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The Ultimate Guide on How to Start a Makeup Line and Sell Online

Do you dream of launching your own makeup line but don’t know where to start? Maybe you want to break into the beauty industry and you just need some pointers on how to start a makeup line.

blanka branded lifestyle shot
blanka-branded eyeshadow palettes for anyone to private label.

As emerging trends and niches expand, the beauty industry is opening up more spaces for small business owners to take the leap and start their own makeup line. The biggest challenge to start a makeup line isn’t what you think it is – it’s not the competition with bigger brands. It’s the lead up to getting your products to the market! 

However, there’s no need for stress. This is the ultimate and ONLY guide you need about how to start a makeup line. In this article, you’ll be able to access a free budgeting sheet, branding template, and more to launch your small business to success and freedom!

The 9 steps in this ultimate guide are as follows:

  1. Choose your niche
  2. Find a supplier
  3. Financials
  4. Inventory and shipping
  5. Build your brand
  6. Set up shop
  7. Double down on marketing
  8. Customer support processes
  9. Find mentors and a community
 

1. Choose your niche

As you’re starting out, you want to narrow down to a specific niche. You want to do your research and understand how you want to position yourself in the beauty industry. 

The easiest way to start finding a niche is to do your market research. It’s as simple as consuming beauty content in the comforts of your home! From Instagram to subscribing to beauty influencers’ Youtube channels, get used to following what trends are emerging and what’s fading out.

As you’re doing your market research, you can start to wonder, “What kind of beauty products excite me?”, “what beauty products have I tried and loved? Or tried and hated?”, and “who’s makeup line inspired me?”

Ask yourself these questions to deepen your understanding:

  • What can I offer that’s different from what’s currently on the market?
  • What demographic of people do I truly resonate with and why?
  • What emerging gap do I see in the beauty industry and what can I do to help close the gap?
  • Is there a specific problem with products I face that other people might be facing?

An interesting, emerging trend around beauty and skincare products are for men! We dialed down on 5 reasons why you could take a look at starting your private label business targeting men’s makeup needs!

 
blanka branded product lifestyle image

2. Find a supplier

Now, when it comes to finding a supplier, first decide if you want to resell, make your own makeup products, or private label products. Factor in how much time, funds, and what your skill level is at to decide what the best business plan is for you to start a cosmetics line.

Make your own makeup

Start up costs: $-$$

To avoid high minimum order quantities from other suppliers, some people choose to start producing their own makeup products at home. Usually, lip glosses and lip balms are the easiest to start off with because the formulations are simple enough and the products aren’t too bulky to store in their home.

Be sure to document your formulas carefully and ensure that you’re following local regulations. There can be guidelines for surface cleanliness, ingredient guidelines, and more. You can find the following labeling guidelines here:

Resell

Start up costs: $$-$$$

Buying wholesale and resell. You can find brands that carry unique makeup products and curate your own makeup collection in your online store. 

This is an interesting model to go with because ultimately, it’s all about curating and partnering with different brands that align with your own business values. For example, if you want your online store to lean towards organic wellness, you’d want to find brands that also believe in organic makeup ingredients to partner with.

Before you start this business model, factor in some time to do research on what other brands might be your competitor in your market. Curating and reselling will heavily rely on your branding capabilities!

Here are some examples of stores that curates beauty and wellness goods:

Private label products

Start up costs: $-$$

With private labeling (or white labeling), you’re able to put your branding onto generic makeup products. Don’t be fooled by the word generic – even Kylie Jenner’s lip kits are private labeled! This is the ideal option to test your business idea because you can go from an idea to a real product in your hands in a short period of time. 

Many brands these days use the same formulas, the same manufacturers with their own different packaging and logos! Again, it’s really all about how you brand your product to appeal to your niche market.

Now, many suppliers who offer private labeling request for a high minimum order quantity (MOQ). If you’re looking for low start-up costs, you should check out the private label makeup line at blanka. At blanka, we offer zero MOQ for anyone to start their own makeup line. Did I mention that we ship from North America and can offer dropshipping too?

 

3. Financials

Start with a budget

Let’s start with the basics! It’s important to create a budget that includes projected revenues and expenses related to  operating your business. Many entrepreneurs don’t know where to start when it comes to creating a budget, so we put together a template for you! 

Check out our budget template, which will help you get started on thinking about what costs are associated with starting up your business. 

Pricing your products

The best thing about the pricing process is that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. You can experiment and try different pricing strategies to fit your customers’ needs, compare stats and numbers, then try a different strategy.

