How to start a cosmetic business in South Africa

How to start a cosmetic business in South Africa

This is a guide on how to start a cosmetic business in South Africa.

The cosmetics industry is very big and it’s growing at a rapid pace. A lot of people have become much more conscious about their skin and physical appearance. There are not many proudly South African cosmetic brands. This is a great chance for you to start a cosmetic business.

Here is what you need to do to start a cosmetic business in South Africa.

1. Market research

A cosmetic business needs a lot of market research, you need to come up with the concept of your product and then do a lot of research in how you are going to produce it and if there is a market for your product. There are a lot of niches that fall under the cosmetic industry, market research will be different for each of them.


This is also the stage whereby you produce samples; people have to use cosmetic products before having an opinion on them. You have to produce a few samples, if you are planning on selling makeup brushes then produce those brushes. Give them to people to test and collect feedback. If the feedback is positive then move to the next step, if not then you might have to work on your product a bit more.

2. Operating premises

You need operating premises to run your cosmetic business, in some niches you can run the company from home but in some you can’t. If you are producing cosmetics that have highly flammable ingredients like paraffin then you will have to do that in a controlled environment where it’s not endangering anyone.

3. Licenses

You will have to register your business, registering a business costs R175, register it as a private company. Joining regulatory bodies like the Cosmetic Toiletry & Fragrance association of South Africa (CTFA).

Here are some of the benefits of joining this regulatory body

  • The CTFA monitors international regulatory developments and keeps Members updated on the Regulatory Control of cosmetics.
  • The CTFA provides technical expertise and advice on ingredients, labelling, packaging and product claims.
  • The CTFA provides the means for dissemination of information on standards set up by working groups/committees. These working groups/committees consist of cosmetic industry experts and SABS (South African Bureau of Standards).
  • The CTFA liaises with The Department of Health (DoH) and The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) on product and packaging regulations.
  • The CTFA liaises with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on Bioprospecting, chemical management, waste management amongst other industry and national initiatives on behalf of members.
  • The CTFA liaises with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), The Export Council of South Africa and The Cosmetic Export Council of South Africa (CECOSA), to assist members with regulatory compliance in relation to exports, imports and expansion into international markets.

4. Production

After joining a regulatory body, they will guide you on all the regulations for producing cosmetic products. Start producing your products in bulk, produce all the ranges that you would like to have. This is also an opportunity to get some of the people that responded well to your samples to pre-order your products.

5. Branding

Branding is super important when it comes to cosmetics, I can’t emphasize this enough. Get a good graphic designer, make sure that your products are brandable and packaged in an appealing manner. Make sure that your cosmetic products look professional, nobody wants to use skin care that was developed by amateurs. Go all out.

6. Marketing your cosmetic business

Marketing is often the determining factor on whether your business becomes successful or not.  You will need to have a website, it’s best to create an eCommerce store so that you can sell products directly from your website. Constructing an eCommerce store usually costs around R12 000 in South Africa but you can get one from Promta Web Services from as little as R6 500.

Use social media marketing, by that I don’t mean you must go to Facebook and spam people with your cosmetic products. Don’t spam your products in the comment section of popular posts.

Use professional advertising, run professional Facebook ads, you will get a much better return on your time and money. You can also use Google advertising; both are powerful platforms that are used by millions of South Africans on a daily basis.

7. Selling

It’s best to start out selling from your website, this is because it’s much more convenient and you can sell to people all over the country. It’s highly unlikely that your product will be bought by big retail stores while you are still starting out.

Another genius technique that you can use is affiliate marketing, or influencer marketing. These techniques are covered in detail in this business marketing guide.


This was a guide on how to start a cosmetic business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. thank you for this article, very helpful

  2. Thanks for this

  3. How much is the overall capital amount of starting a cosmetic business

  4. Thank you for this, very helpful.

  5. Very helpful. Thank you

  6. Very helpful, Are there any other Registrations that I need to be concerned with other than getting my CTFA membership. I buy oils and mix them together to make a Tissue oil, currently Working on a hair oil that I have mixed Before and had worked wonders for me and my Friends. I need clearity also in the fact that, Would it be illegal for me to package and sell my Tissue oils while I am in the process of getting my CTFA membership?

  7. This is so helpful for my future cosmetic business. All I need to do is to do more research basedon the article. Thank you so much.

  8. Very helpful, is the a place locally where I can take lessons in person.

  9. Where can i learn to make beauty products around Joburg ??

  10. Thanks a million, this was very helpful thanks .

  11. My email address is also on my first move of doing some researches on how do I start where do I go and to who.. I need advice and more. I want to know all information.

  12. How much is the overall amount to starting a cosmetic company.?

  13. Thank you so much, I really needed this

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