Congress Wants to Put Artisanal Soap Makers Out of Business for Your Safety

What!  You mean to tell me you don’t use Dial or Zest to get clean?

You use HANDMADE SOAP?????

But how will you get your daily dose of cancer-causing parabens? Your hormone-disrupting substances?

The government is VERY concerned about this.  VERY.

So much so that they wish to regulate and charge artisanal soapmakers right out of business, much like those pesky housewives who were audaciously sewing cloth sanitary napkins without the oversight of the FDA. Those darned nuns and their natural soaps can expect to pay whopping fees if they want to continue producing these non-carcinogenic monstrosities.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) love getting kickbacks from corporations that make cancer-causing products  love you and want you to rub toxins on your body to be safe.  Therefore, for your protection, they have created the Personal Care Products Safety Act (S. 1014).

This act will create requirements for fees, licenses, and inspections that will make it impossible for small businesses to continue running.  Cottage industries will, quite simply, be regulated right out of business. While the economy crashes, these senators and their idiotic bills will take away any possibility of self-employment.

Handmade soap must be regulated, but this stuff is A-OK

Here’s why the chemicals in commercial products (you know, the ones sold by big corporations who give sweet deals to government officials and make them rich) are so dangerous.

Your skin is permeable, and it’s only 1/10th of an inch thick!  So anything that you put on your skin has easy access to your bloodstream. Many of these chemicals cause toxic vapors that pose a serious risk when inhaled. Add this to the steam of the shower, and those vapors have even easier access to your lungs.

Here are some of the worst offenders that Feinstein and Collins don’t seem at all concerned about protecting us from:

1. Phthalates Scientific studies link phthalate exposure to reproductive abnormalities in baby boys, reduced testosterone and sperm quality in men and early puberty in girls. Animal experiments underscore their toxicity to the reproductive system. Where might you encounter these pernicious chemicals? In some cosmetics fragrance mixtures. Since the law doesn’t require full disclosure, you have no way to know when phthalates lurk in that bottle of lotion. To be on the safe side, buy unscented personal care products.

2. Formaldehyde releasersSome cosmetics chemicals are designed to react with water in the bottle to generate a little formaldehyde, a preservative, to keep the product from growing mold and bacteria. But formaldehyde is a potent allergen which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization consider carcinogenic. Formaldehyde releasers include DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15. Where do you find them?Shampoos, conditioners, bubble bath and other personal care products—even those intended for children. A 2010 study found that nearly one fifth of cosmetic products contained a formaldehyde releaser. Johnson & Johnson, a personal care products giant, is phasing out formaldehyde releasers under pressure from health advocates. We hope other cosmetics makers will follow Johnson & Johnson’s lead.

3. ParabensParabens are used as preservatives in some cosmetic products, but so-called “long-chained” parabens can act as estrogens and disrupt hormone signaling. A recent study by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health linked one type of paraben to impaired fertility in women.  Johnson & Johnson agreed to stop using most parabens in 2012, but they can still be found in numerous cosmetics. Read the labels carefully to spot products that contain parabens, especially the long-chained varieties—propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

4. Triclosan and triclocarbanTriclosan is a bacteria-killing chemical used in Colgate Total toothpastes (to prevent gingivitis), liquid hand soaps, body washes, clothing, cutting boards and other household goods. It has been shown to interfere with thyroid signaling and male and female sex hormone signaling. Triclocarban is the active ingredient in some antibacterial bar soaps. Researchers have linked it to reproductive abnormalities in laboratory animals. Last month, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that these chemicals should not be considered safe or effective in antibacterial soaps and body washes and gave manufacturers time to substantiate their claims or phase them out of the market. Already, Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble have pledged to rid their personal care products of triclosan. We hope to see other companies do the same.

5. Retinyl palmitate and retinoic acidRetinoic acid is used in anti-aging skin creams. Retinyl palmitate, a related chemical, is added to roughly one-quarter of the sunscreens in EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens database. U.S. government scientists have found that these chemicals speed the development of cancerous lesions on sun-exposed skin. The results suggest that people who go out in the sun while wearing retinyl palmitate creams and sunscreens may be at an increased risk for skin cancer. Instead of restricting these chemicals immediately, the FDA has ordered additional testing. EWG recommends that you avoid products containing retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate.

6. Hair straighteners with formaldehyde or formaldehyde-like chemicalsSome hair straighteners can contain as much as 10 percent pure formaldehyde. The cosmetic industry’s own scientific advisory board has warned against formaldehyde-based hair straighteners. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued warnings and fines to numerous salons that use them, exposing their workers to intense, and potentially cancer-causing, formaldehyde fumes.  Some nations ban formaldehyde-based hair straighteners. Yet some small companies persist in making and selling them to unwitting consumers, and the FDA has failed to take punitive action. People who want to straighten their hair or undergo a “smoothing” treatment should find out if the salon uses a product containing formaldehyde, also called methylene glycol. If it does, avoid it.

