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Best skin care products in the world: how to choose cosmetics that work

Best skincare products-how to find them

Best skincare products in the world: how to find and pick them

When I was 23, I didn't know anything skincare except that it was expensive.

I was chubby, and I had some acne issues. I didn't feel good about myself , but I was too ashamed to ask for help.

Luckily, help came without me asking. 

I was doing my internship in a pharmacy and there was this lady, Manuela. She was working at the skincare aisle.

Manuela is a very direct person. She told me that I was pretty except for my chin where the acne was. Manuela suggested that I start using some skincare products, and she sold me a bunch of them. 

My acne didn't improve much with those products alone.

But since that day, I became passionate about skincare  so I guess my money was well spent anyways.

By the way, my acne finally improved when, besides using cosmetics, I started to eat well and cured the hormonal unbalance I had. 

This is the foundation of everything I do.

If I could tell you ONE thing only it would be that:

Recently I have come to the conclusion that the beauty industry is populated by three different kinds of experts:

  • “Experts” who swear wonders of any skincare product they try (because they get commissions to do that).
  • Experts who acknowledge the beauty industry has a transparency issue; these people are aware most cosmetic products are just marketing, yet they don’t do anything to address the issue or change the situation.
  • Experts who acknowledge the problem and try their best to fix it.

Even though I don't like the word "expert" I do want to make a revolution in the beauty industry by bringing more transparency to the table

This is why I am developing products and selling them in a way that takes transparency extremely seriously.

Some might be as simple as cleaning your skin in a gentle way and that’s okay. 

I want to make a revolution.

I want the beauty industry to adhere to strict standards of quality and performance. 

1% Hyaluronic acid serum.

 Perfect hydration in just one step.

Formulations should promise one thing and deliver it. As simple as it sounds, I truly believe this is the direction the beauty industry should turn to.

I feel for consumers: with the plethora of products the industry offers, it's hard to know what to buy to make the most out of hard-earned bucks…

So I decided to write this short guide to help YOU navigate the beauty industry. I want you to spend money on products that are really worth it!

You need to become what I call an “educated consumer". Educated doesn’t mean you need to know everything about skincare. You only need to be able to make an informed decision when purchasing. 

Best skin care products- The #1 misconception you need to know

Quality of cosmetics

Cosmetics should adhere to high quality standards.

A very common misconception is that expensive products are better than average priced/cheap ones. This is not always the case, alas. When buying high end cosmetics you’re not only paying for the product itself (ingredients, packaging, manufacturing, etc.); you’re also paying for advertising, retail locations,  research that has been sustained on certain ingredients, and so on.

Some brands can charge more because of their brand positioning. 

To help you understand this concept, think about Mc Donald’s coffee ($1) and the Blue Bottle coffee (don’t know the exact price for a cup, but I do know it’s expensive). Coffee quality is not the same, indeed. However, the difference is not so prominent to justify such price gap. Clearly, when you decide to sip Blue Bottle coffee you’re paying for the overall experience, not for the coffee itself. Blue Bottle doesn't target the same kind of customers as Mc Donald's. Their brand positioning is completely different. The same concept applies to skincare. 

Does this mean you shouldn’t buy expensive products? Not at all. 

High-end products are usually very appealing and give you a remarkable experience. Fragrances are pleasant and not overwhelming, which is important as well. As a general rule , expensive products are more polished and sophisticated.

Luckily ,if you cannot afford such expensive products, you can still find high quality cosmetics. So the real deal is learning how to differentiate a high quality product from a bad one. This is crucial when making skincare choices; in fact, some formulations out there contain more than 80% water, which basically means they won’t do anything for you, no matter what they claim on the packaging.

Best skin care products in the world- What really makes products work

The first thing you need to know is that what makes a product working is a combination of the following factors:

  • What ingredients are in the product
  • The amount of these ingredients
  • How the product is formulated (crucial!)

I used the word combination because you need all these 3 for the product to work. If one element is missing, there would be a substantial decrease in the performance. 

The first thing you want to do when selecting a product is to analyze the ingredients list. A basic understanding of how cosmetic labeling works will definitely help you choose the best skin care products. Remember that ingredients are listed in descending order. 

Analyze_ingredients_list

Learn how to read cosmetic labels


What are the active ingredients in this product? 

With “active ingredients,” I mean ingredients that have a proven record of being able to address a particular skin concern. For example, we know that hyaluronic acid , vitamin C, niacin, Retinol, Kojic acid among others are effective. We know because they’re backed by science. 

If you can’t identify any active ingredient, there could be 2 scenarios:

  • scenario #1: the product is of a very poor quality one, mostly composed of water and glycerin. 
  •  scenario #2: the product does not address a particular skin concern, yet is intended to preserve a skin that is already in good condition.  If this is the case, the product won’t do much for you. It might experience a very pleasant initial feeling right after application, but that’s it. Be wary of natural extracts as well. Most of the times, they’re so diluted that it's impossible to notice any benefits (same principle as homeopathic remedies).

Where are the active ingredients located in the list? 

Are they towards the beginning or the end? If they are towards the end, it’s not a good sign. The worse sign is reading something like /water, glycerin, dimethicone, etc. (in this order). Don’t get me wrong, glycerin is an excellent humectant for the skin , but it’s also very tacky. This is why its percentage must be limited in a formulation. Glycerin is also a very cheap ingredient (along with dimethicone); to make myself clear, if you see a product with that composition that costs more than $10.99, it’s probably not worth the money. 

Big brands are becoming increasingly aware that the order of the ingredients in the list counts; for example, the Aveeno Shampoo proudly claims that oat extract is the first ingredient. This is very important; however, we don’t know how diluted is that extract…

Some indie brands are making a difference by using hydrosols or floral water as first ingredients and/or avoid free glycerin (it means they use natural extracts in glycerin instead of just glycerin). This is definitely an improvement and something to look forward to.

Join a community of like minded people and get skincare tips directly in your inbox. It's FREE!

How many ingredients are there? 

As a general rule, the more the ingredients, the lower their relative % , the lower the benefits. Steer away from products that have a super long ingredients list. In this case, less is more.

Is the majority of the ingredients cheap? 

Clearly, not all ingredients are priced the same. While some companies genuinely care about consumers, others make decisions with profit in mind. There was a “moisturizing” cream on Amazon which was composed of water , glycerin, and a bunch of different silicones. Silicones are emollient, indeed. Moisturizing? Arguably. Some may say they are because of the film formed on the skin that prevents moisture loss. 

My point is that you shouldn’t be paying $60 (or more) for products that are made with cheap ingredients overseas. Because you’re not paying for the product! You’re mostly supporting the company’s by helping cover the costs for advertising, locations, testimonials, etc. (see above). You can get the same quality for $5 . An example is petrolatum. So (too) many products have a high percentage of petrolatum and are sold as they were something miraculous when you can have the same result by buying the Vaseline brand. An example of this is the La Mer lip balmretailing for $60; it claims to contain a “Miracle Broth”, yet the first ingredient we read on the label is …petrolatum! The miracle broth is probably present at 0.001%. Guess what? You wouldn't even notice if it wasn't in there.  

Analyzing the ingredients list can give you a pretty clear understanding of the /overall quality/ of a product, but there’s more to consider. Let's jump to point 3

How has the product been formulated? 
how_cosmetcs_are_formulated

Formulation affects the quality and the performance of a product

Unfortunately, consumers have no way of knowing how a product has been formulated , and this is a big issue. In fact, while the presence of active ingredients is certainly beneficial, the presence itself is not enough. The formulation plays a huge role. For example, there are some ingredients that are active only within certain pH level. If you make a mistake with the pH, the active ingredient is not going to work.

This is why I always suggest to avoid purchasing from DIYers, at least when it comes to skincare. You want someone with a strong chemistry background AND years of experience to be formulating cosmetics. Certain skills cannot (and should not) be improvised.

