Liability when sending samples to customers? How do you protect yourself as a cosmetic chemist?

If person X wants a product, you make it for them to their specification, but it ends up hurting them (allergic reaction, misuse, what have you) and they sue you for damages.

How do you protect yourself from this? 
1. Have them sign a disclaimer/agreement before receiving the formula, if so, are there industry standard templates?
2. Carry some sort of insurance? If so, what insurance?
3. Something else or both 1 and 2?

Curious to know, sometimes people request custom formulas or people ask to be product testers, but I'm wary of liability. 


  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    edited April 2017
    That's best covered in your development contract ... a liability waiver and indemfication.

    But, anyone can sue anybody for anything at any time regardless of your contract language.  All they need is a lawyer and a claim.

    I usually test all development prototypes on myself prior to sending samples to the client.  And, I never, ever formulate a product or use ingredients/ingredient combinations that I think might have adverse effects.  

    This is handled during contract negotiations where I clearly specify what ingredients will be used in the formulation.  If the client wants a formulation that has the potential for "harm" ... PASS.  Simply not worth it.

    Your own good judgement is your best way to avoid any of these issues.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • ZinkZink Member
    Thanks Mark, here it is a question of a pH 4 simple 4% Glycolic Acid gel, shouldn't have the potential to do much harm, but the client wanted it without preservatives so there's that (similar formulas have passed USP51 in the past).

    Do you have a sample development contract or release form? Didn't find much googlign.
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