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Under current EU and UK legislation you are NOT required to have your soaps assessed by a suitably qualified and approved professional if you are making soaps and other bath products non-commercially for personal use or friends and family.

If you are looking to develop and produce soaps and bath products for sale to the public you ARE required to have your products, along with a basic outline of the methodology you use to produce them, assessed and approved by a government-authorised chemist or other approved professional. The final, certified assessment forms part of required compliance with the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations, 2004 (follow this link for full DTI documentation on these regulations).

The DTI Document outlines in easy to understand terms what the regulations cover:

  1. The Definition of a cosmetic product;
  2. Areas on the body the cosmetic may be applied;
  3. Definition of a cosmetic ingredient;
  4. Cosmetic product marking / labelling requirements;
  5. A definition of safety;
  6. Ingredients restrictions and prohibitions (limitations on certain, defined ingredients known to be allergens or irritants in certain quantities);
  7. The EU's stance on animal testing and requirements for conformance;
  8. Correctly listing the ingredients of your product;
  9. Displaying best before dates / PAO (Period After Opening) where appropriate;
  10. Warning statements and precautionary information.

You should ensure that each type of product you produce for the market is certified by an approved assessor be it bath bombes, bath salts, cold process soap, melt & pour soap, bath oils etc.

That means, for example, if you want to develop a range of melt & pour soaps for commercial sale you should ensure you have a valid assessment that covers you for all of the soaps produced in your range and certifies they are safe for sale to the public.

A bona fide assessment should be all of the following:

  1. A signed assessment in your or your company's name by an appropriate, registered professional that certifies the ingredients you use and the finished product is safe for public consumption according to the ingredient quantities you use and the production methodologies you employ;
  2. A list, certified as safe, of all the ingredients including essential oils, fragrance oils, botannicals, colourants and other additives you use to create your finished products;
  3. Points 1 & 2 taking into account hygiene standards and good manufacturing practice.

What else do I need to do/have to ensure I conform to the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations, 2004?

Product Information Packs (PIPs) / Product Information Files (PIFs)

Besides your assessment you are also legally required to hold on record information relating to each batch of soap / bath products you produce. This is to ensure that you are able to easily look up information on a particular batch should Trading Standards require it.

When making your product make sure you're keeping a record of:

  1. The date the batch was produced;
  2. The ingredients used including the name of each supplier;
  3. The batch dates of the ingredients used;
  4. The methodology you employed to create the finished product.

Beware 'pre-certification' assessments and poor online advice

There are sites online that would have you believe that an assessment is not required under certain conditions if you make and sell soap commercially - this is simply not the the case.

Also beware of 'pre-certification' assessments that claim you satisfy Cosmetic Products Regulations if you stick to the ingredients that are listed on a generic document they supply you with. Again, this is not a valid assessment that covers you should Trading Standards come knocking.

And finally...

UK & EU regulations governing cosmetics are continually being amended and updated so keep your ear to the ground. There are plenty of resources online such as the Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform that will ensure you don't get taken by surprise.

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