Cosmetics marketing claims

Marketing claims you must know to beat your competitors.

In this post, I am going to discuss some marketing claims you should be aware of even before you start the production of your line. No one is completely alike; therefore, no product should be marketed completely alike.

When marketing your product, how can you attract consumers’ attention and make your product stand out among competitors? When launching a project, your chance of success increases if you integrate your smarts and flair into it .

One of the most frequent questions my clients  ask is “how can my product sell big when there is so much competition out there?” Best-selling cosmetic products have something that distinguish them from others. Ninety percent of the time, it is NOT the formula that makes the difference yet the advertising.

Good advertising and marketing transient into sales.

Attractive packaging designs and catchy phrases that attract consumers’ attention are all relevant. For example, the creator of this sentence is a marketing genius!

[pullquote align=”normal”]She’s lovely, she’s engaged, she uses Ponds. [/pullquote]

This became one of the best-known advertising slogans in America. Cosmetic manufacturers have pursued consumers with promises of everything from new beauty to a new lifestyle. Indeed, with cosmetics—perhaps more than with any other type of product—ingenious marketing leads to success in sales. This is why consumers’ attention is the ultimate commodity.

 You can mimic a product that is already on the market, but your marketing approach makes the difference.

Incorporate your personal touch and values into marketing!

Do you believe in animal rights? Use only vegan ingredients!  Look for raw materials suppliers who share the same values as you. Are you concerned about the environment? Create a sustainable product that is earth friendly. Such as, you can use ground coffee or recycled paper bags. Explain your preference for an ingredient over another and use as much transparency as you can.

Claiming something that is not true just to sell the product is never a good idea. False and deceptive advertising is punishable by the U.S laws. Do not make promises you cannot deliver as with so many competitors, consumers can easily switch to another brand.

Here is a list of terms you might be tempted to use on your packaging due to their popularity. Do not use these terms unless your product fulfills the definitions completely.

Hypoallergenic. This is used to describe cosmetics that cause or are claimed to cause fewer allergic reactions. Hypoallergenic is not regulated by the US FDA. Therefore, cosmetic companies are not required to meet any regulations or do any testing to validate their claims. 

This term can be misleading. Consumers may believe that by using this product they maybe less likely to develop allergic reactions. Statistically, the majority of allergic reactions are caused by just a few ingredients (e.g. fragrance, essential oils, gluten etc). However, everyone’s reaction to allergens is different. Nothing can be guaranteed as allergen free or hypoallergenic. Instead, do use transparency to inform consumers of all the ingredients contain in your product, as usually people already know what they are allergic to. It’s important to understand that consumers need to be aware that certain substances can cause allergic reactions, so add on the package that they should always test the product on small area first. This is why I find the term allergen free misleading.

 Natural. Does not say much about your product unless you provide examples of support. Why do you call your ingredients natural? Is it because they origin from plants?How are they being processed?

Interestingly,  there is a certification for natural cosmetics. It is provided by Ecocert organization and  allows you to display the symbol “Ecocert -Natural cosmetic” on product packaging. For the natural cosmetic label, a minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. Here is the link for more information :

Organic. It is not enough to use organic only ingredients to claim that the product itself is organic and use the symbol USDA organic. It also needs to meet organic handling, labelling and processing standards. Another possibility is to claim that the product is “made with organic ingredients”. In this case, it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, but you won’t be able to display the USDA organic seal. In addition, the product would need to be certified by an USDA agent whose name and address must be displayed on the package. Due to higher standards set by the USDA, I recommend you to apply for an Ecocert Organic certification instead.The major difference between the two is that the USDA never really developed standards for organic cosmetics like Ecocert did. In fact, USDA organic certification was born for agricultural products only.

 Cruelty-free. This term is not regulated by the US FDA so you are welcome to use it freely. Cruelty-free means that the finished product has not been tested on animals.  EU banned animal testing in 2009 but not the U.S. Here, manufacturers have the legal responsibility of assuring their products are safe and can decide how to prove it.  I am a firm believer that testing cosmetics on animals is unethical; not to mention, it is extremely expensive.

 Patent pending. A patent doesn’t really protect your product from being copied by the competition, but you can use “patented” or “patent pending formula” as marketing tools. I always discourage my clients from trying to get patents on cosmetics because even if you think your product is unique, it is most likely not. Consequently, your application will be denied and you will not be able to use the claim “patent pending” anymore. A client of mine was determined to patent his liquid lipstick. However, there was nothing special about his product that could justify a patent. He desperately tried to make up unusual manufacturing procedures to support his application, but ultimately it was still denied. You don’t want to waste your time and money on trying to obtain a patent just for a claim.

 Made in the USA. It is illegal for companies to buy products from another country (e.g. China) then repackaging and label them as “Made in the USA”. For a product to be called Made in the USA or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S.

 SPF. Unfortunately, you cannot claim SPF (Sun Protection Factor) on a cosmetic product. If you do, then the product becomes regulated as both a cosmetic and OTC drug. This applies only to the U.S. because every country regulates its sunscreen products differently. With an increasing awareness of skin cancers, it is a good idea to go the extra mile and get your product approved as an OTC drug. However, efficacy tests on healthy volunteers are required and this can raise the development’s cost.

Free of  ________. For example, free of parabens. This kind of claim can be misleading as you are suggesting that your product is safer than its competitors because it doesn’t contain parabens or other particular chemicals.Problem is, there is no evidence these ingredients are unsafe. Consequently, it is an unfair denigration of “legal” ingredients. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, you should always try to put your values in your product. This means that if you are a firm believer that something is harmful (and target people with your same beliefs), then you should definitely specify that you intentionally left it out.                                         

When hiring a cosmetic chemist to create a custom formula just for you, make sure you exercise at least partial control of the raw materials used. Discuss the following with your chemist: what are you looking for?What ingredients would you like to include? Always conduct research on ingredients you want to like to use. To see the hottest ingredients and the latest trends, you can use online tools such as Google Trends (free) and Mintel (paid).

When comes to choosing raw materials and suppliers, you can find the same INCI name from almost any company but price and quality often differ. My suggestion is to prepare an email template with the INCI of the ingredients you need. Ask for its pricing, MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) and lead time. Write a brief introduction, describing your company, and what you are planning to do. The estimated annual amount you will need depends on the annual usage rate, so it might be uncertain at the beginning (use a generic less than 50 kg/year). Don’t be shy and ask for free samples.

Valid suppliers always perform some kind of tests on their materials to be sure they comply with quality standards. Then they collect the tests’ results in a document called Certificate of Analysis(COA). Ask for a copy of it before you purchase anything so that you are able to know the exact characteristics of what you are buying. To find suppliers’ lists you can go to or download my guide.

 As a general rule when dealing with marketing claims, make sure you consider the following:

Legal compliance.

-Evidence of support.

-Honestly .

-Fairness .

-Allow informed decisions.

 What are the claims you are currently using or planning to use for your products? Comment below!





4 thoughts on “Marketing claims you must know to beat your competitors.

  1. Trish says:

    Thanks for all the valuable information, your experience, your stories make a difference.
    Unfortunately I did not receive an email for the ebook information

  2. Yachna Rai says:

    I am doing my masters in chemistry and want to start my own cosmetic line…
    Your words really did encourage me to do .
    P.S I didn’t receive the email

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