In short, I want to start a small internet shop (think like Etsy) that sells an idea I have for a handmade item. Something I would need to make the item is hair dye, and I've done TONS of research and I can't find anywhere to buy ingredients for hair dye because the process of making hair dye is something that must be done by a chemist. So my question is, if my item involves adding hair dye to several other ingredients, is it legal to put a branded hair dye in my item?

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    How is this related to patents ? Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 7:14
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    The more important legal restriction may be that something including hair dye may be a cosmetic and has to comply to particular customer safetry regulations (chemical safety in this case would mean that your mixture must be evaluated as mixture, having all ingredients certified safe for use may not be sufficient) Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 15:20
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    Hair dye of the salon variety typically is only sold to licensed professionals and often comes with strict limits regarding redistribution. This is similar to other strong chemical products that are not sold to the general public for reasons of them carrying elevated health and safety risks that require special training to handle safely. Are you asking about professional hair dye (ie: salon dye) or consumer box dye, like what is sold in pharmacies, etc?
    – J...
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 16:14
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    You of course have no guarantee that the hair dye's unique chemical composition which you rely on will be retained into the future. A specific contract with the manufacturer might be useful. Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 19:18
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    Does this answer your question? Is it legal to sell something that uses another product as one of its ingredients?
    – user4657
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 5:36

4 Answers 4



That’s what construction companies do.

And manufacturing companies.

And car companies.

And coffee shops.

And restaurants.

And …

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    However, there is a small possibility that the hair dye company might find out, and stop selling you hair dye, if they don't like your product for some reason. Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 10:06
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    +1 Important to note that all of those companies use branded items but don't list the branded name on the label / ingredients list. Normally, they directly list the separate ingredients of the branded item on the label, or list the function of the branded item followed by the ingredient list between parenthesis e.g.: dye (ingredient A, ingredient B, ingredient C, ingredient D, ...) Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 10:29
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    @JulianaKarasawaSouza: Milka brand of chocolate over here has one kind that includes Oreo brand cookies in the chocolate (both Milka and Oreo belong to Mondelēz International, btw.). But of course a company that doesn't list a particular brand doesn't need to change the labelling if they want to change their supplier - so in most cases, they'd presumably rather not list the supplier brands unless they have to. Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 15:27
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    @cbeleitesunhappywithSX the more significant reason is that a manufacturer who advertises the presence (for example) Oreos in their products but does not own the Oreo trademark will be liable for trademark infringement unless there is a licensing agreement, which would typically require paying a licensing fee to the trademark owner. Even with Milka and Oreo there is likely to be a licensing fee between different subsidiaries of Mondelez. (For that matter, even the subsidiaries that manufacture Oreos probably license the Oreo trademark from another subsidiary, but that's another discussion.)
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 16:13
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    @phoog: yes, with emphasis on advertising. The ingredients list may be a different case though. E.g. German trademark law says the owner of the trade mark cannot prohibit the use of the trade mark to (truly) identify or refer to their (legally obtained) product or service. The fancy restaurant can specify that their coc-au-vin is made with some brand wine, the local car workshop can say they are TÜV-certified, both without the need to obtain a license from the trade mark owners (TÜV and wine brand owner can prohibit using their brand for stuff that isn't theirs, though). Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 18:24

Can I use a product that already exists to make another product?

If you didn't do that, you'd have to make everything from scratch. Nobody (except for guys on YouTube who show you how expensive things really are) does that.

Thus, you'll of course buy "other products" to make your own products.


If you go to any ice cream shop (e.g. Cold Stone Creamery), they will offer a variety of toppings. Some of those toppings will be "crushed Oreos", "M&M"s, Reese Pieces, crushed Snickers bars, crushed Kit Kat bars, etc.

When you sell things like that, you are using the term as a descriptive, so they can't prohibit you from referencing the product, and you don't need to license the use. However, if you do call them M&Ms, you must actually use M&M's.

But clearly, any ice cream shop can do that, since they all do.

If they want to make a "chocolate deluxe" sundae and don't even mention the crushed cookies used in the melange are genuine Oreos, there's no problem with failing to mention that.

However, relevant to your product -- if there are any special licensure, inspections or other requirements required to sell your product, for instance if you are selling hair dye, then you are fully obligated to meet ALL those requirements - even if you do not know they are requirements. This is one area where "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

There are lots of forums on the Internet, and your second-best bet is to connect with knowledgeable people doing the same thing (or abstaining to do that thing because the licensure is onerous). Your best bet is to rely on the advice of your industry-practicing lawyer.


When you buy hair-dye, it is very likely to come without any commercial restrictions on use; there may be restrictions that the seller tries to make on doing dangerous things. Say if I sell hair spray I might add a license that says you are not allowed to spray into open flames - it would be very dangerous, highly stupid, and the license would make it harder for you to claim damages from me.

Trademark laws may prevent you from telling the public that you put XYZ hair dye into your product, but that is only about the use of their trademarked name. The seller may tell you that you are not allowed to do this, whether they can legally prevent you is another question, but it will help them if the hair dye causes problems in your product.

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    Can you really make it illegal for someone to spray your hair dye into an open flame? Other than by using already-existing laws about people doing dangerous stuff? Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 10:06
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    Juliana: Microwave - not suitable to dry wet pets :-)
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 17:28
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    @JulianaKarasawaSouza you can list a product's actual trademarked name in an ingredients list without infringing the trademark. You might not be able to use the name anywhere else on the packaging, though, without obtaining a license from the patent holder. Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 20:54
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    The First Sale doctrine would probably prohibit such ongoing strings in a sale contract from being enforced even if it contained them. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 21:45
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    @gnasher729 That's a safety warning, not a licence.
    – bdsl
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 21:51

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