I Want to Start a Cosmetic Making Business in Canada… What Do I Need To Do?


I get asked this question in one form or another often.  Below I will list the mandatory requirements for the sale of cosmetics in Canada.  Keep in mind when reading through the items that set up is the easiest thing you will do throughout the life of your business.  If you think that it sounds like an awful lot of work, you probably should rethink the business idea.  This applies to anyone and everyone (including those that solely sell at farmers markets) who manufactures and sells a cosmetic in Canada (including those products made from a cosmetic base).  There are also provincial and municipal laws that differ according to region, so you must get familiar with those as well. 


First, what is the definition of a cosmetic?  Health Canada defines a cosmetic as:

“any substance, or mixture of substances, that is manufactured, sold, or represented for use in cleansing, improving, or altering the complexion, skin, hair, or teeth.


This category includes deodorants, perfumes, and soaps. Products for the grooming of animals are also considered to be cosmetics.


The definitions of drug and cosmetic have certain features in common; nevertheless, it is generally understood that the requirements of the Regulations pertaining to drugs take precedence over the Regulations pertaining to cosmetics in situations where the claims for a product have both a drug and a cosmetic nature. Only a drug may make both drug and cosmetic claims; cosmetics may make only cosmetic claims.” See the Health Canada website  for more information.


Mandatory Requirements When Setting Up Your Business.


  1. Know the Cosmetics Act inside out.  It is your bible.  You must follow all the rules in it and adhere to them.  It outlines your labelling requirements and sale requirements.  If you do not follow it, you can be heavily fined and shut down.  These rules are in place for a reason. 
  2. Find out what your municipal and provincial laws are pertaining to manufacturing and sales out of your home.  Many municipalities require that you have a business license to operate a business in your home.  Get it earlier, rather than later, as if a neighbour complains, you can be shut down.  Call the City, Town or County for municipal laws and speak to a registry agent (in Alberta anyway) for provincial requirements. 
  3. Seek out insurance.  This covers your butt in the event of an accident with the use of one of your products.  The Soap and Cosmetics Association of Canada, The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild and the Canadian Guild of Soapmakers, Chandlers & Cosmetic Crafters now offer reasonable insurance rates to Canadian members, provided you sell soap in your product line.  If you plan to seek out stores to carry your product, they will want proof that you have this. 
  4. Fill in your Cosmetic Notification Forms… you can be heavily fined if you do not.


The four listed above items are the mandatory steps to begin selling cosmetics.  They do not necessarily encompass all aspects, but they are a good start.  Each one is easier said than done, for the most part.  Each one is time consuming.  With that said, running a successful business is also time consuming as well. 


Hope this helps some of you out!



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