Wondering how to start a skincare line with no money?
Here’s the good news…
Skincare is actually one of the best categories to build a business around when you’re on a budget. The reason is because you can make a lot of skincare products from home. It’s also possible to work with small skincare manufacturers since it’s cheap for them to make stuff.
The bad news?
It’s still one of the more competitive categories in all of ecommerce. So you have to be smart with how you do things. You can’t just throw something up and wish it sells. You have to be much more strategic, especially when you’re tight on cash.
Let’s talk about how to do this…
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Skincare Line?
Typically, there are 2 ways to calculate the cost of starting a skincare line.
The first way, which most people take, is through private label or custom manufacturing. This is when you contract a manufacturer to make the product for you. In this situation, you have to deal with not just their profit margin, but lead times and minimums. All of these things directly affect the total cost you have to pay.
With that said, because many skincare products are cheap to make, you have the ability to work with both small and large manufacturers. Naturally, this leads to a wide range in terms of costs. So how much does it actually cost to start a skincare line?
If you’re working with a small manufacturer, I would budget around $5,000.
If you’re working with a large manufacturer, I would budget $15,000-$25,000.
Of course, it’s possible to find pricing that is both above and below those numbers. It’s also important to keep in mind any possible marketing, 3PL, and fixed costs. All of this will be added to the figures above.
But if you’re seriously looking into how to start a skincare line with no money, then none of the above will work for you. Luckily, skincare is one of the few categories where you can buy the materials yourself and make your products by hand. By going this route, you don’t have to worry about adding a profit to each unit and neither do you have to deal with large minimums.
It would still cost some money, but relative to working with a manufacturer, it’s almost nothing.
I would budget around $300-$500 if you decide to make skincare products yourself.
How To Start A Skincare Line From Home
If you want tearn how to start a skincare line with no money, then your best bet is to start by making your products from home.
The first step is to decide what to make.
You can’t make every possible skincare product, but you can make some of them. For example, you can make lip balm, emulsions, and scrubs. You can also make things like soap, shampoo, and deodorant. In any case though, there’s plenty of tutorials on how to make these products.
The second step is to get the materials to make them.
In most tutorials on how to make specific skincare products, you will be given a list of ingredients to buy. For the most part, you will be able to buy these products at wholesale prices. For example, you can go to Bramble Berry to buy essential oils, fragrances, additives, and more.
The third step is to actually make the products.
This is going to be the most time consuming and possibly even frustrating step. However, I promise it’ll get easier the more you do it. Plus, it’ll give you the chance to make the best product in the market without having to pay thousands in manufacturing fees.
The fourth step is packaging.
Since you’re just starting your skincare line, you can start with cheap packaging materials on Amazon. Many wholesale sites that sell ingredients for skincare products may also sell the packaging you need. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with Google.
Lastly, you should try to get insurance.
Because skincare products can potentially lead to bad bodily reactions, it’s a good idea to get some insurance to protect yourself. It’s possible to start without insurance, but just know that the more you sell, the higher your risk of leading to someone who reacts badly to your product.
The “No Money” Skincare Business Plan
There is no way to learn how to start a skincare line with no money. It’s just impossible. However, there is a way to minimize your out of pocket expenses so you can start your business with virtually no money. It all comes down to order of operations.
You’ve already started on the 1st half, which is making your own skincare products at home. The next half is to minimize the cost of marketing your products. There’s a lot of ways to do the latter, but these are the steps I recommend.
First, make your first product.
Since you’re not going to be using paid ads, you don’t have to create a complete line of skincare products to boost your AOV. So to save you money, time, and effort… you should start with one product. Ideally, this would be your hero product or the product your brand will be known for. For example, by the end of this step, it would be great to have 100 units of lip balm.
Second, you want to build an audience.
This is quite possibly the most important step on this business plan. The best way to reduce marketing costs is to build your own skincare related media company on Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, or even through good ol’ fashion blogging. Because you’re the one creating content for free and you’re relying on organic traffic, you can build a large audience of people who are ready to buy without spending a cent in marketing.
Third, you want to pre-sell your batch of skincare products.
Because you’re trying to learn how to start a skincare line with no money, you have to use your customer’s money to fund your inventory. So after you’ve built a small, loyal audience… your next step is to set up your Shopify store with any app that allows customers to pre-order your product. Keep your funding goal to only cover your first 100+ units.
Fourth, you want to leverage any extra inventory with PR and influencers.
One of the great things about physical products is that they can be used for marketing themselves. All you have to do is find the reporters and influencers that already talk about skincare products like yours and ask them to cover or review your product. For best results, send them these products with ultra fancy packaging. However, that is optional!
Lastly, send emails. Lots of them.
If you do everything above, you will have a proven product and lots of income traffic from new buyers. The next best way to make money without additional marketing spend is to then email your new customers and get them to buy more of your products. So get yourself a Klaviyo account and start setting up flows and campaigns to increase each person’s LTV.
After all this, you can consider adding channels like Amazon.
How To Find A Skincare Line Manufacturer
While the best skincare business will try to keep manufacturing in-house at all costs, sometimes this just isn’t possible. So once you’ve built up a little nest egg from your revenue and you have the traffic needed to sell more product, then it’s worth looking for a manufacturer to help you out.
Luckily, this step is simple.
Essentially, all you have to do is go to Google and start typing in manufacturing-related keywords. For example, if you’re selling lip balm, I would probably type in “lip balm manufacturer” or “lip balm private label”.
You’re going to end up with a bunch of searches.
Your job is to then go through every manufacturer that appears in your search, quickly qualify them by checking out what they make, and then manually contact every single manufacturer. Ideally, you call them. But if you can’t, email is fine.
You want to ask for cost, minimums, and lead times.
For best results, make sure you give them as much detail as possible. You also may have to ask the same questions in multiple ways so you can get upfront answers from them. It takes a little bit of practice, but it does work.
Once you’ve found someone who fits your criteria, hire them!
This is probably the most frustrating phase, especially when manufacturers give you answers you don’t want to hear after long waiting periods. But hang in there!