Find the perfect contract manufacturer for your cosmetics product line in Europe: How to guide

This article will delve into how you can find a contract manufacturer for your new cosmetics line. 

contract manufacture your makeup line

Before we get into the details, let us first be reminded of contract manufacturing and how it differs from private and white labels.

What is contract manufacturing?

Contract manufacturing means that you contract an external producer to manufacture your products. The term “contract manufacturing” is very broadly used, sometimes even as a synonym for private label or white label manufacturing. However, contract manufacturing typically differs from private labeling and white labeling in the sense that you are either providing your own formulation or design, or you are working with an external product developer (or even the contract manufacturer) to have a fully customized product built.

Custom product development comes with some downsides. Contract manufacturing based on your custom product has the highest cost and a longer production-phase time since all the production line is completely individualized for the specific product you want to launch. 

Production time depends on the kind of product and can take up to a year. On top of that, there are many more steps from idea till production, because the custom product has to pass quality assurance, risk assessments and stability tests. Therefore, contract manufacturing is the most expensive option, compared to private label and white label.

What is private label manufacturing?

A private label corresponds to a manufacturer that creates customized products for third parties to sell under their brand, but based on an existing product of the manufacturer. In other words, the manufacturer allows you to choose the formula, customize it, and fully individualize packaging, etc.

This personalized product will then be sold exclusively by the brand that ordered the product. Unlike in contract manufacturing, you can only make customizations to the extent that the manufacturer allows you to. This depends on your product. For example, cosmetics can be customized as long as it would not affect the product’s risk assessment or stability.

The production time for private label products is between 4 and 12 weeks. Given that most of the processes are prepared in advance, aside from the customizable ones, it is understandable why this period is relatively short, especially compared to custom manufacturing.

Private label manufacturing is the perfect choice for brands, who want to launch individual products fast. Manufacturers sometimes have thousands of formulas, which they already tested and which can still be customized to a way it matches your marketing claims, values or needed effects. There is the saying to “not reinvent the wheel”, which especially holds true for private label manufacturing.

What is white label?

White-label production is the cheapest kind of production, the fastest and the easiest one. All necessary machinery is already set for production, and no customizations need to be made. Therefore, production is much faster than private label production or contract manufacturing. White-label production usually takes only between 2 and 8 weeks. However, the customization is limited and depends on your manufacturing partner. There are manufacturers who have hundreds or even thousands of white label products, that they can even individualize to a small extent for you. Others offer the products of their own product line and just add your label.

White label manufacturing is a great choice if you want to start with low quantities if you want to test out a market or have to go to market quickly.

Now that we have explained three different types of production let us find the perfect contract manufacturer for your cosmetics line. 

Contract manufacturing, private label or white label? What to choose?

When looking for and working with manufacturers, you need to make several decisions:

  1. How will you formulate your product? 
  2. What components will you use for your product? 
  3. What design will you use for your product? 
  4. What will you use as your secondary packaging, and how will you design it?

You can choose the most simple, least expensive, and least customized option in all these steps or the complete opposite. Selecting the most tailored option or contract manufacturing will help you differentiate yourself in the marketplace, even though it is the most time-consuming option. 

Another thing to keep in mind is minimum order quantities (MOQs). MOQs represent the minimum amount manufacturers allow you to order, whether based on the number of products or the cost of the order. Make sure to communicate this with your manufacturer, so you do not encounter any problems later. 

Before you start preparing for initial talks, these are some of the things that you need to take into account when looking into manufacturers: 

  • What is the proposed budget for the products?
  • Which parts of the product do you want to be customized, and how customizable do you want them?
  • What criteria does your brand have for the products? (vegan, cruelty-free)
  • Which certificates do you require your manufacturers to have?

Another essential thing to keep in mind is that sometimes a single manufacturer will not be able to offer you numerous solutions for your expanding product portfolio. Usually, manufacturers specialize in certain kinds of products, and you need to consider this when deciding which product you want to expand your cosmetics line. Talking with several different manufacturers at the same time is time-consuming.

Now that we covered the basics of sourcing contract manufacturers for your cosmetics line let us take a look at your next steps.

Wonnda: the tool for launching your products with European manufacturers

Wonnda was built to take out the guesswork when it comes to sourcing and launching a product line.

Here at Wonnda, we work with top European manufacturers for white label, private label production and contract manufacturing. The first step in getting your business to market is probably the most crucial – finding the right production partner for your project. But even when a product line is launched, later on, you can expand your business portfolio with other product lines and products.

The great advantage of is that you can simply let our platform do the heavy lifting. On wonnda, you can find product ideas and inspiration, as well as the right manufacturers. With our collaborative sourcing tool, you’ll be able to launch your next best-seller fully digitally. Sounds interesting? Then sign up on

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