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Private Label Cosmetics: Your Ultimate Guide 2023

Table of Contents

What does Private Label Cosmetics mean?

Private label cosmetics are cosmetic products that are produced by a cosmetics manufac­turer and sold under a different cosmetics brand. 

This means, basically every cosmetics brand, that does not manufacture its products in-house or buys the individual components to work with a contract filler, is using private label cosmetics.

Private Label Cosmetics is not the same as White Label Cosmetics

Private label cosmetics are often confused with white label cosmetics and are therefore sometimes wrongly associated with negative conno­ta­tions.

Let’s clear up this big misun­derstanding right away:

Unlike white label cosmetics, private label does not refer to pre-made or even pre-manufac­tured cosmetic products.

Although private label cosmetics often work with base formu­la­tions for economic reasons, completely individual cosmetic products can be created on this basis.

What has Private Label Cosmetics to do with Car Manufac­turers like BMW?

Let’s use an example to illus­trate what private label cosmetics are and how they differ from white label cosmetics and in-house production. 

You can think of private label cosmetics like the production of cars.

BMW sells complete cars, that are ready to drive.

But a car consists of many individual components, such as engines, gearboxes, electronics and body parts.

The car manufac­turer like BMW buys these components from different suppliers and then brings them together in several production steps.

After­wards, a car then undergoes various tests and quality controls before it is sold as a finished product.

Private Label Cosmetics Manufac­turers work in the same way, only less complex. 

A private label manufac­turer buys various components from several suppliers, such as bulk, primary and secondary packaging, appli­cators and labels.

This makes sense, as one manufac­turer might be specia­lized in glass jars, for example, and another produces high-quality lotions only. A third specia­lizes in the process of filling the cream into the plastic tube.

Finally, folding cartons are purchased from a fourth supplier and the tubes are packed in the folding box.

The tests and quality controls are no less important for private label cosmetics than for cars and are carried out by the private label manufac­turer.


5 Reasons for Private Label Cosmetics

If you are planning to work with a private label manufac­turer, you should be aware of some benefits and downsides. 

Because, as I said, there are also other ways to have cosmetic products manufac­tured. And you should ultim­ately choose the best option for you.

1. Private Label Cosmetic Product Range is endless

One of the biggest advan­tages is definitely the product range. You will be able to purchase almost any cosmetic product you can think of from a private label manufac­turer. 

This is different with white label cosmetics

While you will probably find a standar­dized day cream from a white label supplier, some products are just not available as a white label solutions, especially in the makeup sector.

For example, you will have a hard time trying to find white label lash serum or tinted moistu­rizer started from below 1000 pieces.

2. Adjust the Formula with Private Label Cosmetics

The possi­bi­lities for creating a truly unique product are endless.

In most cases, it makes a lot of sense to work with a base formu­lation, but this can be custo­mized to your prefe­rences.

You can remove or add individual ingre­dients, change the fragrance, color or even the effect.

But be aware: If the formu­lation differs too much from the base formu­lation, new stability and compa­ti­bility tests will be required. Therefore, it makes sense not to change too much. As there are hundreds of different base formu­la­tions, there should be a suitable one for everyone.

With white label cosmetics, you will not be able to make even the smallest changes to the formula. 

Let’s take a private label lipstick of one of our customers as an example. We sent her a selection of pre formu­lated red lipsticks. She loved the texture of one lipstick, but she didn’t like the color perfectly yet.

She wanted to adjust the color so that the red looked like Audrey Hepburn’s lipstick in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. So we sticked with the formula, but made some modifi­ca­tions to the pigments to match the red.

There were no additional tests needed, since we only changed the color.

3. Choose and customize your Packaging

In an industry that’s all about looks and beauty, you shouldn’t undere­stimate the power of packaging.

Most of our customers think first and foremost of the actual product, i.e. the contents (bulk).

And that’s a good thing because the product ultim­ately decides whether your customers are satisfied and buy again or not.