There are a few factors that will go into how you price your beauty products. You want to consider the market, your manufacturing costs, shipping, and consumer behaviour.

Market

In the market, start with research. How much are other businesses in your niche selling their beauty products for? Find that average price and consider that your products can fall into that price range. 

Take The Ordinary for example. They price a bottle of concealer for $5.80 because it aligns with their corporate values. They decided they didn’t need to overprice their beauty products to prove how unique their brand is.

the ordinary example
The Ordinary takes on an approach of pricing their products low.

Manufacturing costs

Next, let’s get familiar with your manufacturing costs. There are materials and costs every step of the way such as labels, packaging, taxes, duties, shipping, and more. We dive into this deeper in our pricing blog. Learn more about what you can be prepared for to price your cosmetic products in the articles above!

 
empty shipping box

4. Inventory and shipping

Ways to hold inventory

There are three ways you can hold your makeup product inventory. In your home, in a warehouse, or not hold inventory at all. 

What do we mean by not holding inventory? We mean the option of dropshipping! Dropshipping is a type of fulfilment where the product is shipped directly from your supplier to the hands of your customer. 

Choosing this type of fulfilment method means two things. One, you don’t have to pay extensive costs for a warehouse space to hold your products. Two, you get the opportunity to focus on customer service and marketing. 

Now, the downside is that you may not have control over shipping time. This can be combated by finding suppliers that ship from North America or Europe, instead of oversea production locations such as China. blanka’s products, for example, all ship from North America, meaning they arrive at your customer’s door in 3 – 7 days. 

If you decide that holding inventory at home is the best option for you, remember to check these 3 factors consistently:

  1. Record your products’ shelf life. Your ingredients and products will have a shelf life. Especially if your products are natural or organic, the ingredients won’t have preservatives to hold your products in place forever! 
  1. Temperature checks. Makeup products can be finicky! Best to keep them away from heat and moisture so you will always have pristine products for a happy customer!
  1. Manually update your inventory list. Whatever your inventory system is, always be sure to update and check inventory. The last thing you want is to have a big order and realize you don’t have enough inventory.

Shipping

There are two things to consider when you want to get shipping done right. One, makeup can be fragile to deliver – especially pressed powders. Two, shipping costs and the shipping options you offer are crucial to your success, too! 

You want to be able to deliver your beauty products without damages so consider how you want to package your products during the manufacturing process – and not wait to bubble wrap it and tape it all after a couple of your customers receive damaged products!

With the shipping options you can offer people, there are several ways you can give your customers the best experience with your brand:

  1. Offer free shipping. Blend your shipping cost with your product cost! This allows the customer to be incentivized to purchase and increases conversion rates for customers at your checkout page. Another popular option for merchants is to offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount spent, which can increase the average order value!
  1. Free pick-up. Are you selling to local customers? Offer free local in-store (or in-house) pick up!
  1. Flat rate shipping. Choose a base shipping rate regardless of order value. Less complex than offering free shipping as you know that for a fact, you are covering your base costs with a constant flat rate amount.

Our last tip for you – have a returns policy established before you start selling. Create a seamless returns policy and process for your business and your customers in mind. 

Further reading:

 
blanka branded mascara

5. Build your brand

Have you chosen your niche yet? Great! We can use your niche to expand your brand in many directions. From your brand voice to designing your logo, your website to your packaging, there’s so many possibilities for you to build your brand!

Building a consistent brand voice is the best way for you and your customers to understand where your brand is positioned in the beauty industry. It’s how you can show up and stand out with your story, in your packaging, and even how you shoot beauty product photography. 

Your brand voice is how you want to be conveyed by customers when they see your ad or see your products. Don’t rush this step!

Further reading:

 

6. Set up shop

Ecommerce Platforms

Let’s set up a shop! There’s lots of e-commerce platforms to choose from. As you’re deciding, you can look through each platforms’ themes. If you decide to try blanka’s app to create your own makeup line in 30 minutes, our app works if you have an e-commerce store on any platform, or even if you have a brick-and-mortar store!

The most popular and well-loved e-commerce platforms are Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and WooCommerce

Boy, please! website example
Boy, please! has a beautiful online store built through Shopify

Take Kevin, founder of Boy, please!. He created his online store through Shopify. His vision is for men to express themselves through the simple makeup products he offers through blanka’s app to white label beauty products. 

