Sign in

Sunless Tanning: What's Behind the Label

By Alex Schechter August 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Get the Skinny! This is just part of the article. Want the complete story, plus a host of other cutting-edge articles to make your job easier? Sign up!

Labeling is an important and essential component of any spa product. Listing everything from ingredients to directions to warnings, the label conveys a great deal, especially when it comes to products like sunless tanners. There’s so much information, in fact, that it’s easy to get lost. Once you can see the meaning behind the product’s label, however, you can figure out what the best fit is for your spa.

Basic industry terminology
Before delving into labeling and what it means specifically for sunless tanning products, it is important to cover basic industry terminology, keeping in mind that this article will only provide a brief overview, as the cosmetics industry regulations can be rather involved and complex.

     What’s the difference between cosmetics, drugs and cosmeceuticals? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines cosmetics as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body ... for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.” Cosmetics include items that are typically thought of as makeup, perfumes and moisturizing creams.1
Conversely, drugs, as defined by the FDA, include products that “cure, treat, mitigate or prevent disease or that affect the structure or function of the human body.”1 So, a moisturizer that claims to eliminate wrinkles—a medical claim—would need to be treated as a drug.
To further clarify terminology, cosmeceuticals is not a term recognized by the FD&C Act, so these products may be classified as either cosmetic or drug, depending on the claims made by their manufacturers and their ingredients. While drugs are subject to a review and approval process by the FDA before to sale, cosmetics are not. Labeling requirements also are somewhat different for drugs and cosmetics. For example, drug labels are required to list active and inactive ingredients separately.
     Most sunless tanning products are designed only to enhance one’s appearance and therefore fall squarely into the cosmetics category. There are, however, ingredient-labeling rules and regulations that apply to any cosmetic product regardless of its classification.

     What are the labeling rules for cosmetic products? Labels for cosmetic products must contain the following information

  • the common name or function of the product
  • the net quantity of contents in terms of weight or measure
  • appropriate warnings
  • the company name and business address of the firm manufacturing or distributing the product  

Want the rest of the story? Simply sign up. It’s easy. Plus, it only takes 1 minute and it’s free!

Related Content



Welcome to the new!

Delivering the best information on the spa, skin care and wellness industry is our passion, and we’ve worked hard to design a powerful new website that incorporates cutting-edge technology to bring you:

  • Mobile-friendly Design
  • Integrated Sample Request
  • Refreshed Look and Feel
  • Dynamic Content
  • Free Registration

Mobile-friendly Design

Providing a unified experience from mobile to desktop, responsive design allows you to access Skin Inc. content from any device, whether you’re in the treatment room, at home or on the go!

Integrated Sample Request

Visit Featured Product pages to quickly and easily identify new suppliers and request product samples and information.

Dynamic Content

Articles are now linked with relevant products so you can find the products and treatments you need to provide the best results for your clients.

Free Registration

Create your user account to gain unlimited access to Skin Inc.’s unparalleled content.

Enjoy the New!

Thank you for joining the Skin Inc. community of passionate skin care professionals. We look forward to providing you the best information to enhance your career!