Cosmetics manufacturing: Best practices for quality and consistency

You want the cosmetics you manufacture to be consistently safe and of the highest possible quality. Follow the best practices below and they will be.

The importance of quality management in the cosmetics industry

Cosmetics manufacturing is a critical process where the main goal is to produce cosmetics products that are safe, reliable, and consistent

This means that every item, from foundation to face cream, must meet high standards every time it’s made. Let’s explore the best practices that make this possible.

First of all, quality management is essential in the cosmetics industry. It’s about making products that meet strict safety standards and deliver on their promises to consumers. 

Good quality management can help a cosmetics company stay successful by building trust with customers and avoiding problems with products.

What the manufacturing process of cosmetics looks like

The process of making cosmetics involves several steps. It starts with designing a formula and then moves on to sourcing ingredients, mixing them together, overseeing production to avoid mistakes, and doing a lot of tests to make sure the final product is safe and effective. 

At each and every step, many things can go wrong. That’s why it’s so important to have checks and balances in place everywhere.

What are the steps taken in manufacturing cosmetics products?

1. Product briefing

The customer tells the manufacturer what kind of product they want, such as an anti-aging cream, or 100% natural make-up.

2. Formulation development

A team of cosmetic chemists and formulators design a formula for a cosmetic product that meets specific targets for color, coverage, skin type compatibility, and wear time. 

They select ingredients like pigments, emollients, emulsifiers, preservatives, and fragrances, ensuring each component is compatible and safe for skin application.

3. Ingredient sourcing  

The purchasing department sources high-quality ingredients from reputable suppliers. For instance, they might source titanium dioxide from a supplier known for its pure, cosmetic-grade pigments or hyaluronic acid from a provider that ensures a high level of purity and molecular weight for skin hydration properties.

4. Batching and mixing  

Ingredients are weighed and combined according to the formula specifications in large industrial mixers. First, the base is created, possibly involving a blend of water, silicone, and oils.

Then, pigments are carefully dispersed in the base to ensure even color distribution. Special attention is given to the mixing speed and duration to achieve a homogenous mixture without over-processing.

5. Pre-production batch

As the batch is produced, a quality control team supervises the production process. They check for consistency in the batch, ensuring that the color matches the standard reference and that the texture is smooth without any separation. If the batch is too thick or thin, adjustments are made.

6. Quality testing

Samples from the batch are taken to an in-house lab where they undergo various tests. These might include viscosity measurements to check the flow of the foundation, pH testing to ensure skin compatibility, and stability testing to see how the product holds up under different temperatures and conditions.

7. Filling and packaging

The finished product is transferred to a sterile filling line, where it’s filled into individual bottles. The bottles are then labeled with product information, including shade, ingredients, batch number, and expiration date.

8. Final quality control 

Random samples of the packaged product are tested to ensure the filling machinery worked correctly and that the product inside the packaging still meets all specifications after the filling process.

9. Distribution

Once approved, the bottles are packed into cases and shipped out to retailers or directly to consumers. The distribution process is carefully managed to avoid extreme temperatures that could affect the product quality.

What are some examples of mistakes during cosmetic product manufacturing?

The cosmetic product manufacturing process doesn’t always take place without mistakes occurring. We’ve listed some of the most commonly occurring mistakes in each step of this production process, below. 

1. Product briefing mistakes

Example: the customer wants you to develop a product concept that is not in line with current regulations.

2. Formulation development mistakes

Example: incorrect calculations or measurement errors in the formula can lead to a final product that doesn’t perform as expected, such as providing inadequate coverage or not matching skin tones correctly.

3. Ingredient sourcing mistakes

Example: receiving ingredients that are compromised in quality due to poor handling or sourcing from a less reputable supplier can affect the safety and performance of the final product.

4. Batching and mixing mistakes

Example: inconsistent mixing or failure to add ingredients in the correct sequence can lead to color and texture variances, separation, or failure to achieve the desired emulsion stability.

5. Production oversight mistakes

Example: completely missing production mistakes, such as a change in the product’s viscosity or a shift in hue, can result in a batch that doesn’t meet the established product specifications.

6. Quality testing mistakes

Example: inadequate testing or errors in test execution might not catch defects in the product, such as contamination, incorrect pH, or insufficient pigment dispersion, which could lead to skin irritation or poor product performance.

7. Filling and packaging mistakes 

Example: filling equipment malfunctions could cause under- or over-filling of bottles, or packaging faults that may lead to leaks, contamination, or damage to the product’s integrity during shipping.

8. Final quality control mistakes

Example: if the quality control sampling is not representative or tests are improperly conducted, defective products might be missed and make their way to the consumer.

