Learn about cosmetic labels in Canada and what you need to know about.

October 2021

Feel your best with cosmetic, beauty, and health labels that not only look gorgeous, they inspire your inner confidence. No matter the season.

Everyone knows that dry winter air can sure do a number on us. But guess what?

The Government of Canada can also do a number on you if your labels don't follow federal food and drugs guidelines. That's why we've prepared this tutorial for you.

(i.e - labels that sell and don't get you fined)

How to design a cosmetic label in 5 steps

1. Know the legal requirements

2. Showcase unique product claims

3. Visuals - container, brand assets, layout

4. Use special print techniques and materials

5. Find the best label experts to handle your details

cosmetic holiday gift package, Scentuals Natural and Organic Skin Care

There are laws to be followed, no matter what country you live in. Everyone can be subjected to regulatory action from the government in your country if you are misleading or don't have the necessary details in your labelling claims.

For the purpose of this tutorial we'll give you an overview to get things rolling, but here are the government links for Canada and the United States.

Below is the overview on how to divide labelling regulations by front and rear panel - and there's no right or wrong order, just make sure they're somewhere.

Front Panel

(i) Identity: highlight the nature of your product in a way that can be easily understood, in the form of words and images.

(ii) Quantity: indicate the net quantity of contents measurement by numerical count or weight

Rear Panel

(i) Directions: how to use your product in an optimal manner

(ii) Ingredients: list must appear in descending order of dominance

(iii) Production Statement: if the name or address of the business is not the brand, the label must say "Distributed by..." or "Manufactured by..."

(iv) Warning: statement related to the product that may present hazard

(v) Business Info: name and street address of manufacturer, packer, or distributor.

Here is an example for our friends Saltyface. The requirements are split differently between front and rear panels.

front and rear panels of cosmetic labels for Saltyface
Front and rear labels as seen in Adobe Illustrator
cosmetic and beauty product close up in hand, saltyface

#2 - Showcase unique product claims

Include those 1-2 word claims on your label that represent your product.

Marketing, not legal. These help reach target audiences and differentiate.

Images help but they aren't mandatory
  • - 100% Natural
  • - Cruelty Free
  • - Proudly Canadian/Made in USA
  • - Fair Trade
  • - Gluten Free
  • - Vegan
  • - Hypoallergenic

They need to be true. Don't be sneaky.

You're responsible for safety and quality too  - so if your goods expire, include "Best Before:" or "Expiration Date:"

#3 - Visuals: container, brand assets, layout

This is where it gets fun.

Product and brand identity is important to your audience. Here are three places to start. Container. Brand Assets. Layout.

Container: Type and shape

Not one size fits all. Every cosmetic and beauty product is different, but there are common containers to pick from, including:

  • - Pump
  • - Spray
  • - Tins
  • - Jars
  • - Dropper
  • - Tube
Multiple sized cosmetic products in different containers
Multiple container types and sizes

Once you choose, pick your size(s). Wholesalers are found easily on Google.

Just remember. Because of size differences, you can't use the EXACT same label for every product. BUT. It's easy to adapt your design to fit different containers.

So, let's show you how to do it!

Brand assets: Colours, logo, icon, fonts and copywriting

This is where it gets fun.

Brand assets are created by graphic designers or you can do it yourself, but that's another lesson for another day. For the sake of this tutorial, you have assets to create your principal display panel.

Colours. Logo. Icon. Fonts. Copywriting.

Let's use this example from our client, Scentuals Natural & Organic Skin Care.

Design proof for cosmetic label print

This is a proof of one of their pump mists.

It's a wrap around label - so let's turn it into a front and rear panel for simplicity.

P.S - Don't worry if seeing two labels (the pink thing) is confusing, we'll get into that in section #4 (print techniques and materials). Hint: one is a special layer.

This is our simplified end result - front and real panels.

Note. We used a larger size to make it easier on the eyes.

We'll take you through label design step-by-step.

front and rear cosmetic labels designed in adobe illustrator
Front and rear panels for cosmetic labels


There isn't a magic formula - but 2 or 3 usually does the trick.

Once your brand is established it's awesome to change colour groups to match product identity. Since this is holiday themed, you can feel the colours evoke it.

Here we use 3 colours.

"Red" - #8E1925

"Gold" - #B2A16B

"White" - #FFFFFF

When creating your label from other visual brand assets, use the Eyedropper tool to match any colour needed.

Click the icon, then click your source image, and the colour will appear in the icon menu.

choosing colours in adobe illustrator tutorial

This is the big one. Don't be afraid to experiment until it's perfect.

Simple is best, but make sure it still conveys your message.

You want the company name in a font and styling that represents the feeling you want audiences to have.

For example. What do you feel when you see this logo?

Scentuals natural and organic skin care logo

Soothing. Relaxed. Friendly. Lower case and sans-serif font makes you feel that way, and it's exactly what you want when taking care of yourself. We won't reveal the exact font they used. Friends keep secrets :)


It isn't mandatory. But definitely reinforces identity when done right.

You also don't need to use the same one every time. It works like the colour scheme, you can adapt to match the product.

In this case Scentuals used a snowflake. Appropriate.

Fonts and Copywriting

With fonts, it's like the colour thing, we've generally accepted having 2-3 in your brand asset folder. Just don't go crazy.

Two is often best.

Switching between all lower case, ALL CAPS, and bold is another common device.

Notice how well it works.

designing the front label of a cosmetic product in illustrator
Our re-creation of this label using a 4.25x5.5 template

Copywriting is a fancy word for the words on your label, or anything for that matter.

It can be a fun tagline, pure facts, or something in-between.

For this label we kept it simple, using only the ingredients label and legal requirements on the information panel.

designing the rear label of a cosmetic product in illustrator

#4 - Use special print techniques and material

You know by now there are plenty of brands out there selling cosmetic products.

How will you catch the eye of your customers using product labels?


Let's go back to the wrap-around label proof from earlier.

See how it says "Metalize BOPP" and "Matte Finish"?

Metallize means you give the label aspects of metallic sheen, the sort of shine which elegantly stands out. Remember this?

Can you guess what parts are going to be shiny??

Hint. It's not the pink stuff.

THE GOLD elements, of course!

But how?

The technique used here is the "knock out" - a layer of white ink that ensures only the outlined assets get the metallic look.

It tells the printer where and where not to metallize - knocking it out! Some people use pink, some blue, same thing.

What this does is create CONTRAST.

Metallic elements are balanced with the matte finish which is not shiny. It's a time honored trend that always works.

#5 - Find the best label experts to handle your details

Ok. Fine. This is where we plug :)

Maybe we want to print your cosmetic labels - is that such a bad thing?

We just want to help, because we love labels, and chances are you don't have a massive printing press in your living room capable of doing this - whether you need 50 labels or 1 million of them.


No matter how many labels you need, even if it is just 50, we can still help out.

Come say hello.

For more information on our friends and the incredible companies in this article, please visit them...for your own benefit!

Scentuals Natural & Organic Skin Care


So Luxury Bath and Body Products

Buy your blank cosmetic labels for home use today here.

See more of our cosmetic ingredient and beauty labels on Instagram here.

Whether you want to improve your custom cosmetic labels or want to try something new, we hope this article helped.

Need one-to-one support?

Contact your label expert today and we'll reach your goals - our customer service team is happy to find the right fit for you.

Call us 8am to 5pm (PST), toll-free at 1-877-77-ALTRO [1-877-772-5876]