Has the company performed some kind of *independent* clinical testing on the product? 

90% of the time , the answer is a sound no. There are either no data at all or, if you’re lucky, only some small studies performed on 4/5 subjects (family and friends).

It’s also important to point out that, when present, these studies have been designed by the company itself. Clearly, no Government research entity will ever set up a double blind placebo study to make sure claims are substantiated. Still, it's a good sign!

The best brands are those that not only perform clinical studies but also share the results publicly. 

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Let me ask you something: when was the last time you read on a magazine about a beauty product that doesn’t work? I’m serious. Truth is, it never happens. Conversely, you’ll find tons of vaguely alleged values.

Don’t even make me start on posts you see on social media because those are the worst: fake reviews, influencers who get paid to endorse products they don’t even use, celebrities who dare to swear their flawless visage is due to a miraculous serum.

The only way to know if a product really works is to conduct clinical studies. Ideally, these studies should highlight a noticeable difference between the “before” and “after”. 

When I mention clinical studies, I’m only referring to skincare products whose promises seem a little bit “too much”. No need to perform clinical studies for products that only claim to be gentle on the skin or to leave it soft and supple. Nobody would ever perform a test to prove that a detergent really cleans.

You shouldn't trust online reviews and, at the same time, from a consumer’s prospective, statements such as “clinically proven” or “dermatologist approved” are misleading. They could refer to almost anything. You need to investigate what studies have been performed and what conclusions were drawn from them. 

Best skin care products in the world-Make a difference with your brand

If you own a beauty brand or planning to start one, make sure to adopt a real approach of transparency.

Transparency seems to be a buzzword nowadays.

You need to make it a reality for your brand.

People don't trust companies like they used to. Brand loyalty is going down as well. You need to give your customers a reason to buy from you and one to come back. Creating simple yet effective products is always a damn good strategy.

#1 Make sure you're able to substantiate the marketing claims you make; if you aren't, don't make them. Simple as that.

2# Don't fool customers into believing they'll obtain some instant anti-age effect or they'll look 10 years younger. They won't. 

3# Do your homework and apply the transparency rule. For example, if you claim your ingredients are natural, make sure they really are. This seems obvious, however you have no idea how many products I see that are not 100% natural yet they claim they are. Truly disappointing.

I hope this "small guide" on how to choose the best skincare products was useful. If you have  specific products to analyze or questions,  write me in the comments section.

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Starting a cosmetic line with no money- Practical tips

Starting_cosmetic_line_with_no_money

How can I start a cosmetic line with no money?

Simply put, you can't. 

Starting a cosmetic line is no different than starting any other business. You'll face diverse expenses and therefore you must have some money to start off. However, there are ways to minimize risks and initial financial investment.

Let's see what they are.

Starting a cosmetic line with no money, tip #1: FORMULATE YOUR OWN PRODUCTS

Formulating your own products instead of hiring a chemist will definitely help you to save money. 

The bad news is that you really need to master the art of making cosmetics. 

You can't improvise.

While there's nothing wrong in starting by formulating your own products, they might come out with an excessive "artisan" look that can discourage some buyers if you have never done it before. Nevertheless, formulating your own products is definitely something you should attempt, when on a low budget. 

Surely you don't need to be a chemist to be able to formulate good quality products. You can be pretty successful as self-taught formulator. But, the point is that if you're just starting out with zero experience in formulation or production , it's going to take a while (months/years) before your handcrafted products will be good enough to be presented to the public.

Not only you need to learn how to properly formulate, but you'll also have to learn how to make sure your products are safe for your customers. For example, you'll have to learn what GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) are and put them in practice while manufacturing. 


Furthermore, you should acquire a minimum knowledge on how the beauty industry works, what makes a product a best seller, and other insights. Finally, you should have a solid understanding of some math and physics principles because you need to grasp them in order to formulate.

You might be tempted of buying some "Learn how to formulate" course online to scale up the learning curve fast. 

 I've seen so many out there. Some are even crazy expensive!

Online courses are great, yet they only scratch the surface of what you really need to know to properly formulate cosmetic products.

Let me explain.

At least once a week, I receive an email from someone who took the "XXX advanced course in formulating skincare" asking for advice.

The problem with these courses is that once they're over, students are left alone trying to figure out whether what they're doing is right or not. They turn to me for advice on how to finalize formulations, solving stability issues, etc.

They end up paying twice.

Yes, there are Facebook support groups where you can ask questions, yet the answers you'll receive rarely come from the "professors;" they come from students like you so what's the point? 


Even if you are able to get in contact with the course professor, do you think he/she is going to actually take more than 10 minutes to examine your formula and explain where you did wrong? If you're lucky, they're just going to say, "replace X with Y" or "lower the amount of Z."

Practice is what is going to make you good at formulating cosmetics. Not these courses. 

So what can you do if you don't have the patience or time to wait?

 Keep reading. I'll tell you how to breeze through the whole process!

Starting a cosmetic line with no money, tip #2: use "modified stock formulations"


Whether you're aware of it or not, many formulators out there simply use stock formulations and make minor changes to differentiate them enough, one from the other. 

What are stock formulations ?

They are formulations that anyone can use for creative cosmetic projects. Usually they've been developed by professional formulators and are contained in searchable databases. 

If you have read my other posts, you probably noticed I always discourage people from using formulations easily found on DIY blogs. With stock formulations, like I mentioned, there's no such issue, as they've been created by professionals rather than by hobbyists.

The downside of stock formulations is that they're accessible to anyone. If you follow my content, you know that I always advocate for unique products when starting a cosmetic line.  That's why using stock formulations is not enough. Make an extra step! 

Replace/remove some of the ingredients, add a nice custom scent, and the formula will become your own. 

What really makes a huge difference when it comes to successfully selling cosmetics products are "marketing ingredients."

Marketing ingredients do not have a huge impact on the overall formulation, but they positively alter the perception of your product. 

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They're usually present at very low percentages, and this is why they rarely affect the formulation's performance in a drastic way.

Where to find stock formulations

Here's a list of websites that offer professional stock formulations. Keep in mind that some of these formulas come from raw materials supplier; therefore, inevitably they're trying to push their ingredients by including them in the formulas. Always remember that:

  • Most likely not all the ingredients you see are 100% necessary (for the reasons above).
  • You are free to look up an INCI name and find another supplier for the same ingredient. 

The list:

Ulprospector

Coast Southwest formulary

Makingcosmetics (includes beginner formulations)

Personal Care

Croda

BASF (includes natural concept formulations)

How to customize a stock cosmetic formulation

To replace ingredients and customize a stock formulation, you must first identify those ingredients that are not 100% necessary, a.k.a the marketing ingredients.  Then think of possible replacements for the other ingredients. 

For example, let's say you have a lotion formula with jojoba, almond oil, and a bunch of marketing ingredients.  If you replace these 2 oils with equivalent ones, the effect on the final product will be minimal. On the other hand, if you touch the water content, emulsifier, % of main ingredients and so on, you are going to alter the whole thing (which you don't want to). When you'll be confident about your skills as a formulator, you'll definitely want to move one step forward, but when you're a beginner this procedure of making small changes can take you far.

As stated above, marketing ingredients are present in a very low % so that it's very easy to identify them (see following example).

As a general rule, do not choose formulations with lots of ingredients. The more the ingredients, the more complicated it gets. 

Being able to use stock formulations will allow you to save a lot of money. Formulation development is one of the most expensive steps in starting a cosmetic line. 

Manufacturing & Sourcing ingredients

When it comes to manufacturing, it's hard not to spend anything. This is one of the steps that definitely requires money.

To spend as less as possible, I would suggest the following:

  • Manufacture yourself.
  • Start with few units (250/500)

It's also true that the simplest the product you need to manufacture, the easier it is to do DIY. So, again, be very careful, what product you choose to develop because it can make a huge difference. To learn how to set up a cosmetic lab for small/medium batches manufacturing read here.

