Article by: Valerie Patton

If you have an idea to startup a cosmetic business you might be wondering how much it will cost you and whether it will be profitable. The original question posed to us was on a business forum and the questioner specifically wondered, how profitable a natural cosmetic business (skin care line) that was started in my kitchen. Many of you may be wondering the same, so here are some key things you need to know. startup cosmetic costs

When beginning a cosmetic business you first need to know a little bit about the cosmetic industry.

Cosmetic Industry

While you might think the cosmetic industry is limited to products like lipstick, nail polish, or eyeshadow, it is actually much bigger than just that. Color cosmetics represent only one part of the cosmetic industry. Other products like skin lotions, shampoos, body washes, and even toothpastes are considered cosmetics. In fact, almost any personal care product is considered a cosmetic.

That means the cosmetic market is a great one to get into as nearly everyone on the planet uses some kind of personal care product. There is a ton of competition of course, but consumers are always looking to try something new and with the right dedication you can create a following of loyal consumers who will be the basis of your business for years to come.

Cosmetic Regulations

You may have seen on the Internet or elsewhere that the cosmetic industry in the US is not regulated, but this is just wrong. In fact, the cosmetic industry is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Before you even get started, it would be a good idea to check out the information published by the FDA specifically for startups and home based cosmetic businesses. This will help you when you get started and are figuring out your costs.

Cosmetic start up costs

While starting your own skincare line from home *can* be profitable, how quickly it becomes profitable is where it gets sticky. If you are a small shop starting out, it is unlikely that you are going to get your products into major retail stores or even mid sized local stores. Your best bet is to begin online where you can build some sales data and get some customers. You can then use this information to take to your local markets when you try to convince them to carry your product. The more places you can have your product on sale, the more likely you will be successful.

To start any cosmetic business, or really any business your key start-up costs will be in three primary areas including:

  • Product Development – approximately $5000 for a single product
  • Business Expenses – varies but at least $2000
  • Marketing & Sales – starting at $500 and up

I’m going to assume that you are going to start small so the best way to do that is to start online. Of course, costs can vary widely depending on the formulations you are making, but here is a general ballpark for what you can expect. We’ll break down each cost type in more detail.

Cosmetic Product Development Costs

When people think of starting their own cosmetic line, the product development costs are what they generally think about. Basically, these costs include anything related to creating your product such as raw material costs, packaging, and labeling. It also includes the cost of production activities such as mixing the materials together and filling them into the packaging.

Now, you might think you can just get a recipe off the Internet and start making the product yourself. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Most of those formulas don’t work and even if they do you’ll need to find suppliers for ingredients, a company who can manufacturer it for you, and conduct testing. If you want to make it yourself you’ll have to spend some money to set up your own manufacturing space based on FDA guidelines.

If you’re really serious about creating a product you’ll want to work with a cosmetic formulator to get your product made. Their services are not free and could run you anywhere from $500 to $25,000 depending on the chemist and the formulations you make. The average cost of working with a chemist will be around $2500.

Product manufacturing

Cosmetic formulations can run anywhere from $0.10 per pound to $3 per pound but on average you can guess products will cost about $1 per pound. Packaging & labeling will cost another $1 per unit. Add in production and filling costs and your average per bottle cost will be about $2 – $3 per unit.

But you can’t just make a few bottles at a time as you’ll have to buy minimum quantities of the raw materials and bottles. To get the costs to $2 – $3 per unit you are going to have to make a minimum of 500 — 1000 units. If you make less your costs will go up significantly.

To get your products made you typically will work with a contract manufacturer who produces products based on your formula or requested formula characteristics. If you don’t want to invest in a lot of expensive manufacturing equipment (mixers, raw materials, filling equipment) then it is best to work with a contract manufacturer to make your products. If you are producing the products in your own home, your raw materials may be much higher so the cost per unit will ultimately be higher too.

Of course, you’ll also have to pay someone to make your product labels and this can vary in cost from $500 to $2000. It’s best to work with someone who has previously made cosmetic labels because they will know all the proper information to include on the front and back labels.

Considering everything that it takes to produce a cosmetic product first production run, you should figure that making one type of product will cost you around $5000. It may be less if you can find someone who can do smaller runs and you’re working with a product like a skin lotion or a body wash. It will be more if you’re wishing to launch a cosmetic line that includes a variety of different color cosmetics.

Hidden product development costs

While $5000 might not seem too bad, the product development costs are not done yet. In the US, there are no specific laws about the type of testing you must do to start a line but there is one overriding law. It is illegal to sell unsafe products. You must be able to prove that your products are safe. If you are serious about running a cosmetic business you MUST test your products to ensure they are safe and effective. There are a number of tests you should run before launching a cosmetic line.

Microbial testing: Preservative Efficacy Testing is a must. It can be a little pricey to start out if you have multiple products, but the one-time cost of this (~$350/product) is far less than payment on a lawsuit.

Stability testing:  Cosmetic stability testing is a type of testing which just looks at how your product reacts when stored at different conditions over time. It will tell you if the product separates, changes color, gets contaminated or still continues to work and for how long. See the following where we’ve written about cosmetic stability testing. This is something you should consider hiring a lab to do.

Safety testing: Sensitivity testing should be done too, but can be optional, if your budget is super tight. However, if the product is going to be applied near the eyes or has ingredients like SPF, AHAs or BHAs, etc, you should really consider budgeting this in. These tests start at $800 and go to $1500 at some labs in the California area. If you’re selling an SPF product, don’t forget that SPF testing will probably cost you around $3000-$4000. Note these are ballpark figures and they are highly dependent on the lab you use.

So, the hidden costs of formula development have now pushed your cosmetic start-up costs to about $8000. Remember, this is just for a single product.

Cosmetic business costs

If you are going to sell cosmetics and you want to protect your personal assets, you should incorporate. In the US you could conduct your business under a Sole Proprietorship, but this makes you completely liable for anything bad that might happen as a result of your products. You would be risking your savings, your car, and your home. You do not want to do this. And unhappy consumers can be quick to hire lawyers and start lawsuits which could wipe out a small business. The best strategy is to incorporate to protect your personal assets from liability. It also makes it easier to get business insurance. The costs for incorporating will vary but you can figure on about $500.

Business Insurance

Now, you also need to further protect yourself. Whether you’re the formulator, manufacturer, or skincare company, get insurance. There are two basic types to be considered – Property Insurance and General Liability Insurance.

Property Insurance: Property insurance is just that – it protects your property, like rental insurance would. In the event of, let’s say, a fire, everything related to the retail aspect of your business (computers, your product inventory) are covered. The insurance company will write you a nice, big check for what you lost. This insurance is a great idea for a skincare or hair care company, in the event of misfortune, but if your budget is tight, it is probably not necessary. Formulators and manufacturers don’t necessarily have to have this one, but again, it’s a good idea.

Liability Insurance: Anyone serious about a cosmetic business should have is general liability insurance. And, unfortunately, this is the expensive one. This insurance is in the event that someone experiences an adverse reaction to your product, or slips and falls on your property. The cost of this insurance is typically based on how much sales your business has during the year. The limits are set so that the insurance company will pay a total of X amount of dollars (general aggregate limit), and will only pay a certain number of occurrences or claims.

The higher your sales, limits, and occurrences, the higher the monthly premium. Formulators should have this insurance in case their formulation is the reason for the occurrence, and likewise for manufacturers – if something they did during the manufacturing process contaminates the product and causes the adverse reaction, they are responsible.

Sometimes, if you work with contract manufacturers and or contracted formulators they will “umbrella” the cosmetic company on their policy. This means that the manufacturer or formulator’s insurance company is including your products on their insurance. It does not mean that you are insured individually as a cosmetic company.

This is why it is important for your company to have its own insurance. Formulators and manufacturers can be insured until kingdom come, but ultimately responsibility falls on your company for the safety of the products. If the product doesn’t perform the advertised claim, or you do something to make the product unsafe, you are responsible. Selling homemade products is a huge risk – and any adverse reaction can potentially cost you thousands or millions. So, you just have to weigh the odds.

Finally, the last thing to consider about insurance. If your dream is to get your product into a large retailer or sell it on Amazon – most major companies require proof of insurance before selling your product, as they will assume no liability. Insurance costs will depend on lots of factors but a rough estimate is ~$100 per month per $1,000,000 of insurance. So, figure you’ll need at least $1200 for yearly insurance.

There are lots of other business related costs such as fees for lawyers, accountants, employees and taxes, but the details will be highly dependent on where you are located and how you run your business. You have a lot of control in how much this will cost you.  Just be sure to figure on some number for business costs like these.

Marketing & Sales Costs

The final area of start-up costs that we’ll cover is your marketing costs. This represents any money you put out to develop and sell your cosmetic product. If you begin an online business (which is what we would suggest) the initial costs can be fairly low. Running a website can be done for less than $500 a year. Online promotion via social media or email can be done for next to nothing and requires mostly an investment of your time.

The amount of time you dedicate to online marketing will directly relate to how much product you sell. More time and communication generally will mean greater sales. The activities that you should spend your time on will depend a lot on who your customers are but things like writing blog posts about your topic, publishing videos, participating in social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram, commenting on other people’s sites, and conducting online auctions are all things that can boost sales of your cosmetic product.

Cosmetic order filling

Filling orders will be your next significant cost. You need to have money available for boxes for shipping, people to actually fill the orders and shipping costs. When you are coming up with the price of your product don’t forget to including shipping as part of your costs. This can often be as much or more than the cost of the product. For example, if it costs you $3 to make your product, shipping costs will easily be $3 so you need to charge $6 per unit just to break even.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting out is not charging enough for their products. Remember there will be hidden costs and if you’re not making a profit, you’ll go out of business.

Another option for distributing your products is to get a booth at a local market and sell directly. Booth costs vary but you can get some for between $50 and $125 a day. If you can sell more than that in a day then you’re making a profit. Once you’ve established your brand you may also attempt to get your product sold by some of the local shops in your area. For hair care brands, go see if your local salon will carry your brand. For skin products, perhaps a local spa or specialty gift shop would carry your products. You will have to give up a significant amount of your direct sell profit but you’ll ideally make it up with a high volume of sales. Typically, you’ll have to sell your product at a reduced cost to these outlets so they can markup the price to make a profit. This won’t cost you any money directly but it will cut into your own profit.

