What Is A 'Cosmetic', Anyway??

 what is a cosmetic in canada

Definition of a Cosmetic

When you think of a cosmetic, you may picture the beautifully packaged and advertised makeup brands you see at the drug store. But, did you know that even the handmade products we make like soap, lotions, and lip balms are all considered cosmetics in the eyes of Health Canada?

That's right. In Canada, Under the Food and Drugs Act, a cosmetic includes "any substance or mixture of substances, manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth and includes deodorants and perfumes."

Some examples are "beauty preparations (perfume, skin cream, nail polish, make-up) and grooming aids (soap, shampoo, shaving cream, deodorant)."

And don't think that just because you are a small operation only selling at farmers markets that you are excluded. Health Canada specifically mentions that a cosmetic includes ""handmade" cosmetics sold at craft sales or home-based businesses."

What does this mean?

If you will be distributing this type of product (selling or giving away), you should be adhering to both the Food and Drugs Act and the Cosmetic Regulations. 

This means submitting a Cosmetic Notification for each product you make, and using the guidelines in the Act to properly label your bath and body products.

Cosmetic Notification

Cosmetic notification forms are filled out by any maker, distributor, or importer of cosmetics. It is the way to inform Health Canada of the cosmetics you are making and the ingredients you are using. It is free to submit and can be done completely online. 

If you need more help with this form, we have a downloadable workbook that walks you through the process here.


Labeling your product should also follow the requirements of the Food and Drug Act. We have written a little about the guidelines here.

Or visit the Health Canada website here.


We hope that helps give some clarification on whether you are making cosmetics, or not. In most cases, you will in fact be making cosmetics and should be following the Health Canada guidelines. You can find more information on the Health Canada website here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/cosmetics/what-is-cosmetic.html


Feel free to comment below, or contact us if you have any questions or concerns!

All the best,



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