People object all the time when I say this; they 're passionate about a product and don't want to develop another one only because it's easier to make.

I get that, but when you want to start a cosmetic line with no money, you can't expect to launch the perfect product! There are certain things that need to be compromised in order to succeed.

 Trust me, this is the way to start. Once you have some cash rolling in, you can focus more on product development, if that's what you want.

As far as the ingredients, the best way I know to source them when you're on a tiny budget, is to ask free samples to suppliers. You can use an ingredients database such as ulprospector.com to find suppliers within your country. 

Lately I've seen a lot of common ingredients being sold on Amazon , too. The advantage of buying from Amazon is that you don't have to pay for shipping which is usually also light-speed. 

Starting a cosmetic line with no money, tip #3: DIY LABELS

To save as much as you can for labelling and packaging, do as follows:

  • Forget about US suppliers when it comes to packaging. Go to Alibaba.com or Aliexpress.com or DHgate.com instead. Oversea suppliers have a huge variety of packaging at a fraction of the cost. Always remember to negotiate the price and to ask for samples before placing a big order.
  • Launch a design contest or hire a designer. Design contests are when you have designers from all over the world sending you unique ideas based on a brief. Price is around $600 for a contest, and I highly recommend the website 99designs. They also released a cosmetic branding guide that you can find here. If you prefer to hire a designer, the best way to save money would be going on Fiverr or Upwork
  • Use a website like Canva.com to design your own labels and then print them out using a professional printer and labels from Avery.com
  • To check whether you have all the required information for the label to be FDA compliant, design the packaging according to this table. Then, go to the store and buy the same product as yours to make sure all the information are there (and they're in the right position). 

Starting a cosmetic line with no money, tip #4: Focus on what really matters and learn to save money.

While there are expenses you cannot avoid, some others are totally useless.

Completely useless are expenses such as: business cards, brand new Mac for your office, new desks and furniture, and, in general, everything that is not directly related to your cosmetic product, yet only serves the purpose of letting you feel like a "real" entrepreneur.  

If you subscribed to my newsletter, you know that spending too much money on unnecessary things is what I consider the #1 mistake when starting a new business

For example, starting a legal business entity doesn't have to be complicated and expensive. ​

When making the first steps, you definitely don't need to hire a lawyer and you surely don't need to waste months creating a business plan.

Websites such as Legalzoom allow you to create your business entity effortlessly with a few clicks. Legalzoom is the service I used to register my business so it's 100% guaranteed. 

Use all your financial and physical energies to focus on product development. Everything else needs to come (and will come) at a later stage. 

If you have read this post, you'll probably don't have much money (yet) to invest in a cosmetic line. That is totally fine and shouldn't discourage you. The good news is that if you have a job, you can start saving some money right away. It doesn't matter whether you'll be launching your line next week or a year from now; what matters is that you don't stop pursuing your dream only because of money. Saving money requires sacrifices, yet is doable. Start by saving a little each month.

One passion I have, besides cosmetics, is finance. One app that has helped me tremendously to save money is Qapital. Qapital allows you to set automatic deposits and round up each transaction so you save money automatically and effortlessly.

The average annual amount saved by its users was $1,400 per year, enough to make your first steps in the cosmetic industry. 

I want to spend a few words on credit cards. Way too many people end up in debt when starting a business. As minimalist, I stay away from debt; at the same time, I understand that sometimes it's a necessary step to get started. My suggestion is to use your brain when making a decision. To be 100% honest, credit cards have saved me many, many, times because of the delayed payment. I'm also a fan of credit card bonuses which I regularly use to pay for flights or redeem as statement credit. 

After reading this post, do you still believe it's impossible to start a cosmetic line with no money? Let me know in the comments below!


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How to sell cosmetics on Amazon

sell_cosmetics_amazon

You spoke, I listened 🙂

In the last few months, I've received at least one email/day asking for advice on how to sell cosmetics on Etsy, Amazon, and Shopify (if you don't know what Shopify is, read this post).

In this article, I am going to focus on Amazon because it is the most profitable one. The income potential is massive. Amazon has more than 270 million active customer accounts and still growing.

Selling cosmetics on Amazon. Overview

Amazon monthly sales

3 months ago, I started to sell one of my products on Amazon as a side business.

My goal was to learn how to do it, so that I could create a guide for my readers. In fact, I know for a fact many of you want to sell beauty products on Amazon.

 $3700/month. This is my balance until now.  It doesn't seems bad at all considering that I started from 0 and never engage for more than 4 hours /week into this business. 

I've always been skeptical by nature, but I need to say that with Amazon I was completely wrong.

It is simply as powerful as everyone in the space is claiming it to be.

Here are the advantages of selling on Amazon

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    You don't have to worry about driving traffic (potential clients) to your website. Almost everyone knows and use Amazon. People are already there and ready to buy.
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    You can set-up giveaways and promotions to build your brand.
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    You don't need any warehouse to stock your inventory. Plus, Amazon takes care of shipping and returns.
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    No need to have a website (but it's helpful to have one).

Now let's see the downsides:

  • Absolutely no control. That's right. You could lose sales as quickly as you gained them. Amazon algorithm could change and lower your product's ranking. You could go from being listed on page 1 to page 10 and lose $$$.
  • Difficult to build a brand as you don't "own" the customers and can't communicate directly with them.
  • Huge competition including but not limited to Amazon itself. Yes, it is almost impossible for a new brand to compete directly with Amazon.


Amazon restricted categories approval

On Amazon, there are some "gated categories" and the BEAUTY one is among them. Therefore, you need to obtain an approval before you can start selling your products there. This discourages many wannabe entrepreneurs, but it is not going to stop people who really want to succeed.

Cosmetics /OTC products can be found in both the "Beauty" and "Health and personal care" category. While some categories don't require any kind of approval, these two do.

Amazon wants to make sure the products you sell are safe for the customers, the information you provide are not misleading, and you have all the authorizations required. Consequently, in order to sell cosmetics in the beauty category, you must obtain the following documents:

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    Testing documentation: a report from an independent laboratory stating the safety of the product (basically the stability tests). 
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    FDA orange book application number. THIS IS FOR OTC/COSMETICS PRODUCTS ONLY-FOR EXAMPLE SUNSCREENS.
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    Commercial purchase invoice. THIS IS REQUIRED ONLY IF YOU WANT TO RESELL PRODUCTS. Retailers receipts are not valid.
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    Your products must have a UPC code OR you must enroll your brand with Brand Registry (but you must have a trademark).  
  • If you use their fulfillment service (Amazon FBA), you're also required to provide a MSDS a.k.a material safety data sheet (more on this later).

As I started my side business, I visited many forums and Facebook groups and found out that $3000/month is nothing. People who do this as a full-time job are making way more. Therefore, even if these requirements may seem like a huge barrier, it's worth to make an extra step and comply with Amazon policies. Besides, you should be able to provide those documents anyways. 

Amazon can really help jump start your beauty business and the risks involved are close to 0.

Let me explain.

Worst case scenario: you're not selling your inventory. Solution: reduce the price to sell out everything. By doing this, you won't make money but at least you won't lose it either.

selling on Amazon

Amazon selling fees

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    Amazon charges a fee on each unit you sell. This referral fee for the beauty category is 8% for products with a total sell price of $10 or less and 15% for the remaining (updated August 2019). 
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    There's a $39.99 monthly payment to register a seller account OR you can pay a fee of $0.99 on each item you sell on top of the referral fee above. 
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    Some products have a huge competition making it difficult to be profitable. Therefore, you'll have to invest in sponsored listings - advertising on Amazon (you pay a variable amount every time someone clicks on your ad). 

Usually "easier" means less profitable.

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Again, fees should not discourage you at all. There's still the opportunity to make a lot of money. My $3000/month have been made with no strategy and minimum effort. If you put the work in, you'll see results. 

