HSCG Certification Program

The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild's Certification Program was undertaken in order to encourage and promote the highest professional standards among HSCG members. The Program also presents criteria by which members can measure their soapmaking knowledge and skill as well as creates a centralized repository for industry-standard information and resources.

The Certification Program benefits the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry as a whole by establishing an industry-wide standard of excellence in soap and cosmetic making. Achieving these certifications will benefit the member as it demonstrates dedication to professional standards and builds credibility with customers.

All HSCG members may become Certified. In the case of Vendor Memberships, where the membership is in the business name, Tier 1 and 2 Vendor Members may designate up to 2 people to be certified under their membership; Tier 3 Vendor Members may designate one person to be certified under their membership. Certifications for the Company Representations of a Vendor membership are valid as long as the individual is associated with the Vendor Membership or has a Soapmaker membership in their own name.

Certified Soapmakers are noted with an icon when the member's listing is displayed in the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Directory, and the certification level(s) are displayed when the "More Info" link is clicked from the listing. A list of Certified Soap & Cosmetic Makers is also displayed in the "Consumer" section of the HSCG website for consumers who specifically want to find Soap & Cosmetic Makers who are Certified.

A few important facts about the HSCG Certification Program:

  • Soap & Cosmetic Certification is offered only to HSCG Members.
  • Participation in the program is entirely voluntary.

Levels of Certification

There are three testing tracks: Cold Process/Hot Process (CP/HP) Soapmaker, Melt and Pour (MP) Soapmaker and Cosmetic Maker. Each track has four levels of testing: Basic, Advanced, Expert, and Master. Please note that the Cosmetic Certification Program is still under development and only the Basic Level has been finalized.

In general, participants in the Certification Program will need to have an understanding of the following subjects commensurate with the Certification track and level at which they are being certified.

  • Techniques for developing soap or cosmetic formulas
  • Safety requirements
  • Techniques for the use and storage of soapmaking ingredients and equipment
  • Labeling requirements
  • Environmental concerns
  • Good manufacturing practices

Basic Level

The Soapmaker Basic levels consists of a 20 question exam.

The Cosmetic Basic Level has a 20 question exam, and also requires the submission of three cosmetic products (a lip balm or lip gloss, bath salts or bath soak, and a lotion bar or body melt).

Advanced Level

The Soapmaker Advanced level consists of a 20 question exam and submission of sample soap(s) for review (1 soap for CP/HP, 4 soaps for MP).

The Cosmetic Advanced level consists of a 20 question exam and submission of four cosmetic products (lip gloss or lip scrub, dispersing bath oil or emulsified makeup remover, bath fizzy and whipped body butter).

Expert Level

The Expert level consists of a 20 essay question exam, a topical report, and submission of sample soap(s) for review (3 soap for CP/HP, 4 soaps for MP).

Master Level

The Master level consists of a 10 essay question exam, a topical report, a research paper and submission of six (6) master-level soap samples for both CP/HP and MP tracks.

Study Materials

A a list of suggested study materials, along with practice exams and reference lists have been developed and are available for use in preparing for the Certification examinations. More materials will be developed as time permits. Anyone interested in volunteering in the project to compile soapmaking, cosmetic and/or certification study materials should contact the HSCG Certification Program Manager at .

Exam Locations

It is the HSCG's intention to make all the examinations available to all members, regardless of their location or ability to travel. There are three possible ways to take the exams:

  • At the Annual Conference
  • Proctored Individual Exam
  • Group Exam
  • Zoom

Certification Expiration

Basic Level certification is valid indefinitely, regardless of whether the person maintains HSCG membership**.

Advanced, Expert and Master Certification are not indefinite and are valid only with membership in the HSCG. If the person's membership expires, there is a 90 day grace period during which the certification may be reinstated by paying a fee of 50% of the current fee for the level. Once the membership has been expired for more than 90 days, the certification can only be reinstated by requalifying under the current requirements for the level.

** Where the certified individual is the Owner of a Vendor Member Company, the certification will be valid regardless of membership. For individuals who qualify for certification as the company representative other than the Owner, all certifications will immediately expire on the expiration of the vendor membership. However, the individual may join the HSCG as a Handcrafter Member in their own right, in which case the Basic Level Certification will remain valid.