How to get started selling soap or cosmetic products?

You have bought your ingredients and you have had some fun making some soap. Your friends like it and you have given some as gifts. Then someone says to you “I love your soap. Would you make me some? I’ll pay you for it.” Suddenly you are thinking ‘I love what I do. I could make this a business.’ However, there are few things you need to consider before you can do that.

What you need to do before you can start selling soap or cosmetic products?

Register with HMRC

As soon as you start to earn money you need to register with the HMRC. You will need to track your incomings and outgoings, fill an annual Self Assessment and pay any tax due. It’s a lot easier than it sounds and it doesn’t matter how big/small you are. If you are earning money you are a business and it’s not just a hobby anymore. To find out more about registering with HMRC go to www.gov.uk/new-business-register-for-tax

Get your soap/product safety assessed

When you go to a shop or supermarket you assume that everything you buy will be safe to use. The same should be said of anything sold anywhere be it in a market or over the internet. That is why it is important to get your soap/product safety assessed so that it complies with the current standards and no one can get hurt using something that is chemically wrong for them.

Current EU legislation requires all cosmetic products supplied in the UK or countries in the EU, whether for consumer or for professional use, to comply with European Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009, which came into force on 11 July 2013. To find out more go to www.gov.uk/guidance/product-safety-for-manufacturers#cosmetic-products-safety-regulations

Note: There will always be need of legislation and Britain will still have a set of standards that Cosmetics will have to adhere to in the future even if it’s not the same as EU legislation. If you want to sell to the rest of Europe you will still need to get your product safety assessed. Check out our website for all the latest information on Safety Assessments.

Once assessed you will need to keep a record of the batches you have made with the full ingredients and their origin. Batch numbers should be on the label of any product to ensure it can be easily traceable. You also need to label you products correctly to comply with INCI legislation with a full set of INCI names for ingredients.

Brand Design

You want a design that everyone will remember you for, be it a snappy name or colourful logo that is going to stand out from crowd. How you package your product can really make a difference to how it looks. To find out more information on our printed labels see our blog.

For more information contact www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk

25 thoughts on “How to get started selling soap or cosmetic products?

  1. What is the shelf life on soap? Should there be a BBE date or is it the shortest date on the ingredients you use? I find essential oils difficult to date as some last for years!

    1. Soap does not require a best before date or any other ‘expiry’ date because it is safe to use for 30 months plus. There is no need to date any product based on expiry dates of ingredients, so any expiry date on an essential oil would not require any product made with that oil to carry that expiry date. You can choose to use a best before date on soaps if you wish which would not be for safety/legal reasons but purely based on your experience of when/if any additional fragrance might be fading, but this is purely optional.

      1. Hi guys, we use your soap base to make soaps, but we also add essential oils and micas. Does this mean that we would need to get them reassessed in order to sell them?

        1. Hi Robbie, yes that’s correct, if anything is added to the soap base it will need to get safety assessed if you intend to sell it as a finished product.

      2. Hi, If I buy your melt & pour soap bases that are fragranced and coloured then get insurance am I ready to go selling soaps

  2. Hi, If I want to make a layered bar of soap with clear and goats milk M&P soap base, Would I need two CPSR’s? or if I wanted to layer 2 soaps I already had CPSR’s for would I need another one if I put them both in the one bar?

    1. Hi Katie,

      You will not need 2 assessments for a layered soap, but you would need to pay an admin fee for using 2 different soaps in 1 assessment. I am not sure regarding using 2 soaps that you already have CPSR’s for in one soap, so I have emailed the chemist to ask. I will let you know as soon as we hear from her.

    2. Hi Katie, so our chemist has gotten back to us, this was their response: They would need a new report yes. Depending on the other ingredients they are adding we might be able to offer a discount but we’d need to see the formulations first please as that type of thing can be quite labour intensive report wise.

      Hope this answers your question 🙂

  3. hi, if I order the soap from supplies to make soap for me to selling on online.
    what do I need to know about the supplies? and selling soap in legal what I have to require before selling on the market?

    thank you for your information

  4. Hi

    If I intend to sell many different varieties of Cold process and Melt and pour do I need to get EVERY product tested or just an intial product and then maintain my record keeping to legislation standards going forward. I was also hoping to do balms and body lotions and appreciate these will also need to be tested but again is this just an initial test or every product?

    Many thanks

    Kev

    1. Hi Kev, thanks for your question, for each safety assessment this includes up to 6 variations as long as the base recipe is the same, so you can have different fragrance, colours & botanicals with the soap base being the same. Hope that makes sense 🙂

  5. This is a brilliant article. Thanks!

    I am interested in selling your soap products as well as those made abroad such as India, USA and China.

    I understand that your products are safety assessed which saves me lots of time and money.

    What about soaps, hair products, oral cosmetics I import from China, USA, India etc. In the UK what am I legally supposed to do to ensure safety? Or is the manufacturer responsible for everything?

    I can see you respond to every message with such detail and clarity. Much appreciated and it’s very generous of you 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Zaheed. The legislation for cosmetics in the USA and Asia will be very different to ours. CPSR’s cover cosmetics manufactured or sold in the Europe only. I think you would be best contacting your trading standards office for advice on selling cosmetics imported from outside the EU.

  6. Hi there, I’m thinking of making home made bath bombs and creamers. Would I need to get both tested and do you have a link on prices? 😊

  7. Hi there

    I’ve found a melt and pour base from an alternative supplier. Can I obtain a safety report from you for this? I’d like to mix it with your additional ingredients, is this possible?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Emma, yes of course, you just need to make sure you can get all the details about the base, so Certificate of analysis and MSD’s which the supplier will have, you may need to contact them if it’s not on their website. 🙂

  8. Hi there !,
    How do i get my home made hair product legally certified to state it stimulates hair growth

    1. Hi Katrena, thanks for your question, unfortunately to state something like that, you would need medical trials to prove that you statement is in fact correct, trials are an extremely expensive thing to do.

  9. Hi! for the assessments can you tell me please do different colours used in one soap count as separate ingredients? if i want to make a rainbow soap for example?
    also can i only use the primary colours or can i use colour blocks (for example i use ones from brambleberry, they are colours made up of combined colours, or again does each colour = 1 ingredient?
    thank you so much for any help!

    1. Hi Julie, colour and fragrance are both considered as variants, so as long as the base recipe (the core ingredients) remain the same, different colour (such as rainbow) can be one of your variants. I hope that clarifies things for you. 🙂

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