People might argue whether starting with Amazon is the right thing to do; you could use the same effort in setting up your own e-commerce store and building a brand. 

I think it depends.

If you're young, just starting out, and inexperienced, Amazon is a good choice. If you're a seasoned entrepreneur, maybe you want to look somewhere else.

Starting a cosmetic business on Amazon, doesn't necessarily mean you're going to sell your own products (private label)You could also be selling other brands' products or simply raw materials for DIY cosmetics (for example beeswax, jojoba oil etc.).This makes your possibility almost endless.

For instance, I had a client who wanted to sell his own beauty products, but down the road he changed his plan. He was left with hundreds of pounds of raw materials and didn't know what to do. I suggested him to repack the raw materials and sell them on Amazon. Not only he recovered all the money spent for the ingredients , he made so much more that he eventually decided to do that as a full time job.

This is not complicated at all. All you need are some containers, labels, plastic bags, and a nice design. 

The following is a list of tools to help you succeed on Amazon:

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    Viral Launch: best option to kickstart your business. The staff is amazing and can take care of everything , from product photos to launch, to listing optimization. You can also use Viral Launch to find new profitable products to sell. Take a look at their website for more information. Investing in a tool such as Viral launch will have a huge impact in yourAmazon business. This tool becomes so much more crucial when your category has already some competitors that are doing well. You don't want your product to be listed on page 10 or you'll never sell any unit.
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    99 Designs: the world's largest graphic design marketplace that has helped more than 225,000 businesses access quality design at an affordable price. Use it to design your packaging, logo or website. Different designers will compete to give you exactly what you're looking for , and you'll choose the design you prefer.  Use this link for a free design consultation. By the way, 99 designs has been recommended by Tim Ferris, too (if you have no idea who Tim Ferris is, visit this page asap). You'll thank me.
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    Fiverr.com is a global online marketplace offering many different services. At the beginning, the cost per job performed was only $5, from which it gets its name. Currently, Fiverr lists more than three million services on the site that range between $5 and $500. When it comes to Amazon, I've used Fiverr to find writers and photographers. Enjoy 20% off your order with code AFFX20.
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    Aliexpress.com is my official source for bottles, containers , bags etc.
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     Stickermule is my favorite resource for printing stickers and labels. It's unbelievable how fast they work and the quality is excellent. I usually get the order to my door in 3 days. If you click here you'll get $10 off your order. I've tried other stickers websites. They attracted me because of the lower price, yet the quality was poor. 
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    Salesbacker is a powerful Amazon tool that allows you to send emails to whoever buys your product. Use these emails to ask people to leave a review of your product. The cost is $19/month and allows to send 1600 emails. There's also a free plan with 120 free emails/month.

Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon ) is the service that gives you the opportunity of using Amazon warehouses to pack and ship your products. 

How does it work?

Step 1: you pack your units and apply a special label on each one (provided by Amazon)

Step 2: you ship all your inventory to Amazon

Step 3: when someone buys your product, Amazon ships it for you. 

Amazon referral fee is higher if you use their fulfillment service. The fee depends on the dimensions of the object you sell.

When using Amazon FBA, you 'll receive a request to provide a MSDS for your product. 

This is where many people freak out as they have no idea what Amazon is asking them. I created this video to show you how to create a MSDS in 10 minutes.

Amazon vs Etsy for selling beauty products

 Another question client ask me regularly, is if it's better to sell cosmetics on Amazon or Etsy.

As usual, it depends.

I would say that if you don't feel comfortable with Amazon requirements or fees, you should opt for Etsy which has lower selling fees and easy access.

Etsy gives products that "artisanal" feeling that brand-wise might beneficial or not. How do you want customers to perceive your brand?

Here's an example. I tend not to write about "how to make your own stuff in the kitchen"  because I want people to see me as a professional chemist with an academic background. I am not interested in attracting customers that want to make a body butter with a Kitchen aid food mixer. Hope this makes sense.

Based on what my clients experienced, Amazon seems to be more profitable than Etsy. Even so, I've had clients who started on Etsy and ended up building a major brand in the U.S.

In the end, I think the platform is important, but what really counts is your attitude to business and success.

The platform is important, but at the end of the day is your attitude towards success that makes a difference.

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You are never going to sell anything if you just sit there and wait. Nothing on Amazon and nothing on Etsy.

Success doesn't come this way.

You need to attract visitors/customers to your listings. As already mentioned for Amazon, your beauty products need to be on page 1

Amazon Ranking explained

how to rank on amazon

Put in a simple way, Amazon works as a search engine, meaning they're both governed by an algorithm. The algorithm is responsible for your products to be shown on first, second , third or whatever page. 

How can we take advantage of this algorithm and have our beauty products showing up on the first page?

By trying to fulfill as many "Amazon Ranking Factors" as we can. Below there's a ranking factors list. It is not exhaustive, but it will give you a general sense.

  • check
    Image quality. This is very important to ensure a high quality shopping experience to the customer.
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    Keywords and listing title. Keywords are the terms people type in when looking for something. For example, if you're selling liquid lipstick, you want to rank high for the keyword "liquid lipstick", "matte lipstick", and similar. This way people will find your product. The title should sound pleasant and natural, though. Do not stuff it with keywords. 
  • check
    Quantity and quality of reviews. Aim for at least 10 verified reviews. At the beginning, ask your friend to purchase the object and leave a 5 stars review.
  • check
    Fulfilled by Amazon (Prime eligible). Your products will rank higher if they're fulfilled by Amazon.
  • check
     Sales volume. If you're selling 10 units /day you have a certain rank. If your sales suddenly drop, you'll lose this ranking pretty soon. For this reason, always inactivate your listing if you run out of stock. 
  • check
    Product description and details should be clear and compelling. I hired a copywriter for this task and was totally worth my money. 

How can I find relevant keywords for my products? 

I use and recommend MerchantKeyword. The process is simple. Visualize your products and think how would you look for it on Google. Then type the words in the keywords tool and see how many monthly researches. Based on this number, consider slightly changing your keywords (if search volume is too low).

I hope this post inspired you. If you're not selling on Amazon or Etsy, why is that? And, if you're doing it, what was the biggest challenge?

Before I go, I want to share with you a tip that allows to increase sales and beat competition...

PRO TIP: to differentiate yourself from competitors, besides having better photos and description, add something as a gift. Who doesn't like free stuff? This could be everything, but since you're selling cosmetics, an informative ebook is a great idea.

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How to start a cosmetic business online

How to start a cosmetic business online

Start a cosmetic business online

Online cosmetic business

If you find yourself at the last point of this list, then keep reading. In this post, I will show you how ridiculously easy is to start a cosmetic business online.

It doesn’t matter if you want your e-commerce to start a side business or if you already have a business and want to learn the proper way to sell your cosmetics online. Let’s see how to create and customize an online store.

First, I will tell you how to create your own e-store in 20 minutes or less, then I will introduce you to same of the best web marketing techniques.  In fact, having a store that doesn’t sell besides being frustrating, it's a waste of time.

Before I start, let me point out that having a cosmetic business online, doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to sell products you manufactured in the first place. While 90% of the people try to create their own cosmetic line, you could be making money by re-packaging raw materials or selling products from other brands.

Start a Cosmetic business online- set up an online store (no technical skills required)

What I love most about technology is its ability to simplify things and make them accessible to anyone. 

No need to hire a computer programmer to build a professional looking e-store. You can do it yourself with a few mouse clicks and a set monthly fee. No HTML nor technical skills required. Nada. You get all the befits without the hassle.

How can this be possible?

With SHOPIFY !

…The best hassle-free online store builder. It comes with awesome features:

  • 3 different plans available. The cheapest is only $29.99/month. With these plans, your store will grow along with your business as you can easily upgrade plan to unlock new features.

  • Shopify integrates with Facebook, Pinterest or your already existing blog giving you the chance of selling from these platforms, too.