7. Lead acetate in men’s hair dye Lead acetate in some men’s hair dyes, such as “Grecian Formula” products, can increase the body’s lead level. Because lead is a potent neurotoxin, lead acetate has been banned in Canada and the European Union. The FDA should restrict lead acetate in hair dyes. In the meantime, consumers can use EWG’s Skin Deep database to find lead-free hair dyes.


Here’s what you can do to protect cottage industry from over-regulation.

The Handmade Cosmetic Alliance has created a form to help business owners contact representatives and senators and let them know how their bill will affect the ability to do business.

Even if you don’t make your own soap or buy handmade soap, I strongly urge you to take action and let your members of Congress know that you can see what they’re doing.  I’ve modified the HCA’s  letter below so those of us who don’t own businesses can use it. Simply copy and paste it into the body of an email and reach out to your senators and representatives. (You can find their contact information HERE) This will take less than 5 minutes of your time and could help save hundreds of thousands of small businesses while simultaneously protecting healthier options than toxin-containing corporate skin care products.


RE: Cosmetic Legislation – Small Business Support

Dear [[Recipient’s Title and Name]]:

I am your constituent and a user of handmade soaps and cosmetic products.I am writing to urge you to oppose Senate Bill S.1014, the Personal Care Products Safety Act. It will crush small businesses with user fees and reporting requirements.I am a supporter of the Handmade Cosmetic Alliance (HCA), an organization that advocates on behalf of nearly 300,000 primarily woman-owned small handmade cosmetic. The HCA had several meetings over many months with the sponsor of S. 1014 and presented information to support small business exemptions similar to those the 2011 Food Modernization Safety Act (FSMA). Sadly, a decision was made to use prescription drugs and medical device standards for small handmade cosmetic businesses.

This does not make sense. These products are soaps, lotions and scrubs made largely with food-grade ingredients found in any grocery store.

They are for topical use. Customers do not ingest them, nor are they used to treat medical conditions.

Handmade cosmetics are some of the safest products on the market. These products comply with FDA labeling requirements and the ingredients are commonly known (i.e, olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, coconut oil, etc).

Most artisanal business owners cannot afford the user fees proposed in S. 1014. Nor do their businesses have the capacity to do the reporting requirements for each product batch (10-50 units) as it could be several hundred FDA filings per month.

Please oppose the Personal Care Products Safety Act and stand with small businesses  that make handmade products using only ingredients the FDA deems safe. Please support reasonable and necessary small business exemptions so that these companies can continue to make quality products, create jobs, support families, and contribute to our economy.


Your Name

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About the author

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner and  The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom.  Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy's articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter, and you can email her at

H5mind - April 25, 2015

Congressmen do not read email.Their lackeys employ keyword search engines to quickly scan emails and spit out an automatic reply on related talking points. So expect no influence from that tactic. Better to spend half a buck and send it snail mail. At least this way, an actual person will have to open- and hopefully – read it.

    theADMIN - April 25, 2015

    I disagree. Every single way we make our voices heard makes a difference.And when many people barrage the offices with messages, it’s attention getting. I urge you not to discourage people so that they sink back into apathy. That’s how unreasonable laws pass.

    Please act.

    Sarah - April 26, 2015

    I disagree. Staffers open all mail and e-mail. I’ve gotten a response to every single e-mail I’ve ever sent to my representatives. And yes, they do search them, but when they discover they have hundreds or even thousands on a topic, they begin to pay attention.

sharp in la - April 25, 2015

This is life in a statutory world, so leave it – operate in common law where you the living are king and corporations and the state are beneath you.

Barbara - April 25, 2015

I was going to follow your website, but you use so many curse words, I don’t want you in my mailbox.

    theADMIN - April 25, 2015

    Please tell me what you consider to be a curse word in this article?

Jill - April 26, 2015

Thank you for bringing attention to this horribly misguided bill! I make and sell natural personal care products and affirm that this bill would destroy small businesses like mine and many others I know personally–all run by intelligent, creative, safety-conscious people. What a tragedy it would be if this passed.

Mark - April 26, 2015

My understanding of how representative offices work is that a staffer counts every point of contact for and against a bill, and that summary data is then presented to the representative. While they may not read the email/letter, the number count has the potential to influence decision-making. I don’t know what the relative weight of phone calls/handwritten letters/emails is.