Cosmetic Start up Costs

A cosmetic business can be profitable but it is much more complicated than making a lotion in your kitchen and selling the product to a demanding public. When you figure in the costs of product development, business, and marketing you realistically need about $10,000 – $20,000 to invest up front. And if you are going to make more than one type of product you should figure on adding $5000 for each additional cosmetic product. Once you start making sales you can make that money back but understand that this is the minimum amount you are going to need to get started.

Product ideas may be free to conceive but they aren’t free to launch. If you want to start up a cosmetic line, start saving your money now.

This is a joint article written by cosmetic chemists Valerie Patton (@thelahobo) & Perry Romanowski

Valerie Patton

About the Author

Valerie Patton

Valerie Patton is currently a cosmetic chemist specializing in hair color and hair care in Southern California. She is the 2016 Chair of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, California Chapter, and a board member at the College of Arts & Sciences at Kent State University. You can follow her on Twitter as @thelahobo.


  1. Avatar
    Makibwe Daniel

    Great idea

  2. Avatar

    Hi Perry,
    Could you please recommend some good liability insurance companies ? I’m going to start a small business making and selling soap online. Thank you !

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Sorry, I don’t have a recommendation. However, I’d suggest you post your question in our forum.

  3. Avatar

    What about product or palettes from Alibaba?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t know. I haven’t used them.

  4. Avatar
    Latrisha Mcshan

    I want to start my own eyeshadow palette I know what colors I want and I know the name I want it to be as well so if someone can assist me with this it would be greatly appreciated

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You should contact a private label manufacturer to start your eyeshadow palette.

  5. Avatar
    Lauren Brockman

    We offer a variety of services including microbiological testings, product development, formula corrections to dysfunctional products, reformulation of legacy products, stability testing and manufacturing audits.
    Please feel free to contact us at

  6. Avatar

    Hi everybody,
    Our company is located in Chicago, IL. We provide you service for start up companies. If you interested in business with us, feel free to contact us.
    Thank you

  7. Avatar

    Hi Perry,

    I am also interested in starting my own cosmetic line. I’m wondering what the costs might be as far as the FDA approval process goes?

    Your feedback is appreciated!


    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You don’t need FDA approval to launch a cosmetic line. But you do have to be able to prove your products are safe. See the costs described in the post above.

  8. Avatar

    Hi I have really been doing alot of research on starting a not just skincare line but what I call a body care line, I would highly appreciate any advice on starting out I would like to use a manufacturer that provides packaging as well as marketing if possible, I wanna think that I have a niche for the worlds next big thing, if anyone has any advice on funding that would be great help, I would also like to thank perry and everyone else that have any advice thus far also god bless and good luck to all of you

  9. Avatar
    Allan Emigh

    We are a skin care manufacture/wholesaler building and creating all natural formulas that are approved for Europe, United States and South America. Our line of products have been produce for over 17 years with fabulous results. At the moment we have over a dozen formulations and can create, formulate, package and ship. Having worked with some of the biggest names in the world our skin care product have exceeded our competition.

    Among our formulas is skin cream for health, beauty, repair, difficult skin conditions, exfoliating, shampoo’s, conditioners and we have also started a natural pet line of products. Our many customers include medical spas, doctors offices, health food stores, pharmacy’s, and pet resorts.

    As for scale of sales we can work from the smallest orders to largest depending upon the product requested or changes to formulas.

    Please feel free to contact us with your idea’s needs and wants.

  10. Avatar

    Dear Sir,
    I had a quick look and I am thinking to start import cosmetics in small quantities or blend and fill here in Jordan
    If anybody is interested in investing or in exporting in small orders kindly let me know
    Thanks in advance

    1. Avatar

      am interested

  11. Avatar

    can anyone help on where I can get an affordable batch number/expiry date/manufacturing date stamp or printer for plastic bottles. Most cost $300-$1000, are there any affordable ones?

  12. Avatar
    Mihir Bhatt

    how big would be the sampling cost, or do startup give out sample ?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That depends on the startup. If sampling is part of your marketing strategy then you would give them out. You’ll have to decide how much of a budget you’re willing to have for free sampling.

  13. Pingback:Phase 2 – Final project

  14. Avatar

    hi…i want to start my own cosmetics company but i dont know anything about ingredients and all those things , is there a way i can just say how i want the outcome of the product like the texture and color and have them do it for me ?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Yes. You can contact a Private Label manufacturer to make the formulas for you.

    2. Avatar

      If you are still looking for a private label lab feel free to contact me.

  15. Avatar
    Gloria Jackson

    Such great and useful information! I have begun researching and developing a few beauty products on my own but I’m also battling between doing it myself or doing private label. I prefer to do myself but get overwhelmed with what all needs to be done. 90% of me wants to do it myself so that I’m creating my own product but then I think about private label which is enticing as well because the formulas are already done. Wanted to get your advice and/or what you would do yourself if it were you.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I would suggest you start with private label. It is so difficult to make a successful cosmetic brand that you need to focus as much of your efforts on sales and marketing as you can.

      You have to ask yourself, do you want to be a chemist or do you want to launch and sell a beauty brand? If the answer is that you want to launch a brand, go the private label route.

    2. Avatar

      Hi Gloria if you are still looking for a private label laboratory to partner with feel free to contact me.

  16. Avatar

    Hey, I was wondering Where i Can make costumized packaging for My products With My brand on it??

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You have to find a Private Labeller

    2. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You have to find a Private Labeler

  17. Avatar
    Porsha Thompson

    Hello Perry can you explain the pros and cons of starting a private makeup label

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski


      The pros are – Least expensive & fastest option
      The cons are – you don’t own your formula, you are at the mercy of the producer to get product, you have limited formulation options.

      I recommend starting with a private label but quickly moving to your own formulations once you prove that you can sell the product.

  18. Avatar
    yahaira castro

    hey perry i would like to start my own cosmetic line …. i would love for your help


      1. Avatar

        Hi Perry,
        how long does it take to get the free report?

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          You should get it immediately. Check your spam folder if you don’t have it.

  19. Avatar

    Hi Perry,

    I was wondering if you’ll be willing to mentor me? I am am international trained Biochemist and Public health personnel with keen interest in comestology and starting a product line as well as food supplements( in a year and half). I am saving to start your online course and will need guidance on my journey. I will love to build my own testing facility as well as do my own research( future) but want to start from the basics to get prepared for my own products.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Hello – This blog, the forum and our courses are my mentoring. If you have specific questions, I’d be happy to answer.

  20. Avatar

    Hi Perry, as always, I find your information very valuable. I have read about FDA and i would like to know if in Europe are anything similar. Regards, thank you!!

  21. Avatar

    When was this written?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      This was written in 2012

  22. Avatar

    This is really helpful information…

    I really impressed with this research. I want to know more about investment requirements if I export one of my anti aging skin care cream from Canada to Brazil?
    like the cost of advertising and marketing, Licensing, selling if I sell it through online as well as physically.

    I would appreciate if you provide such information.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Sorry, I don’t know. But you can post in our forum. Maybe someone there does.

    1. Avatar

      I will have at least $ 15,0000 to invest soon just looking for the right team
      lawyer . chemist ins .. marketing etc.. I know what I want in my cosmetics .my niche I run a online boutique that’s under construction . so I want to be able to incorporate all . so nervous lol.

  23. Avatar

    Hello Perry
    How can I order for my hair product to be made under my own name and brand? who can help me with that? Thank you

  24. Avatar
    Sheika Thomas

    Hello Perry,
    I was thinking of working with a Cosmetic consultant to ensure that I am making the right choices and only spending money where its needed for my future hair product. I have been receiving a lot of mixed reviews about working with a consultant because I can pretty much get all of my information from the Internet. My question to you is: should I continue with meeting with the consultant. His consultation fee is $250 hour. What are some questions that I should ask the consultant? Should I have a non disclosure and a non compete agreement when speaking with the consultant? (This consultant is also a chemist)

    Thank you for your help

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Thanks for your questions. Here are my thoughts.

      You may be able to get a lot of information from the Internet but that could take you weeks or months of searching. A consultant would speed things up.

      You don’t really need an NDA. Chemists who are formulators are in the formulation business, they are not in the cosmetic business. I personally wouldn’t worry about someone stealing an idea. But others might disagree.

      The reality is that you can not create a cosmetic formula that is unique. Anyone, whether they have an NDA or not, will be able to have a chemist easily copy your formula. It’s not hard. That’s why to be successful in the cosmetic business you have to do great marketing and engage with your customer. Your formulas are not what is going to make you successful.

      If you were talking to a chemist for two hours…

      1. What do you charge for creating a formula?
      2. What testing do you do?
      3. Who owns the formula? (you’ll want to make sure you own it)
      4. What is the cost per pound (or per unit) of the formula?
      5. What contract manufacturers do you recommend?
      6. How will you handle stability testing failures?
      7. How many formula options will you give me?
      8. What packaging do you recommend?
      9. Have you worked on similar formulas in the past? Can I see some examples?

      Those are the types of things you can ask.

      Good luck!

  25. Avatar
    Jennifer L

    Where are labs in the US that would work with start ups? Preferably ones that do not test on animals? Thanks!

  26. Avatar

    What is the price difference between wholesale and retail, if I want to sell my product to a large retail chain what discount do I charge them?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      This really depends but usually if a product costs you $2 to make, you sell it to retailer for $4 and they sell it to customers for $8.

  27. Avatar

    Hi! Thank you so much for a great article!

    How much should R&D cost? I was quoted per product price. What is the industry standard?

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Well, that really depends on what type of product you’re making. It can be anywhere from $0.50 to $10.00 per unit.

  28. Avatar

    Hi Perry,

    First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I want to start a skincare line and have been trying to look formulators / labs to help me develop products. The development fees cost from $500 to $2500. Do you have any advice on how to find the right lab to work with, what type of questions to ask to make sure they’re legitimate, etc?


    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Hello Jeff – I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. There are cosmetic consultants there who can give you more advice. I’d ask for things about formula ownership (who gets it?) I’d ask about timing, cost, and the process they would use to develop formulas. They should also have connections with suppliers and contract manufacturers. You can ask them about the safety testing that is done and how they do their stability testing. Hope that helps and good luck!

  29. Avatar

    I just want to say thank you – this article has been very beneficial as I have gone through the process of developing my product range ! Still a long way to go, but we are starting to grow!

