Lotions, soaps, and other cleansers may be regulated as cosmetics or as other product categories, depending on how they are intended to be used.
Cleansing products, many of which are marketed as “soap,” may be cosmetics or drugs regulated by FDA, or consumer products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, depending on how they are made or how they are intended to be used. For example, soaps and cleansers marketed as “antibacterial” are drugs.
Lotions intended to make people more attractive are cosmetics. But, if they’re intended to affect the structure or function of the body, or for a therapeutic purpose, such as treating or preventing disease, they’re drugs, or sometimes they may be both cosmetics and drugs. For example, sunscreen products are drugs under U.S. law. So are skin protectants, skin bleaches, and treatments for skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or rosacea.
Some lotions are both cosmetics and drugs, and must meet the requirements for both categories. Lotions that are intended both to moisturize the skin and protect users from the sun are just one example. To learn more about the differences, see “Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?).”
The resources below provide safety and regulatory information about soaps and lotions.
Product and Ingredient Information
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids
- Beta Hydroxy Acids
- Color Additives and Cosmetics
- Fragrances in Cosmetics
- Nanotechnology and Cosmetics
- Soap: FAQs
- Sunless Tanners & Bronzers
- Thigh Creams
- Wrinkle Treatments and Other Anti-aging Products
More Safety and Regulatory Information
- FDA Authority Over Cosmetics
- Information on Over-the-Counter Drugs: Includes sunscreens and other nonprescription drug products, such as antimicrobials, skin protectants, and treatments for acne and other skin conditions)
- Reporting a Problem
- Small Businesses and Handmade Cosmetics: FAQs
- View More Guidance and Regulation Information