Aaron - April 26, 2015

I started a small handmade cosmetic company not too long ago. While this is a bill in the right direction and exactly what we stand for as HSHL, it is also the worst possible approach. Restricting chemicals that are rarely (or never) used in small batch natural handmade bath & beauty is one thing, but slapping annual fees on small companies, regulating each formula, and requiring paperwork to back production is a completely different issue. There’s a reason the big corporations (that use these dangerous chemicals that this bill restricts) are supporting the bill, it puts a squeeze on the small natural companies that may very well be the only form of competition to these large corporations.

If the FDA really cared to restrict dangerous chemical usage, they would do the same thing they currently do to restrict ingredient usage – force you to put something on your label. If you were forced to put “contains known carcinogens” in large print on each label that contained certain ingredients, consumers would decide if they wanted to buy the product or not. This concept is a little thing called free market; it’s what this country is founded on. I’m all for supporting the restriction of dangerous ingredients in cosmetics, but I’m 100% against this bill! I’m also against the misinformation spreading across the internet about how great this bill is for all the consumers. The consumer always had a choice, and the educated consumer always made the right choice.

Pharmer1 - April 27, 2015

Thanks for posting this warning about excessive, small-business-destroying, personal-freedom-killing, government intrusion into our lives. This kind of legislation benefits only the largest corporations, which can afford to sustain this due to existing government regulatory and tax loopholes which favor them.
It prevents competition and stifles innovation.
Thanks also for supplying a form letter to allow those who use, and obtain benefit from hand made soap to support their local small biz.
I will be sure to pass this on.

Beverly Conroy - April 27, 2015

As a former staffer from the US Senate All letters, phone calls and emails are read by the Staffers not the Representative. With that said, everyone who contacts them does get the Representatives robo letter, because NOBODY can speak for the Representative themselves so those letters are written by your Rep to be used for responding on their behalf. When Large numbers of letters, phone calls, emails, tweets, or any other forms of contact come into their offices they are taken into account as something the staffer MUST bring to the attention of their boss! If their Rep hears about it any other way the staffer takes the heat is they didn’t bring it to their attention first. So yes, if there are large numbers contacting them about one subject, it does make it to your Representative! If they feel they can make a difference and make change on that subject the Representative will act on it! So keep those contacts coming into their offices, you will be heard!

colleen - April 27, 2015

Yes, the bill is overkill, our government seems to do that with any good intention. I could be wrong, but I believe soap makers are exempt – as soap is not considered a cosmetic. Also, businesses making less than $100,000 would be exempt. I don’t think we have all the information yet. People should do a bit more research so they know what they are asking their Representatives!

    Becky - April 29, 2015

    I’ve made soap for 13 years, and how it was explained to me is that if you make castile or a soap without “fancy ingredients” and you do not make any claims on the packaging such as moisturizing or good for mature skin, then it is considered just soap. However if you include things like shea butter or other ingredients that are known to have those types of claims tied to them or you make claims such as above it is considered a cosmetic. Maybe someone can correct me if this was relayed to me incorrectly.

Tuscany12 - April 28, 2015

Letter sent to my 2 senators and state rep. All the best!

Ctwink - April 29, 2015

Hi – I might be reading the bill wrong, but on page four of the bill ( it gives exclusions of what a “Facility” is (facilities are the things that will be regulated in this bill) and one of the exclusions is ‘‘(G) domestic manufacturers with less than $100,000 in gross annual sales of cosmetic products.” Doesn’t this mean that cottage/craft/artisanal makers of soap are basically exempt?

    Aaron - April 29, 2015

    $100,000 in gross annual sale is not a lot at all. It may seem like it is, but that’s the gross sale, which includes all your cost of goods, overhead expenses, payroll, advertisements, etc. At the end of the day $100,000 gross annual sales may only be about $20,000 profit (or less) depending on your margins. The large cosmetic companies pushing this bill are worth over $10 billion, just to put things in perspective. The fees may be limited or small for the smaller companies, but let’s not forget the added paperwork and reporting takes another major resource: time. A $10 billion company can hire a bunch of cheap interns to take care of that, a small company cannot.

      Angela - May 4, 2015

      It says $100,000 in COSMETIC SALES. That means COSMETICS ONLY.

        Aaron - May 6, 2015

        Look up what the FDA considers a cosmetic please. Not only do you not understand the language they are using, but you are basing your business knowledge on poor assumptions. A cosmetic is anything that isn’t a soap or a drug. A drug is a pharmaceutical. A soap is essentially lye. Everything else is a cosmetic. Please read my next reply below…

      Aaron - May 6, 2015

      So that’s what happens when you reply to another reply, here it is for easier reading: “Look up what the FDA considers a cosmetic please. Not only do you not understand the language they are using, but you are basing your business knowledge on poor assumptions. A cosmetic is anything that isn’t a soap or a drug. A drug is a pharmaceutical. A soap is essentially lye. Everything else is a cosmetic. Please read my next reply below…”

    Angela - May 4, 2015

    I know a lot of small scale soap makers. Not a single one of them make that kind of money from their entire gross sales. The bill also states that companies making less than $500,000 in COSMETIC SALES over 3 years can submit simplified listings. This is blind propaganda at it’s worst.