    1. Avatar
      Luiza Popa

      Hey Hayden,

      I would love to know to process you took to create the product line. Where did you go to manufacture ? Im in the process of developing a scrub face.I had a look at your website and your products,they look amazing…..good job.

      Thank you

  30. Avatar

    Thanks for this article, very helpful.
    Just curious, I want to start my own skincare line, however it may take some time.
    What are your thoughts on a curator site? Promoting other lines of organic skin care products
    until my line is up and running.


    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It’s not a bad idea. It will give you some experience in marketing products which is what is most important when starting your own line.

  31. Avatar
    Helen bannayan

    Thanks Perry it’s very its very important to know about insurance. So if using contract manufacturers their insurance will not cover my products and I have to get insured for their production. Please advise

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      The safest thing to do is to get your own insurance. However, most manufacturers have insurance that would cover you.

      1. Avatar

        hi Perry,
        this is a great article, i would like to start my own cosmetics line, however, I need help with connecting with a good manufacturer. Do you have any suggestions. here is my personal email address that you can email me at ( Thank you in advance

  32. Avatar
    Myriam Romero

    I just wanted to say i am so happy i found this website! I am in trying to create my makeup line and youre so helpful! I tried to look for information on other websites but all my questions are answered here! Thank you

  33. Avatar

    How do the big cosmetics companies obtain their products? Do they all have production labs? Or do they buy from a third party?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It depends. Usually they make them through their own manufacturing facilities or they hire a contract manufacturer.

  34. Avatar
    inmaculada carmona rodrguez

    i am making my own organic cream and i need to test the cream and all the regulation that it needs i write to some companies but they dont reply , my dream is to sale my cream to the market and i need some help

  35. Avatar

    Hi, I want to be honest. I started research on starting my own lipstick line since last year and got discouraged as finding a lab to work with is hard. When contacted via email, I get no replied and the last one I spoke to, give me an average of $12,000 to create ONE lipstick color and said that the price may even increase. Where do I find a lab ready to work with a new line that is not that expensive? Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I would suggest you do a Google search for “private label cosmetics” or “private label makeup”. If you want to reduce costs working with a private label company is the best way to go.

      1. Avatar

        What are the disadvantages to working with a private label company? Could they own what makes your product unique if you bring it to them?

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Yes, that is one of the disadvantages, they might own the formula. You would own your packaging and branding. But if you bring the formula to them they are then a contract manufacturer not a private label company. You would still own the formula. Other disadvantages is that you won’t get to customize your formula and you may not be able to move to a different manufacturer if you find a better price.

          1. Avatar

            Hi Perry,

            I originally wanted to find a company to do a custom formula but I too found it difficult to find a company to work with and the ones that would quoted extremely high fees. I have subsequently started looking into Private Label products but I am weary of investing in a substandard/generic product. Is there a way of researching companies to find out if their products really are high quality?

          2. Avatar
            Perry Romanowski

            Only by asking for samples.

  36. Avatar

    Hello. I would like to start a cosmetic line in South Africa, mainly organic. I have not made any products before but I do use organic home remedies with the information I get online. I would like to start with hair and body products before considering the facial or makeups but I don’t have knowledge of how to make the products and give them long shelf life. I tried to write a business plan but I got stuck with financial plan as I do not have facts of projections. Please assist.

  37. Avatar

    I am a student doing research about exporting cosmetics. I have a question about the production time. Do you know how long might it take an international make-up brand to create a new product (for example a new lipstick or mascara) from scratch?
    Thanks in advance for your response.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Probably a year.

      1. Avatar
        Landon lin

        I’ve seen a lot of comments asking about packaging companies, MOQs, custom packaging, etc., so I thought I’d leave my information here. I started my own beauty company (which is still alive and very well) in 2013, and have learned thousands of lessons–a hundred of which have to do with packaging. I learned Mandarin, went to China and did it all myself, and finally have stellar packaging and a lot of knowledge to boot.

        I started my own cosmetic packaging + consulting company with a partner in Hong Kong, called Genie Supply. We take the hassle out of working with China, by managing production for you, but because of our roots in HK/China and lean startup nature, we can deliver the final product to you at 1/2 of what other US companies can.

        You can find us at or email me at to discuss your beauty products.

  38. Avatar
    Aillisha Jackson

    Hi, my name is Aillisha Jackson and I am looking to start a Make-up line manufactured by me. I found this info to be helpful but I still have some questions. I am a business major and we are working on starting business plans. I am having a hard time. This relates because my part-time business will be in the make-up retail area. Please help!

  39. Avatar

    Dear Perry,
    I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for the several nuggets of gold that you have sent my way through the above blog, but more importantly through your free report on how to start a cosmetic line. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I am in the process of starting my own line, and you are playing a pivotal role in my learning process, perhaps without even realizing it.

    Bless you!

  40. Avatar
    Jeneen Zucker

    Hello Mr. Romanowski,
    I found your site quite interesting and you did answer a number of questions I had. You see I have several products I have put together for my clients for their numerous health issues. I am a certified Nutritional consultant, Master herbalist, and a Holistic Health Practitioner. My focus for the most part is to stay organic and I do realise this creates its own set of problems one of them being shelf life. So far the only way I have found to work around this is sterilize everything, sell in small containers along with educate the client to not cross contaminate. Of course one thing led to another and I started making product for friends and family mostly due to sensitivity issues with store bought products.Things have been growing faster then I can keep up. I know a organic line is important to many people. Any advice?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      My advice is to make sure you do all the proper safety testing before moving forward with your marketing efforts. If you have not adequately preserved your products whether you call them short shelf life or not, they represent a potential danger and would be illegal to sell in the US. Just make sure you do all the safety testing required!

  41. Avatar

    Hi I was just browsing through your website and found some very enlightening information on starting up a business I’m living in the States and I’m looking to start a hair care business here on the cape I really think the business in here and it would work but I do need more info before starting is there anymore ideas you could give for starting an African American hair care store???

  42. Avatar

    My partner and I are just starting out for our lipstick Line. I would greatly appreciate an email from you to help in some questions. We need some advise on advertising and pitch advise for store and companies to sell our product. Look forward to the email. 🙂 Thank you in advance.

  43. Avatar
    agnieszka migew

    hi perry
    I want to open a cosmetic shop , sell polish cosmetics in uk, the cosmetic are already exists, I love them and use them myself, I think they would make a great sale in uk, just don’t know how to start, would appreciate your advice.

  44. Avatar
    Eve Emerson

    Hello I am in the beginning stages of a start up and would like to know what tests are required for my chemical based products and non chemical products. Also where is the best place to do testing in Uk? Regards Eve.

  45. Avatar
    Jacinda Dawkins

    Good Morning!
    I am a cosmetologist and I would like to start my own Lipstick line! I feel like I have some great ideas about them and shades that will look great on darker toned skin. How do I get in touch with people that can help me out with that? As well as, the start up costs do you think that all of those components are a must at the beginning? I have a couple hundred dollars to start is all.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Your best bet would be to use a private label company. Do a google search to find one near you. Also get our free report

      1. Avatar
        Anita craig

        How do u feel about private label companies

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Private label is a good route for most people starting out.

  46. Avatar
    Stowe Ibinye Silvia

    Hi. Perry. You are doing a great job here I must say. I am not a cosmetic chemist, but I want to create my own cosmetic line. I am a Nigerian and I live in Nigeria. I don’t know how I can get chemists to work with me so I can create products that would be able to compete with the likes of Mac and Black Op, etc.. Your article already said it will cost about 15000 dollars to start up. I just need to meet with the right chemists. Please can you help me out even if I have to travel and meet you guys up, I will, but that would not be possible till about December next year because I am on my Nigerian Law school programme and I am rounding up next year.

    1. Avatar
      Emi Agboola

      Hello Stowe,

      Am working on my cosmetic line too and there are so many private label that can help you accomplish this.

      1. Avatar

        I will love to know more please

      2. Avatar

        Thank you for the information. Do you think you can give me some of the private label companies. I’m in the process as well, but I need a lead way.

        Thank you in advance

  47. Avatar

    I tried to email you. However, it keeps coming back to me.
    Just wanted to tell you how clear and helpful your articles were to me.
    I am in the beginning stages of my venture into the cosmetic /skincare industry.
    I am sure to have questions for you in the near future, but for now thank you for your great and practical information.

    Much Mahalo

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski


  48. Avatar

    I’m 15 but I really really want to have my own haircare and makeup line some day in the future. This article was really helpful and I also read other comments and it answered most of my questions. But right now I would really like to know what would be the best age to start finding people to work with and get the business up and running

  49. Avatar

    No business is going to jump as soon as it comes out. Is it possible to pay for testers like example I create the design I want we make the lip gloss figure and the label . Yu make 100 lip gloss one color and one shape just to see how it will sell and yu stick with the same company and eventually you order more and create more . Is this possible because this is what I’m trying to do. Email me please !

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It’s probably not going to work as 100 lip glosses is too small a run. You’ll probably have to make at least 1000 maybe even 10,000

  50. Avatar

    I am serious about starting my own lipstick/lipgloss line. I have the vision, name, name for colors but don’t know where to go from there….I know I need a lab/chemist/labeling/packaging and I am in Dallas, Texas…can anyone help?

  51. Avatar
    Andrea Colbert

    I want to start a lip gloss line but I don’t have anyone to help me. I live in Long Branch, New Jersey.

  52. Avatar

    I am wanting to start a lipstick line but I cannot find a lab or chemist in my area. I am in oklahoma.

  53. Avatar

    I am looking forward to starting a business of my own. I would like to have a mascara or eye shadow product. I love makeup and i want to set a goal for the next 3-4 years. However I know nothing! how can I start this? Who is a good person to talk to about starting a cosmetic line?

  54. Avatar

    Need help on starting eye lash line

  55. Avatar

    Thanks for the estimate.

  56. Avatar
    Nicky Beats


    I want to make organic skin scrubs. I use all ingredients from the local farmers market. However, i don’t understand how to prevent them from separating within the jar. How do you keep the products/ingredients mixed?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You haven’t provided enough information. Mostly likely you need a suspending polymer like Xanthan gum or Carbomer.

  57. Avatar

    Hi Perry,

    Really enjoyed your detailed article. By the looks of it, you’ve answered most of my questions however a couple remain.
    I am an Aussie and naturally would start my business as an Australian cosmetics company. My questions are

    1. As an Aussie company, to sell I other countries whether it’s online or not, do I need any sort of approvals from each country before doing so?

