago I worked at a vitamin store, and at the time we were taught that it was ok to relay personal experiences with different products – as long as we didn’t say, “this will cure/help with this particular problem.” We were also allowed to help customers do their own research, by pointing them to news/research articles. Is this a reasonable approach, or not?

    • says

      That is tricky because face-to-face is different than putting it in print on a website or product package. I think printing something on your packaging that said “This soap cured my eczema!” Would still be considered a medical claim.

      Also, Etsy Admins specifically mentioned that you cannot copy customer testimonial that makes a medical claim and place it in the description of your product.

      But you can include the web addresses for other websites with more information in your product descriptions. So that would be a great way to link to articles that talk about the healing properties of certain ingredients.

      I hope this helps!
      ~Amber

      • says

        Thanks Amber! For the record, I don’t make any claims about my products, other than that they smell nice! But I’ve always wondered about it due to my vitamin store experience and never knew who to ask about it. :)

  10. says

    …I am so completely lost! *lol*

    There are a lot of examples of the “do not”s, but are there any clear examples of things we CAN say, or exactly what they mean by “fokelore”? This is definitely a good policy, but it raises a lot of questions.

    One, specifically, springs to my mind- have there been any issues with *names* of products? I just finished formulating a Headache Stick and now have no idea how to put it on Etsy. It’s easy enough to change the name of the product, but my concern is that someone looking for a balm that has essential oils that reputedly help with headaches is going to search for that keyword- “headache”. How will they find your product if you have to dance around the issue of what the product was designed for? Or, sadly, are there just some things you shouldn’t list on Etsy?

    Thank you so much for the information! It would have been so frustrating to try and research all of that on my own. I am glad I read over it before trying to list my poor Sticks. :-)

    -Cheyenne

    • says

      Names are also something that the FDA will frown upon having claims. Here is a really helpful link about that (and more):

      http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/CosmeticLabelingLabelClaims/CosmeticLabelingManual/default.htm

      The term ‘Headache Stick’ would be considered a ‘drug’ (this is the way I read the law; always check with the FDA for anything you have questions on since I don’t speak for them).

      “If a cosmetic product claims to alter the structure or function of the body, the product is subject to an intensive review and approval process by FDA before it is released to the public.” (From the Indie Beauty Network page)

      The FDA takes drug claims extremely seriously and if you are manufacturing something that is an over the counter drug, (1) you must substantiate safety claims with clinical studies (2) you must manufacture using GMP practices (something most home crafters are unable to fully comply with due to the staffing requirements in current GMP) (3) the product may be required to have pre-market testing.

      These are just a few of the reasons that I recommend home crafters stay away from making claims.

      So, where does that leave you with your aromatherapy based product that you believe helps with headaches? This, taken from what Etsy said on the issue, may help give you a roadmap (in pencil!) on how to market your product.

      “As long as you exclude any medical drug claims, you can still mention folklore, mythology or historical/cultural significance of item, materials and ingredients in listings.”

  11. Jolene says

    Thanks for the helpful information. I am glad Etsy has put a rule on this because when I would list stuff, I would be careful not to put medical claims. But there are so many out there that do put claims, and it is not fair to businesses who do play by the rules.

    I do have one question though. Now maybe I am recalling wrong, but I thought I remember reading something about it being ok to make medical claims if using something from the FDA list of approved active ingredients for a medical condition, such as using salicylic acid at the right percentage for acne (and as long as it was labeled correctly). Maybe there was more to it than that, can’t recall. Do remember pulling up a list of that sorts from their site though. But if that is the case, guess that would be against Etsy’s new standard too.

  12. Amber says

    I know a lot of people make “acne” soap. My grandmother did for years and it always helped me. How would you go about labeling that? I noticed from the warning letters published here that because there weren’t any “active” and “inactive” ingredients that is what made them in violation. So say you made “acne” soap with tea tree oil and patchouli essential oil, would you be labeling correctly if you listed the tea tree oil and patchouli essential oil as active ingredients, and the rest as inactive ingredients? I’m new to labeling soaps and such so I’m just trying to make heads or tails. I’ve gotten myself super confused by all the research I’ve done.

    • says

      Hi Amber, This is something you’ll want to check out with the FDA, but from the way I read the current law, if you manufacture a product that you claim is a drug, yes, you would need to label it correctly but that’s only one of the things you would need to do: you would need to register your facility with the FDA, you would need to follow GMP for your manufacturing. There’s some more information here to guide you through the process if you’d like to go that route: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/SmallBusinessAssistance/default.htm

      As for Etsy, this is what they have to say about that particular issue (nutshell: call it Tea Tree Stick and not Acne Stick)

      “I’ve seen some questions raised about cosmetic products. It’s OK to describe a product as having cosmetic properties or benefits, like saying it is moisturizing, conditioning, softens skin, deodorizes, beautifies, de-tangles hair, etc. Those are not medical drug claims; those cosmetic descriptions do not correlate the product to the cure or treatment of a health condition.””