Product Descriptions and Photos

Your beauty product descriptions are important! Not only should your product descriptions share your makeup’s benefits, your product descriptions can also help your website get SEO optimized!

Writing beauty product descriptions that sell takes practice, especially when you’re not familiar with the best practices of SEO! With a well-written product description, your product pages can climb to the top of Google search pages when your customers are searching for your “Aloe Rich Lip Balms”.

Here’s how Glossier displays their information on their webpage. They highlight the reviews you can read, they use bullet points, clear icons, and a clean, white background to guide your eyes to the photos and benefits. 

glossier example
Glossier shows the best practices of displaying their products on their website.

Consider showing swatches on different skin tones in photos or videos and add those additional media to your product gallery. With more options and clarity of how your product looks and feels , the more trust your customers will feel towards your brand.

As with your product photos, you can get them professionally taken and edited by people on Fiverr or take the product photos yourself. At blanka, when you private label your products, we have professionally taken photos of the products ready to go for your ecommerce store!

 

7. Double Down on Marketing

Even though the niche you pick starts with a smaller audience, you have the opportunity to create a unique voice in the crowded beauty industry. Here’s how:

Social Media

Do you have a Facebook, Google business page, Instagram, Youtube, or a TikTok page set up for your brand? There are many platforms online where you have the opportunity to showcase your brand to viewers. Your online presence is the perfect place to acquire new customers, tell your story, and connect with the people in the beauty community – especially in the niche community you’ve decided on.

On Instagram and Youtube, you have the opportunity to get connected with beauty and lifestyle influencers where they can be your brand advocates, amassing hundreds and thousands of new viewers each day! When you’re just getting started, it’s a good idea to reach out to the micro influencers first (where they have 1,000 to 10,000 followers). 

Email Marketing

The first step to email marketing starts with creating an email list. One example is to add a sign-up form on your website for 15% off for visitors that give you their email address. As your email list continues to grow, you can use platforms like MailChimp and Klaviyo to get started!

When you begin to build your email list and send welcome emails, deals and offers, and product announcements consistently, your audience will build trust with your brand over time!

Social proof

When you’re about to purchase something and you see real customer photos and reviews on the page, do you feel more inclined to buy? If you said yes, you’re not alone! Almost 2/3 of shoppers think that online reviews are an essential part of their decision-making process of whether to buy or not to buy.

Encourage your customers to share a photo, tag your brand on social media, and post their reviews online! The more trust you build with your customers, the more likely they’ll return and purchase from you over and over again.

 

8. Customer support processes

There’s two things you can get started on right now! One, set up a business email address. Two, set up a live chat on your website. You want your customers to be able to reach you with ease!

Starting at $59/month, Intercom is a powerful tool that incorporates a functional live chat to engage with your customers when they enter your site, and a simple FAQ functionality.

Olark, at $19/month, is also a great introduction to start using live chats on your site. You can try their platform with a 14-day free trial.

 
community sitting around a table

9. Find mentors and a community

A fantastic way to get support as a new business owner is to find a community where you can ask questions, learn from others, and put your own two cents in the mix! 

One way we support our blanka merchants is by inviting them to the exclusive Facebook group where they discuss private labeling business strategies. Many of our group members want to start a cosmetics line and can always reach out to the expert group for guidance!

In great communities and forums, you’ll be able to seek mentors who can guide you through specific business or personal questions. Look for your community today! 

As a new business owner, it’s a good idea to continue learning about the business and the makeup trends. You can keep up to date with the latest through blogs! Shopify’s blogs are a great tool to expand your knowledge of the e-commerce beauty industry.

Conclusion

You came into this article to learn how to start a makeup line. Whether you want to be your own business owner, start your own branded makeup line, or simply just to have more freedom and money for your dream lifestyle, we hope you found a direction that’s right for you to start a cosmetics line. 


Other burning questions you might have

How much does it cost to start a cosmetics line?

The cost depends on a few factors:

  • If you want to start from home to lessen expenses
  • If you want to pay for a warehouse to hold inventory
  • If you want to make your own formulas with your own ingredients

A blog in 2019 estimated that the initial costs to start a cosmetics line starts at $17,000. We think that’s not accessible for everyone so that’s why our start-up costs for you to start your own makeup line is as low as $29/month. Get access to high quality vegan skincare and makeup products manufactured in North America!

Do I need a license to sell cosmetics online?

Depending on your local laws, it’s important for you to understand those laws for your business. In locations such as the US, you will need FDA approval for color additives in your makeup products. 

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