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 product should be marketed completely alike.

One of the reason people are sometimes afraid of starting a cosmetic line is that they feel unsure their products are going to sell.  I feel quite uncomfortable telling you everything is going to be fine, and your products will make it. What I can do is teaching you some strategies I’ve seen used by people who succeeded. This doesn’t mean if you apply the same strategies, you’ll get the same results; however, the key is to minimize the risks. When launching a project, your chance of success increases if you integrate your smarts and flair into it .

Sell products using cosmetic claims: overview.

So how can you attract consumers’ attention and consistently drive sales? 

You need to use the right marketing claims which by the way doesn’t mean to lie or trick people. Remember that when making false claims, both the FDA and the FTC can cause you headaches; the FDA issues “warning letters” that force you to remove/change the false claims. The FTC, which is a law enforcement federal agency, could even sue your company. Unfortunately, false advertising is extremely common in the beauty industry.

Claiming something that is not true is never a good idea. In my opinion, the problem arises when companies claim something that is not true (doesn’t have any scientific validity), BUT they believe it is. For this reason, before you write anything , make sure you have done your research so you won’t end up claiming something that is not true. I highly recommend you to have the packaging design reviewed by an expert (you can easily schedule a consultation with me from here).

It exists. The only cosmetic claim we can use.

One of the most frequent questions my clients  ask is “how can my product sell big when there is so much competition out there?”

What makes a product a best seller?

Many things. I can tell you for sure what doesn’t: its formulation!

Best-selling cosmetic products have always something that distinguish them from others. 99% percent of the time, it is NOT the formula that makes this difference but the way they’re advertised. This is why you can find hyaluronic acid serums for $300 and similar products for less than $50.

Yes, cosmetics are all about perception. 

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Marketing claims for cosmetics: guidelines

The key to success is to use powerful marketing claims making sure that 

a) they make sense and

b) they’re true.

Sounds like a daunting task, but it’s not.

Good advertising and marketing transient into sales.

Attractive packaging designs and catchy phrases that attract consumers’ attention are all relevant. For example, take this sentence:

“She’s lovely, she’s engaged, she uses Ponds”.

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 formula of a product that is already on the market, but the smart way of doing it is changing the marketing approach especially if you’re emulating something from an already well established brand.

Incorporate your personal touch, values, and belief in your cosmetics’ claims.

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So you’ll never lie.

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. Make sure the ingredients you use have been sourced sustainably. Explain your preference for an ingredient over another and use as much transparency as you can.

The most common (and sometimes misleading) marketing claims for cosmetics

Here is a list of terms you might be tempted to use due to their popularity. Think twice as some of these simply don’t make sense. Some other are against FDA regulations.

Hypoallergenic. This term  is used to convey the message these cosmetics are less likely to cause 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 simply means every producer can claim hypoallergenic without any evidence. As a result the word becomes completely meaningless.

This term can be misleading. Consumers may believe that by using this product they maybe less likely to develop allergic reactions. Yet, this is not true.  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 certain ingredients 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.

With that being said, there are some tests that can somehow support the hypoallergenic claim. Note I used the term fact, the repeat insult patch test mostly evaluates the irritation potential which is something different. However, many companies still use that test to support the hypoallergenic claim.

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.

 Natural. Does not say much about your product unless you provide your own definition of the term. When I discuss a formula with a client, I need to understand what they mean when they say “only natural ingredients”. For some the term is very strict, while some other are a little bit more open.

Why do you call your ingredients natural? Is it because they origin from plants even? How have 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 :

So if you wish to claim your beauty product is natural, make sure to obtain the Ecocert (or similar) certification.

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, and it has to be produced in an organic certified facility.

To make things easier, 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, if true. Cruelty-free means that the finished product has not been tested on animals.  EU banned animal testing in 2009. 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.

Cruelty free claim

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 tool. I always discourage my clients from trying to get patents on cosmetics because even if you think your product is unique,most likely  it is 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 significantly raise the costs of the development. Still, if you can afford it , do it.

Free of  ________. For example, free of parabens. This kind of claim can be misleading as it suggests that your product is safer than competitors’ because it doesn’t contain parabens or other particular ingredients. At the same time, if your product doesn’t contain parabens , you’re absolutely free to highlight it on the package.

Problem is, there is no scientific evidence these ingredients are harmful. Consequently, it could be considered 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.       

Proven formula. This claim conveys a very powerful message and can be misleading if the product ends up not working as promised. Therefore, companies should specify what the formula has been proven for and eventually provide tests results.                             

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We want to be transparent with our customers , but at the same time we want to sell! 

I don’t want to give you the impression it’s impossible to be “aggressive” (from a marketing point of view) without being misleading.

This apparent dichotomy disappears when we perform as many lab tests as we can afford AND when we carefully choose the words we use on the packaging. For example, the term “helps with” and “protects from” are powerful yet regulations compliant. Other powerful words are “diminish(ed)”, “plumps”, and “pH balanced formula”. These are just examples. Depending on your niche, you can find many other powerful words.

Cosmetics claims: conclusions

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

–Legal compliance.

-Evidence of support.

-Honesty .

-Allow informed decisions

 What are the claims that work the best for your company? 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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