Guide: How to Source Cosmetic Packaging + Create Packaging Designs

Whether you’re starting your own cosmetic line at home by hand-making individual products or your first run is 10,000 units, every beauty entrepreneur faces the same question: “How do I source and design my packaging?”

While Alibaba or Aliexpress might seem like a good place to start for wholesale cosmetic packaging, it’s not the best fit for everyone. Even if you find the exact packaging you want, without designs or a manufacturing plan, you aren’t going to go far.

So today, let’s dive into some cosmetic packaging sourcing + design solutions, from someone with first-hand experience doing it all on every side – as a first timer, an experienced brand owner, agent and consultant.

We’ll start with sourcing, then talk about design.

 

Topic 1: Cosmetic Packaging Sourcing

Sourcing, for those of you don’t know, means to “find out where (something) can be obtained.” When it comes to makeup/cosmetic wholesale packaging, the main issues with sourcing are as follows - Finding a source for:

·      The packaging you want (period)

·      The quantity you want/need/can afford

·      The colors/options (e.g. size) you need

With:

·      Reliable availability, quality and pricing

·      Options for customization

Popular destinations for makeup packaging today include Amazon, Alibaba, Aliexpress, DHGate and Ebay. Each of these comes with it’s different pros and cons, but for the most part, the struggle is finding a low minimum order quantity with the ability to customize to fit your brand’s needs. This struggle is roughly depicted in the chart below:

 

Customization vs MOQ.png

 

A brief explanation of the graph above:

On the far left is us: Genie Supply. We offer screenprinting with NO minimum order quantity (what we’re deeming “customization” here). You can shop for empty cosmetic packaging directly on our website.

Not every size or color is available at no MOQ, but we can generally get you what you need, either through our online store/catalog or through a custom sourcing request, with no minimum on screenprinting.

Amazon and Ebay typically offer very low MOQs – as low as 10 units of a single type of packaging - but no customization is offered. You get what you get. You don’t have the option to screenprint your logo or otherwise customize in any way.

DHGate and Aliexpress typically offer anywhere from 10-100 units of an item at even better prices than Amazon or Ebay, but no customization or logo printing is offered. Again, you get what you get.

You’ll notice a kink in the graph – this is where we skip along the access from talking about 10-100 units, up to the 1,000 – 5,000 unit point.  This is where we, at Genie Supply, can customize in almost any way that you need: color, finish (frosted/glossy), size, and even mold. There are some restrictions, based on size, SKU, mold, etc. but in general, we can do what Alibaba vendors can do at ½ the quantity.

One notch up again – we’re skipping from 1,000 to 5,000 units here – is Alibaba factories. Most of the factories on Alibaba can give you exactly what you want at 10,000 units or more.

You may have noticed that we appeared on here twice: That’s because we offer cosmetic packaging solutions for beginners AND intermediate/advanced clients. Whatever packaging problem you’re facing: send it to us and we’ll see what we can do.

Again, if you need a certain type of cosmetic packaging but can’t find it anywhere (or on our site), then feel free to contact us and send a sourcing request. We will do our best to find a cosmetic packaging solution for you, no matter what quantity you’re currently manufacturing at.

 

Topic 2: Cosmetic Packaging Design Solutions

 The topic – after you find a suitable packaging for your cosmetic product(s) – is getting the appropriate designs made. A logo is only the first step. Don’t forget about product packaging (inner, outer), and any labels, cards, or other marketing materials you may need.

If you already know a designer or you are one – great! You don’t need our help.

Many, however, find themselves without a designer in their immediate network and nowhere to turn. So here’s our best tips (stolen from one of our long-form blogs about creating a cosmetic box packaging design – go here to read) first for finding a designer for your line, then for working with them.

We are not designers, and we can’t steer you in the direction of one particular designer or site, but here’s the pros and cons from personal experience:

1.     Try Fiverr if you’re on a budgetFiverr is truly hit or miss when it comes to designers. It’s good if you have a low budget and lots of time to review designers and go through iterations with a designer. It’s “no money back”, so make sure that you do your homework first before choosing a designer, and carefully construct your feedback. Those design iteration rounds are precious!

2.     Upwork for the discerning Upwork generally carries more guarantees for the work (that is, it protects the buyer more than the designer). However, the freelancers usually cost a bit more to work with. Many freelancers on Upwork have extensive resumés and experience. Many live in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Shop around, look at resumés, reviews, and past work before hiring on Upwork, because given the costs, you probably only have one shot to get it right.

3.     Work with a local designer – Nothing is better than working side-by-side and offering feedback face-to-face. 

 

When you hire a designer for your cosmetic packaging, make sure that you are very careful to prepare the following for the designer:

·      A specification sheet for the design(s) detailing exactly what needs to be made, in what dimensions and for what purpose.

·      Any ingredient listings, manufacturer’s address/information, or any other items that MUST appear on the packaging, as well as where it must appear.*

·      A mood board of colors, moods, or similar cosmetic packaging that fits the “feel” of your brand.

·      Your brand book – that is, a list of fonts, scalings, colors and any other information that pertains specifically to your brand and how it should be presented.

 

This will help mitigate any confusion or uncertainty in how you’d like your brand to be presented to the world. You want to make sure that you and your designer are on the same page aesthetics-wise, to minimize the number of rounds of revisions required on your designs.

*These items are related to FDA (or your country’s) requirements for cosmetic/skincare packaging. Be careful to review all requirements before moving forward with designs.

 

Topic 3: Printing Your Cosmetic Packaging Designs

When you’re ready to print your cosmetic packaging designs:

If you’re printing on plastic or acrylic (PET/PE/ABS/AB/PS/etc): you will either hot foil stamp or silk screen print.

Prior to printing, make sure that your designs are appropriately scaled to the area that you will be printing. The design area should be the entire printing surface of the packaging. You can print the design out on your printer and tape it to the packaging, as a rough “prototype” of what the printing will look like. 

Before printing on paper, make sure that the design is exactly to scale (I always make the design file in Adobe Illustrator, and copy/paste the design onto a new file that is 8.5 x 11”, then print.). Once you’ve printed, check again by using a ruler to measure. I can’t tell you how important these steps are! Be super careful at every step, checking all of your assumptions. This is the best way to mitigate risk. Whatever final design you hand over and sign off on is what will be printed, so make sure it is exactly what you want before signing off.

If the prototype looks correct, you can move forward with a printed sample round (+$$) or move directly to the final production.

 

If you are printing paper board/ivory board/cardboard packaging: you will (still) be using hot foil stamping or silk screen printing.

Follow the above steps for printing out a sample on your printer at home. If you need a sample printed ($$) the pricing is different, so make sure you are ordering the correct items.

 

For any designs: Make sure that the final design file is .ai TTC format! This is the only way to ensure that the final file received by the factory looks exactly the same to what you are viewing on your screen. Saving in a TTC (text to curves / aka “create outlines”) format creates outlines around the text, so that regardless of what font you/he/she/that factory halfway across the world has, your design will look exactly like you want it to. Be safe!

 

Takeaways: Cosmetic Wholesale Packaging Sourcing, Cosmetic Packaging Design, and Contract Packaging Manufacturing

Whether you need a few units or a few hundred thousand, we’ve got you covered. Browse the Genie Supply store, order samples or custom printing (boxes or packaging screenprinting), contact us for a sourcing request, or reach out about a totally custom project. We’ve done it all, and we can do it for you, too.

Best of luck to all of you as you build your beauty brands. Now, go slay!