However, the packaging and therefore how your product looks and feels plays an even greater role in the initial purchase. Typically, customers cannot test a cosmetic product and therefore have to rely on what they see.

The packaging can quickly make a very positive but also a negative impression. Your product is perceived as high or low quality within seconds, regardless of what’s inside. 

With private label cosmetics, you have endless options for packaging. Usually you can tell the manufac­turer what you want your product to look like, and they will find a suitable packaging.

Don’t have a precise idea yet? Then let the manufac­turer show you a selection of popular options.

4. Private Label Cosmetics is easy

Compared to in-house production or if you handle every­thing yourself, from purchasing the bulk and packaging to filling by a contract filler, private label cosmetics are much simpler and more resource-efficient.

As already explained using the BMW example above, manufac­turing cosmetics without a private label manufac­turer is similar to buying the engine, gearbox and bodywork yourself and assembling your car in-house or have someone do it for you. 

It is certainly possible and not nearly as complex as a car, but private label cosmetics is definitely the easier choice.

You don’t have to worry about anything in terms of production, except for testing samples.

5. Private Label Cosmetics save you Time & Money

Private label cosmetics manufac­turers have access to thousands of already tested and proven base formu­la­tions.

This not only saves you a lot of money (for research and develo­pment), but also time.

Developing new cosmetic products from scratch is a gradual process. It takes a long time to test and observe how ingre­dients react with each other and how they behave in the packaging.

However, if you start with a basic formu­lation as a foundation, you save yourself all this and can even modify it to a certain extent without retesting.

New tests, which may be necessary if the deviation from the base is too signi­ficant, are in any case much cheaper and less time-consuming than those for initial develo­pment.


When Private Lable Cosmetics is not the right Option for You

Even though we are a private label cosmetics manufac­turer, we don’t want to withhold this “downside” of private label from you.

While white label cosmetics sometimes start at 0 pieces, with private label cosmetics you have to expect around 1000 pieces for most products.

The purchase quantity ensures that the fixed costs for production are spread over a certain quantity. As a result, the unit price is of course much better than with white label cosmetics, but you still need more budget overall.

4 Steps

Private Lable Cosmetics: Step-by-Step Guide

Think private label cosmetics are right for you?

These are the four steps you can expect when working with a private label manufac­turer:

1. Choose the right Private Label Cosmetics Manufac­turer

We have written a guide on how to choose the right cosmetics manufac­turer and compiled a list of 17 cosmetics manufac­turers

This is not much different from choosing a private label manufac­turer, as this is ultim­ately just a type of cosmetics manufac­turer. If you need help with this, please read this article. 

But here is a brief overview of the most important decision factors:

  • Quality
  • Unit Price
  • Lead time (time between the initiation and completion of a production process)
  • Delivery time
  • Minimum order quantities (MOQ)
  • Commu­ni­cation
  • Relia­bility
  • Certi­fi­ca­tions (ISO, GMP, Ecocert etc.)
  • Shipping terms (EXW, FOB, door-to-door etc.)
  • Additional services like design services

You should take all of these factors into conside­ration when choosing a private label cosmetics manufac­turer and weigh them up according to your individual needs.

For example, for someone who is just starting out, it can be parti­cu­larly important how good the commu­ni­cation is and that the MOQ is not too high.

For an experi­enced cosmetics distri­butor, on the other hand, the unit price and delivery time are probably more important than anything else on the list.

2. Choose your Private Label Cosmetics Formula

Once you have decided on one or more manufac­turers, it’s time to find the right product(s). As already mentioned in the benefits section, almost anything is possible here. 

If you have a very precise idea of how your product should perform, which ingre­dients should not be missing and how it should smell, you can tell the manufac­turer all this as precisely as possible.

They will then try to develop a suitable formu­lation based on a base formu­lation and your speci­fi­ca­tions.

Typically, however, most customers only have a rough idea and are open to recom­men­da­tions based on our expertise.