  13. says

    Good! I’m glad that Etsy is requiring people to follow FDA guidelines. I hope they start requiring cosmetics to list their ingredients, too. I can’t tell you how many items I purchase or trade and find no ingredients listed. If you are going to sell you need to educate yourself on the regulations in the industry.

    • says

      It’s important to remember that people that sell cosmetic products on Etsy that are not selling with full ingredient lists are not complying with current FDA regulation. While it’s nice to have Etsy and the FDA be in lock-step, those people not complying with current law are in danger of having the FDA take action against them. That said, I’ve had the same experience and it makes me cringe when I get a misbranded product off of Etsy (or any online marketplace).

  14. says

    It’s so good to see you post this! I am very anal about making sure I keep in line with the FDA’s regulations on cosmetics BUT I feel like the only one sometimes! I can’t tell you how many product labels I find that make medical claims. And really, I think it’s ignorance not willful negligence, but it harms the rest of us who are doing things correctly just the same. Good to see Etsy cracking down on this. And really, Etsy sellers should be glad in the long run because they are opening themselves up to lawsuits and fines with drug statements.

    • says

      It does feel lonely when you feel like you’re the only one following the rules, doesn’t it? I’ve felt that in other areas of business and can empathize. Ultimately, you’re ahead though because even though the FDA doesn’t always crack down on each and every small offender, they DO crack down, they DO send cease and desist letters and they DO have the power to shut down companies through alternative methods. Kudos to you for trying to do it right, the first time (!). =)

  15. says

    I label my products with all the ingrediants I put into them, starting from the most to least. I don’t put any claims on the products. I use the chemical names and the dye numbers. For one of my cupcake bath bombs I would lable as so.

    ****Ingredients:
    Bath bomb base: Sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, parfum, witch hazel, almond oil (prunus amygdalus dulcis)

    Foaming body wash Frosting: SLS free transparent soap base; (aqua, propylene glycol, sodium stearate, sodium laureth sulphant, glycerine, sucrose, sodium cocoate, sodium xylene sulpstearic acid, tetrasodium EDTA, tetrasodium etidronate), Foaming bath butter (aqua, glycerine, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sorbitol, disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate, sodium chloride, phenoxyethanol, tetrasodium EDTA), parfum, vegetable glycerine, CI 12490 (red colour), CI 11680 (yellow colour), glitter.

    Soap Topper: SLS free transparent soap base; (aqua, propylene glycol, sodium stearate, sodium laureth sulphant, glycerine, sucrose, sodium cocoate, sodium xylene sulpstearic acid, tetrasodium EDTA, tetrasodium etidronate), parfum, CI 12490 (red colour), CI 11680 (yellow colour).

    Warning: This product is not edible. If pregnant please consult your doctor before use. Not suitable for children aged 3 and under. Contains nuts.****

    I’m in the UK and keep researching labelling products, constantly worried I’m doing it wrong. Is the above acceptable?

  16. says

    I’m so so glad that Soap Queen did a post on this. I’m a member of a few Soapy Etsy teams and of course the word went around about the updated rules. Unfortunately, others that I have talked to have confused which claims are medical claims and which are cosmetic. Some people were reporting shops that had the words “moisturizing” and “conditioning” in their soap descriptions on the basis of medical claims. Thanks Anne-Marie for explaining this!
    But I am still unclear on one point. I’ve seen others who DO NOT CLAIM anything about their item with… say….tea tree oil in it. But, they’ll include an entire paragraph about the properties and benefits of tea oil as seen in a recent study,etc. Is that bending the rules even though they aren’t SAYING their soap or cream or whatever helps you with your problems? Just curious! Thanks! :)

    • says

      The entire thing can be confusing so I’m not surprised that people are not sure what is a cosmetic versus a drug/medical claim.

      While I can’t speak for Etsy on your specific question, they did say “As long as you exclude any medical drug claims, you can still mention folklore, mythology or historical/cultural significance of item, materials and ingredients in listings.”

      I also know, from reading the Etsy forums, that if Etsy has any issues with how you’ve written something, they do send a warning letter and give time to comply. I think they’re still really working out the kinks in the system and trying to figure out a very difficult, complex issue themselves – at least, that’s my guess! =)

  17. says

    I think I’m in way over my head with all this. Most of the time I steer way clear of making medical claims anyway, but can you help clarify something like this:

    I make a soap with oatmeal. Oatmeal has long been asociated with anti-itch properties, and from personal experience I can see that this soap is ‘good for people who have eczema’. Is that a medical claim or a cosmetic one?

    I’m not claiming it cures eczema. Unfortunately NOTHING seems to *cure* eczema, but I find that oatmeal does help. :)

    Thanks for any help *you* can provide. :)

    • says

      That is a medical claim (unfortunately). Typically, people who have skin conditions have done all the research and they know that oatmeal will be something they want in their soap.

      I am not Etsy though – so I can’t speak for what they will say is acceptable or not. It appears that they are enforcing current FDA regs with their current policy change so if you are in compliance with current FDA regulations, you should not find yourself running afoul of Etsy either.

      If you ever have any questions, the FDA has a 1-800 number that you can always call to get clarification. I’ve phoned them many times and always had good luck getting clear answers.