Savanna Bell here with My Massage World and
this week’s video is inspired by a question
that was posed in our private members’ only
Facebook group about homemade products like
sugar scrubs and things like that.
So it got me thinking, there’s some serious
risks involved with selling this sort of thing,
and I don’t think a lot of therapists are
aware of these risks.
So let’s look at the 3 big legal protections
you MUST have in place if you’re selling
homemade products in your massage practice.
So whether you’re selling your own products
or someone else’s, there are three major
considerations to make if you’re selling
anything like sugar scrubs, lotions, lip balms…anything
of the sort.
#1: You MUST use a preservative for the absolute
majority of these products.
If there is even a speck of water, or water-based
ingredient, or if the product is likely to
be exposed to moisture in the air or have
someone’s fingers scraping into it, it needs
a freaking preservative!
Both because that’s just the thing to do
to be a decent human being that works to not
harm others, and you really don’t want the
lawsuit that can happen if you’re guilty
of not doing this.
Now you may think, well it’s just little
old me and my products I only use the best,
all natural, organic ingredients, blah blah
That’s great and all, but guess what.
Mold is freaking organic and all natural!
So are bacteria!
And what if your client goes to put that infested
scrub or lotion onto their skin over even
a slight cut or opening in the skin like a
nick from shaving?
That nastiness just breeched the barrier and
is now possibly infecting that little opening
and potentially invading their blood stream.
And what if, heaven forbid, that person is
immunocompromised due to an illness or a medication?
Ok, look, I’m not trying to scare the bejeezus
out of you, but well I guess I kind of am.
This isn’t something to mess around with.
This is very serious and needs to be addressed!
But I’ve seen therapists make these products
or buy from someone local who makes them with
all these great ingredients, but no preservative…and
then they sit on a shelf for 6 month or a
And just because something looks or smells
fine, does not mean it is fine.
For the love of all that is holy in this world,
put a freaking preservative in your products!
And no, essential oils of any kind, while
they may have some properties that are anti-bacterial
or anti-fungal are not full spectrum, safe,
and reliable preservatives.
And the sheer amount you would have to add
to a product to reach the level of possibly
making an essential oil act as a preservative
would usually render the product unsuitable
or even hazardous.
There are all natural ones out there.
Yes, parabens, phenoxyethanol, and those sorts
of things are preservatives, and I’m right
there with you on not wanting to put that
crap in my products or on my own skin.
But you can find all natural broad-spectrum
preservatives that will keep away bacteria
and fungi if you don’t want to use the harsher
For example, just to name a few, you could
use Will Bark extract which is all natural
or Preservative Eco which is a special formulation
of benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, glycerin
and sorbic acid; all of which are naturally
When going with all natural preservatives,
you’ll often need a much higher concentration,
so the preservative will have to make up a
larger percentage of your product than some
This is not something to guess at!
Research this stuff thoroughly and test it!
Now let me make one distinction here that
I think is important.
There is a big difference between rancidity
and growth of mold or bacteria.
Again, just because something smells or looks
fine doesn’t mean it is fine.
Mold and bacteria can be growing at a microscopic
level long before you ever see or smell the
first little tinge of something funky.
This growth happens due to moisture and a
good food source, like sugars and much of
the other stuff we like to put in these products.
Rancidity on the other hand is when the oil,
butter, or other fat-based ingredients within
your product go bad.
For example, almond oil has a shelf life of
So it will smell fine and the oil will still
be good for a year from the time it’s made.
Once you get close to that year mark, the
smell will start to turn.
So the product may still be “safe” if
preservatives were used, but the oil is basically
just old and rancid.
BUT, if that same product is exposed to moisture
at all or you include any ingredients that
contain water, like hydrosols, floral water,
or aloe vera juice, they can grow bacteria
and mold long before you ever see or smell
the first signs that something is wrong.
So please, please, please, use a preservative
in your products.
We live in an age of being able to order ANYTHING
online…do your research and find a preservative
that works for what you’re making.
And if you’re using or selling someone else’s
homemade products, make sure they’re using
a preservative and that it’s at the right
concentration to be effective.
Ok, moving on…
#2: Label your products clearly
This is not just a preference, this is a rule
of the FDA here in the US.
And I’m in the United States, so that’s
what I’m referencing, is the legalities
If you are outside the US, please check with
your local and national laws and regulations.
Laws get really detailed and complex here,
but I’m going to try to keep this simple
Now, while the FDA does regulate cosmetics,
somewhat, which many of these sorts of spa
products would fall under, there are some
serious concerns over the claims made about
your products so that you’re not falling
under what would be classified as a “drug”.
So let’s look at exactly what the FDA says
here on this…
“A product is a cosmetic if it is intended
for uses such as cleansing the human body,
making a person more attractive, or changing
a person’s appearance….Some products meet
the definitions of both cosmetics and drugs.
This may happen when a product has two intended
For example, a shampoo is a cosmetic because
its intended use is to cleanse the hair.
An antidandruff treatment is a drug because
its intended use is to treat dandruff.