ELise - April 29, 2015

I have called and personally talked with representatives and congressmen, senators and governors. They are not unreachable. And they do call you back. If your concerned about the email, send it and then call them-ALL. Just don’t be rude, voice your concerns and then thank them for taking your call. They do listen to their constituents. You can also call back and check on progress with them and the bill.

Teresa Laxton - April 30, 2015

I would much rather use homemade soap. I think it is safer because you KNOW what is in it. It also allows folks to supplement their income while using their God given artistic ability. Please do not try to regulate this small industry.

christina - May 1, 2015

Ctwink, I read the same thing you did I know I would prefer somebody familiar with the language of bill writing to summarize it for me.

Aaron:DEFINITION of ‘Gross Sales’ A measure of overall sales that isn’t adjusted for customer discounts or returns, calculated simply by adding all sales invoices, and not including operating expenses, cost of goods sold, payment of taxes, or any other charge.

To the writer, some of the ingredients you mentioned as ones they don’t care about, are specifically called out for FA testing. It also states that each year, 5 new ingredients, not tried in the 3 years prior will be tested. isn’t that a good thing? First round:
‘‘(i) Diazolidinyl urea.
‘‘(ii) Lead acetate.
‘‘(iii) Methylene glycol/methanediol/
‘‘(iv) Propyl paraben.
‘‘(v) Quaternium-15.

    Aaron - May 2, 2015

    Thank you for googling the definition, but I believe you misunderstood what I meant in the previous post or don’t have much experience with business. When I said “includes” I was referring to the fact that you have to include the hidden costs (that the average consumer is unaware of) to your gross sales.

    When you calculate gross sales, you don’t remove your cost of goods, overhead expenses, payroll, advertisements, etc. When you calculate net sales, you remove those expenses; ergo, there’s a lot less money than when you started.

    For example: If you make $100,000 in product sales (gross sales) and you have $80,000 in expenses, then you only have $20,000 in actual profit (net sales). So that $100,000 may sound like tons of money compared to your 40K average salary, but this is NOT a salary. This is a concept that not a lot of people understand because they don’t make earnings in gross sales and net sales.

    I don’t know about you, but I run my own cosmetic company and deal with this stuff every day. If that $100,000 gross sales exemption was set to something like $1,000,000 gross sales instead, then it would make much more sense – that’s actually part of the Handmade Cosmetic Alliance’s platform. I hope you do find someone willing to discuss the Bill’s writing in full, so you can see all the major inconveniences and excess regulation it would introduce.

christina - May 1, 2015

Found this too

How FDA defines “soap”

Not every product marketed as soap meets FDA’s definition of the term. FDA interprets the term “soap” to apply only when the bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the product’s detergent properties are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds, and
the product is labeled, sold, and represented solely as soap [21 CFR 701.20].

Suzanne Jones - May 1, 2015

As a UK soapmaker I have to comply with regulations which were tightened a couple of years ago. The horror stories I hear about some US companies, one for instance who claims essential oils are safe to be ingested, make me shudder. Fragrance and Essential should be used within limits (some have carcinogenic properties) which at the moment is not the case in the US. Just because something derives from plants does not make it safe. I see no problem with some regulation if it safeguards the health of the consumer.

Tina - May 2, 2015

Of the hundreds of home-based soapmakers I know, not a one of them will ever come close to $100k/yr. I don’t even think that’s possible to do in a home. By the time someone is making that kind of money on such a labor intensive product, it is a business requiring employees and a designated space bigger than a typical home would allow.
I think the real story is about why a bill is written that will have no effect on anyone.

    Aaron - May 6, 2015

    I do not understand why a business can’t be considered a small business and also have employees? Is stimulating the economy and job market that bad that it’s only reserved for 10 billion dollar corporations? I still think you misunderstand the difference between gross sales and net sales, i.e. profit. For perspective, ask them how much they make in salary and then ask them how much they sell in products.

Bill Reader - May 3, 2015

Until you have read the actual Bill, don’t start a panic. I have been following this since it started back in 2008. The crux followed the actual physical harm caused by formaldehyde laden Brazillian Blowouts. Feinstein et al, started this ball rolling, not the FDA. I watched the court hearings about this bill.

If the FDA cannot stop people from recommending ingestion of essential oils by over night YL or DoTerra reps, what makes anyone think they have any authority or man power to suddenly oversee soap makers?

It is not about putting small soap businesses out of business. Please actually read the thing before regurgitating misunderstood words as fact.

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