How to start a skin care business

Updated February 21, 2017

The ads are everywhere: Take your skin from imperfect to flawless by using our product. Even men are getting into the act. Given this diverse audience, your start-up has a great chance of succeeding, regardless of whether you're promoting someone else's formulas, making your own or being the person who gives facials and skin treatments.

Put together a business plan. If you're going to manufacture product, decide whether it will be distributed via retail stores or direct response marketing. Plan to give skin treatments? Determine how you will tap the market. Whichever direction your dream takes, take care of administrative tasks first: set goals, marketing projections and find funding by getting a loan or other start-up funds.

Scope out the competition. If you plan to manufacture, get samples of as many skin care products as possible. Scrutinise ingredients, marketing claims, packaging and inserts. Get the skinny on advertising claims, endorsements and other marketing data. If your goal is direct application of products in a home or salon setting, follow these same steps to make good product choices for your clients.

Test products. Subject your formulas to the scrutiny of an independent laboratory to work out flaws in recipes. Learn about ingredients that cause allergic reactions. Skin care products are not monitored or tested by the Food and Drug Administration, so avoid the potential for liability by applying due diligence to your investigative efforts.

Establish your headquarters. You may require a laboratory devoted to the research and development of your product line and/or a standard office setting for staff. If you plan to apply products directly, a spare bedroom may be all you need to run your skin care business from your home.

Jump-start your product marketing efforts. Manufacturers may wish to buy online and print ads or contact shopping networks to get on-air placement. Rent mailing lists to engage in direct response efforts (consider including a small product sample in your package). Hands-on skin care professionals will achieve success by offering treatments at spas, salons and house parties and via individual consultations. You may even wish to open salon.

Check out liability insurance. As mentioned, skin care manufacturers don't need FDA approval to sell products, but you can wind up on an FDA watch list if someone has an adverse reaction to your products. Liability insurance will also give you peace of mind. Going down the skin treatment path? Most are independent contractors and will need to be responsible for their own insurance coverage.

Grow your business by staying current on trends and skin care industry news. Join the Personal Care Council or other industry association. Enhance your credibility by taking classes and going to conferences and you'll be seen as a business owner who puts customers first.

Things You'll Need

  • Business plan
  • Skin care products
  • Insurance
  • Marketing plan
  • Clients or retailers
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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.