A blog that gets nerdy for beauty
Cosmetic Industry

Things You Need To Know About The Cosmetic Industry

Make up and skin care products have always been a part of our daily lives. We seem to know which are the good brands and which products work best for us. However, how well do you know the workings of the cosmetic industry? Here are some of the things you should know about the cosmetic industry that most consumers like you may not know yet.

1. In the Cosmetic Industry, Most Brands Do Not Make Their Own Products.

Before, I thought that making your own make up line means knowing how to formulate a product from scratch – well that is not always the case. In the cosmetic industry, there are businesses called Cosmetic Toll Manufacturers.

Toll manufacturers own the factory that has the pieces of equipment and man power required to produce the product. In most cases, research and innovation is the work of toll manufacturers. A toll manufacturer makes products for different brands.

Let’s Take a look at Vice Cosmetics

Just because the cosmetic line is branded under Vice’s name doesn’t mean he owns the company that formulates and manufactures the cosmetics. Vice’s make up line can operate with just a warehouse and an office. Lipsticks are formulated and produced by a Toll Manufacturer for them, packaged and shipped as ready-to-sell products.

vice cosmetics

I personally like vice lipsticks. Vice market focuses on class  C-D consumers, so they make their product affordable. Though the profit margin is smaller, there is a big profit from the immense volume from its loyal consumers.

What’s in it for you as Consumer?

Don’t assume right away that because Brand A is more expensive than Brand B, the former is better. The price of most cosmetic products doesn’t tell you anything about the quality. Who knows, your high-end cosmetic Brand A and a cheaper drugstore cosmetic brand B are manufactured in the same facility by the same toll manufacturer. Price doesn’t always correlate with quality.  More than anything else, the price of makeup is simply based on how much you’re willing to pay for it.


2. Cosmetic brands Can Name their Product However They Want

Skin Tonic, Skin Mist, Facial Solution, Facial spray, Essence, Serum, Ampoule…so many products with so many names. There is so much competition in the cosmetic industry that brands find their way to stand out by naming their products as unique and as intriguing as possible.

Though the cosmetic industry share some common terminologies on these products, there is no standard of what constitute its classification.

cosmetic industry

So Many Products with So Many Names! (I explained the difference of each product at Macho Mom’s Blog)

What’s in it for you as Consumer?

A product that functions as an ordinary toner can be named differently, say a skin tonic, skin solution, etc. You don’t have to have every product there is. In most cases, layering too much product of each kind will make the other useless. Read the labels and purchase what suits you and your budget. Relax, you don’t need to complete the Korean’s 10-step skin care.


3. Not all Cosmetic Brands Perform Clinical Trials

laboratory test

And even if they claim they do, like it says “dermatologically tested”, it is not a guarantee that the product is safe. It simply means that the company paid a dermatologist to test the product. However, you don’t have to fear too much because most companies abide to existing formulation standards based on general irritancy and toxicity of ingredients.


4. Thesame Product of the Same Brand May Vary from Different Countries

Have you ever wondered why the Maybelline foundation you got as pasalubong from your tita from US feels different from the one’s you buy here in the Philippines?

Make up product of the same brand by the same company may have different formulations in different areas of the world. Some differences may be due to the following

  1. Logistics and Supply-chain – In other countries, some raw materials may be more expensive to buy or transport, so they will have different suppliers for different locations.
  2. Regulations may vary in each country – ingredients allowed in Japan, for example may not be allowed in Europe. This happens a lot in preservatives, fragrance and active ingredients.
  3. Preference of Buyers – Especially in the shades of foundations and options for fragrance.

What’s in it for you as Consumer?


Zarins Beautylab features product all available in the Philippines

If you are fond of reading reviews and or watching make up videos from your favorite blogger, it is best to follow local bloggers/vloggers. This is the best way to make sure the product available to you is the same as what is reviewed.



5. You May be Paying More For Your Jar Than The Product’s Content

Product packaging can cost more than its own content – that’s a reality in the cosmetic industry. Manufacturer can spend so much for packaging because it is one factor that dictates how much you’re willing to pay for the product.  Cosmetic brands makes a great deal in product packaging that they even give awards to brands with fanciest jars & bottles.

To give you an idea how much packaging materials costs and how much consumers are willing to pay for them, here’s a very helpful infographic by howtobuypackaging.com. If you want to know when packaging DOES matter, check my article on cosmetic packaging.


What’s in it for you as Consumer?

I say this again and again and I’ll say it again: Read the labels. Also, do your research and read product reviews. Do not be immediately swayed by fancy packaging.


6. Unscented isn’t Necessarily Fragrance-Free

If you have no adverse reactions from fragrance allergens, then this doesn’t concern you much. However, there are some individuals that are sensitive to fragrance.

Unscented and Fragrance – Free, What’s the Difference?

Unscented just means that you don’t smell anything in the product. Products that claim to be unscented may still contain allergen-containing masking agent that aren’t technically considered fragrance. Fragrance-free on the other hand are products which may still have distinct smell (from other ingredients) but does not contain fragrance oil in the ingredient list. However, the tricky part is that fragrance-free does not mean that no additives have been added that may contain the same allergens found in fragrance oils.

What is Fragrance Anyway?

A fragrance is a blend of odiferous ingredients which can be derived either naturally or prepared synthetically. Because it is a blend of so many ingredients, it is sometimes cosmetic products refer to it as “fragrance” in the ingredient list. Regulating bodies do not require products to disclose the full list of their fragrance blend.

What’s In it for you as Consumer?

If you are sensitive to most fragrance, here is a list of established human allergens that are usually present in fragrance blends. Sometimes, they are listed as individual ingredients to “fragrance-free” products.

Fragrance Allergens

Source: Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety SCCS OPINION on Fragrance allergens in cosmetic products The SCCS adopted this opinion at its 15th plenary meeting of 26-27 June 2012


There you have it. Cosmetics is a very dynamic and interesting industry. Products are always evolving and the market has been growing ever since. I hope this post gave you a better understanding about some aspects in cosmetic industry that we, as consumers often do not  know. See you in my next post!


Article written by:

Anne Porter

Hi! I’m Anne. I am a chemical engineer from Cebu, Philippines. I created Zarins Beautylab because of my love for cosmetics, skin care products and all other stuff that makes me (and you) look and feel beautiful. My semesters of chemistry courses come in handy as I explain the science behind different beauty products: which works and how it works. Well, Sometimes its science and sometimes its just good ol’ common sense.

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