How Much Does it Cost to Start a Makeup Line

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Makeup Line?

Are you planning on opening a makeup line business and want to know how much it would cost and how profitable it is? 

Or, perhaps you want to know about the ins and outs of the cosmetics industry for your own makeup startup business? If so, keep scrolling! 

A lot of entrepreneurs who have partnered with us were once like you: prospecting for ways to turn their passion for makeup into a business niche.

So if you ask us how much it would cost to start a cosmetic business, our answer is “it depends”. 

There are a lot of things you need to consider like market trends and product development. How much it costs to hire a chemist, build a website, and hire a marketing team or build a marketing plan is also important.

But don’t worry. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the monetary things you need to know about starting a makeup line from scratch.

how much to start your own makeup line

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Some makeup artists and individuals who are passionate about makeup products have first established their popularity on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and personal blogs. Educating people and giving honest opinions about cosmetic products is one way to attract an audience.

If you haven’t done this, it’s great to start your own makeup niche now.

Honesty and transparency are your biggest assets as you build your makeup brand.

The key into this type of business is honesty. When you give people honest reviews about the newest Maybelline mascara or a Kyllie lipstick product, you slowly earn trusts.

When you gain people’s trust, converting them into followers, starting your own line of makeup can be less costly for you.

This is because you wouldn’t have to spend a large chunk on branding and advertising – people already know you as a makeup guru who can give them what they need. If you’re aspiring to be the next entrepreneur who nails the makeup industry, there’s no better way to start than to share what you know first. Here’s an inspiration for you.

How Emily Weiss of Glossier Built Her Empire

emily weiss makeup empire how much does it cost to start a makeup line
Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of Glossier. (Photo courtesy of Glossier.)

Glossier is a beauty retailer of makeup, skincare products and body and fragrance sets. As successful as it is today, Glossier was featured as one of the Top 50 Startups in LinkedIn in 2021. Currently, the company grossed over Glossier peak revenue was $20.0M in 2022 $1.2 billion sales.

Makeup Market Trends for 2023: How is the Cosmetic Industry Trending?

The makeup industry is one of the most promising businesses to venture into, and the global cosmetics market is projected to surge exponentially in the next few years!

If you’re already making cosmetics in your kitchen, you can turn your small personal business into a more profitable makeup manufacturing line. According to reports, this market is estimated to grow from $287.94 billion in 2021 to a staggering $415.29 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.0%.

For you, this means there is a lot of potential for profit in this type of niche. There are plenty of opportunities in starting a makeup line.

Of course, there is also a lot of competition. That’s why you have to think outside the box and concoct ways to make unique changes to your makeup products. As much as you can, create authenticity for your makeup product line.

Personalized Makeup Products

2023 will be marked with personalized marketing and branding, according to Forbes.

Personalized makeup can be your way to get a targeted audience in the makeup industry. If you want something unique to offer your customers, give them what they personally need.

You can invest in a skin analysis machine and a chemist to determine which type of makeup or formulation best fits a different skin regime. 3D skin analyzers can cost between USD 1,500 to 1,700 from a China manufacturer.

Clean and Natural Cosmetics

There’s also a great outlook in the natural and organic cosmetic industry. In 2022, Grand View Research says there may be 42.19 billion by 2030 for this organic makeup, mineral foundations, etc.

Skincare Benefits + Makeup

86% of women today are looking for makeup with skincare benefits. The top priorities are moisturizing effects and SPF protection. People want products that they can squeeze more benefits from to get the most of their money.

This means that making multipurpose makeup is great for you if you want to generate more interest for your products.

Direct Selling to Consumers

Currently, there has been a decline in large makeup brands because more people prefer direct buying from makeup sellers. But Frisson Beauty founder, Elizabeth Kopelman, says that direct-to-consumer is a difficult task to “get right in beauty”, pointing out the challenges with sustaining authenticity with every customer.

That’s why when you establish your own makeup business, you can do direct selling and make sure to get it right with your customers.

What About Makeup Brushes and Applicators?

In 2019, makeup companies have been heavily collaborating with brush manufacturers to produce more creative brushes for makeup kits. Social influencers have led the makeup trends into a large sale in creative makeup brushes for baking and contouring.

To follow the trend and make it even more unique, you can now add more value to your cosmetic products by designing your own set of brushes and applicators for your makeup line.

What About Your Makeup Packaging?

Consumers are now looking for eco-friendly, sustainable and easy-to-use makeup. This means that you should be aiming for packaging formats that can both save you time to manufacture, and are user-friendly, less sophisticated and are more sustainable.