    2. What certification or submissions do I need to do to operate in Australia as I heard from someone that it is tough to do so In Australia and If difficult, do you suggest I open this business in another country.

    3. Is an Aussie cosmetics business come across credible or are there countries that are more credible in this industry?

    I have not been able to find any answers for these questions so if you could provide me with an answer, that would be most helpful!

    Thank you Perry

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Thanks for your comments and questions.

      1. This depends on the country. You have to check with the regulations of where you want to sell the product.

      2. I don’t know regulations for businesses in Australia. I’d suggest you contact the IFSCC branch in Australia

      3. Yes, Aussie businesses are credible in the industry. You could probably carve out a nice niche market in the US.

      Hope that helps. You might post your question in our forum for answers from other people.

  58. Avatar

    I’m starting an all natural lotion line and was wondering if anyone has a proper barrel set up for filling smaller containers?

  59. Avatar

    Hi, I recently started an all natural skin line.. i don’t use any preservatives or chemicals. I was wondering if I should still do the preservative efficiency testing? or if there is another test i should be doing??

    i have the brand, product, website and interest all there… but just now realizing i need to test and should prob get insurance as well?

    any help would be appreciated. thanks!!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you absolutely should do preservative efficacy testing. If you are not using a preservative in your product you are taking a huge risk and could be risking the health of anyone who uses your products. You should not risk the safety of your product because you don’t want to use “chemicals”. Everything is a chemical so unless you are selling empty bottles, you are using chemicals. Also, if you are not using preservatives in your products you definitely want to have insurance because someone will get sick and likely file a lawsuit.

  60. Avatar

    I have a degree in biology but only took up basic chemistry(organic,biochem), so I have no experience with formulating cosmetics. My question is,is it possible for me to start up a cosmetic line without having experience in chemistry? I mean, have other company manufacture the product idea for me and sell it under my brand name, but still have the products customized according to my specifications? thank you for answering! 🙂

  61. Avatar

    I’m looking to start a lipstick line but have no idea how to go about it. I’ve literally got everything written on paper but it’s the getting it out there that I’m having difficulty with. Would love some advice please!

  62. Avatar

    Hello, I’m starting a natural hair care business. I wanted to start at home, but I’ve recently read somewhere that each batch of product I make I would have to get a stability test and preservative test. I really want to get my formula right and well tested so I can sell to the public, but I feel I need lab services/manufacturing. As long as I use the same measurements of my ingredients, do I need to continuously have my batches of product tested? Any information on how to look for a manufacturer of cosmetics, especially in New York? Thank You.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. Yes, you have to keep track of your quality conditions for every batch. You don’t have to stability test every batch but there are some tests you need to do.

    2. Avatar
      Michael Mikhail

      Precious Cosmetics is a contract manufacturing and filling facility for an array of high quality cosmetic products including skin care, hair care, fragrance and spa products. We create and produce the highest quality private label and personal care products. We accommodate both small and large runs. We are located in Lodi NJ. Please give us a call if you have any questions about starting up a cosmetics line, or if you would like to start one up. We match samples then batch and fill all kinds of cosmetics products.

  63. Avatar

    I would like to start a lipstick brand …where do I start

    1. Avatar
      JIll Aloia

      Hi Jessica,
      I can help guide you. I am a package designer that has partnered with chemists and product developers. lets connect.


      1. Avatar
        Shamise Harvin

        I Jill I’m actually interested in starting a lip stick line. Any advise in what I would need or how to get this amazing idea off the ground

      2. Avatar
        Devin Thomas

        Hi Jill I’m interested in starting a cosmetic line. I was wondering if you could help me out spi see that you are a chemist of some sort. You can reply to the email provided I look forward to hearing from you.

      3. Avatar

        Hi I am looking to start an all natural Cosmo line can you give me any ideas to get started

      4. Avatar
        Felicia Wiggins

        I will like some help getting my makeup line started can someone help

  64. Avatar

    Hey Perry! I’m actually interested in starting an eyelash line. Any suggestions, website or steps I should take to get started? Thanks a lot.

  65. Avatar

    what about the quality control

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You need to run quality control tests.

  66. Avatar


    Do you know the production cost for a hair dye bottle? What about nutritive hair care and shine hair care?

    Thanks a lot!

  67. Avatar
    John Doe

    Many herbal skincare products come from ingredients based in Asia. How much money would be spent on research and shipping costs?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It depends on your shipper. A few thousand I would expect.

  68. Avatar

    If I start a cosmetic line thru Your Name Cosmetics due I have to have proof of testing, and have liability insurance, etc. Putting my own name on the products.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      If you start a cosmetic line you are ultimately responsible for the safety of the product. It doesn’t matter who makes it, you are responsible. So yes you have to have proof of testing and getting insurance is a good idea.

  69. Avatar


    I would like to know the volume you talk about when you mention “unit”, and preferrably in ml, please?

    Thank you

    1. Valerie Patton
      Valerie Patton

      By unit, I am referring to the actual product. It can me any size in grams or ml that you want. For example, 20 products is equal to 20 units in industry terminology.

      1. Avatar

        Thank you for your quick response, and I am glad to see this post is still so active! 🙂 So the costs will be the same whether I produce 50, 75 or 100 ml bottles?

        1. Valerie Patton
          Valerie Patton

          The costs for a unit are different depending on the size, type of product, what is in the formula, how much packaging there is, etc. it is hard to say how much something costs without knowing any of that. A unit is just the definition for all of the above. Usually you tell your manufacturer how much you’re you tell your manufacturer what you are willing to pay per unit.

  70. Avatar

    How much does cosmetic research in other countries cost? When a finds an ingredient for their skincare product in another country, what are the expenses for flight, travel, research and etc…

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      This really depends on what it is and where it is located.

      1. Avatar

        For example, many herbal skincare products come from ingredients based in Asia. How much money would be spent on research and shipping costs?

  71. Avatar

    is this estimate per product? ie: $10,000-$15,000 for a shampoo, another $10,000-$15,000 for a conditioner etc…

    or does this estimate apply to a line of products? if so, how many products would this cover?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      This is primarily an estimate for the first product. If you make a second product it wouldn’t be as expensive so probably could cut the costs in half.

  72. Avatar
    Colleen Hamson

    Generous post. I’m taking classes and four weeks in I have learned less in class than from your post. Thank you

  73. Avatar


    First of all, thank you for this very informative post! I was just wondering if anyone knows if it is possible to start out selling home-made products without paying for the potential product to be sent off and tested somewhere? I have seen so many posts online (particularly on social networks such as instagram) promoting all sorts of ‘natural’ cosmetics, many of which seem to be quite small businesses, potentially even run from home.
    I am not planning on using any chemicals or preservatives (at least not at this early stage) as the ingredients have quite a long shelf life.
    Is there a particular regulatory body (in the UK) which can provide me with the necessary information? And if I am planning on using a social network to sell my product, is it still important to go through testing? I have tested it on myself multiple times and many of my friends have also ‘trialled’ it.

    Any information that you may know would be greatly appreciated!X

    Thank you in advance,

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      In the US it is illegal to sell unsafe cosmetic products. It’s the same in the EU. You have to be able to prove that your products are safe and this has to be more than just you saying they are safe. Therefore, you need to do testing. If you injure someone they can sue you and if you can’t prove you’ve done proper safety testing you will lose the suit even if your product didn’t cause the harm.

      Also, if your products contain water you absolutely should be using a preservative otherwise your products would not be safe from microbial contamination.

      “Safety testing” it on your friends and yourself is not adequate enough.

      1. Avatar

        This does “not” help me at all!

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          What information were you looking for? What answer would be helpful?

          1. Avatar
            Clint Richardson

            What companies do this safety testing and how much can I expect to spend? Can I do this outside of the US/EU and be recognized as safe? Where are the best resources located if you know you natural compound enhancement ingredient has not been previously used or reviewed. If this we in fact the case as what stage would you target formulators with fact sheet and samples to license to, or would you? What specific steps would you take and their respective cost be? How do you simplify and maximize your efforts when faced with a complexity of a new untested ingredient?

          2. Avatar
            Perry Romanowski

            Do a Google search for ‘cosmetic safety testing lab’. Yes you can do the testing outside the US and EU and still have it qualify. For answers to your other questions I’d suggest you post them in our forum.

  74. Avatar

    Hi Perry,
    Another very informative post, it has given me some much needed information with some food for thought and ball-park figures that I can work with constructively.

    As a home-based UK formulator trying to start a small hair and skin care line, are there any test you could recommend that I could conduct at home, (simple stability test or testing for bacteria, yeast or mold) before sending my products to a lab for official testing? this would save some time and money, as it would reduce the cost of re-testing.
    some of the products that I formulate for skin and hair are totally oil based, what tests would you recommend?
    Thanks again for the generous sharing of your knowledge, it was an amazing day when I came across your site.

    1. Avatar

      I would also be interested in the answer to this question.

  75. Avatar

    Hello every one

    This is Tsu from China, we are factory of the cross-linked hyaluronic acid filler. And our products are selling to many country more than 5 years. We got many agents from so many countries. Our product is cost effective and we are still finding the buyer/distributor/wholesale. if you are interesting in our products pls contact me E-mail:
    and Our website is
    l am so pleasure to hear from you

  76. Avatar

    I thinking about starting my own cosmetic line, and I have the ideas but i don’t know where to find a cosmetic chemistry any answers????

      1. Avatar

        hallo perry can you please tell me which is the best and cheap product liability insurance for a start up white label makeup cosmetic busniess in Germany?what are the effective and best marketing startagy for a start up busniess.please advice thanks

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Sorry, I don’t know the insurance market in Germany.

    1. Avatar

      Hi Jasmine, I just saw your post we help to build new Brands we can help you please email me for more information

  77. Avatar

    I am interested in starting a lip gloss and could use all the support necessary. I am not sure where to begin in terms of manufacturing the homemade product as well as how to market in, such a competitive field. I love what you wrote and it has been so helpful. How can I get a consultant? Would be logical to manufacture in the US or international for an inexpensive manufacturing cost? Where can we find inexpensive manufacturing companies as well as labs?

      1. Avatar

        Is it possible to get your email, I need to be helped with detailed information. I’m from Uganda.

