Monday, July 26, 2010

The Importance of Doing it Right

I've been doing a little internet research this evening on various other soap/body product makers.  There are so many really excellent people out there doing really excellent work and producing beautiful products that should be applauded and bought by the truckload!

But, and I hate to say this, there are some who aren't ... who's products may look very nice in the pictures, but when you look at their ingredients listing, they aren't following EU regulations regarding cosmetics and sale of same.  Now, we may all laugh at EU regs at times (remember the straight bananas?) but cosmetic legislation is put in place in order to protect you, the consumer.  From ensuring that a manufacturer (and I mean the big boys like Lush etc to the small producer making everything themselves by hand, like me) is fully safety assessed, that all the ingredients are stated correctly using the full INCI* terminology (for instance, when water is stated as Aqua, it's not that we're trying to sound posh, that's the law) to being fully insured... all of this is hugely important. 

Tonight, I found some producers who aren't keeping to these regulations and I felt the need to clearly state to everyone that we at Soaperstar are very proud to say that we've worked long and hard to ensure that we fully abide by EU cosmetic regulation, are fully safety assessed for all our products, are fully insured and very aware of the importance of all of these things to our customers.  I would HATE for anyone to lump our company alongside the producers that I found this evening. 

We strive to ensure the highest quality of production and ingredients for all our products and we test, test, test and test some more all new ideas before we ever launch them on the market.  We want to only produce products that we love to make, that we feel are of the highest possible quality and that we truly believe in and can stand by.  We would feel like total frauds to pass off some ill tested, badly labelled and poorly performing products to our customers. 

It really upsets me that there are people out there who think it's ok to not list all the ingredients, to not list any potential allergens, to not disclose fully what goes into their products, to market only the "label appeal" ingredients but not list every single thing that goes into their products - what happens if someone buys something from them and is horribly allergic to it? If they'd been open and above board with their labelling in the first place, that customer could then make an educated decision to not purchase the product.  It annoys me that some producers are happy to put products out on the market to unsuspecting customers - the legislation is there for a reason, that reason being the protection of consumers. 

Soaperstar was the first non UK member of the Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers - the Guild's has two very specific aims:
(1) To raise awareness of the legislative standards that are in place that apply to craft soap and toiletry makers
(2) To register as members of the Guild crafters who work in compliance with this legislation and who hold relevant public liability insurance

In order to achieve membership, you have to produce written evidence that, as a producer, you are fully safety assessed and fully insured - without this, you cannot become a member. 

I would urge any consumer who loves to buy handmade products to keep buying them but please ensure that the ingredients in the products are fully and correctly listed (for instance, no label should list Cocoa Butter but should call it Theobroma Cacao, Coconut Oil should only be listed as Cocos Nucifera) - if not, ask why not.  Ask the producer are all the allergens present in Essential or Fragrance Oils listed.. if not, why not.  If you want to, ask are they full safety assessed, or fully insured... they should be.  If they're not, why not. 

It's so important to us at Soaperstar that the customer comes first, they are the whole reason we exist in the first place - we work so hard to ensure that everything we do, we do for our customers and we do it in the right way... and this includes extensive (and expensive!) research and development into new products, correct and full labelling (not just highlighting the ingredients you want to see and hiding those you don't!) and abiding by the rules laid down to protect the customer. 

I am sorry if this is a little ranty but I got so annoyed tonight - and then got to thinking that people would think that maybe we're like that too and I had to come here and talk about it. 

We are so passionate that we do the right thing, make our products in the right way, make our customers happy and safe that I don't want anyone to think that we're like other companies who don't care enough about their customers to help protect them. 

There are, of course, many many many producers out there who make fantastic products and the few that don't abide by the regulations are, thankfully, few and far between.  Consumer awareness though is so necessary and I felt it so important that people know what they should be looking for and what level of service they deserve to get.

End of rant!

* INCI means International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients - you can find more information here.  If you'd like to read more about EU cosmetic regulations, please click here (be aware, it's pretty dense reading!


  1. Very timely Celine as I had thought about posting a question on this on Fresholi. The last 3 things I have bought, none have had the allergens listed, and one simply said 'saponified Olive oil, saponified coconut oil ...'. They were all handmade, all bought from shops, so these girls are going well. It makes me mad when we go through hoops to do everything by the book, spending ages working out the allergens, making sure we spell it right while others just don't bother and seem to get away with it because the public as a whole, are not aware that these things are legally required. And here endeth MY rant lol
    Thanks for a great article Celine xx

  2. Good post and as Polly said, very timely. Last week I got annoyed as I was browsing in a local hand-made gallery that I'm working up the courage to approach about selling my soaps and found some felted soap there. So I looked at how they had labeled it and it was wrong. All it had was the ingredients that made up the base, then 'Essential Oil' and 'Colour'. There was no batch number or contact details. It made me want to say to the shop about it, but I don't want to come across as being snarky and trying to bad-mouth the competition. Just wondered what other people would do?

  3. This is the thing ... I wanted to say something to the person concerned but didn't want to come across as some snarky competitor who is only saying something because she's a competitor. But, at the same time, perhaps she's ignorant (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) of the regulations and just doesn't know any different? A very hard balancing act - I think, on the whole, best not to say anything but I already dread the thought of anyone at all, ever, lumping us in the same category - and yet they will. Hence the rant!!!

    Plus, as it was pointed out to me last night by another really good soap maker, things like safety assessments and testing and R&D and insurance cost big money.. it'd be so easy to avoid paying out for them just to make a quick buck but NOT if you want to do it the right way. I'm happy to pay the money out to ensure that my customers know, categorically, that my product as the very best it can be.

  4. Toatally in agreement with you Celine and a well written straight from the heart article it annoys me too that we put our hearts and souls into making our products comply to the EU regs and some people just can't be bothered or are just simply unaware(ignorant) like you said..but at least we can sleep at night !

  5. Ok I probably shouldn't have but queried from this person how they list allergens to be told that "it's not required in Ireland at the moment". E-Gads!!! Ireland is part of the EU, it IS required, the fact this person didn't know that scares me. I was then told all the ingredients (including allergens) were listed on the site... nope, no they weren't. I suspect she doesn't know what allergens actually are. I fear that this person has no safety assessment (because if you did, you WOULD know this information) and that begs the question of insurance too. I know I shouldn't have asked. Sheesh.


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