  • Mobile Friendly Design and over 100 professionally looking and stylish templates. Some templates are specially designed for selling cosmetics. Click Here for some examples. Templates are created by independent designers and can really make the difference.

  • Hundreds of apps to add cool features to your e-store. These apps can make your job much easier when it comes to inventory, shipping, accounting, and marketing.

  • 24/7 support. A dedicated team of experts can answer your questions and guide you through the whole process.

  • Ability to accept different payment methods from credit cards to PayPal. The transactions are safe so your clients have their peace of mind.

These are just some of the amazing features Shopify offers you.

Sure, there are other options to start a cosmetic business online, yet in my opinion nothing beats Shopify because is so simple to use!

You can get a 14 days free trial here and try it first hand.

Online cosmetic business

Start an online business in the beauty industry. Set up a Shopify store.

It’s worth mentioning BIG COMMERCE , another e-commerce platform. The main difference with Shopify is that the add-on features are included in the monthly fee.

Big Commerce has been adding some modern and vibrant themes;  however, Shopify still has a larger selection of themes, both free and paid.

Check these cosmetic-field-related success stories and let them inspire you.

Story 1

Story 2

Story 3

Web marketing: how to drive customers to your store.

Internet Marketing  is the branch of marketing that uses the Internet as advertising channel. It mostly manifests itself through social media marketing, websites marketing, and email marketing.

Your online store won't make it without some effective internet marketing strategies.

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 In Fact…

  • Having a nice looking packaging and a great formula is useless if nobody comes to your website and buy your products. 
  • Advertising on the internet is, generally speaking, less expensive than doing it on magazines or TV. Therefore, everyone is doing it. If you don’t, a lot of potential customers will buy from competitors.
  • Potential customers won’t find your store unless they’re taken there through search engines or other websites.

Now, imagine your product to be Bestsellers on Amazon, your website having 50,000 visitors a day, your Instagram and Facebook profiles with 1M  followers (real ones)… this would help sales a lot, don't you agree?

And this is only the beginning.

Now let’s see what makes the difference between an online store and a successful one.

BLOG SECTION 

Not all e-commerce sites have a blog, and this is a big mistake. A blog makes easier to create a community of  loyal fans. Chances are people, before deciding to buy, are going to read your posts to get more information about you, your brand and how your products can help them solving a problem. If they like your content, most likely they will share it with other people that might be interested as well. By doing this, they will attract new potential customers to your website. Finally, they might decide to give it a shot and buy something. Blog posts must be related to your products' niche and be useful. Don't write about what you did yesterday unless you're already a celebrity.

For instance, let's say you set up a Shopify store to sell your anti-age lotions that contain XYZ  active ingredients. Don’t write about lotions in general, be specific. A way of doing this could be to prepare a list of scientific papers that support XYZ’s efficacy and summarize them. Another idea could be to write a post about “The 10 best rated anti-age creams”. In this post, you should list the 10 products and then explain why your is different (=better). Describe how your product can help masking age signs. 

In PubMed central, you can find lots of free full-text scientific papers you can use to support your claims.

SEO (Search Engine optimization).

Wikipedia defines SEO as ” the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results […] In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users, and these visitors can be converted into customers”.

Figuring in the first Google page for some keywords can boost your sales!

Let’s see a practical example. If you google “coffee body scrub”, Frank Body is the third result you are going to see (the first two are paid ads).

SEO for cosmetic ecommerce


Frank Body is an Australian cosmetic company that after only 2 years has reached almost 20 million in revenues. Even if you don’t know them, chances are you’re going to land on their website whenever you look for “coffee body scrub”. Once there, you might buy something and become a loyal customer.

The purpose of this post is not to teach you SEO, as I am struggling with it as well. You can learn more about SEO here or hire an expert just for your website. Shopify has something to teach about SEO, too. Check out this post.

Social Media Marketing. 

SEO works and it's free,  but it takes months to see results.

Social media are the fastest way to grow your brand’s popularity and increase your audience’s engagement.

Instagram has 400 million of monthly active users. It’s definitely worth your attention! Marketing wise, Instagram allows adding a link in the bio section. This link should point to the most relevant page of your website.

Here are some tips on when and how to publish your photos:

  • Let people know you’re on Instagram.

  • Publish at least 3 or 4 times/day.

  • Create your brand’s hashtag and use it under each photo you publish. Besides your brand’s,  use those # that are relevant to your niche, and 2/3 that are beauty related in general ( #beauty #cosmetics #manicure etc). For instance, if you sell nail polishes you could use the following as niche specific: #nails #instanails #ignails #nailart #nailstagram #nailartoohlala #nailartclub #nailpolish #nailpolishaddicted #craftyfingers #nails2inspire #nailartwow.

  • Never buy followers! However, do use some kind of software that helps you growing your presence. An Instagram bot likes, follows, and even comments on your behalf. It’s a way to automate routine tasks.

  • Create authentic and engaging content.

Facebook has roughly 1.86 billion active monthly users.  Your FB page is a powerful promoting tool. The key here is to publish valuable content and show it to the right people. I’ve seen too many Facebook pages with zero valuable content and a lot of trashy sale offers. Don’t do the same mistake. Facebook is great for paid advertising, as it gives the freedom of choosing whom you show your ad to. It’s possible to select the audience based on education, salary, employment, hobbies, and lifestyles.

Twitter 310 million active monthly users. It’s is the social media for people looking for reliable information, yet is also a marketing tool. Twitter offers paid advertising to increase brand awareness.

Least but not last Pinterest with 100 million active monthly users. Pinterest is great for beauty products especially now that they added the sponsored (paid) Pins option. You can read this post by Neil Patel to learn more. Promoted Pins look like regular ones and they link directly to the sales page on your website.
pinterest ads

E-mail marketing

It’s about building a list of email addresses of people somehow interested in your business. People will share their email address only if they benefit from doing it. This is why to build the list effectively, it’s important to offer something in return, for instance, a discount on the first order. Subscribers are like V.I.P clients. Offer them exclusive contents and additional perks. I try my best to do the same with this website. By the way, you can join my community by clicking

Why is e-mail marketing important? Because it’s traffic you own.

Let’s say you are launching a new product; by simply sending an email to your list, you are able to transfer qualified traffic on your product’s page.

Affiliate Marketing.

Imagine having a team of people promoting your products for you all over the internet. All you have to do in exchange is paying a commission every time they make a sale.  Commissions range from 5 to 30%, it’s entirely up to you. Sounds great, right? All you need is being registered to an affiliate marketing network. There’s plenty out there. These network handles your payments so you don’t have to. Affiliates can promote your products through different means such as their website or paid advertising (Facebook, Google Adwords, Bing Ads and so on).

Paid advertising. 

The fastest way to grow your business, no doubt. If your budget allows it, I would definitely go this way.

With this advertising strategy, you pay for one of your ads to appear on Google’s (or Bing) first page. Actually, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. The user gets redirected to a specific page you decide. If you have a blog, the user might go read some of your articles and leave his or her email address. Therefore, even without a purchase, you got something valuable. In fact, you’ll have acquired a lead that can be re-contacted through email. When you re-contact these people, make sure you offer a discount so they’ll be willing to buy.

You must select the keywords that will trigger your ad and bet on them. This means you are telling Google how much are you willing to pay for your ad to appear after a user typed a specific keyword (for example “how to get rid of acne”).

Paid advertising’s concepts must be completely mastered or you’ll end up paying a lot with nothing in return. f you’re new to this, I highly recommend to hire a professional able to handle this kind of campaigns. 

Start a cosmetic business online. Part 3- Websites examples


https://tkbtrading.com/

This website runs on Shopify. It sells pigments and other raw materials for cosmetics. The website has a blog, a newsletter, and a good presence on social media. They decided to publish their customers’ reviews on the homepage, which can help building trust.

The design is very simple, yet catchy.