Makeup Startup Costs

Beauty Independent asks if it really takes $1.5M on the first year to build a beauty brand. Some of the famous entrepreneurs, founders and business owners of cosmetic industries participated in this interview.

We believe you can learn some insights from their answers. Here are some:

Tracy Goldbourne

Tracy Goldbourne

Founder of For.ti.fy’d Naturals

Tracy says that a small business may take around $9,000 to $10,000 for the first year. She points out having to do tons of things on your own, like the labels, graphics and taking pictures of your own product.

Approximate expenses:

  • Logo = $250-$300
  • Incorporating = $400 (depending on your capabilities) Trademarking expenses = $500
  • Graphics for flyers = $500+
  • Supplies= $2,000
  • Marketing= $4000
  • Domain= $50
  • Barcodes= $300
  • Certification= $250
Derek Chase

Derek Chase

President at Flora+Best

Derek says that starting a beauty brand and spending $1.5 million in a year is too much. He points out that if you have a competitive advantage, it takes way less – about $100,000 to $250,000. His advice:

Nimbleness is important – which means taking small steps at a time.

“To mastermind your brand in the first year and spend your whole nut on launch could result in a great looking brand with no buyers”.

James La

James La

Founder of Niucoco

James says you can pull off your beauty brand into an industry at about $400,000 capital for the first year.

If you are going to add the salaries of 3 or 4 employees, plus the founder’s salary, add $200,000 to that.

His advice: Everyone can now access information – there’s the internet. If you want to access a particular service, you can easily look up a page’s contact form or call. He further says to be very creative and “figure out how you can get the most out of every penny you spend with realistic outcomes while optimizing the output, whether you work alone or in a team”

Kathy Chou

Founder and CEO of Selfkaire

Kathy believes you can start a beauty line business with $250,000 to $500,000. She points out that you can even start less if you can start with a lean team, spending and working strategically.

“With all these existing platforms and pre-made themes, there is no reason to go for a custom build website until your concept is proven. So, the $50,000 website build can be brought down to $5,000. With social media marketing, $200,000”

From the above, we can draw a simple estimate of how much it would cost you to start and establish a makeup brand, whether it’s an indie brand, private label or a large corporation:

How Much Does Makeup Cost to Make?

The cost per unit makeup can be much cheaper depending on the volume you want to produce. If you opt to work with a contract manufacturer instead of making it in-house, you can negotiate prices with a China contract manufacturer.

Usually, they would ask if you would want them to manufacture makeup for a high-end, mid-range or low-end market. The price would depend on your choice.

But now, let’s first analyze the costs assuming you want to produce makeup by yourself.

The upfront investment may consist of the makeup’s product formulation, development and marketing, which can be about $10,000 to $25,000. If you want to add more cosmetic products, it may cost you $5,000 each.

Here’s a general breakdown of costs for starting a makeup line:

  • Makeup Product Development = $8,000 to $10,000
  • Branding, Sales and Marketing = $1,000-$7,000
  • Other Expenditures = $2,000-$8,000
operation cost, branding cost, running cost for makeup line

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Cosmetic Chemist?

If you really want to create your own makeup product that is unique, you would want to hire a chemist. Hiring a chemist to create a makeup formula for you can cost around $2,000 to $2,500 per formulation.

Makeup Product Development

makeup product development

When your chemist has made the formulations for you, you can now buy the ingredients and equipment.

Makeup production includes costs such as the raw materials used. Raw materials include micas, perfumes, pigment, coloring, and the entire formulation of the makeup. Production cost also includes the packaging costs and labeling costs for the primary container and secondary packaging.

You would also need to include the operation and labor costs for mixing, filling and packaging. Most of the time, a high shear mixer is used for specialized industrial mixing of cosmetic ingredients and makeup powders.

If you want to know how to size a mixing equipment for your makeup line, you can refer to “High Shear Mixers Buying Guide for the First-time Buyer”. Buying your own mixing equipment and packaging line can cost you thousands, but you can save a lot when you buy from China manufacturers.

If, however, you want an easier way around the block, you can try collaborating with a contract manufacturer to produce your makeup for you. These manufacturers will require a minimum order quantity (MOQ) from you. The key is to find a reliable makeup manufacturer who offers low MOQ so you can spend less.

Makeup Testing and FDA Approvals

Testing a single product can be a painful process, but the result is rewarding. This means that when you get the right test approvals for your makeup, you wouldn’t have to face any possible lawsuits.

If you really want to have a makeup line business you need to test your cosmetics to make sure it’s safe for public use.