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Just do a Google search or contact me through the Contact button above.

  78. Avatar

    Perry, we have an all natural cosmetic line with three products developed by our company for professional use. We are looking for funding to launch; do you have any suggestions? One of our products has had success with over a billion salon applications since its development over 20 years ago. Any leads would be great! Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That sounds great. If you’ve already had a billion salon applications how come you haven’t already launched?

      1. Avatar

        Perry, the formula was taken off the market several years ago due to the chemist/business owner’s retirement. I’m trying to bring the product back to life under different ownership with permission from the original chemist.

        1. Avatar

          Hi Kyle,

          Are you looking for investors? I’d like to learn more about your re-launch.



          1. Avatar

            How are you? Do you have any connections with investors? My brand and concept have much promise. Need financial backing. Thanks for your time.

  79. Avatar

    Thank you very much for your the advice am just try start my own cosmetic line, still a long way but getting there with your help. keep you posted.

  80. Avatar
    April Luna

    Hi Perry, Thank you so much for the information! I am very serious about makeup and building my business in cosmetics. I am just starting out and know I have a very long way to go. I will have a lot of questions for you in the very near future…

    Again, Thank you!


  81. Avatar


    Am based in Kigali-Rwanda. I would like to start an authentic Rwanda chemical free body cream. I want to start small from my home with a fewWomen Genocide Survivors. Was wondering if someone can help me and tell the cost of the technology to do this. Thank yu

  82. Avatar
    malak musleh

    Hi perry I see that you are a huge help to people. I would really appreciate it if you could talk to me through the phone or an e-mail what ever you prefer. I have many questions and would really appreciate it if you could help me. Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You can email me your questions and I’ll answer what I can.

  83. Avatar

    Hi I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction I have an idea for a lip balm. I am located in Canada. Do you know of any laboratories or chemist that work in this area that could help with the creation of it?

  84. Avatar

    This is very helpful… I’m establishing a line of cosmetics through a cosmetic manufactures. Do I have to order and pay for the lab test? Or I can still be safe with the manufacturer’s lab certificate?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      It depends on what tests you’re talking about. As the distributor, you are responsible for the safety testing. For the claims you make you are also responsible. But if you’ve had an agreement with the manufacturer maybe they will cover the cost of the testing.

      1. Avatar

        Hi! I’m Gaby I have enjoyed reading all questions and answers. I want to open a retail makeup store any advice?

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Make a good business plan. Get customers first by building your brand online. Then create your store.

  85. Avatar

    Hi Perry,
    I need to your help.
    I am a manufacturer of nail-polish in up(India). My business goes well. The difficulties come on point that is its cost of manufacturing goes up due to the purchasing of laquor as a raw material, from this profit goes down. I want to work on this part to develop it on my firm. So, I have expected from you that you will help of me to developed it.
    You contact me on-

  86. Avatar

    I am passionate about make-up, and I have been most of my adult life. I believe this is my true calling and I need to pursue this passion inside of me before I explode. I have been switching between brands just trying to find cosmetics/makeup that can meet my needs and problem areas. I know that I not alone in my search. I live in the Bahamas (tropical climate) and because of the hot temperature, I don’t like heavy make-up, but the coverage is important. I need to produce a product line of make-up that is suited for this climate. Can someone stare me in the right direction? Maybe also an investor to partner with a hard-worker.

    1. Avatar

      Hello. A cosmetics company in Australia have some products that they say are good in tropical areas. coralcoast cosmetics. com. au

  87. Avatar

    Thanks for the article. very useful for beginners like me. However, you were silent on equipment costs and basic equipments required to launch say, a personal care line. Also, I have been grappling with the issue of layout. my background is pharmaceutical and I am well familiar with the production flow there. For a small cosmetic line, what would be the ideal layout that would meet regulatory requirements where space is a major constraint? must there be a separate lab?

    1. Avatar

      Same question here. It seems a pharmaceutical background question haha

  88. Avatar
    priscilla deker

    Hi I was wondering if it is possible to make skincare products at home. Do you need a proper lab at home, or can you just make some products at home ?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You should have a proper lab. If you are going to sell the products then you definitely need a separate place to produce your cosmetics.

      1. Avatar
        priscilla deker

        I Have an amazing idea for skincare, I need someone who could work with me. That someone should know about natural preservatives, I have the idea, the writing, the ingredients, but I am missing the preservative part. If anyone is interested, email me, I am located in Los Angeles area.

  89. Avatar
    Juliet H

    Thanks Perry for sharing this link. This is fantastic info for someone like me – it gives the basic info and more.

  90. Pingback:Steps to Starting Your Cosmetics Business | Creating Creators.

  91. Avatar

    If I’m using all natural produCts. Chemical free do I still have to do do preservative efficacy test?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski


  92. Avatar

    Hello! I am 17 years old and my twin sister and I are interested in creating our own cosmetic line that is unlike any other on the market. We are so passionate about our dream but as a teens, start up costs are nearly impossible. Where can we find legitimate investors?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You’d need to prove that the idea has potential. To do that you’d need to generate a list of people who say they will buy the product. Perhaps a Kickstarter project would be appropriate.

  93. Pingback:Un joli emballage vaut-il 30 € ? | Le blog de La Cheveche

  94. Avatar

    This was a very useful article. I am researching how much it may cost to start up a small line of skin care products, and just wanted a general idea of the total cost. This article perfectly addressed what I needed to know. Thank you.

  95. Avatar

    This is eye opener and realistic assessment of dabbling into the business, it is going to help and aid in getting into the business without rushing in and rushing out without regretting at the end of the day.
    Thanks very much for the indept information.

  96. Avatar
    claudia cesar

    Hi thank you so much for such realistic and informative contant on your posts

  97. Avatar

    This was very helpful information thank you!

  98. Avatar

    A well informed write up. Absolutely answered my questions on start up cost. Thank you so much.

  99. Avatar

    As ever, fantastic insight and guidance. Thank you!

  100. Avatar
    lyndell webb

    the box on the right does not want to allow me to download the free report, it keeps telling me “you are already subscribed”?
    Thanks, Lyn

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Hello Lyn – You must already have downloaded the report. You can try using a different email address if you like.

  101. Avatar
    Ms Watkina

    This was a great article with real information and with great area coverage. Thank you

  102. Avatar

    Hi Perry,

    What type of material would be the best to use when creating a two finger glove to use with a cleanser to clean your face? We are creating a skin care line and we were thinking of pairing a cleanser with a glove for your 2 fingers.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That’s a great question. I don’t really know as I’ve never worked on a project like that. But I imagine the same sort of material that is used in making gloves for washing dishes. Latex perhaps.

  103. Avatar
    Illumination Consulting

    Great article, thank you. I agree with you in regards to marketing skin care products. I would like to just add that it can get expansive if a brand does not do some of their own marketing internally. A skin care business tip that I would like to add is content marketing. For a skin care brand, content marketing is probably the most critical aspect of marketing skin care products online. Content can be a blog, articles published, press releases, videos, and infographics. Content marketing supports most other methods of online marketing such as Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing.

  104. Avatar
    Kathy KinKade

    I have come up with and amazing almost instant as soon as applied anti-inflammatory product. My mother in law suffers with consistent leg and ankle swelling so I came up with a product that was able to take away the pain because of the reduced swelling almost instantly. At that time I thought well if it works so well for that how about using it on my face as I am older and have puffy eyes and wrinkles by my mouth, to my amazement it worked! Then I started having family and friends use it a few of them in the medical field, they too were amazed at how well it worked. Its one of those things that it is wow why didn’t I think of that products. My family and friends are now pushing me to get this product out there. So…how? is my question…I don’t have a lot of start up funding any suggestions?

    1. Avatar
      Danelle lee

      I would be in talking to You about your product a sí also suffer from swelling. I would be interestef in investing ( funding)/ marketing your product. I live on California and You are free to call me at 408-469-5009
      Or email me at

      1. Avatar

        Would you be interested my new new makeup line. It’s fun, creative, and catchy. Do not want to put specifics on this site but would love to speak with you to give further details.

  105. Avatar

    Thank You so much, am looking to start my own like of eye shadow an eye primer, an this advice is wonderful. I want to deal with every aspect of my business, i want to b hands on, an also know about make-up an how it works. Do you recommend i take a cosmetology course? an also mayb a business course on starting your own business?
    Thank you

  106. Avatar


    Do you recommend operating an online skin care product line as an LLC? We have 3 people who are equal partners but we do want to limit our liablity. What do you think is the best way? LLC or corporation?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Ashlee – yes, LLC is the way to go.

      1. Avatar

        Thanks a bunch!!

  107. Avatar
    George Kengott

    What is the approximate cost to get our Organic Hand Sanitizer lotion FDA approved?

    Also, what is the approx time involved?


  108. Avatar

    Hi, I want to start a lipstick line but my funds are low at the. I’m currently in the research stage. So my question to you is what type of ingredients foes into lipstick? And are the costs for testing cheaper than other makeup products?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      See our post about lip stick formulations.

  109. Avatar
    Analisa pazmino

    I would love to start a lipGloss/stick cosmetic line. Is there a vendor in China that has a product that’s ready to sell In the US? Which means I would just have to handle the labeling, shipping etc? Right? Or would I have to go through the testing here in the US? Thanks 🙂

  110. Avatar

    Hi,I wud lyk u 2 link me up wv a professional/investor who can help me start my own brand of natural beauty products(body,hair etc)using strictly natural/organic ingredients,here in Nigeria. Pls any1 who wud lyk 2 help shud pls contact me via my e-mail… Tnx

  111. Avatar

    Thanks a bunch! I had a project for class due on start up for a cosmetic line and with your help I actually impressed the teacher. Thank you sooooo much!!!

  112. Avatar

    Please suggest me best online selling point.
    Thanks alot for the post.

  113. Avatar

    This is a womderful and nfomatory note. I am running my skin care facial range in Pakistan and want to launch the same brand in North America. I want some help and channel to take a start.
    If any one is interested please contact me.

  114. Avatar

    A million thank you for this post! There are other issues of course, but it is an excellent starting point

  115. Avatar

    Hi. Thank you for this post. It is very useful to me. I want to start a makeup line and I need a lab that can produce the makeup for me. Do you know any good ones? Also, what country do you suggest is best to make cosmetics? I am presently in the UK but the products will be sold in Africa. I need your advice. Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t really know the UK or African markets so can’t give you any specific advice. However, maybe someone reading this post can help you. Also, if you post the question on our forum you might get a better answer there.