Consequently, an antidandruff shampoo is both
a cosmetic and a drug.
Among other cosmetic/drug combinations are
toothpastes that contain fluoride, deodorants
that are also antiperspirants, and moisturizers
and makeup marketed with sun-protection claims.
Such products must comply with the requirements
for both cosmetics and drugs.”
So unless you feel like going far more in
depth with legal requirements and lab testing
for your products, don’t make any claims
about treating any sort of medical condition,
Even seemingly small stuff like minor skin
That would still fall under the classification
of a “drug”.
If you’re claiming to make any changes to
the structure or function of the body and
any components of it, including the skin,
then it is classified as a “drug”.
Now a few points here when it comes to labeling
and such for your products.
You don’t have to get your custom candle label template approved
by the FDA beforehand.
It is your responsibility to ensure your label
is accurate and follows all guidelines:
-You must have the name of the product on
-All ingredients must be listed by their common
name and/or scientific name without any further
If they’re “certified organic” that
can be used as part of the name in that list.
But this is why you sometimes see a little
star next to each ingredient on a label and
then that star is explained below the ingredient
list as marking those ingredients that are
“all natural” or “naturally derived”
or “organic” or whatever other description
You just don’t list that type of descriptive
term WITH the ingredient in the ingredient
-You must have a “directions for safe use”
section on your label.
-You must list out any warnings, like don’t
use on open wounds, not meant to treat, cure,
or prevent any medical conditions, things
And just because something is “natural”
does not mean it is safe for everyone.
Arsenic is natural for heaven’s sake!
So is botulism!
Let’s be adults here and look at reality.
Even essential oils and such, that many people
claim are “natural” can be quite hazardous
to people with certain conditions and when
not used properly.
-As for cosmetics, color additives are the
only ingredient that has to be approved by
So you probably just shouldn’t use those.
-The term “natural” is not a regulatory
term and you can use that however you want.
It doesn’t mean squat to the FDA or as a
term of safety, but is more so used as a marketing
-The FDA does not regulate the use of the
term “organic”, but the USDA does.
So you cannot state your product is organic
unless you have it independently tested and
approved by them.
Instead, you will list out all of those ingredients
individually that have been officially classified
as organic by the USDA and come with that
little seal showing that legally standing
approval, and you can say it is made with
USDA organic ingredients.
But your product, unless you want to pay the
big bucks and get it officially approved by
the USDA, cannot be labeled as USDA organic,
even if every ingredient you use is.
-The FDA requires cosmetic labels to identify
the name and place of business of the manufacturer,
packer or distributor.
You need the physical address of your business,
or the business that makes your products for
you, on your label.
Not a PO Box, not a website address alone.
Those things are fine to include if you want,
but you still have to have the physical address
-The quantity of the product must be listed.
Ounces, grams, whatever.
Measure it and put it on the label.
-Every bit of the typeface on the label needs
to be large enough to be clearly legible.
-There’s even regulation regarding the size
of what they call the Principal Display Label,
or basically the primary label you use on
So for a rectangular package, the label has
to take up one entire side.
For cylindrical packages, the label has to
be 40% of the height x circumference.
And for other shaped containers, the label
needs to be 40% of the total container surface,
not including top, bottom, neck, and other
This is the law.
-If you have an outer container holding the
primary container with the product inside,
you need to have a similar label with all
this information on both containers.
-And, you will also want to include an expiration
So this could be something like “use within
6 months from the date opened” or just the
little symbol of a jar with 6 month written
OR you could even have a blank space on your
labels so you can write in the date it was
made, and the use by date.
And lastly, and I’ll keep this one short,
because it’s pretty straightforward…#3:
You MUST collect sales tax
This will obviously depend on your area, but
for most places, yes, even if you are only
selling a few items here and there, sales
tax will still need to be collected.
So you will have to apply for a sales tax
permit or ID with your state, collect that
tax, and then pay it to your state every month,
every quarter, or every year, depending on
their requirements and your preferences.
Now some of you might find this obvious, but
I’ve seen many therapists who do not do
They think they’re just selling a few things
and it’s no big deal.
But you know what is a big deal, tax fraud
and tax evasion.
If you were just making some crafts and selling
a little every now and then, some areas may
not have regulations on that, but you’re
And your business is selling a product.
Therefore, you need to collect sales tax.
Now whether you add this on top of your product
price, or include it in the price is totally
up to you, but either way, the state expects
to get their piece.
You better give it to them.
Plain and simple; collect and pay the tax.
Now I know this video has thrown a lot of
information at you, but this is the stuff
you have to think about.
You’re a business, act like one.
This stuff isn’t all that hard, it’ll
just take a little time to put it all together
at first and make sure everything is on the
up and up.
Then it’s smooth sailing from there, with
no worries about someone getting hurt or getting
in legal trouble for failure to properly label
or pay your taxes.
For more info and tips on how to grow your
massage practice, be sure to join the free
My Massage World Facebook group.
Thank you so much for watching today.
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