Launching your own beauty brand in Europe is not an easy task. You need to comply with some of the strictest regulations in the world, and extensive lab testing and documentation of ingredients and shelf life are required.
Furthermore, many smaller beauty brands do not have their own production facilities, but pay to have their products made at an external factory. If you want to use your own formulas and customized packaging, the minimum order quantity and the production costs are often prohibitively high. Beauty products have a limited shelf life, so you risk spending a lot of money before you even know, if there is a market for your products.
If you want to start your own beauty brand without investing too much money, you can instead choose to buy from factories that make generic, unbranded products (so-called white label), and then add your own label/brand.
The white label factories obtain the necessary documents for selling in the EU, and they are also responsible for documentation and laboratory tests, so you avoid all the paperwork and the high associated costs, which has significantly lowered the barrier to entry and flooded the market with new brands.
Many of the new products on social media are of this type, and if you see an influencer with a beauty brand, more often than not, it is white label, ie. generic products that the influencers just labels as their own.
How can you tell if a product is white label?
Do not expect the beauty brands to be particularly eager to tell you that their products are really just white labels, and that they did not come up with the formulas themselves, so how can you tell if it is white label? Here are some of the things that might give you an idea:
If you develop your own products, this is something you want to use in your marketing, because it makes your brand standout and adds credibility. You can therefore be sure that brands with their own laboratory and research facilities, will mention that on their website and in their marketing. Since you cannot lie or mislead the consumer, brands built around white labels would instead either completely omit mentioning product development, or use very vague terms when describing the research and development behind the products.
A good place to look for clues is the brand’s About page. What is the story of the brand? Who are the people behind and do they have any skills or expertise that make them particularly suitable for starting a beauty brand? What makes the products different from what is already on the market?
Should you avoid white label beauty products?
White label products are not necessarily bad, as they have to undergo the same tests as all other beauty products sold within the EU. On the other hand, you should not expect to buy something particularly unique, as the white label factories sell the same products made from the same formulas to many different brands. The expensive influencer hair shampoo that you saw on Instagram, could thus be exactly the same shampoo available at a discount brand that buy from the same white label manufacturer.