Here are some of the cosmetic tests you should know:

  • Microbial testing: costs can range from $300 to $400 per cosmetic product.
  • Stability testing: tests the stability of the product at different environmental conditions, temperatures, etc.
  • Safety testing: If your makeup has SPF, AHAs or BHAs, or if it is meant to be applied near the eyes, you need to consider this test.
  • SPF Testing: meant for SPF skincare products costs $3,000 to $4,000 per product, depending on the laboratory you choose.

How Much Does it Cost for Insurance, Permits and License Fees?

A safe estimation for the insurance, business permit and license would be $5,000. The business insurance itself includes property insurance and liability insurance. On a monthly basis, this can cost you $100-$150, or $1200 to $1800 yearly.

How Much to Does it Cost for a Website, Branding and Sales and Marketing Efforts?

Building a website is a must, especially in this modern day era where you can easily buy anything on the internet. When you build and run a website for a beauty product, expect costs to be around $500 per year.

Also expect to nurture your marketing efforts such as in online social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Linkedin and even email campaigns. Social media campaigns and branding can run at around $1,000 to $2000 per year.

You should also spend time replying to your customers’ queries, comments and suggestions. Alongside enhancing your social media efforts, you should also create blog posts regularly, and publish videos.

All these efforts can potentially boost your sales.

Additional tips and advice

Broadening Your Perspective

There are many trial and errors to be met through building your business, and undoubtedly there will be critical questions that can’t be answered directly from the internet.

The only solution to finding answers are those who have already been there– all of which you could find through platforms(e.g. Instagram, facebook groups, emails, etc.)

Cases in which you handle your business alone, it is encouraged to find like minded people for extra support and perspective in your journey to creating your makeup line.

Learn and Be Inspired

Just like you, there were many who found the same passion and interest for makeup and its industry.

Therefore there are also those who have grown from their small local entrepreneur and succeeded in their business, now sharing their own insights and ideas of how you too can thrive.

Giving time to researching how every action and thought has brought them to where they are today can help encourage and help give you the determination needed to develop your makeup business. Here are insights from some makeup experts :

Michelle Phan

Michelle Phan 

Founder of EM Cosmetics and well known beauty content creator on Youtube. Launched EM cosmetics in 2013.

“I also incorporated my personal philosophy on beauty into the products. I was never the type to go full beat with my makeup unless it was for a costume or Halloween video. The time of the relaunch was when we hit peak Instagram makeup look with drawn-on brows, over-lined lips, and liquid lipstick. This was not my style, but I felt the pressure to go with it because it was on trend. Ultimately, I decided I shouldn’t compromise my values of quality formulations, good skincare habits, and the right makeup and techniques. It’s important as a brand founder and creator to have your own point of view.”

tony ko

Toni Ko

Founder of NYX Cosmetics, a cosmetic line that was founded in 1999. Advertises itself as a company that provides cruelty free, long lasting, pro-level pigments.

“Starting a business as a 25-year old minority female without any experience running a company was a huge risk in itself. My life motto has always been, “Go big or go home,” closely followed by “do or die.” A lot of the time, I just go for it! I purposely put myself in situations that force me to face my fears, and by doing so, I’m forced to deal with the repercussions. My father always said he wanted to raise his children “Spartan Style,” where only the strongest survive. He definitely succeeded. I am an extremely mentally and emotionally strong woman who isn’t afraid to take risks. I truly believe that taking risks is the only way to grow as an individual.”

Carisa james picture

Carisa Janes

Founder and CEO of Hourglass, a luxurious makeup brand that was launched in 2004 in Barneys New York. Known as one of the world’s most coveted makeup brands.

“It was about creating something that didn’t exist. It was very, very clear what was missing for me in beauty, whereas fashion is different. Fashion is more about a designer’s interpretation of clothing. In beauty, I just saw an opportunity to do something modern, luxurious and great for your skin.” “There are glamorous moments, but it’s hard. And also, it takes more time than you think it’s going to. It’s a big commitment and it takes a long time to develop and build a brand.”

Wrapping Up

To sum up, there’s actually no concrete amount for concluding how much it costs when starting a makeup line. If you want a small-scale cosmetic line, you may have an upfront cost of $10,000 to $25,000. If you have people working for you, it can cost $200,000 to $500,000 for the first year. With a large-scale beauty company, you may have to spend $400,000 to $1.5 million.

We hope that this article has given you not just valuable knowledge on how to start your own makeup line, but also an inspiration on where to go forth from your kitchen makeup concoctions to a bigger makeup manufacturing setup.

About the Author:


Noelle Nicole Go

Mechanical Engineer, Entrepreneur

Noelle has over a decade of experience in the product design and development industry. She has extensive knowledge in the supply chain industry being an importer and business owner herself. Her passion has always been in machines, construction and sharing her knowledge with other entrepreneurs.

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