Contract Manufacturing for Filling Cosmetics


What is filling?

Filling is a stage in the contract manufacturing cosmetics process that involves transferring the product formulation into appropriate packaging components. These can include jars, bottles, or tubes. This process involves filling the appropriate container with the desired quantity of the cosmetics product. Contract manufacturing filling cosmetics is necessary to ensure you get the right volumes, maintain the product’s integrity, and prepare the cosmetics for sale and distribution. It is important to note that filling contract manufacturing does not include other processes, such as formulation development and product testing.

Overview of the contract manufacturing filling process

The filling process in cosmetic contract manufacturing is a critical step that requires attention to detail, precision, and compliance with regulatory requirements. This allows you to maintain the product’s integrity and quality and ensure consistent product presentation. Some products may have specific packaging requirements, while others require specialized filling techniques and equipment. The following is an overview of the contract manufacturing filling process:

1. Preparation

In this step, the contract manufacturer prepares the equipment and packaging components required for filling. The cosmetic contract manufacturer ensures the equipment is clean and calibrated for accuracy. The manufacturer also inspects the packaging components to ensure parts like sprays and pumps work properly.

2. Product transfer

This is the second step, and it involves transferring the cosmetics from bulk containers or mixing tanks to the filling equipment. There are various methods cosmetic contract manufacturers can use to achieve this, including gravity flow and pumping, depending on the filling equipment’s capabilities and how viscous the product is.

3. Filling

The third step involves using the filling equipment to dispense cosmetic products into empty packages. The filling method depends on the packaging format, product consistency, and fill level accuracy. Examples of filling techniques include piston filling, vacuum filling, pressure filling, pump filling, and gravity filling.

4. Volume control

The accuracy of the fill volume is crucial for maintaining cosmetics consistency and ensuring customers are satisfied. The contract manufacturer sets the filling equipment to dispense a specific quantity of the product into each container. The filling equipment uses control mechanisms like automated systems and sensors to verify and adjust the fill volumes as necessary.

5. Capping and sealing

After filling the containers, the contract manufacturer may cap and seal them. This step involves placing closures such as lids and caps to secure the packaging, ensuring the product does not leak and reducing the risk of contamination. There are different types of sealing methods for the contract manufacturer to use, including heat sealing and induction sealing.

6. Inspection and quality control

The sixth step is to inspect the filled containers to ensure they meet specific quality standards. This often includes visual inspections to ensure the fill level is accurate, the container is sealed correctly, and there are no contaminants or defects. Cosmetic contract manufacturers have quality control protocols to address any issues they identify to ensure all products meet quality standards before proceeding to the next stage.

7. Coding and labeling

After contract manufacturing filling cosmetics, the manufacturer may apply labels and product information on the packaging components. This step includes applying batch codes, product labels, barcodes, and expiration dates. They also include any other information required by law for regulatory compliance, such as allergens, product quantity, and ingredients.

8. Packaging and storage

The last step involves assembling all the filled and labeled containers into secondary packaging, such as display boxes and cartons. This helps prepare the products for storage, distribution, or shipment.

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Why would a brand owner choose contract manufacturing for filling only?

A brand owner can decide to formulate and manufacture their cosmetics products in-house and outsource the filling stage only to a cosmetics contract manufacturer. Other brand owners may choose one contract manufacturing company to develop the product and a different contract manufacturing company to do the filling. The retailer will supply the filling cosmetic contract manufacturers with pre-manufactured cosmetics and provide them with filling specifications so they can transfer them to the appropriate packages. The following are some of the reasons why a retailer may choose a filling-only contract manufacturing arrangement:

1. Equipment investment

Filling equipment can be expensive, especially if you want specialized equipment for products such as compact powders or hair sprays. If you produce several products, you may need to purchase different filling equipment for each product. Cosmetic contract manufacturers specializing in filling have already invested in all these pieces of equipment. This eliminates the need for a brand owner to purchase their own equipment. With contract manufacturing filling cosmetics, brand owners can access advanced and specialized filling technology without the financial investment.

2. Product specialization

Choosing to work with contract manufacturers for the filling stage of production allows brand owners to leverage the experience and expertise of the manufacturer. These cosmetic contract manufacturers have honed their filling skills and invested in specialized equipment. Furthermore, they have experience in handling different packaging formats, product viscosities, and filling techniques.

