Label Requirements for Cosmetics & How to List Ingredients on Labels

Labelling is a key element when it comes to cosmetic products, and manufacturers must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the Health Canada Cosmetic Regulations. This guide will take you through all the requirements of cosmetic labels, so you can make sure your product is compliant with the law.

Get assistance from our team of cosmetic regulatory experts to ensure your product ingredients follow INCI format, your labels meet the necessary requirements, and cosmetic notification is filed with Health Canada. Our French translator can help ensure your label is bilingual and includes both English and French text.

cosmetic label - bilingial

Why does Canada require bilingual labels?

Canada has two official languages: English and French. Therefore, product labels must include both the English and French languages. Labels should be easily readable and must follow all other labeling obligations outlined in the Cosmetic Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. 

  • French must have the same impact as English
  • French text needs to appear in the same size as the English text
  • This rule applies to all cosmetic products sold in Quebec.

Label Requirements for Cosmetics: Ingredient Lists

All cosmetic labels must include a list of ingredients, listed in descending order of predominance. The ingredient lists must be clear and easy to read; this includes clearly indicating the common names or any established scientific names for each ingredient. You must also provide an appropriate percentage if you add any fragrance or flavour to a product.

Label Requirements for Cosmetics
Label Requirements for Cosmetics net weight disclosures

Label Requirements for Cosmetics: Net Weight Disclosures

All consumer products must provide net weight or net quantity disclosures, meaning that a label should inform the customer how much of the product they are receiving. This is especially important when discussing cosmetics, as in many cases containers are often much larger than what’s actually inside. To comply with disclosure rules, you must include the net weight right on your label and clearly indicate the measurements or units being used (usually listing both ounces and grams). For liquid cosmetics, or products with moisture or non-solid content, like mousses, it is mandatory to display the net and gross weight of a product on the container along with any other essential ingredients. It is also required to make the distinction between net volume (the amount of product in the container) and gross volume (the entire amount of product including container).

Label Requirements for Cosmetics: Warning Statements

Cosmetic products that include ingredients that may be hazardous or even toxic must also contain warning information. This includes certain fragrances, coloring agents, and special treatments. The statement should indicate the degree of risk associated with an ingredient, such as “can be irritating to eyes” or “not for use on broken skin” for more hazardous ingredients. For example, if your product contains sunscreen, it must indicate “for external use only” in accordance with government regulations.

Label Requirements for Cosmetics warning statements
Label Requirements for Cosmetics Manufacturing Address

Label Requirements for Cosmetics: Manufacturing Addresses and Contact Information

Each product should include the name and address of its manufacturer; this must be listed on the label. Include a web address, as well as a phone number and any other contact information which may be required in certain countries, such as an email address or social media accounts. Additionally, while not strictly required depending on local regulations, some brands choose to include their mailing addresses on cosmetics’ labels for customer service or warranty inquiries.

  • French must have the same impact as English
  • French text needs to appear in the same size as the English text
  • This rule applies to all cosmetic products sold in Quebec.

Cosmetic Symbols Labelling in Canada

We evaluate your product label (symbols, ingredient list, legal requirements) to ensure it adheres to Health Canada’s Cosmetic Regulations. Our French Translator has 25+ years of experience and has translated and reviewed thousands of cosmetic labels. We are happy to assist you with a French translation solution to meet the requirement of bilingual labels.

cosmetic label
Selling Cosmetic Products in Canada - How we can help!

Selling cosmetic products in Canada requires you to have mandatory ingredient labeling, as per the Cosmetic Regulations. All ingredients must follow the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) format. The mandatory INCI ingredient labeling applies only to cosmetics. The remainder of the label text must be bilingual, in both English and French.

1. Understand the cosmetic labeling laws and regulations.

It is important to thoroughly understand all of the laws and regulations that are in place regarding cosmetic labels. This includes understanding which ingredients must be included, as well as the order in which they must be listed. Additionally, any health warnings or disclaimers associated with a product should also be listed clearly so that consumers can make an informed decision when purchasing the product.

2. Collect all of the necessary information about the ingredients in the product:

To begin, you’ll need to compile all of the necessary information about the ingredients in your product. This includes both active and inactive ingredients, as well as any fragrances or colorants that may be present. Additionally, it is important to classify each ingredient by its INCI name (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients), rather than any other common names or nicknames that it might have.

3. Prioritize the order in which cosmetic ingredients are listed on labels:

The INCI name for each ingredient should be followed by its concentration, expressed either as a percent or in drops. This information should be listed in descending order according to the amount present in the product, with the most abundant ingredient indicated first. Additionally, it is important to include any special ingredients such as preservatives, sunscreen active ingredients, or pesticides that may be included.

4. Use the correct terminology for listing cosmetic ingredients:

When listing ingredients for cosmetic products, it is important to use the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) names. The INCI system was developed by the industry to standardize ingredient labeling internationally, ensuring that consumers can identify a product’s components even if they aren’t familiar with them from another language or culture. For example, sunflower oil should be labeled as Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil on product labels.

5. Include warnings or precautionary statements when needed:

Besides listing all the ingredients in a cosmetic product, it is important to include warnings or precautionary statements on the label if they are applicable. Warnings should be based on usage instruction of the product, as well as any health hazards that some ingredients may have. For example, if a product contains grapefruit which can cause skin photosensitivity and irritation, this should be noted with a precautionary statement on the label.

Frequently Asked Questions - Cosmetic Label

Selling cosmetic products in Canada requires you to have mandatory ingredient labeling, as per the Cosmetic Regulations. All ingredients must follow the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) format. The mandatory INCI ingredient labeling applies only to cosmetics. The label must be bilingual, in both English and French. Furthermore, a Cosmetic Notification must be submitted to Health Canada within 10 days of the first sale of your product in Canada.

Canada has two official languages: English and French. So, labels must be in English and French language. Any packaging/label text should be easily readable and must follow all other labeling obligations outlined in the Cosmetic Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. There are also bilingual requirements that the product must meet set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 

  • French must have the same impact as English
  • French text needs to appear in the same size as the English text
  • This rule applies to all cosmetic products sold in Quebec.

There are a few key items that must appear on cosmetic labels in Canada; an ingredient list (in INCI format), the identity of the product, bilingual text (French and English), a statement of net quantity and the manufacturer/distributor information.

Reviewing a cosmetic label includes looking for details such as the name of the product, ingredients in INCI format, name & address of the manufacturer, net quantity, etc.  All the above information needs to be legible and verified for each product that gets produced.

Since Canada is a bilingual country (English & French), the information appearing on cosmetic product labels must be in both official languages.

All ingredients (excluding those that are less than 1% in quantity) should be declared on a cosmetic label in descending order of concentration in the product itself. The ingredient names must follow the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) format.

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