Cosmetic Product Development: 4 Simple Steps to Launch Your Successful Beauty Product

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The beauty industry is growing at a rapid pace. A report by Allied Market Research suggests that the global cosmetics market will grow to $463.5 billion by 2027 with a growth rate of 5.3%. With more and more businesses entering the beauty industry, it can be difficult for them to remain competitive.

However, despite the growing competition, customer trends and advancements in technology have introduced market gaps giving businesses the opportunity to increase their competitiveness. 

Having a proper cosmetic product development process in place can help companies take advantage of market gaps, create innovative products that meet customer needs, and gain a competitive edge.

But, how do businesses manage to do this consistently?

In this article, we’ll discuss what cosmetic product development is and the exact steps you can take to launch your next successful beauty product lineup.

What is Cosmetic Product Development?

Cosmetic product development is the process of developing beauty, makeup, and skincare products for the cosmetics industry. This complex process involves three main people: cosmetic product developers, cosmetic chemists, and the marketing/sales department.

Below we’ll see how they form the cosmetic product development process and create cosmetic products from start to finish.

4 Stages of the Cosmetic Product Development Process

  1. Research & Development

Market Research

Evolving customer trends leave many market gaps for businesses to take advantage of which can be identified through conducting proper market research. There are many ways to gather ideas and validate if they will perform well in the market. The following are some ways to generate ideas for a cosmetic product:

  • Perform competitor analysis – by analyzing your direct competitors you can identify market gaps and potential opportunities to satisfy existing customer needs and gain a competitive edge.
  • Conduct customer surveys – surveys can give you insights into customer behavior and trends. By asking specific questions you can discover what people are looking for, which opens up market gaps and allows you to meet customer needs better.
  • Arrange brainstorming sessions – talk to your internal team to brainstorm ideas for your next product. In these sessions, cosmetic product developers should encourage creativity and refrain from criticizing any idea until the later stages.

After gathering some ideas, it’s time to refine them by creating a product brief.

Creating a Brief

Both the marketing and R&D department collaborate to create a brief of the cosmetic product that details its specifications including:

  • Shape
  • Color
  • Fragrance
  • Benefits
  • Costs
  • Packaging
  • Target audience, etc.

This brief is aimed at refining the ideas of the prior research phase and narrowing down to one potential product concept.

Sourcing Ingredients

After reviewing the brief, cosmetic chemists or R&D find and contact suppliers to explore the ingredients and further research them for feasibility and regulatory compliance. Cosmetic chemists make a dry lab formula that consists of a list of the ingredients and their relative amounts.

This dry formula is then shared with marketers to evaluate the costs of marketing, creating, and scaling the product. If it’s viable, the formula gets the go-ahead and is moved on to the product formulation stage.

  1. Product Formulation


The R&D team starts working on a prototype in their laboratory. A prototype is a replica of the finished product which is created primarily for testing product safety, functionality, chemical reactions, stability, toxicity, and packaging.

Internal Review & Feedback

After developing the prototypes, the cosmetic product developer and marketing review the product and provide constructive feedback. R&D then takes the suggestions and refines the product according to feedback and creates a new prototype for testing. This process is repeated until everyone seems satisfied with the result.

  1. Testing & Approval

Consumer Testing

Internal testing may have given you some insights into any flaws and errors in your product, and organizing consumer tests will give you valuable feedback from potential customers. The organization should work together to determine criteria for testing, deciding on sample size, and how/when the testing will commence. Some businesses might skip consumer testing and rely on data collected from the internal review team.

Stability Testing

Stability testing estimates the shelf life of the cosmetic product. This stage of testing is done to identify how the product reacts to different environments, interactions, and applications. R&D would also test to see how the product interacts with packaging while looking out for color separations, dissolution of materials, and changes in viscosity.

Clinical Testing

Clinical testing helps verify product claims and certifications. This stage of testing depends largely on the type of product as some formulas require necessary testing trials like testing SPF levels.

  1. Commercialization

Scaling Production

When all the tests are completed, the product then enters mass production. This is where product engineers and manufacturers scale production by producing 1000s of kilos of the product whilst maintaining strict quality control protocols.

The production process typically progresses by first developing a pilot batch of the product to gather valuable feedback and validate customer response. Then the team produces a second batch. The third full-size batch is when full-fledged production takes place. Manufacturing a product line like this ensures quality standards and reduces the risk of costly errors.

Release Testing

After the creation of the first pilot batch, some final tests are conducted based on the guidelines set by R&D. These tests make sure that the aesthetics, colors, fragrance, viscosity, pH levels, and preservatives are maintained before developing full-size batches.

Ship to Customers

Once the pilot batch passes, release testing and manufacturing finishes full-scale production. The product is ready to be packaged and shipped to customers!

Key Takeaways

  • The cosmetics product industry has huge potential for product innovation due to increasing consumer demands, changing market trends, and newer technology in the beauty industry.
  • Cosmetic product development is the process of creating beauty products for the cosmetics industry.
  • Cosmetic product development is a complex and time-consuming process due to high competition and the R&D required to create safety compliant beauty products that succeed in the marketplace.
  • There are four main steps involved in the cosmetic product development process: Research & Development, Product Formulation, Testing & Approval, and Commercialization.

TCGen Principal & Founder

John Carter

John Carter specializes in product development, from the strategy and innovation processes to product definition, execution, and launch. He has helped companies cut time to market, rapidly scale their product program, and improve innovation with customer-led insights. His work leads to greater profitability, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction.

John currently serves on the Board of Directors of Cirrus Logic (CRUS), a leading supplier of mixed-signal semiconductors. He is involved with company strategy and sits on the Compensation and Audit Committees.

Before starting the consulting firm TCGen, John was the Chief Engineer of BOSE Corporation. John is the inventor of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones and shares the original patent with Dr. Amar Bose. He was one of the initial contributors to BOSE’s entry into the automobile OEM business. He led the product and business development of BOSE’s patented noise reduction technology for the military market.

John Carter, TCGen Principal & Founder