We would then make some sugges­tions that meet your speci­fi­ca­tions.

You get samples for different options and can test them.

The good thing about private label is that, unlike with white label cosmetics, you can make changes at this stage.

3. Choose your Primary and Secondary Packaging

Primary packaging is the packaging that is in direct contact with the cosmetic product. For example, the lipstick container or the tube of a face cream.

Secondary Packaging is the additional, optional packaging around the primary packaging. Often it is a box or carton in which the product is sold.

Did you know that well-known cosmetics brands sell the same product in different packaging?

Many people know this when they think of food. Most people realize that the same pasta, for example, is sold by different brands. The only diffe­rence?

The packaging (and the price).

The same applies to cosmetic products of all kinds — from day creams and lipsticks to mascara. The same content is in different packaging, with a different design.

It can make a lot of sense to opt for a base formu­lation because you find it perfect as it is. Plus, you want to save resources for changing the formula.

But you should really be unique when it comes to the primary and secondary packaging.

We recommend that everyone uses secondary packaging, although it is optional. It offers a much larger area to stand out with a unique design. In addition, the mandatory infor­mation can be placed there without overloading the product.

4. Design your Packaging

This is the step where you can really set yourself apart from others. 

First you choose your packaging, and then you design it to make it truly unique.

Please don’t make the mistake of creating the product design yourself if you’re not a pro at it. Of course, you can and should also think about how it should look.

But then hire a profes­sional brand or product designer. This small investment is guaranteed to pay off!

If you go with us as your private label manufac­turer, we have a very talented team of designers specia­lizing in cosmetics.

Contact us

Ready to start your Private Label Cosmetics Brand?

We know that the first steps can be difficult.

But we’re here to help you.

Just let us know which products you’re interested in and we’ll work with you to find a suitable solution.

Because that’s exactly what we do as a private label cosmetics manufac­turer:

You tell us what you want, and we make it happen.


Most common Questions about Private Label Cosmetics

We’ll address some common questions that our customers have about private label cosmetics. 

Whether you’re just starting out or are considering expanding your existing cosmetic line, these questions might be relevant to you.

Is Private Label Cosmetics and White Label Cosmetics the same Thing?

No, with private label cosmetics you can customize the formula and select and design your own packaging.

White label cosmetics refer to prefa­bri­cated cosmetic products that you can only print your logo on.

Are Private Label Cosmetics more affordable than custom Formu­lation?

Yes, private label cosmetics tend to be more affordable than custom formu­la­tions from scratch, as they utilize pre-existing formu­la­tions.

Cosmetic Manufac­turers have already invested in research and develo­pment to create a variety of formu­la­tions, which can be custo­mized to your needs.

This approach is more cost-effective for small businesses and entre­pre­neurs, as custom formu­lation frm scratch can be both expensive and time-consuming.

Can I customize the Packaging of Private Label Cosmetics?

Absolutely! Custo­mizing the cosmetic packaging to fit your brand’s identity is one of the advan­tages of private label cosmetics.

In fact, you can not only design the packaging but also choose one in the first place.

Most suppliers offer various packaging options, such as bottles, jars, tubes, which can be printed with your design.

The packaging can be just as important for your brand’s success as the product itself.

Can I test Private Label Cosmetics before ordering them?

Definitely! Most private label suppliers offer product samples for free, which you can evaluate and adjust before placing an order.

Typically, you only have to pay for shipping.

But there might be some things the private label cosmetics supplier wants to clarify before sending out samples.

For example, we usually make sure, the price and MOQ match the customers expec­ta­tions before we manufacture and send out samples.

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Charlotte Wagner

"After my Bachelor & Master's degree in Beauty Management at the mAHS (media Akademie Hochschule Stuttgart), I work full-time in consulting for start-ups and medium-sized companies in the cosmetics industry.
I discovered my passion for writing at an early age, so that I pursue it as a as a hobby author."

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