What I really like about TkB trading is the whole checkout experience:  fast and simple. Also, I really appreciate the fact they send you an email as soon as your order is delivered.

What could be improved? The newsletter section is not evident until you checkout. It would be better to have a banner on the sidebar, instead.

RadhaBeauty.com RadhaBeauty is among those lucky top sellers on Amazon.  Their website is a real marketing machine! There’s a blog with relevant niche contents, powerful headlines, and amazing videos to capture even “visual visitors”. The newsletter box is highlighted and emphasizes the concept of community (“Join Our community for video, discount codes and more”).

Furthermore, when you are about to exit the website, a  form pops up and invites you to subscribe. This really helps, although some users might find it annoying.

Radha Beauty has an average presence on the social media with 16k followers on Instagram and 55,000 on Facebook.

The small window at the bottom is there to let you know someone just bought something. This, besides showing popularity, sets a sense of urgency, which eventually leads to a purchase. If you want to know what I'm taking about click here.

https://jeffreestarcosmetics.com

jeffree star cosmetics

This website is a little bit different from the other as it’s way more visual. In fact, the home page has a powerful image and basically nothing more.

You won’t find any blog post, yet there’s an extensive selection of videos taken from Jeffree Star’s YouTube channel. The content of these videos is variegated; there are travels, make-up reviews, everyday scenes, and trade shows.This choice sounds perfect to me as long as there’s a charismatic character to build the website around (like Jeffree). If you’re not such person, then it’s very difficult someone will want to watch your videos. People care about what you do at home or on holiday only if they recognize you as a role model. You must have a powerful message to convey.

Jeffree Star’s online store runs thanks to Shopify pro.

I hope these examples will help you set the tone for your cosmetic online store.

What strategies are you currently using to drive traffic and sales to your store?

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Marketing claims you must know to beat your competitors.

Cosmetics marketing claims

In this post, I am going to discuss some marketing claims you should be aware of, even before you start the production of your line. No product should be marketed completely alike.

One of the reason people are sometimes afraid of starting a cosmetic line is that they feel unsure their products are going to sell.  I feel quite uncomfortable telling you everything is going to be fine, and your products will make it. What I can do is teaching you some strategies I’ve seen used by people who succeeded. This doesn’t mean if you apply the same strategies, you’ll get the same results; however, the key is to minimize the risks. When launching a project, your chance of success increases if you integrate your smarts and flair into it .

Sell products using cosmetic claims: overview.

So how can you attract consumers’ attention and consistently drive sales? 

You need to use the right marketing claims which by the way doesn’t mean to lie or trick people. Remember that when making false claims, both the FDA and the FTC can cause you headaches; the FDA issues “warning letters” that force you to remove/change the false claims. The FTC, which is a law enforcement federal agency, could even sue your company. Unfortunately, false advertising is extremely common in the beauty industry.

Claiming something that is not true is never a good idea. In my opinion, the problem arises when companies claim something that is not true (doesn’t have any scientific validity), BUT they believe it is. For this reason, before you write anything , make sure you have done your research so you won’t end up claiming something that is not true. I highly recommend you to have the packaging design reviewed by an expert (you can easily schedule a consultation with me from here).

It exists. The only cosmetic claim we can use.

One of the most frequent questions my clients  ask is “how can my product sell big when there is so much competition out there?”

What makes a product a best seller?

Many things. I can tell you for sure what doesn’t: its formulation!

Best-selling cosmetic products have always something that distinguish them from others. 99% percent of the time, it is NOT the formula that makes this difference but the way they’re advertised. This is why you can find hyaluronic acid serums for $300 and similar products for less than $50.

Yes, cosmetics are all about perception. 

Marketing claims for cosmetics: guidelines

The key to success is to use powerful marketing claims making sure that 

a) they make sense and

b) they’re true.

Sounds like a daunting task, but it’s not.

Good advertising and marketing transient into sales.

Attractive packaging designs and catchy phrases that attract consumers’ attention are all relevant. For example, take this sentence:

“She’s lovely, she’s engaged, she uses Ponds”.

This became one of the best-known advertising slogans in America. Cosmetic manufacturers have pursued consumers with promises of everything from new beauty to a new lifestyle. Indeed, with cosmetics—perhaps more than with any other type of product—ingenious marketing leads to success in sales. This is why consumers’ attention is the ultimate commodity.

You can mimic a formula of a product that is already on the market, but the smart way of doing it is changing the marketing approach especially if you’re emulating something from an already well established brand.

Incorporate your personal touch, values, and belief in your cosmetics’ claims.

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So you’ll never lie.

Do you believe in animal rights? Use only vegan ingredients!  Look for raw materials suppliers who share the same values as you. Are you concerned about the environment? Create a sustainable product that is earth friendly. Make sure the ingredients you use have been sourced sustainably. Explain your preference for an ingredient over another and use as much transparency as you can.

The most common (and sometimes misleading) marketing claims for cosmetics

Here is a list of terms you might be tempted to use due to their popularity. Think twice as some of these simply don’t make sense. Some other are against FDA regulations.

Hypoallergenic. This term  is used to convey the message these cosmetics are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Hypoallergenic is not regulated by the US FDA. Therefore, cosmetic companies are not required to meet any regulations or do any testing to validate their claims. This simply means every producer can claim hypoallergenic without any evidence. As a result the word becomes completely meaningless.

This term can be misleading. Consumers may believe that by using this product they maybe less likely to develop allergic reactions. Yet, this is not true.  Statistically, the majority of allergic reactions are caused by just a few ingredients (e.g. fragrance, essential oils, gluten etc). However, everyone’s reaction to certain ingredients is different. Nothing can be guaranteed as allergen free or hypoallergenic.

Instead, do use transparency to inform consumers of all the ingredients contain in your product, as usually people already know what they are allergic to.

With that being said, there are some tests that can somehow support the hypoallergenic claim. Note I used the term somehow...in fact, the repeat insult patch test mostly evaluates the irritation potential which is something different. However, many companies still use that test to support the hypoallergenic claim.

It’s important to understand that consumers need to be aware that certain substances can cause allergic reactions, so add on the package that they should always test the product on small area first.

 Natural. Does not say much about your product unless you provide your own definition of the term. When I discuss a formula with a client, I need to understand what they mean when they say “only natural ingredients”. For some the term is very strict, while some other are a little bit more open.

Why do you call your ingredients natural? Is it because they origin from plants even? How have they being processed?

Interestingly, there is a certification for natural cosmetics. It is provided by Ecocert organization and  allows you to display the symbol “Ecocert -Natural cosmetic” on product packaging. For the natural cosmetic label, a minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. Here is the link for more information : http://www.ecocert.com/en/natural-and-organic-cosmetics

So if you wish to claim your beauty product is natural, make sure to obtain the Ecocert (or similar) certification.

Organic. It is not enough to use organic only ingredients to claim that the product itself is organic and use the symbol USDA organic. It also needs to meet organic handling, labelling and processing standards, and it has to be produced in an organic certified facility.

To make things easier, another possibility is to claim that the product is “made with organic ingredients”. In this case, it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, but you won’t be able to display the USDA organic seal. In addition, the product would need to be certified by an USDA agent whose name and address must be displayed on the package. Due to higher standards set by the USDA, I recommend you to apply for an Ecocert Organic certification instead.The major difference between the two is that the USDA never really developed standards for organic cosmetics like Ecocert did. In fact, USDA organic certification was born for agricultural products only.

Cruelty-free. This term is not regulated by the US FDA so you are welcome to use it freely, if true. Cruelty-free means that the finished product has not been tested on animals.  EU banned animal testing in 2009. Not the U.S. Here, manufacturers have the legal responsibility of assuring their products are safe and can decide how to prove it.  I am a firm believer that testing cosmetics on animals is unethical; not to mention, it is extremely expensive.

