How Does Private Label Cosmetics Work?


What is private label cosmetics?

Private label cosmetics manufacturing is a business model that allows retailers to outsource production to a third-party manufacturing company and sell the finished product under their brand name. The cosmetics product is produced, packaged, and labeled with the name of the company that did the outsourcing, hence the term private labeling.

In private label cosmetics manufacturing, the retailer works with an expert or chemist to formulate a cosmetic product that meets their specifications. This business model is ideal for any retailer that wants to introduce a new product into the market and wants complete input on product claims and ingredients but does not have the expertise or facilities to create the product themselves. The retailer is part of the production process and helps determine the color, scent, texture, and cost. The retailer can also ask that ingredients meet certain specifications, such as paraben-free, sulfate-free, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Take an esthetician with their own customer base as an example. The esthetician is familiar with the best ingredients for various skin conditions and wants to launch their skincare brand. They may want this brand to be eco-friendly and vegan because their customers care about this. Since they are experts in the field, they know the exact function their skincare brand should deliver. Unfortunately, they do not have the resources or facilities to manufacture, test, and develop the skincare products themselves. Such a retailer can work with private label cosmetics manufacturers to help bring their ideas to life. The esthetician will have complete input on whether the cosmetics products will have fragrance or if they’ll be fragrance-free, the color, texture, and packaging. The product will then go through a testing stage to ensure it remains stable under different temperatures and environments while making sure that it is compatible with its packaging. After the product passes the testing stage, the retailer can make bulk orders.

Is private labeling right for your company or brand?

Private labeling is right for your company if:

  • You already have an established customer base
  • You are an expert in the cosmetics industry and would like to build customer loyalty
  • You want to improve your business's bottom line
  • You want to offer your customers products they can trust

Selling a private label cosmetic product can establish you as an expert and help you build a strong reputation in your field. From a business-oriented and pragmatic perspective, private label cosmetics make sense because it is cost-effective. Most expensive brands have a brand tax, which makes them quite expensive. You can create products with the same ingredients and offer them to your consumers at a cheaper price.

How does private labeling work?

Here is a general overview of how private labeling works:

1. Concept and branding

The first step in the private label cosmetics manufacturing journey is to create a concept for the products you want to sell. Define your target market, decide the product range, and create a packaging design. Also, decide the factors that are important to you and your customers. Do you want products that are cruelty-free and vegan? Do you only want to use organic ingredients? Do you want to create a luxury private label cosmetics line of products? Does the source of the ingredients matter to you? Answering these questions will help you determine the type of products you want and the manufacturer to work with.

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2. Manufacturer selection

Identify private label cosmetics companies that can help bring your concept and vision to life. Ensure that this manufacturer meets your specifications and standards. You can find private label cosmetics manufacturers through market research, networking, recommendations, online searches, and industry trade shows.

3. Product customization

After selecting a manufacturer, work closely with them to customize your products. You can specify the colors, formula, fragrance, packaging materials, and additional features, such as ingredients. You can also include product claims the company must adhere to in the manufacturing process, such as vegan ingredients, cruelty-free manufacturing, and organic ingredients.

4. Packaging and labeling

Private label cosmetic companies can help you create packaging and a logo that meets your brand’s guidelines. Packaging and labeling include artwork, logos, product information, and other information relevant to the retailer’s brand. You can also submit the packaging and logo you want, or you can work with the company’s design team to come up with the packaging and logo.

5. Manufacturing and production

After the private label cosmetic company receives specifications and completes the packaging design and labeling, they begin manufacturing the cosmetics products. The manufacturer starts by sourcing raw materials and ensuring they meet regulatory requirements and quality control. The manufacturers often source raw materials and ingredients in bulk, which can help reduce the overall cost of the cosmetic products.

6. Quality control and compliance

The manufacturer ensures the cosmetics product passes all regulatory and safety checks. The product is tested for stability under different temperatures and environments. The manufacturer also tests the product to ensure it is compatible with the packaging materials. Thorough quality checks help ensure that the product complies with industry standards and that the manufacturer maintains consistent product quality.

7. Branding and distribution

Now that the manufacturing process is completed, the company packages the cosmetics product with the retailer’s branding. The company then delivers the products to the retailer or to the retailer’s distribution channels so that consumers can buy them.

8. Marketing and sales

Marketing and sales are the retailer’s responsibility. They can market the product through social media channels such as YouTube and Instagram, or they can create advertisements, marketing campaigns, and product displays. The purpose of marketing is to create awareness for the product and generate sales. Private label cosmetics products are sold under the retailer’s brand name. They can be sold on the retailer’s website, in their physical store, or in other retail channels and websites.

Advantages of private label cosmetics

1. Easy to start

To create cosmetic products from scratch, you must have a facility and the necessary licenses and permits. You also need to source raw materials and ingredients and have the expertise to create these products. You must mind the entire production process, including disinfection and temperature control, to ensure the cosmetics are not contaminated or damaged. After weighing and reweighing ingredients for consistency and quality control, you need to know the right formula and the proper packaging materials to maintain the durability and quality of the product. You also test the product to ensure it meets quality and regulatory standards. This process is time-consuming and can be expensive. However, with private labeling, you can outsource this work to a third-party manufacturer with the facilities, resources, and expertise to handle all these processes. This means that you can get the cosmetics products sooner with minimal effort on your part.

2. Control over production and pricing

With private label cosmetics, retailers have input in the production process and can customize the products to meet their specifications. Retailers also decide the ingredients and formulations, the product's branding, and the packaging design to ensure it aligns with their brand image and target market.

As the retailer, you can also optimize production costs and create a pricing strategy to help you maximize profits. By working with a large and reputable private label cosmetics company, you can reduce production and manufacturing costs and pass these savings to your customers without affecting your profits.

3. Speed to market

Developing cosmetic products from scratch can take months if you are unfamiliar with the business. By using private label cosmetics companies, retailers can leverage the manufacturer’s knowledge and existing formulations to bring products to the market quickly.

4. Brand expansion

If you already sell several cosmetic products and want to expand your brand, private label manufacturing allows you to add more products without spending too much time and money on research and development.

As a small business, you may not have the money to invest in expanding your cosmetic line. By working with an experienced manufacturer, you can get new products in a cost-effective way.

5. Adaptability

Manufacturing products from scratch comes with many risks, as you lose everything if customers don’t like what you give them. The market is constantly changing, and trends come and go. With private label manufacturing, you can adapt quickly to market data and trends and give your customers what they want at any given time. You can sell cosmetic products that your customers want when they want them. After rolling out the product in the market, you can listen to customer feedback, go back to the private label manufacturers, and tweak the formulations to meet your customer’s needs.


The private label cosmetics manufacturing process may vary slightly depending on the company you choose to work with. This business model is a good option for anyone who is passionate about the beauty industry and wants to start their own cosmetics line but does not have the expertise or resources to create products. The process is simple and usually takes a few weeks from start to finish. There are also many advantages to the retailer, as they can get a cosmetics line with minimal effort and costs.

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