  116. Avatar

    Hi Perry,
    Do you, or anyone else out there – know of any Canadian labs that offer private label opportunities for natural liquid soaps, creams etc for hair and body? I am also looking for companies that sell emulsifiers (like BTMS) and preservatives and packaging. Preferable not on the West Coast. I am in Toronto.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t have any specific one to suggest but you should check with the Ontario SCC as many of their members are contract manufacturers.

      1. Avatar

        Thanks so much Perry. Great information here.

  117. Avatar

    I want to start my own lipstick line. I have certain colors and things I want the lipstick to be like!! Who can I contact to have it made to my specifications at a reasonable price? Or who am I looking for to have them made?

  118. Avatar

    Hi I plan on working with a cosmetic consulting firm , do you know how much these types of firms charge?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That really depends on what you do. But generally you can decide on an amount of money you charge per hour then guess how much time a project would take you to accomplish.

  119. Avatar

    Hi Perry!

    I am a makeup artist for more than 6 years and I have played with the idea of creating my own line of cosmetic products quite extensively. After years of applying makeup on Ladies and Gents with a diverse background, I am confident that my ideas will come to fruitation. The only reason I haven’t started is because I have been searching for an investor. Are there any trusted sources out there that can assist? Please advise.

    1. Avatar

      Hi Avi,

      How are you doing?
      I am a cosmetic chemist and am currently working on a skincare line. We would be interested in working with collaboration with you.

      my personal email id is

      1. Avatar

        Hello Vinita,
        I am working on different formulations for make up will it be ok we stay in contact and may be do some work together. Feel free to email me @

        Thank you


    2. Avatar

      Hello Avi,
      If you are interested in creating your own make up line I can offer you some helpful tips to help you get started. Feel free to email me

      Thank you


    3. Avatar

      Write your proposal, business plan, products etc and send to this email. If interesting we might want to work with you.

      1. Avatar
        Todd Strickland

        Hi Teddy-
        I am a former Aerospace CEO. I left after 15 years as CEO as I felt a call to service in wellness of Body, Mind & Spirit. I left my position, paycheck, materialism and identity in order to pursue this dream. After two years of experiential training in Shamanic Energy Healing, I am now a full fledged Shaman. As such, I have the Mind & Spirit portions of healing completed. For the body portion, my goal is to remove the many toxins & neurotoxins from everyday products. This includes cleansers, exfoliants, toners, and serums for the face as well as oral care in the form of toothpaste (flouride & glycerine free with amazing healing properties) and mouthwashes. My newsest and most exciting product is a Vitamin C + E + CoQ10 serum that uses cutting edge science as the delivery system, thus increasing the bioavailability (this is proven by clinical studies). This technology is quickly becoming the standard in oral supplements and the next obvious application would be topical. I feel that this is a goldmine and the race is on to get this type of product to market. If you have any interest, please let me know. Because I am so confident in the formulation using new technology, I would ask for a Non-Disclosure Agreement before disclosing any information. I can be reached at I hope to discuss this with you at your earliest convenience. Thank you in advance for any asdistance you may offer.
        Best regards,
        Todd Strickland

  120. Avatar
    nancy ferguson

    Can I buy a line of cosmetics already approved so I don’t have to pay for testing? But put my own brand name on them?

    Thanks Nancy

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You may be able to from a company like this. LiquidTek

    2. Avatar

      Dear Sir

      This is Tsu from China, we are factory of the cross-linked hyaluronic acid filler. And our products are selling to many country more than 5 years. We got many agents from so many countries. And l think maybe we can works like that way. if you are interesting in our products pls contact me
      and Our website is
      l am so pleasure to hear from you

      Best wishes

  121. Avatar
    Natalie Seikanyeng

    hello,Ihave always bein passionate about make since when i was little,and now i want to make that dream come true by starting my own makeup line,i need help for how to start and all that is required to make the products,please help.

  122. Avatar


    Approximately what is the price range to buy a medium sized manufacturing facility in China?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I have no idea

  123. Avatar

    Hi! Like Christine I am super interested in starting/creating my own make up line! Ever since I was a little girl and now growing up I’ve been in love with everything make up. My everyday life, my passion and job (dancing hula) has made make up an everyday essential and good quality make up with great prices is in high demand! I obviously live in Hawaii and have written down notes to your blog and also Make Up Geeks blog! I guess my question is would it be more realistic to make the move to California/New York/anywhere in the states to actually have the process get moving?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      With the easy distribution the Internet provides, you don’t really have to move to start your own cosmetic line.

  124. Avatar

    I need a cosmetic raw materials supplier from china. I manufacturer is in overseas …can you help me please since I am looking a trustable supplier not somebody from Alibaba ..

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I do not have any to recommend.

    2. Avatar

      I suggest that you find reputable manufacturers in USA and Europe and then find out who their distributors are in China.

    3. Avatar

      Hi Solmaz

      I am just starting out and I have been looking extensively, because I feel the same way about Alibaba. I came across a site called the created by a woman named Melody. The woman who runs it is remarkable , she provided a great list of manufacturers for private label companies from all facets(skin,nail polish, make up, and so on). Some of the companies are just bottlers though, but either way its worth checking out. When you go to the site you should see a book on the top right called “Want a list of my favorite vendor sources?”, put your information in and you should receive an email with a link. Trust me, you will never regret it. Please contact me at if you have any problems because I can just send a copy to your email address.

      Good Luck
      Tiffany M.

      1. Avatar
        Perry Romanowski

        We did a podcast interview with Melody. You can see it in our podcast archives.

    4. Avatar


      We’re Skin Care manufacturer from Singapore since 2002. Our products are certified with ISO22716 (Cosmetics GMP) and ISO 9001 (Quality Management System), clients are major from Asia.

      You can have your brand name with our products, email me if you are interested.

      sue.s (at) angelic (dot) com


      1. Avatar
        Stephanie Manna

        Do you manufacture color cosmetics such as foundations, concealer and blush. What are your minimums?

        Thank you!

        1. Avatar

          Hi Stephanie,

          We are more on manufacture skin care product such as cleanser, serum, BB cream and gel base products. However, we do also provide make up remover and cleansing milk.
          Pls drop me an email at :
          to discuss further.


    5. Avatar
      Abizer Raj

      Please contact me from the contact us page on my website. We can further discuss your requirements and projects.

  125. Avatar

    Hello! I am very passionate about makeup and starting my own line. Would it just be helpful to contact someone that already has a line started or seek an entrepreneur? I am a college student, but I feel like I can succeed in this industry, I may just need the step by step process.

      1. Avatar

        Our company provides private labeling of high quality cosmetics. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance. You can get started right away.

  126. Avatar

    hi, I would like to start halal cosmetic products but im not sure how to start this. can someone please give me advice on this.

  127. Avatar

    Hello, everyone.

    What is MOQ?

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar

      Minimum order quantity

  128. Avatar

    Im planning on making an oil blend. How do I wash my droppers and measuring utensils? Do I need to use distilled water to clean them or can I use normal tap water? I will be making them from home until I can afford to get a large batch made by a contract manufacturer. Do I send one of my homemade units to be tested and then just carry on making them at home using the same recipe until I can afford to pay to get them made by a contract manufacturer? or do I need to get a large batch manufactured by a contract manufacturer and send one of these units off to be tested? Or will the contract manufacturer make a sample unit to be sent off for testing before placing a bulk order?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      You can use tap water for washing out your utensils (although you’ll need to use a detergent too).

      Yes, you have to send a sample of whatever batch you are going to sell to be tested. Ideally, you will have your batches made by a contract manufacturer. They can then send a sample out from a bulk batch for testing.

    2. Avatar

      its great, could u tell me which all products u are making, i want to see them

      1. Avatar

        Email herbaclean@gmail.
        Hello nimit,
        I am a formula/product developer in organic /natural cosmetics,skincare and cleaning-products. Mostly i work on contract. Just tell me what you would like to make or sell and i will prepare a sample and send it to you.

        Best regards

        1. Avatar

          What was your email address? I am interested in formulating an organic foundation

        2. Avatar

          Hi Ben! I am looking to start my own hair care line and would love to consult with you

    3. Avatar

      Hello Shana,
      I use rubbing alcohol or you can use 70% alcohol to clean all your utensils

  129. Avatar

    Hi Perry,
    I just finished reading your informative document, How to Launch Your Own Beauty Products. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am in the process of creating a few products and am preparing to meet with my investor . Could you please give me a ball park figure of how much the unit price would be to produce a body oil that would be made of a base of almond and sesame oil with a mix of a few essential oils. I would also like to know the same for a shampoo and conditioner that would include the essential oils for fragrance. I would like to present to my investor a general idea of how much I would basically need to start things up. Also approximately how much do you think it would cost per unit to make a custom glass bottle for the oil?
    Please help!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      In the article above we talk about start-up costs for doing a business. Use that as a guide. The exact cost is going to depend on lots of factors such as who you work with, what type of packing you have, how much testing you do, how many units you produce, raw material costs, etc. A good guess would be go to the store and see what someone is selling a similar product as you want to sell for. Then maybe cut the price in half.

    2. Avatar

      Thank you Perry! You are a wonderful resource.

  130. Avatar

    Thank you, Perry. Very useful.

  131. Avatar

    Dear Perry,

    As much as I would like it to be true, I don’t think the 15 000USD is realistic if one wants to do serious and safe business including trials and errors (for example a supplier that doesn’t deliver, a parcel that gets lost, testing different suppliers for quality, a product that needs to be reprocessed to improve stability). That is without counting the cost of trademarking (not even dreaming of patents), graphic design for your logo, website, business cards, buying pictures for your website, getting your containers right, your accountancy system (that of course you cannot pirat), your batch managment program and if you want to test yourself, add some more for equipment. So at less than 40 000 USD, unless you don’t do import export, buy cheap local material (which is the case if you want a 2-3USD item price, mine are 10x higher as only natural), not sure one can make it. Again I do a high quality product, some other products more mainstream may need less investment. But at the end, do expect 3x more expenses than you have planned for. Good luck to all.

  132. Avatar
    rita amen agbonghae

    am really grateful for these imfomations.

