Women buy makeup and lots of it. Almost every woman from the age of 16 buy at least some sort of cosmetics every month. Here’s where you can swoop in and dropship cosmetics from China at a fraction of the cost.
But is it really that easy to make money selling makeup from China?
If your name is Kylie Jenner, then yes it is. Her makeup brand “Kylie” has become the number one selling cosmetics brand for younger women and it is ALL coming from China.
Her online store is also consistently in Shopify’s top 10 stores for both traffic and revenue.
So, can you do it? Can you dropship makeup as successfully as Kylie Jenner?
Probably not. There are several reason for it and dropshipping cosmetics is riddled with boobie traps that you really need to be careful of.
The real secret to make money selling makeup
The psychology behind why women buy certain beauty brands is very interesting. Brand loyalty is by far the biggest determining factor when it comes to the makeup choices women make. It really is all about the brand and not about the product.
Kylie Jenner’s entire billion dollar makeup empire comes from Chine. These are manufacturers that you and I also have access to. The difference however is the name that is printed on the boc. People do not buy the actual product. They buy the idea behind the product. They buy the brand.
This is true for most products but even more true for cosmetics and beauty products.
It is why the Kardashians are still in business. They are relevant and they keep making themselves relevant in the women;s fashion and beauty world. Women aspire to their look and their lifestyle.
Buying their products, their brands and the brands that they “love” (aka – getting paid to love) lets women feel that they are part of that world – whether it is fake or not.
With makeup and cosmetics, the brand is everything. There are so many makeup brands that have far superior products with far better ingredients and much better results, yet women flock to what they buy into on an emotional level.
Now that we’ve established this principle, we can look into how you can dropship cosmetics and have success with it.
The first and most obvious roadblock is that you do not have a brand. You do not have celebrity endorsements and you do not have the time or the budget to build a brand.
So, what can you do?
When you head over to AliExpress we can see that there are already some pretty decent looking brands. They are by no means close to Covergirl or Revlon but they are actually pretty decent and at least something you can work with.
With great copywriting and building a story behind your brand you can make it work. No doubt about it.
There is another option and that is to whitelabel. Buying blank makeup products and putting your name to it is a more risky move since you will have minimum orders but it is something that can be done quite easily with many Chinese suppliers.
The Biggest Pitfalls When when you Dropship Makeup
Dropshipping cosmetics is very different from dropshipping most other products. You need to proceed with caution as any of these pitfalls can cost you big time.
1.Shipping & Customs
When I first started dropshipping make up products I had no idea this would be an issue. About 3 weeks after the initial sales rush, the refund requests started pouring in thick and fast.
It turns out that most countries have very strict customs rules around make-up products. It is essentially a chemical and it gets scrutinized quite heavily. A large percentage of the parcels never make it past customs and I was left scrambling.
Be warned, if you dropship cosmetics from Aliexpress (or China in general) you will run into customs issues somewhere down the line.
Products that do not reach customers will quickly kill your business from many different ends. Not only do you risk getting shut down by Paypal and Stripe, you also will not get any return customers.
Shipping and customs will be your biggest headache and something you need to resolve first and foremost.
Makeup products go through rigorous testing to ensure that it is safe for use on humans. The issue of animal testing is a huge problem for most makeup brands and it is something that haunts a lot of them.
Consumers are much more savvy now and want to know that no animals where harmed during the testing of the products.
This requires a certification and you will most likely not get that from a Chinese product unless you have it independently tested and certified.
This also brings up the issue of safety and liability. You do not want to be responsible for consumers being harmed by a product. Make up and cosmetics often can have adverse reactions with certain people.
You could be liable and this is something you need to keep in mind. The good news though is that if you find a popular product on Aliexpress you will usually also find it on Amazon.
Read the reviews and stay clear of anything that has any negative reviews regarding skin reactions or anything similar.
Photographing make-up products is notoriously difficult. It relies a lot on subtle colour differences like that for lipsticks, foundation and even eye shadow.
A lot of AliExpress listings actually rip, copy and steal photo’s from popular brands. These brands can’t do much about that as these Chinese companies are out of their reach.
However, if you star selling it on your store and use their images YOU become liable.
Although there are still a few blatant rip-offs on Aliexpress they have cleaned up shop a bit. Its better but there are still a lot of unlicensed product images around.
Always contact your aliexpress seller and ask them to confirm 100% that they own the rights to the images. At least this covers you to some extent to show that you have made an effort to use legit and legal images.
You can also do a reverse image search but this won’t make sense for a big catalog.
Where to Start With Dropshipping Cosmetics?
1. Sort out shipping and suppliers:
The very first thing you need to do is to look beyond Aliexpress ePacket shipping. Start by looking only at suppliers that can ship from the USA.
It will also make selling elsewhere in the world easier as there is less scrutiny on the parcels.
They also have a “liquid line” for shipping cosmetics products. This will help a lot with customs issues.
Next, I would look at what is already selling huge volume on AliExpress. Don’t sell that. Chances are that people already know this as a cheap brand. Look for smaller brands that LOOK good.
The obvious question is also whether you can dropship established brands that ship from the US. There certainly are retailers that could do this for you.
You can even dropship from Walmart BUT you will most likely go broke doing it. There is just not enough profit in it.
3.Don’t Whitelabel (just yet):
Starting off with a whitelabel product is not smart. You need to get proof of sales first and see how a small group of customers respond to either the Chinese branded product or a completely blank product.
Only then starting thinking beyond that once you know you have a good product that sells.
Profit margins on makeup and cosmetics products can be huge. I was selling $1.20 lipsticks for $20. Three to five times the cost is not uncommon. I would not price low. It is all about perceived value. If you price too low people think its cheap and not that good.
5.Think beyond the Big 4:
Selling cosmetics through advertising in the big 4 countries is going to be tough. I would encourage you to start thinking more about selling to emerging markets.
Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines ec. Where people can’t afford major brands from overseas will give you a much better chance. If you do want to stick to the big 4 then I would recommend …
This is by far the most effective way to sell beauty products. sOCIAL influencers on Instagram, Facebook, Tik Toc ec. Can give your “no name” brand the much needed endorsement it will need to sell.
Start with small influencers that have a very loyal following. You can gain traction even with a small budget but you will have to come up with a smart strategy.
7.Pick your products carefully:
Starting with a full range of lipsticks might not be the best way to go. Pick something that is unique, simple and have very few variants. I started off by selling just black lipstick. It was simple with no confusion about colour shades.
There is an amazing selection of nail products on Aliexpress. There is an amazing selection of mascara, eye liners ec. The options are endless.
8.Create a story around your products:
More than any other type of product, you need to build a story around your brand and your products. You can either “fake it” (and most brands do) or just be very real. Make it obvious that you are selling from China – but do it in a cool and authentic way.
When you dropship cosmetics, it is not so much about what you do but rather how you do it.