Cruelty free claim


Patent pending. A patent doesn’t really protect your product from being copied by the competition, but you can use “patented” or “patent pending formula” as marketing tool. I always discourage my clients from trying to get patents on cosmetics because even if you think your product is unique,most likely  it is not. Consequently, your application will be denied and you will not be able to use the claim “patent pending” anymore.

A client of mine was determined to patent his liquid lipstick. However, there was nothing special about his product that could justify a patent. He desperately tried to make up unusual manufacturing procedures to support his application, but ultimately it was still denied. You don’t want to waste your time and money on trying to obtain a patent just for a claim.

Made in the USA. It is illegal for companies to buy products from another country (e.g. China) then repackaging and label them as “Made in the USA”. For a product to be called Made in the USA or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S.

SPF. Unfortunately, you cannot claim SPF (Sun Protection Factor) on a cosmetic product. If you do, then the product becomes regulated as both a cosmetic and OTC drug. This applies only to the U.S. because every country regulates its sunscreen products differently. With an increasing awareness of skin cancers, it is a good idea to go the extra mile and get your product approved as an OTC drug. However, efficacy tests on healthy volunteers are required and this can significantly raise the costs of the development. Still, if you can afford it , do it.

Free of  ________. For example, free of parabens. This kind of claim can be misleading as it suggests that your product is safer than competitors’ because it doesn’t contain parabens or other particular ingredients. At the same time, if your product doesn’t contain parabens , you’re absolutely free to highlight it on the package.

Problem is, there is no scientific evidence these ingredients are harmful. Consequently, it could be considered an unfair denigration of “legal” ingredients. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, you should always try to put your values in your product. This means that if you are a firm believer that something is harmful (and target people with your same beliefs), then you should definitely specify that you intentionally left it out.       

Proven formula. This claim conveys a very powerful message and can be misleading if the product ends up not working as promised. Therefore, companies should specify what the formula has been proven for and eventually provide tests results.                             

ALLOWED COSMETIC CLAIMS: EXAMPLES

We want to be transparent with our customers , but at the same time we want to sell! 

I don’t want to give you the impression it’s impossible to be “aggressive” (from a marketing point of view) without being misleading.

This apparent dichotomy disappears when we perform as many lab tests as we can afford AND when we carefully choose the words we use on the packaging. For example, the term “helps with” and “protects from” are powerful yet regulations compliant. Other powerful words are “diminish(ed)”, “plumps”, and “pH balanced formula”. These are just examples. Depending on your niche, you can find many other powerful words.

Cosmetics claims: conclusions

As a general rule when dealing with marketing claims, make sure you consider the following:

–Legal compliance.

-Evidence of support.

-Honesty .

-Allow informed decisions

 What are the claims that work the best for your company? Comment below!

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How to start a Cosmetic Line: Your Ultimate Guide.

how to start a cosmetic line

Do you dream of starting a cosmetic line to make this world a better place ?

Would you love to start your own business and create something meaningful?

This FREE guide explains step by step the process of creating, testing, and selling a beauty product (even if you don't have a lot of money). If you want more detailed information you'll find them in my latest ebook.

If you’re a little worried about the process being intimidating, you’re not alone. See, a few years ago I started selling beauty products myself and went through the whole process. 

I didn't know anything about business and not enough about beauty products. So the result was pretty much a disaster. I wasn't making any money, and I had to quit. I went back to my job as cosmetic chemist. After creating so many formulations for other people, I finally understood the key steps of launching a successful business in such a competitive industry. Clients were sharing their strategies all the time; some of them were real marketing experts. 

After learning these strategies, I decided to give it another try and I did! Finally I was having a consistent and stable volume of sales.

The fact is, the process can be overwhelming. After all, there is little information available regarding the steps needed to transform your idea into a physical product.

Figuring it out can be tough.

While information about chemistry is abundant, not everyone has the background or the time to study it. 

Why starting a cosmetic line?

This is something only YOU know. I can't tell you what are your motivations. Having worked with hundreds of clients in the last few years, these are the most common scenarios:

  • Create a natural & environmental friendly product. People are becoming more aware chemicals get absorbed in the bloodstream. When you start your own line, you can design the products as you please. Folks want gentle products free from chemicals that are controversial.
  • Create something that really works ( people are becoming more aware of the marketing fluff that plays a huge role in the cosmetic industry). This is very true especially among professionals, for example dermatologist and cosmetic surgeons.
  • Start a fulfilling career in the beauty industry. You might be fed up with your current job and want to work on something you're passionate about. 

People also want to make some money, obviously. Yet, money is never the #1 factor considered when they decide to launch a cosmetic line.  However, don't forget that the cosmetic industry is constantly growing , so a business in this field can also profitable, if you follow some common sense advice. 

What people do to start a cosmetic line?

Starting a business from scratch is never easy especially if you don't have any experience. 

You'll encounter challenges. 

Luckily, these challenges don’t make starting a cosmetic line impossible, even with no experience. What’s more, you can get busy starting a cosmetic line even if you don’t have any knowledge of formulating! 

Let me explain.

The cosmetic market is ever-changing. In addition to big producers, there are many high-quality cosmetics produced by small and mid-sized warehouses or even one person home-based businesses. These people didn't necessarily have any experience in chemistry or in cosmetic formulations. 

But they had a vision.

How did they turn their vision into a goal and then into a reality? They hired different professionals to help them with every step of the process or they partnered with people who already had experience in the field.

This guide will teach you the exact steps AND the fastest way to start a beauty line or single products.

How to start a cosmetic business

Create a successful cosmetic business.

Let’s see the basic steps to start selling your own products and finally realize your dream.

How to Start a Cosmetic Line -Checklist

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or an existing cosmetics company looking to branch out into your own products, the necessary steps are the following:

Create a product

Make it

Sell it

Each of the above can be divided in steps. These are the main one. 

Develop your idea.

start a cosmetic line_idea

First things first: you need an idea (that works). If you’re a creative person, you’re probably bombarded with hundreds of ideas each day! Unfortunately, 99% of these ideas are probably not feasible.

Too little budget, no expertise, no previous business experience, and no market are some of the reasons why most projects fail.

If you're not a creative person (like me) , you'll have to become an experienced observer. In fact, you must learn what is appealing to you and develop something similar but make it better. It's very important that the product you're bettering appeals to you because otherwise it will be 10X more difficult to sell it. 

How can you sell something you don't even like? For example, I know liquid lipsticks are very popular right now, but I would never start selling makeup because it is not appealing to me and I barely use it. 

 When I say you need to start with an idea, I mean a realistic one! Don’t try to be hyper-creative or re-invent the wheel. Instead, start small by defining what would you change in a product that you like AND that is already doing well.

Here are four questions to get the ball rolling:

  1. Would you add an ingredient to the product?
  2. Which changes would improve the product’s overall performance?
  3. What can you do to improve the customers’ perception of this product?
  4. Which ingredients should/could be replaced? For example, you could decide of creating an all natural version of a popular lotion.

Still stumped? Read your competitors’ negative reviews and look for gaps you can fill.

Amazon is a gold mine for product research, competitors and reviews analysis.

Dig into forums and take note of everything people complain about (product is too drying, doesn’t rinse off well, doesn’t smell good, etc.) and look for creative ways to address them with your own products.

Be aware that improving an existing product is one of the hundreds possibilities you have. Why not offering better customers service, better shipping options, better packaging and so on? Sky is the limit. 

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Validate Your Idea Before Starting a Cosmetic Line

[pullquote align="center"]Ideas are worthless if they do not generate sales. [/pullquote]

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Remember: ideas are worthless if you don't execute and if they do not generate sales. Everyday I see too many people concerned with someone stealing their idea instead of focusing on execution.

With this in mind, you’ll need to validate your idea.

Here’s how: Research your target audience and the latest cosmetic trends. This may sound like something complicated but thanks to the Internet it’s very simple. The web offers diverse tools for your research and makes it easy to figure out exactly who you’re targeting and why.