  133. Avatar
    onen ebokpo

    I am in africa, Nigeria to be precise and I want to start a cosmetic line(brown powder to be precise) for light skinned african women, I am not a chemist by profession so I am wondering if for a start I would have to go to a lab to get the formulation and before I produce a few set for testing before the main bulk production, am really confused as we do not have good cosmetic labs in Nigeria, please what can I do?
    Thank you.

    1. Avatar

      He y i Aldo santiago to start a line …. For african skin and i world not mind to parthner up Smith someten . If it is of interest email me ! Lets talk ….. . Bless

    2. Avatar
      Carla De Roy

      Hi, I see from your post that you are seeking an ethnic line for Africa.

      Please take some time and check out
      They may be able to assist you with your powders.

      Large shade assortments – for all ethnicities.

    3. Avatar

      Hello, onen am in Nigeria I produce comestic like hair cream, conditioner, shampoo, anti body spot creams, and others usable products like soap both liquid and mould, balm, Vaseline I also produce to supply also can teach you,

  134. Avatar

    I am not a chemist. Can you tell me where I need to begin for starting up my own cosmetic line? I would like to have my own private label. Would I need to meet with a lab or best to meet with a chemist? Thank you

  135. Avatar

    Hallo Perry
    I really like your article! I am really looking to hire individual like you, who has experienced financial advisor in the cosmetic industry that will create a budget and cost for our company. please let me know. will prefer if you can contact me directly to my email.
    thank you

    1. Avatar
      Ben Lakatos

      If you starting up a new cosmetic business i am the “some one”
      you need. I am in this business for 50 years .


  136. Avatar

    The cosmetic industry is a fast growing industry. Having a cosmetic business is truly promising. You just need to do your homework before starting one.

    Permanent Makeup NYC

  137. Avatar


    Great article. In terms of testing. If you go to a manufacturer who already makes the beauty products such as the cream, serum, etc, so technically they are just putting your label on it, does that need to be tested? Surely that would already be tested?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Ultimately, you are responsible for whether the tests are done or not. They should have the tests done and provide you with test data. If they do this, then you wouldn’t need to run additional testing (except micro testing on each batch). But if the company you work with hasn’t done things like safety testing, stability testing, and preservative challenge testing, you’ll have to do that.

  138. Avatar

    Another question – if you are still answering!;)

    SPF. I am going into markets this summer and have noticed other natural bodycare companies selling “all- natural” SPF lotions and lipbalms. Now, it’s my understanding that any product that wants to have SPF has to go through testing because it is seen as a drug(FDA) I want to make a lipbalm containing zinc. Is it possible just to label it “mineral balm’ or something else? I know a slew of companies just make it anyways, i want to “do things by the book’ lol. Again, just a start-up, but i can’t find any company that will answer these questions.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      If you are going to make any SPF or sun protection claims then you have to do the proper testing. If you want to call something “mineral balm” then you won’t have to do SPF testing.

      1. Avatar
        alex hammer

        If you put a mineral in your lip balm you cannot make any SPF claims or any reference to sun protection on your label or you will be accused of misbranding.

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          Unless you do the appropriate testing.

    2. Avatar

      Having the ability to make an SPF claim elevates the value and marketability of your product. I would not personally bother to make a product that had sun protection functionality and then not take the necessary steps to be able to market it as such. Depending on the level of SPF you are expecting to test and the other related claims you want to make such as water resistance, these tests can cost between $2500-$5000 for a sunscreen. Not sure about the costs for a lip product but I would imagine they would be similar. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a huge amount and should easily be recoverable in a short period of sales.

      1. Avatar

        Thanks so much for the reply, Agree with what you had to say. I will wait until I can afford the testing:)

    3. Avatar

      Raw Shea butter has about SPF 6, working women who use it under scorching African sun are helped by this attribute. I have to be honest and declare an interest here as we supply the Shea Nilotica version (high olein content) to cosmetics/soap companies in Europe . Advice would be to obtain a sample of this and test it for SPF as Perry has advised. Otherwise contact us on for samples of the product so you can test it. Only company we have dealt with in America is a big one is Colorado.

  139. Avatar

    What would you recommend for a schooling background?

  140. Avatar

    I have made my own face cream which includes only four ingredients which are all natural. Argan oil, beeswax, water and esstenial oil. So i emailed a few companies to see what the costing of getting this started would be. They gave me all the things that you said to be tested. Now i can understand i need to get it tested but I have no bad chemicals such as preservatives etc and its all natural so why am i having to pay out a good £2000 – £3000 for something so simple. This is correct as I do not want to have to fork out any more than I need to do. It is a oil based face cream by the way. I have enjoyed doing this and from the feedback that i have had is amazing from me giving samples away. Please help me!

    1. Avatar

      Hello Laura,
      You ask an excellent question. The reason you have to get it tested is because the fact that something is natural does not mean it is automatically safe. Bacteria, Fungi, Mold, and other disease-causing microbes do not care if a product is natural or synthetic. They will grow on any substrate that is suitable for them. Since you have water in your formula (and no preservatives) microbes will invariably grow. A lot of food is all natural but it also will grow microbes.

      Products that do not contain preservatives are dangerous because microbes will grow and can spread diseases. You need to have things properly tested or you could injure someone and set yourself up for lawsuits.

      Hope that clears things up.

      1. Avatar

        Growing microbes in the cream, this is true and not fully true as she said she uses essential oils; There are Essential oils which are fighting a wide spectrum of bacteria.

        1. Valerie Patton
          Valerie Patton

          It’s not just bacteria you have to worry about, Andrea. Essential oils are not truly effective broad spectrum preservatives at levels that are safe and non-irritating to the user.

    2. Avatar
      Gul Muhammad Bawa

      You seem to forget that all oil based products do become rancid and depending on the product shelf life, they need addition of some anti-oxidants to prevent photo-oxidation.

  141. Avatar

    How do you go about getting products into jars and tubes please. I am looking into a line of cosmetics

    1. Avatar

      Hi Durelle-

      There are many steps to take before you get the products in a jar/tubes. It all depends on the formulation. I work with start up skin care brands and I can help you with any questions that you may have. Email me. I would love to help!


  142. Avatar
    Thu pham khac

    My company is in the Vietnam,product’s company are natural cosmetics as white bath and body lotion,bath lotion,skin smoothing bath,facial bath…entirely of natural herbs.
    we want to sell products to the United States and elsewhere.
    Can you help me !To find the maketing, Thank very much!

    1. Avatar

      You might see if you can find help on

  143. Avatar

    What clinical trials and/or FDA review/approvals are required for a new line of beauty/skincare products? lotion, serum, cleanser, exfoliant, lip balm, etc.? Thank you!

    1. Avatar


      So long as you are not selling products that fall in to the OTC Drug category there are no clinical trials or FDA reviews or approvals. This is because you are only supposed to make claims of a temporary and cosmetic nature. Nothing can be said about affecting any cellular structures or curing specific conditions. Such claims move the product into the unapproved new drug category. Most companies skirt these rules and every now and then the FDA has crackdown on claims and makes them remove them from packaging or websites.

      Some cleansers fall into the OTC category such as Anti Acne washes that have salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in them and make acne claims. In these cases there are not trials needed but you must use approved actives at the approved concentrations and these are listed in the FDA OTC Monograph for the specific application. These products must also be manufactured in FDA registered facilities that follow specific guidelines.

      Sunscreens need to be tested IN VIVO on a minimum number of subjects in order to make any claims of a specific SPF number. These trials cost between $3000 and $10,000 per formulation depending on whether you want a standard test, water resistant rating and or global certification.

      The only other thing you have to make sure of is that none of the ingredients you select are on the FDA hotlist of banned or limited use chemicals.

      Beyond that there are now consumer class action suits against companies making false claims of product performance. And the Federal Trade Commission can get involved if print or television adds make claims that can’t be proven or that are misleading.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Avatar

        Thank you! Very helpful.

  144. Avatar

    Hi. I’m interested in starting a lip gloss line. I have the idea that it will be marketed to women in their 20`s but anyone can buy it. My question is just for lip gloss, where do you start?

      1. Avatar

        Great. Il check it out. thank you.

  145. Avatar

    How do I give my skin care a name? Ive been selling some on ebay but I dont have labels or a product line name. I am planning on building a gift shop here on my property this spring and already registered business name with my county and sales tax with my state, however I want to name my skin care legally. Thanks

    1. Avatar

      You can just name it whatever you like (as long as you don’t infringe on someone else’s trademark). Search through the US trade a patent office to see if a name you want is already registered. Then just print up some labels and go. Good luck!

  146. Avatar


    I want to create a new premium brand on hand lotion/cream. I only want to start with this one product (rather than creating a line of products) and would use a private label company. The private label company already has the hand lotion formulas / testing. I would use a unique form of packaging though and my brand would be my own.


    Is it possible to sell my hand cream to independent shops and on the Internet to start without an entire line of other products? Can I grow a following with one product and add more later?

  147. Avatar

    Make cosmetics require some basic processing equipment and manufacturing structure.
    1) 4000 sqft warehouse (a least)
    2) Kettle, conveyor, water treatment unit, Inline filling machine, building permits, GMP environment, QC lab (required by lab).

    I say, 350K to start and breakeven in 3 years.
    Contact me if you need help.

    1. Avatar
      Ayman salem

      how to contact you, you forgot to write your email so please contact me on my email :

  148. Avatar

    what about priavte label to started off first?

    1. Avatar

      Yes, this is a good option for most people.

  149. Avatar

    This is a very interesting topic. While I was reading all the different opinions on this thread, I thought how difficult it is to start when you are ‘a little one’ in a world of multinational companies where it is so hard to compete. However, we all notice that some famous brands such as Claire’s, H&M, Zara, etc… also offer cosmetics with their names on the products. I was wondering if these companies do actually create their cosmetics collection as explained before, or if they just purchase huge amounts of skus in Asian markets (same product for different firms) which are later labelled with their brand name. I find very similar products in these kinds of businesses, the only difference for me is the label. Is it possible to create a line of products this way? Isn’t it unfair? Sorry for my English…

  150. Avatar

    Excellent Article. Best advice I can give is to be aggressive on online side as you can reach much broader audience with same effort. Know your social media and get that catalog out to everyone.

    1. Avatar

      Great advice.

