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Do You Read Soap Labels?

Apr 27, 2021

Labeling can be somewhat confusing.  It’s one of those things that has to happen, and should happen, yet how many consumers actually take the time to read the label?  And even if you did, do you know what those ingredients really are?

Sometimes, upon language barriers, labels can be very misleading.



Here’s kind of a fun fact:  soap is not considered a cosmetic or a drug so it is not regulated by the FDA.  It requires NO labeling whatsoever.  We could simply put a label on it that just read “SOAP” and by US law and related regulations, that’s all that’s required.

The FDA’s regulations address three conditions:

  1. What it’s made of: To be regulated as “soap,” the product must be composed mainly of the “alkali salts of fatty acids,” that is, the material you get when you combine fats or oils with an alkali, such as lye.
  2. What ingredients cause its cleaning action: To be regulated as “soap,” those “alkali salts of fatty acids” must be the only material that results in the product’s cleaning action. If the product contains synthetic detergents, it’s a cosmetic, not a soap. However, the word “soap” can be used on the label.
  3. How it’s intended to be used: To be regulated as soap, the product must be labeled and marketed for use as soap only. If it is intended for purposes such as moisturizing the skin, making the user smell nice, or deodorizing the user’s body, it’s a cosmetic. Or, if the product is intended to treat or prevent disease, such as kill germs, or treat skin conditions, such as acne or eczema, it’s a drug. Again, the word “soap” can be used on the label.


You can read the entire FDA regulation at: 21 CFR §701.20.

In other words, Harvest + Harmony’s soaps are not considered cosmetics by the FDA as we only use oils and salts (lye) as the base to make the soap.  There are other ingredients added to the soap such as essential oils for fragrance and flowers for natural effects on skin, yet nothing synthetic and no artificial detergents are added.  It is also not considered a drug because the intended purpose is to clean your skin ~ nothing medicinal.  Therefore, it is a true soap and is only regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC.


The CPSC rules for soap are pretty simple:  There are none.  Yet I think a well-thought-out label that easily explains the benefits AND lists the ingredients is important and is what most of our customers will want to know.  We think you want to know that it is small batch.  We think you care about ingredients and want to learn about them, I mean, who wouldn’t want to know all of those good-for-your skin oils and salts?  We think you want to know about the flowers on top and that some of them came from a Native Bee Habitat.  We think you want to know what in the world ‘cold-pressed’ means.  We think that those that care about their hands and feet and love little indulgences will read the label and know that it’s something special.  That’s what we think.

So even though soap labeling is not regulated by the FDA, the CPSC still keeps an eye on things (kind of).  Harvest + Harmony will continue to label our soaps and scrubs with all of the goodness that each bar contains.  Because we think it matters and that you care.

So, pay attention to labels and what’s in the stuff that you put on your skin.  If you have any questions about ingredients or how the soap is made, please ask.  We are so proud of what we are doing here.  Keep washing your hands with soap and water and don’t worry about anti-bacteria soap or sanitizer.  Simple soap and water is still one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs.  Treat your hands well.  Give them kisses. Tell them how much you appreciate them.  And I would love it if you wash them with Harvest + Harmony soap.  They will love you for it.

With love from Grand Haven, Michigan,

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