What’s the Deal About Pesticides?

There are many soapmakers and cosmetic manufacturers out there who make all natural bug repellents.  These are products in either spray or solid form that repel bugs, normally made up of an all natural blend of alcohol and essential oils (for the sprays) or a butter/wax/oil blend with essential oils (for the sticks).  They’re generally fabulous products – all natural, DEET free, safe to use on everyone from babies to the elderly.  I know, because I used to make and sell them; now I only make them for our own use.

Honestly, it broke my heart giving up this product.  It was a phenomenal seller and I couldn’t keep it in stock during the Spring and Summer months.  So, if it was such a great product and such a fabulous seller, why did I discontinue it?

I promised myself and my customers that, no matter what, I would run my business legally and ethically, abiding by the matters of my faith and the law of the land.  As a cosmetic and soap manufacturer and small business owner, then I’m bound by the guidelines and laws of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (regulates plain ol’ soap), the Food & Drug Administration (regulates cosmetics), the North Carolina Department of Revenue (for obvious reasons) and the Internal Revenue Service (again, for obvious reasons).  This means that I make my products in the safest way possible, abide by the guidelines for cGMPs (current Good Manufacturing Practices) and adhere to what the FDA says I can and cannot sell, given my level of manufacturing.

The bottom line is, I discontinued Go Away Bugs! because the FDA considers bug repellents to be drugs, and the EPA regulates them as pesticides, even though they repel, not kill.  This means that bug repellents, even all natural ones, have to undergo extensive – and very expensive – testing, both by the FDA as drugs and by the EPA as pesticides.  The EPA tests alone run in the range of $12,000.00, which I simply can’t afford. 

Still, other cottage micromanufacturers continue to make and sell these.  Considering their prices are reasonably low and their exposure is small, it’s a safe bet that they have not had these products tested, leaving the consumer to wonder, Exactly how safe is this product?  Just because it’s all natural does not ensure or guarantee a product’s safety.  Over against the looming monster of the Safe Cosmetics Act and the microscope under which all of us bath and body makers are, such careless, UNLAWFUL practices just underscore the public’s doubt about the safety of all of our products.

For me, it’s not worth $5.00 a tube to damage the rest of my business or to harm this microindustry as a whole.  While my product is safe and effective, as a responsible business owner, it’s up to me to protect not only the integrity of my company, but the integrity of my industry as well.