3. Packaging compatibility

Each filling process is tied to the packaging requirements of each cosmetic product. Contract manufacturers know more about handling different packages like bottles, aerosol cans, jars, and tubes when compared to brand owners. They know the various formats and can ensure filling efficiency and compatibility.

4. Speed and efficiency

Contract manufacturing cosmetics companies that focus on filling have streamlined their process for speed and efficiency. These companies have trained staff, established workflows, and optimized equipment setups, allowing them to perform the filling task with speed and precision. This reduces cycle times, ensuring the product gets to the brand owner promptly.

5. Filling specialization

Some cosmetic products require specialized filling techniques and equipment depending on the packaging design or the product’s characteristics. For example, aerosol products, such as body sprays and hairsprays, require specialized filling equipment that handles propellant gases and creates the correct pressure for dispensing the product. Hot-fill products that must be filled at certain temperatures to prevent microbial growth and maintain the product’s characteristics also need specialized filling equipment that heats the product and fills it at the required temperature. Cosmetic contract manufacturers can provide the customization and equipment you need to accommodate the unique requirements of these products.

6. Quality control focus

Filling is essential in manufacturing cosmetics, as it helps ensure accurate fill levels, proper sealing, and packaging integrity. Contract manufacturers have quality control protocols to test for leaks, ensuring correct fill volumes, and perform visual inspections. Therefore, the brand owner can be sure the filled cosmetic product meets the highest quality standards.

7. Risk mitigation

Outsourcing the filling stage of manufacturing reduces risks associated with equipment breakdown and maintenance, quality control, and regulatory compliance. Contract manufacturers have excellent quality control measures and comply with your region’s regulations. This reduces the brand owner’s exposure to potential filling risks.

Factors to consider when choosing a filling contract manufacturer

Some of the factors to consider when choosing the contract manufacturing filling cosmetics company include:

1. Specialization in filling

When choosing a contract manufacturer for the filling process, ensure you work with one who specializes in filling. These manufacturers invest in the equipment and have expertise in various filling techniques, packaging types, and product viscosities. Their experience helps ensure efficiency and accuracy in filling.

2. Equipment and capacity

Verify that the contract manufacturer has the filling equipment you need for your product. Different products require different filling methods. Ensure that the contract manufacturing filling cosmetics company has the machinery and technology to perform the necessary filling techniques accurately. Also, ensure they have the production capacity to increase filling volumes to meet your needs. This can help reduce production bottlenecks.

3. Experience and expertise

Consider the manufacturer’s experience and expertise in filling cosmetics. Look for one with a proven track record for handling products similar to yours. Ask for references from past clients to assess their performance, quality of products, and customer service.

4. Compatibility with your product requirements

Ask the contract manufacturer questions during the consultation process to ensure they can meet the specific requirements of your products. Consider whether their filling equipment is compatible with the packaging components you’d like to use and the desired fill volumes.

5. Customization and flexibility

Consider when the contract manufacturer can accommodate any customization needs for your filling requirements. For example, you may have cosmetic products that require special handling or have unique ingredients that you need to fill at specific temperatures. You may also have packaging designs in unique shapes. Ensure the contract manufacturer is willing to work with you to handle the unique customization challenges.

6. Quality control measures

Quality control is essential in the filling process, and you need to ensure the company you partner with has strict quality control protocols for filling operations. Ask about their quality control measures, including checks for proper sealing, accurate fill volumes, and packaging integrity. Ensure they have the right certifications and comply with regulations and standards when it comes to filling and labeling packages.

7. Location and logistics

Consider the location of the contract manufacturing cosmetics company and how the distance will impact shipping, lead times, distribution, and transportation costs. Choose a contract manufacturing company that offers convenient access to your target market or distribution channels to help streamline logistics.


Contract manufacturing filling cosmetics gives brand owners access to a contract manufacturer’s equipment and resources, allowing them to save money on the filling process. It can offer a practical solution to brand owners who do not have the money to invest in filling equipment but would like reliable and efficient filling services for their cosmetics. Before choosing a contract manufacturer for filling only, ensure they have the equipment, knowledge, expertise, and certifications to meet your specifications.

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