  151. Avatar

    Hello. I just came across your web site and this thread. Very informative. We own a well-known beauty salon and have somewhat of a nationally recognized brand. Having been in business for nearly 20 years, the one thing we have not done is launch an eponymous product line. We are now in the process of doing research to start a line of color cosmetics. From what I gather reading this post and comments, is that if we start with 50 SKUs of CUSTOM formulations and packaging with MOQs of 1000 per SKU, our start-up costs for JUST the product manufacturing should go approximately as follows:

    Cost per unit: $3 x 1000 x 50 = $150,000 (Are our MOQ estimates too low for custom products? These are based on having numerous SKUs for each package, but different colors within each product category.)

    Testing: $1500 x 50 = $75,000 (Is testing done on each SKU or just on each category? For example, if you have 10 lipstick colors, do you have to test every color or just do one test for all lipsticks?)

    Based on these estimates, along with other start-up costs, we project that we will need about $300,000 to get started and get the first order through the door. Does this seem accurate? The packaging we would create will most likely be at the high-end of the price range, as well as the formulations.

    Additionally, we are looking for a great formulation and packaging company to work with, who have experience with development of custom high-end color cosmetics. If anyone has recommendations, it would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your response(s).

    1. Avatar


      This is just my opinion based on my experience so far, but 50 SKU’s is quite a bit to start and and MOQ of only 1000 sounds low for a small container size, high labor product like a lipstick or lip gloss, or for that matter any color cosmetic. At 1000 units, the labor portion of the per unit cost for a custom hot process lipstick is going to be very high. It is sometimes hard to find an off the shelf product with such a low MOQ. I am thinking that your cost for an initial order is going to be much higher than you are calculating especially if I understand you correctly and you plan on also having your own custom packaging. For color cosmetics, having your own custom formulations is probably not necessary. You would be better off finding a company that has high end off the shelf products with an existing color range that you can then just creatively market as your own. Some of my clients have found what they need at in Toronto Canada. The one thing they don’t make is nail polish, if you were thinking of having one. That is a fairly specialized industry and you won’t be getting a custom formulation in a nail polish.

      You will need to have a base for each product and then have a sample of each color made up in each product. I don’t see this costing $75,000 or anything even close to this much. Assuming from your example that you will have 5 products with 10 colors each I would probably count on a low end of $2000 per product to a high of $5000 per product to formulate the base and as well as each of the 10 colors. This will depend on the complexity of the formulations and whether they can be post tinted after a neutral base is bulk manufactured. Or whether a new sample batch has to be made up from scratch for each color (much more time consuming).

      What you save on testing will easily be consumed + more added at the production level. If you have custom packaging made, the cost of having new molds can be quite high even in China.

      1. Avatar

        Thanks for your insight. Can you please clarify a couple of things:

        With regard to MOQ, is it per color or per product category? For example, if you have 10 lipstick colors, do you have to order MOQ x 10 or MOQ x 1?

        Is there typically a separate cost for customer packaging or does the MOQ just go up?

        Thanks again.

        P.S. we’re not doing nail polish

        1. Avatar


          MOQ will be per color per product. So say it’s an MOQ of 5000 units per color (which is not high for color cosmetics) then you would be looking at 50,000 units for 10 colors. The only time I have ever seen MOQ’s of 500-1000 units in color cosmetics is for off the shelf formulations that are pre-packaged and only need to be labelled. Setting automated filling machines up for your packaging is time intensive and would not be worthwhile in small production runs and manual filling is not much better. Also finding small quantities of readily available high end packaging is not easy in North America. When they are available they usually cost 2x to 3x what they would cost if purchased at the point of origin in China. With so many colors you would easily be able to meet the packaging MOQ from a Chinese manufacturer.

          1. Avatar

            Thanks Matt, very helpful

  152. Avatar
    Damian D. "Skipper" Pitts

    Perry, I wish I knew what was outlined in your OUTSTANDING article back in 2010 when I was starting my skin care business. What a learning curve it has been over the last few years. You are right to mention the 1600 word count. TRUST ME when I say, you are dead on with the things mentioned, and another 3600+++ words not mentioned. Keep up the great work pal. you are very well informed and people need to know before they enter into the game just how BRUTAL it actually is; btw, we’ve spent more than $150k just to play ball and in 2-yeras, we’ve NOT scratched the surface…but, we are working on it!

    Great job!

    1. Avatar

      I am now into a business plan to apply for a grant. I can’t believe just how involved it is!!! Sure makes you feel inadequate when you are a start-up!!
      Launched my natural bodycare company in august of this year and am selling out of product at all the shows I am doing. I have been asked to sell in stores and to expand my line already. Now, because of past student loans, i am not wanting to go into huge debt with a business loan, hence the draw to the grant. Now looking how detailed this business plan is, i am a little hesitant. I defiantly want to grow and get out of my house and into a space but am feeling a little lost.
      I have spent over three years now formulating, writing articles and testing, but now feel pressure to step up and play with the big boys, so to speak. yikes!!!

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    Thank you so much for the info, I am in SOUTH AFRICA and wanted to know if do you think costs will be different to the costs you have given now? if yes could advise me on how to go about finding out more about the costs. Do the costs depend on the country you situated in?

    1. Avatar

      Hello – you will have the same types of start up costs but I’m not sure if there will be a significant difference. You’ll just have to ask a cosmetic formulator that works there. You can find them by contacting the local SCC chapter. This is their website.


  154. Avatar

    Very in informating and what country or place will they produce d products.I want to have my makeup,hair and skin products

  155. Avatar

    Excellent article to start, very informative and eye opener. Thanks.

  156. Avatar

    what do you think about starting a makeup line using a private label company?

  157. Avatar

    Excellent article and comments.

    As an entrepreneur with more than 3 decades and numerous start ups under my belt (some successful, some not) I have a rule of thumb I would like to offer when calculating your capital requirements and cash flows:

    Do your homework, include all of the aforementioned costs, then double your capital requirements and multiply by 2.

    Then do the opposite for revenues. Come up with your best estimate of revenues, cut it in half, and then divide by two.

    I know this sounds trite, and maybe a little pessimistic, but it works. And it will keep you out of trouble.

  158. Avatar

    A good article to get a general idea. Matt covered me completely on what I wanted to add to the article. Minimum order quantities are a major problem for someone who is starting out small.

  159. Avatar

    At first I think about U $ 10,000 to more, you should think that the first three months will only walk in red, who can pay your extra expenses? Research and flow of people also need to open your business. also good to have your business online.

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    Great bit, thank you Valerie & Perry!

    I was just reading this article on marketing:

    My 2 cents is that the costs and time involved in marketing are often underestimated (I know I did!).

    Also the kind of money you would need to get it right, it’s mostly what makes it hard for cosmetic chemists to release their own brand of products. In this economy without power numbers it’s almost impossible to get a loan of that magnitude! I’ve been at this for almost an year now (working on getting it right) and I must say that I now understand more and more why so many people just begin with selling soap made in their own kitchen 🙁

    You need to begin somewhere to generate data in order to convince the bank, investors and potential whole sale accounts that your product is worth investing in.
    No matter how wonderful your plan is, in the end it’s all about making fast profit 🙁

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    I just remembered another one. In order to sell to any retailer that uses barcodes and most do, you will need to register with GS1 and get a unique company identifier as well as the package that provides the most appropriate number of UPC digits for the products you will be selling. This costs at least $1000 to start as well as an annual fee. Large retailers require that you provide a valid GS1 certificate in order to even consider selling your products and fulfillment houses need barcodes in order to properly pick your customers orders for online sales.

  162. Avatar

    Very good introduction to a novice like me struggling to start. And I am taking note of the additional info provided by other commenters.

    Thanks Perry

    1. Avatar
      Maggie Ghanem

      This is a very interesting article….Thanks Perry
      I worked for Active Concepts for a little over 10 years. Throughout the years I noticed a lot of customers couldn’t meet the MOQ because they were starting up and/or noice to the industry. Since then, We created a new division of our companies for Formulators and start up. We don’t have any MOQ’s and offer products at a reasonable price.
      Please feel free to visit our website and/or e-mail me for additional information.

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        Hello, I was reading your response and currently thats my problem that im having. Meeting the MOQ. Can we chat about this and would love to check out your products. Email me 🙂

  163. Avatar

    I think your article is great but a little short.
    How about labels that deal with natural products. Customers constantly chasing what’s new on the bad cosmetic ingredient list. Then they want their labels changed again and again and again. This can turn into a cost nightmare.
    Don’t forget refunds and the freight associated with them.

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      Ah yes, there is certainly more than listed here but it was already >1600 words! These factors are why we ultimately said you need about double what we estimated. So if the formula costs about $5000 to develop you really need $10,000 or more to launch your business.

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    This is a good start but the startup costs related to raw materials and packaging are far more complex than explained. Raw materials are often only available in MOQ (minimum order quantity) sizes that are much bigger than needed in order to produce the desired quantities of product needed for launch. Often MOQ is a 55Gal drum which can equate to thousands of units. The more complex a formulation is, or the more formulations you are producing, the more this issue becomes pronounced and costly leaving huge excesses of raw materials to payed for and stored until needed again.

    Packaging presents a similar problem as it is very hard to find stylish affordable packaging in small quantities (500-1000). Most acrylic or glass jars and airless serum pumps are made in china and most are not stocked in North America, meaning they are custom order and have MOQs in the 2000 to 10,000 unit range. These units may cost less than $1 each in quantity, but shipping from China causes delays and is costly once you factor in all the LCL, brokerage and freight forwarder fees.

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      Excellent points. Thanks for adding.

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        hi!i just want to know after all expanses what % of profit we should keep to run a good business.

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          I guess it depends on how much you want to make. But figure 10X profit. So, if it costs you $1 to make a product you should sell it for $11 to make $10 in profit.

          1. Avatar

            Hi Perry.
            Awesome Information.
            I’m a Skincare Formulator and have a consulting lab. I focus in working with Startups. Anyone interested in creating a skincare private brand, I’m the one to help them. We offer complete turn key – Custom Formulation, Custom Packaging, Art Work, Manufacture and Fill. Minimums starting at 300 units. We formulate professional clinical skin care products, batch & body, hair care etc. We definitely help them save money. If you know anyone who needs our services, please let them know. Our temporary website is

        2. Avatar

          The website you linked looks pretty scammy.

          It is not believable that a credible company “operating since 1994” would have such a site, even temporarily.

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