While there are dozens of helpful tools to use, Google Trends and Reddit.com are two of the largest. While Google Trends can help you learn which keywords are claiming the largest global share of search volume, Reddit is a great place to figure out exactly what your target audience is talking about and find creative ways to connect with them.

You’ll also need to figure out whether your cosmetic is really a cosmetic according to FDA regulations. For example, any product that claims protection from the UV rays is listed both as a cosmetic and drug. A vaginal lubricant is another prime example: it is a medical device and not a cosmetic. If you are uncertain about the classification of your product, simply ask an expert or visit the dedicated section of the FDA website 

Finally, ensure the product you want to create is easy to manufacture (if you want to start production at home), especially if you don’t have any experience or equipment. Ideally, the product you choose to produce should contain few ingredients and use either a water or an oil base.

Examples of these products include facial oils, body scrubs, and beard balms. In the case of a body oil or body scrubs, simple mixing is the only process required, and you won’t need any special equipment or knowledge to start the production process. This is fantastic because, despite their simplicity, these products can be lucrative. On Sephora.com there are simple body oils that sell for upwards of $46!

The manufacturing procedure consist of blending and mixing different oils together. Just because a product is simple, doesn’t mean there’s no margin for profit, so don’t feel like you have to get in over your head from the start.



Case Study: start a cosmetic line

Karl is the CEO of a special effects makeup company. He was reselling from different vendors when he first contacted me. At the time, he wanted to create his own label, generate more sales and cut costs. Less than six months after our collaboration, Karl had his own product manufactured. He invested money in buying machinery and raw materials, while I was working on the formula. His preferred sales channel was Amazon. He used some paid advertising campaigns to give his products the visibility they deserved. Needless to say, he started making more profits as people found his line to be as good as, yet cheaper than, the reference brand he used to sell

Come up with a (custom) formula.

Surfing the web, you’ll find that it’s easy to locate formulas for your products….

do not use them!

90% of the time, these "formulas" are just a bunch of ingredients mixed together.

Even if you do find a good formula, anyone could replicate it since it was found on the internet.

Instead, hire a chemist to create a unique formula for you or if you can't afford it tweak an already existing formula (must be a professional one). Here's how to do it 

With a professional working for you, you can rest assured that you’ll get the most accurate and high-end formulas.

Keep in mind that getting a unique custom formula isn’t cheap: In fact, you can expect to spend about $3,000 for your first formula. If you think to start a business with 50 cents, it’s not going to happen!

This is not an expense, though, it’s an investment.

An experienced chemist not only creates a custom product but helps teach you the formulation procedures step by step. When deciding which chemist to hire, consider factors like timelines, the professional’s willingness to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), and the chemist’s background and experience.

It is highly recommended that you work with a chemist who is an expert in your product’s field. The communication should be frequent, and the expectations and timelines should be clear.

Develop Some Prototypes

cosmetic_prototypes

You’re making your way through the process. The chemist you’ve worked with has provided a custom formula and some samples. Or you have made samples yourself.

Now it's time to choose a winner. In the meantime, you need to coordinate your team (or yourself 🙂 about packaging, designs, how to present the samples in your online store, and a million of other things.

 You probably feel overwhelmed and may even be having doubts about the whole project.

 Take a deep breath.

The first thing you should do is to make sure you (or the manufacturing company you're working with) are able to replicate the prototype you choose.

Read this article on how to set up a cosmetic lab and spend some time becoming familiar with the instruments and techniques. The chemist should have provided you all the means and knowledge you need to make some very small batches. If you’re uncertain about something, ask for a video recording or additional assistance from your chemist of choice.

Once you feel comfortable with all the manufacturing procedures, have other people test the product and take notes of their impressions. Here are some ideas:

  • Send the prototypes to some (trusted) bloggers.
  • Give away a small sample of the new product every time a customer buys something and follow-up with the customers afterward with a brief survey.
  • Start selling online. Etsy or Amazon are both good starting points.

I know some of you might be tempted to ask friends and family for an opinion. You can surely do it, but you should keep in mind that strangers’ opinions are generally more reliable as they’re unbiased. If people express a positive opinion about your samples, go ahead and perform stability tests on them (see below). If the reviews are less than favorable, go back to the chemist and ask for adjustments.

Perform Stability Testing


Laboratory beaker

This is a step that people new to industry tend to skip.

Stability tests review both the physical and microbiological stabilities of a product. The latter is the most important as the safety of your products must always be your priority. Furthermore, you're legally and morally responsible for the safety of your products.

You cannot assume your product is stable. You must prove it.

Cosmetics don’t have to be sterile. However, they cannot be contaminated by pathogen bacteria either. After all, fungi and mold are not very appealing to your customers.  

Do not be stingy on stability testing and don’t ever skip performing them. Otherwise, you risk serious problems and the potential for lawsuits down the road. 

At the same time, don't rush the process. If you cannot even sell your product to your neighbor, maybe it's too early to commit to stability testing.

I know: many vendors don’t perform any kind of stability test. 

People always ask me “How come they get away with it?” The answer is simple: it’s because it’s almost impossible for the FDA to audit all the companies selling products online. 

With this in mind, use your willingness to perform stability tests to your advantage and make it a marketing claim. It can help to differentiate your brand from the others. Keep in mind that stability tests are also a must if you want to sell to countries other than the U.S.

Before sending your product to a lab for stability testing, it's a good practice to use some microbial kits to have an estimate of the number of bacteria that are present in your sample. If the number is too high, before you perform the "official test" you should change the preservative system. Use Code FANZANI on the Formulator Sample Shop to get 20% off your entire order.

After the test results come back, write a list of procedures that allowed you to create a stable and pathogen-free product. These procedures are called GMP (Good Manufacture Practice). Their goal is to ensure every time you manufacture a batch, its quality and safety will be approximately the same as the previous one. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you might want to take a look at this book.

GMP allows you to perform stability tests only once. Many factors can be involved if your product fails the stability tests. If this is your case, I suggest you consult with an expert to understand why.

Stability tests are mandatory.

There are some other tests that are not, yet they might be necessary to sustain the marketing claims you make. If your product contains an SPF filter, this is also the time for in vivo tests as well (which are mandatory).

Wrap up Manufacturing and Miscellaneous Duties

Manufacturing cosmetics

Production line of beauty products at plant or factory. Process of manufacturing and packaging cosmetics goods.

While you are waiting for stability tests’ results, fix and address other issues related to packaging, labeling, authorization, and certification. For example, make sure you purchase liability insurance and products’ labels are written according to FDA regulations.

Here's a link to a website where you can print labels. I use this website myself and guarantee their high quality. Plus, they are usually superfast. You send them the label artwork and before you know the labels are in your mailbox.

Some claims are not allowed for cosmetics. As a general rule of thumb, everything concerning the modification of a body function is not allowed. The FDA website collects all the warning letters the agency has been sending to cosmetics producer whose claims were too promising and reviewing them will give you a good idea of what to avoid. You can find those letters here.

When it comes to manufacturing, you have many options. A private label manufacturer could be the best solution if you’re not ready to make a huge investment on machines. The downside is that these companies usually have high MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). I suggest starting with making 100-500 units only. The manufacturer will also store the raw materials for you (you must pay a fee) making the process flawless and simple.

Outsourcing manufacturing is not going to be cheap. Luckily there are other options. If you followed my instructions and created a product that is easy to manufacture, why don't making 200 units at your place just to start off? The FDA doesn't specify where cosmetics should be manufactured as long as they're safe and production follows GMPs.

Starting a Cosmetic Line the Smart Way

If you’ve ever dreamed of starting a cosmetic line, now is the perfect time! By taking the right steps and hiring a qualified cosmetic chemist to help you, you can launch your own line in no time at all.

Have you ever dreamed of launching a cosmetic line? What has been stopping you? Let me know in the comments below.

How to start a cosmetic business

Create a successful cosmetic business.