How to Start a Makeup Business

A makeup business sells beauty products, catering to customers' individual beauty needs. Products are sold to distributors, in a standalone store, or through independent consultants.

Learn how to start your own Makeup Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start a makeup business by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Makeup Business
  2. Form your Makeup Business into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Makeup Business for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Makeup Business
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Makeup Business
  7. Get Makeup Business Insurance
  8. Define your Makeup Business Brand
  9. Create your Makeup Business Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your makeup business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Makeup Business Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your makeup business?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening a makeup business?

If your business plan includes starting a makeup line from scratch, you will need to invest a great deal of time and money, before ever opening your doors to customers. Industry leaders suggest planning for nine to eighteen months, just to develop your makeup line.

In addition, you’ll need to budget for the following:

  • Storefront and/or factory locations - malls, kiosks, and high-end plazas are an affordable option
  • Lighting for your establishment
  • Makeup accessories - mirrors, sponges, and brushes
  • Display cases
  • POS and business management system/software
  • Logo and trademark design
  • Website
  • Insurance
  • Payroll
  • Advertising and marketing material

If you have a vision for a makeup product, Sephora offers entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to turn their vision into reality. Grants and funding through this program could help offset some of these initial costs.

Experienced makeup professionals report an initial budget of anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000, depending upon the specifics of your business plan.

What are the ongoing expenses for a makeup business?

The average makeup business’ largest operating expenses are payroll and costs associated with leased space.

Additional expenses include:

  • Stocking inventory
  • Manufacturing of inventory (if applicable)
  • Marketing strategy and related advertising investments
  • Insurance
  • Education, travel, and market research

Annual expenses vary, depending upon location and size of product line.

Who is the target market?

Marketing efforts should target specific demographics. Learn who would benefit most from your products, their specific needs, and work to define what sets you apart from the competition.

A few demographics to consider:

  • Actors and actresses
  • Local broadcasters
  • Cheerleaders and gymnasts
  • Men and women of various ages - men represent a growing market that is largely untapped at the moment
  • Makeup artists and consultants

How does a makeup business make money?

A makeup business generates revenue from either the individual sale or wholesale distribution of their products.

How much can you charge customers?

Beauty products are typically sold by the unit and vary in price. Low-end cosmetic lines have products starting at $5, while high-end items sell for upwards of $150.

How much profit can a makeup business make?

Profit margins for this industry average 40%, with some running as high as 80%. An average small beauty line can realize a profit of $35,000 to $70,000 annually, while larger companies are reporting profits in the multi-millions.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Makeup entrepreneurs have reported success implementing the following strategies:

  • Host a makeup or skincare clinic, specifically geared towards your target audience(s).
  • Offer makeup artist services.
  • Get involved in photo shoots with local and national magazines.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your makeup business is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

Federal Business Licensing Requirements

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has set regulated standards for the production and sale of cosmetics. This FDA website outlines the federal cosmetics regulations. Review and understand these regulations to ensure that your makeup business is in line with all federal regulations. 

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a makeup business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Makeup Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Makeup Business.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a makeup business

Creating brand awareness takes time, creativity, and dedication. Carefully consider your logo and ensure it properly represents your product line. Many makeup lines have found success attending beauty-related events, such as industry organized seminars and expos. This is a wonderful way to network, conduct research, and educate consumers on your makeup line. Partner with local wedding planners, hair stylists, makeup artists, theatre groups, and photographers. They are often in the market for new products that meet their evolving demands.

Set aside a portion of your monthly budget to advertise in relevant magazines and websites. Additionally, online tools, such as business directories, social media platforms, and Google AdWords, will assist in identifying the needs of your target audience.

How to keep customers coming back

Recent studies indicate that the biggest reasons customers shop for a new makeup line is directly related to a drop in product quality and poor customer service. To ensure customer retention, follow up with clients and ask for their input. Provide special offers or free products on birthdays or significant life events. This affords you the opportunity to test out new products on customers and helps build a loyal customer base.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

The business savvy entrepreneur who is passionate about experimenting with cosmetics will find success in this industry. As the owner of a makeup business, your role is to help others turn their visions into a reality and feel more positive about their appearance.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a makeup business?

This is largely dependent upon how you decide to structure your business. Whether you open a brick and mortar or ship products to others for distribution/sale, some day-to-day activities will remain the same:

  • Test new products and collect feedback from current and prospective customers
  • Fill makeup orders and ship to destination
  • Advise customers on personal makeup and skincare needs, helping them achieve their desired look
  • Network within community/industry and market your business
  • Contact suppliers
  • Conduct market research and keep up with the latest trends
  • Regular sales team meetings to discuss current business trends and ongoing needs
  • Administrative duties

If a makeup store is part of your vision, there are a few additional activities to consider:

  • You and your staff will take a more hands-on approach with customers.
  • Shelves must be fully stocked and reorders should be placed regularly.
  • Facility must be maintained and kept clean.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful makeup business?

Real world experience is critical to the success of your business. Before establishing your company, consider working at a beauty store. Study each department, the customers' needs, the distribution chain, marketing, and staffing. There is a lot of work that goes into running a company like this. Learn from the successes and failures of your future competitors. Your education, however, shouldn’t stop there. Get to know the various products and lines on the market. Experiment with the merchandise and get creative.

To lead a makeup business to success, one should possess many of the qualities that make a great leader. Strong communication and organizational skills are critical. Attention to detail and the ability to delegate will also prove beneficial. The Professional Beauty Association offers membership resources to assist start-ups in realizing long-term success.

What is the growth potential for a makeup business?

Growing 6% in 2016, the beauty industry consistently realizes significant growth, year after year. The makeup class was the largest contributor, contributing 82% of the industry’s overall growth. While brick and mortar establishments offer the highest earning potential, online beauty sales have grown at a rate of 20% annually. This industry shows no signs of slowing down and offers ample opportunities for the dedicated and innovative entrepreneur.

TRUiC's YouTube Channel

For fun informative videos about starting a business visit the TRUiC YouTube Channel or subscribe to view later.

Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a makeup business?

Industry leaders offer the following advice to those considering starting a makeup business:

  • Success in this industry requires careful planning, hard work, and personal time. Do not expect to be an overnight success.
  • Target your marketing efforts.
  • Pay attention to the details.
  • Research continuously to remain on top of the latest trends.
  • Network, network, network.

How and when to build a team

Education and training are of the utmost importance in this field. With payroll representing one of your largest expenses, overstaffing stands to eat into your profit margins, slowing down the success of your company. When constructing your business plan, consider short and long-term goals. This will help you determine the size of your workforce and the timeline of when new members should be added to your team.

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