Sep 15, 2023

Contract manufacturer for cosmetics - How to find manufacturers and what to look for

Contract manufacturer for cosmetics - How to find manufacturers and what to look for

Are you looking for a contract manufacturer for cosmetics, do you want to build up your own cosmetics brand or are you currently involved in private label cosmetics?

Thanks to Shopify, amazon and the like, it's never been easier to get started right away and build your own brand. One of the biggest challenges: finding suitable products with your branding.

In this article, we'll show you the pros and cons of collaboration, what to look out for, and how to get cosmetics for your brand quickly and easily.  

What are the advantages and disadvantages of contract manufacturers?


  • Costs: Contract manufacturing is usually more cost-effective than in-house production. Due to the high number of orders, contract manufacturers can reduce unit costs and pass these cost advantages on to their customers (i.e. you).
  • Time: Contract manufacturers usually have more experience and can produce your cosmetic product faster than if you did it yourself.
  • Flexibility: Contract manufacturers can adapt to your special requirements and wishes and produce accordingly.


  • Quality: Contract manufacturers produce for many different customers and therefore cannot always guarantee quality. Therefore, when choosing your contract manufacturer, look for a reputable and experienced provider.
  • Control: If you do not produce your cosmetic product yourself, you have less control over the quality and the manufacturing process.
  • Dependence: If you choose contract manufacturing, you are dependent on external suppliers. Delivery problems or quality issues can therefore have a negative impact on your business.

Your cosmetic products - Made in Germany or from abroad?

If you are considering contract manufacturing, you have a choice between German contract manufacturers and contract manufacturers abroad. Both options have advantages and disadvantages that you should consider carefully before making a decision.

German contract manufacturers:


Quality: Due to strict German standards and controls, the quality of the products is usually high.

Communication: The language barrier is lower and communication usually runs smoothly.


Costs: Contract manufacturing in Germany is usually more expensive than contract manufacturing abroad.

Foreign contract manufacturers:


Costs: Contract manufacturing abroad is usually less expensive than contract manufacturing in Germany.


Quality: The quality of the products may be lower, as other countries often have less stringent standards and controls.

Communication: The language barrier is higher and communication can be more difficult.

Find cosmetics for your brand instead of looking for contract manufacturers: KoRo Source

We have launched several D2C brands since 2008, including in the cosmetics sector, and have worked together with many different contract manufacturers.

We ourselves have often been faced with this question: Where can I find suitable products that match our brand?

Why does product development and production still have to be so lengthy and complicated today? Where can I find the right contract manufacturers?

That's why we founded KoRo Source in 2022.

We help you to create new products for your brand:

✓ find
✓ redevelop
✓ launch
✓ and scale.

Schedule a no-obligation video call and let's find out together where and how we can support you.

Contract manufacturer for cosmetics. What do I have to pay attention to?

Many contract manufacturers specialize in certain cosmetic products. A rough distinction can be made here between care cosmetics such as creams, shampoos or shower gels and decorative cosmetics - i.e. makeup, eyeliners or lipsticks.

Furthermore, there are manufacturers for low and high MOQ, i.e. small quantities and large quantities. Since the production equipment such as mixing drums are highly different, the minimum quantities are accordingly different.

Quality is crucial for the success of your products. Here, various certificates help to ensure that the company's production complies with quality standards. One of these is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), which covers such topics as hygiene in production and the quality of raw materials.

How much does it cost to develop cosmetic products?

The cost of developing a new cosmetic product varies widely and depends on many factors. For example, it matters how complex the product is and how many trials are needed to achieve the desired result.

The supply chain also plays a role. For example, the delivery costs for raw materials from abroad can be higher than for raw materials from Germany.

Generally speaking, the more time and effort invested in product development, the more expensive the product will be.

As a rule, the development of a new formulation costs between 1,500 and 2,500 euros. Depending on the size of the order, these costs are credited back to you when you place the order for contract production.

The advantage: this formulation is yours. This means you can have your product manufactured by other companies.

An alternative to the development of new cosmetic formulations is the so-called white label cosmetics. These are already developed products that you can have filled into your packaging 1:1 or slightly modified.

This makes sense especially if you want to test the market first with small quantities and the finished formulations meet your requirements.

Tip: Don't forget additional costs during development, such as a safety assessment.

Contract manufacturing for cosmetics in bulk

Every company has a different idea of small or large quantities.

A rough guide:

- Under 10,000 pieces -> small quantities

- Over 10,000 pieces -> bulk

Since the raw materials of cosmetics are mixed in drums, they are the biggest influencing factor for MOQ, i.e. minimum production quantity for contract manufacturers.

The production of large quantities also only makes sense for manufacturers who have semi- or fully-automatic filling lines.

Contract manufacturing for cosmetics in small quantities

Small quantities always make sense if your unit economics (i.e. purchase and sales prices, margin, etc.) are not that important at the beginning or if you can place the products on the market at a reasonable price.

Many contract manufacturers offer quantities of 500 - 5,000 units here. It is often the case with contract manufacturers that the more cosmetic items you order, the lower the cost per unit.

The biggest mistakes in product development and cosmetics production

You don't have a Go To Market strategy

Many contract manufacturers focus on producing your cosmetics, but not on breaking through in the market. If you want to develop a good product and have it contract manufactured, that's only half the battle.

To be successful and get your cosmetic products to the man or woman, you need a Go To Market strategy. This is the sum of all the steps you take to bring your cosmetic products to the end consumer.

This strategy includes, for example, choosing the right sales channel (e.g. online vs. offline), creating a website, placing online ads or building a sales network.

So when you contact contract manufacturers of cosmetics, you should always ask yourself the question: Can this contract manufacturer help me not only to produce my cosmetics, but also to sell them?

Unfortunately, the answer is often no. Many contract manufacturers for cosmetics focus exclusively on production and have no know-how in terms of marketing and sales.

You put too much focus on recipe development

Of course - the composition of your product is very important and can make up the crucial USPs (Unique Selling Points). However, the longer you spend developing the "perfect" formulation, the later your customers can actually try your products.

Therefore, rely on a mixture of white label and private label. Take existing, ready-made formulations from the contract manufacturer and adapt them to your needs (e.g. with additional care ingredients such as aloe vera or other fragrances).

This way, you shorten the time from development to product launch and can use valid data and feedback from your customers earlier to further develop your formulations.

You put too much focus on the packaging

Again, I understand the long pondering over the right packaging for cosmetics, because it is the first point of contact with your product. Whether visually in your online store or haptically in the store.

Nevertheless, the more individual your packaging, the higher the minimum purchase quantities. So first try to use industry standard packaging and transport the individualization and brand message e.g. via the label.