'May Contain' Ingredient Disclosures

In the 1970s it became a requirement in the United States to label cosmetics intended for consumer purchase with a declaration of ingredients on the principle display panel. The purpose of this was to inform consumers about the contents of the product so they could make a “value” purchasing decision or avoid chemicals to which they are allergic. Professional use-only products are exempt except under certain conditions, which will be addressed later. The US Code of Federal Regulations lists1 the rules for displaying ingredients, and besides outlining the content that must be included and its order of appearance, the regulation describes use of the “may contain” clause, which while legally only applies to pigments, has been abused and is thus the main topic of this column.

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