So you are exploring the options of launching your own cosmetics line or adding more products to your brand arsenal.
The big question is

Where Do I Start?

Assuming you have an innovative product in mind, and wanting to take your concept to cash, the first thing you will want to do is figure out how you will get your product made & what you need to get started. Below, we will show you the ins and outs of the product development industry.



You can find chemists on various freelancing sites for conservative pricing. However, be careful before making any commitments to these services.


Typically, a freelance chemist may not be operating in their own laboratory. They may be operating in a home lab, and in that case, the lab does not meet GLP Standards. If they are employed by a manufacturer, they might be working out of their lab but will be at the mercy of the manufacturer’s clients. Those clients will take precedence over your project.


Most freelance chemists offer their service at such low costs because they do not provide you with a sample of your actual formula, and there are no options for revisions. If the formula is taken to production, and it turns out that it is not stable, the manufacturer will most likely not assume responsibility for this.


Product development for cosmetics, especially all natural products and make-up are a specialty. You want to make sure that your chemist has a degree in Chemistry or masters cosmetic science, extensive experience in cosmetic development and manufacturing, and belongs to an accredited organization such as the Society Of Cosmetic Chemists.


If you want to create an innovative product or want to reverse engineer a specific product on the market, a product development lab is more likely going to give you the most desired results. These establishments live and breath cosmetic formula development, and are staffed with chemists that hold credentials from accredited Universities and organizations.


A product development lab is going to completely focus on your project. They are also going to provide you samples of your formula to make sure you are satisfied with the formula. Many product development labs include corrections or revisions with their service if you are not fully satisfied with your formula. This is crucial, because only you can speak to your customers' needs, and you are representing them.


Some product development labs will also help you source manufacturing for your formula. This can save you a lot of time by picking out manufacturers that will produce your product, and cost them against each other.


If you are lucky, you can even get assistance with graphic design and packaging through your product development lab. Graphic design is very important for your product and brand, not only for label design but because ultimately people buy based on what your product and brand look like, especially online.



Once you have your formula in hand, you will need to get your product into production. If you do not have a formula, there are still options, although these options are slim.



Private Labeling products are manufactured by a company to be sold under another company’s brand. Many private label companies offer a variety of products to choose from.


Pricing can vary, but private labeling can be a cost-effective way to start a business as you are mostly paying for the service of manufacturing and the product. However, if you have a low cost per unit, you may be looking at Minimum Order Quantities of 5,000. This means you have to purchase 5,000 units and hopefully sell these products before they expire. Yes, they will expire.


Most private label companies do not offer custom solutions with formula ownership. This means, that as a brand getting your product manufactured, you might be selling the same product as other brands. This makes an already competitive industry even more competitive. You will really have to work a creative angle to separate your product. From the masses


If you are using a formula provided by the manufacturer, the formula can be discontinued at any time. If your formula is discontinued, you will have to work to find something similar to that formula when you go back to production.



Contract manufacturing is a manufacturer that is approached by a business or brand with the formula already in hand. This is the best possible place to be, as you will have complete control over the process and you will have more power as the consumer. If you already own your formula, you can get pricing quotes from several manufacturers for the same product, and quantity, and cost them out against each other. Having a conservative product cost is crucial to facilitating profit margin growth.


Sometimes a manufacturer will provide a product development service if you want a custom cosmetic formula, but they might not offer you the option of ownership. If they do offer ownership, it may be only after you have placed a certain amount of orders with them, or the price tag might be extremely high.


They are going to charge more for formula ownership because by providing ownership of the formula, they are not guaranteed your return business. Owning your formula gives you the freedom to shop around with other manufacturers based on price or quality of service.

If you are in the early stages of your brand or product development, you will want to be aware of the following terms:


This means you own your formula, and you have the freedom of complete control when it comes to getting your product manufactured.



It is possible to get a cosmetic product patented, but the formula has to be extremely unique, unlike anything on the market. This process can take years as it requires testing and clinical trials before approval. You will want to consult with a patent attorney before making any decisions.



A paper formula can be described as a formula provided that does not include any actual samples of the product. Paper formulas are most common among freelancing chemists.

R & D

R & D stands for research and development. This term is used to describe the laboratory in which cosmetic formulas are developed.


MOQ's stands for Minimum Order Quantity. Most private label and manufacturing companies have a minimum order quantity for production. It costs them a certain amount of money to operate their machinery and pay their staff, so in order to offset those costs, they set a standard in which they can make a profit.


Stands for good lab practices and is a set of principles intended to assure the quality and integrity of non-clinical laboratory studies that are intended to support research or marketing permits for cosmetics and other types of products.


Product development labs refer to a benchmark product as a product of reference for what a client is looking to create in terms of color, texture and/or performance.



Accelerated Stability Testing - A 90-day study conducted to determine the shelf life of your product.

Preservative Efficacy Testing - a mandatory test conducted for preservatives that are considered all natural.

Claim Substantiation Testing - If you are making claims on your product, you will need to have testing done. Ask your product development professional about the claims you are wanting to make.

Hypo-allergenic - to claim that something is hypo-allergenic, or for sensitive skin, you will need to have a test conducted.


If you have a brand and have an innovative product in mind or even if you are just starting your brand, Freelance Formulations is here to help! We are with you every step of the way, from concept to cash. If you would like to explore working with us, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.



Phone: 863-519-0881

Hours: M - F 9 AM - 5 PM