9. Distribution mistakes 

Example: improper storage conditions during shipping, like exposure to extreme temperatures, could cause the foundation to separate, change in consistency, or degrade in quality before reaching the consumer.

Factors affecting quality and consistency

Now you have a general idea of what the manufacturing process of a cosmetic product is like, and what might go wrong during each step. So let’s dig a bit deeper into the overall factors that affect how well a cosmetic product is made:

Ingredient sourcing and quality

The quality of the finished product depends on the quality of the ingredients used. It’s important to choose good suppliers and test the ingredients before using them. 

Important: this also applies to the packaging that is sourced; we have seen (too) many cases where the product was beautiful, but the packaging was not checked thoroughly – these products had to be thrown away.

Equipment and facilities

The equipment and facilities used in manufacturing play a big role in making sure every product is the same and made well. Think filling machines, measuring devices, but also air vents and how you clean everything including the pipes used to transport ingredients or products.

Regulatory compliance and standards

There are a lot of regulations and standards in the cosmetics industry. Companies must know and follow these rules to ensure their products are safe to use. These may also include specific customer requirements or regulations in a different region.

Testing and analysis techniques

Different tests help make sure the cosmetics are of high quality and won’t cause problems for users. It is key to select the appropriate tests for the product to ensure that the product is safe for use during its entire lifecycle.

Best practices for ensuring quality and consistency

Sounds great and all, so how do you implement these factors? To make sure cosmetics are consistently of high quality, companies should:

Use Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to make your products

This means following a set of guidelines that cover all parts of production to prevent contamination and errors. Often, this means implementing ISO standards like ISO 22716:2017 or equivalent.

Implement a robust ingredient testing program

Before ingredients are used, they should be thoroughly tested to confirm their quality. And if they do not conform to your specs, be sure to also have a throw-away program in place.

SkinConsult’s role

A company like SkinConsult can help approving ingredients since ingredient evaluation is already such an integral part of the safety assessment.

Proper equipment maintenance and calibration

Machines should be regularly cleaned and calibrated to ensure they work properly and keep product quality high.

Meet regulatory requirements

Companies need to be up-to-date with industry regulations and make sure their products comply with them. 

SkinConsult’s role

It is safety assessors like SkinConsult’s core business to know the cosmetic industry inside  out – this not only includes current regulations but also ‘pregulations’ (i.e. the legislation that is still in the making).

Using advanced testing and analysis methods


Using modern testing equipment can give more accurate results faster and help maintain product quality.

SkinConsult’s role

A company like SkinConsult can provide guidance on using these testing methods effectively and help ensure compliance with industry standards.

How to maintain quality and consistency for cosmetics manufacturers?

Keeping up quality and consistency involves ongoing effort. This includes a commitment to regular evaluation and improvement.

Companies should continuously train employees on quality best practices. Training is a cornerstone of quality management.

Companies must invest in ongoing education programs for their employees to keep them informed about the latest quality control procedures and industry best practices.

Regular reviews and improvements of manufacturing processes are necessary; this may include frequent workshops and seminars to update skills and knowledge and can be done in-house or by a different company.

Besides reactive reviews, being proactive in identifying and addressing potential issues before they affect the product is also crucial.

Here you can use risk management principles to identify areas where potential issues might arise – for instance: what do you do to prevent a fire hazard, or a raw material running out?

A strong culture of quality should be encouraged throughout the organization. Quality should be a shared value, not just the responsibility of a single department.

Building a culture of quality means that everybody in the organization – no matter their rank on the ladder – must have quality and safety as their highest standard.

Quality management system for cosmetics manufacturing

Having a detailed quality management system helps keep track of processes and maintain high standards. A robust quality management system (QMS) is essential for this.

This system should be comprehensive and documented and preferably audited by an external partner. 

The aforementioned ISO 22716 and its overarching brother ISO 9001 are prime examples in how you can really make a difference in the overall quality in your company. 

Bonus: ISO 9001 is not limited to manufacturing companies; SkinConsult is also ISO 9001 verified – exactly because it demonstrates that we care for safety just as much as the cosmetic product manufacturer.

Making cosmetics that are consistently safe and good requires careful attention to the manufacturing process, choosing the best materials, maintaining equipment, and adhering to industry regulations.

Regular testing and analysis are also vital. By following these best practices, manufacturers can produce cosmetics that meet customer expectations and maintain their brand’s reputation. 

But remember, processes are just one side of the medallion – no matter how many processes you implement, the people working with cosmetics are just as important. So run your business as it is intended: as a people first business.

Want to ensure the cosmetics you manufacture are safe?

With SkinConsult's Safety-as-a-Service for manufacturers, your cosmetics will never fail another test again.

Safety-as-a-Service for Manufacturers