How to Start a Cosmetics Distribution Business

Do you love the beauty industry but aren’t a cosmetologist? Or maybe you are looking for a flexible side hustle or way to earn some extra money doing something you love. Perhaps you have been thinking about it for a while and just need to know—how do you go about starting your own cosmetics distribution company?

Starting a cosmetics distribution company is easy due to the prevalence of direct sales companies. Direct sales companies allow you to distribute products directly to customers. Here are steps to get started:

  1. Find a Direct Sales Company
  2. Build Your Client Base
  3. Grow Your Business
  4. File Taxes

According to Statista, the size of the cosmetics industry is $80.73 billion and growing. Cosmetics include skincare items, hair care products, makeup, perfumes, deodorants, as well as oral cosmetics. That’s enough demand to justify the creation of your cosmetics small business.

Starting a cosmetics distribution company is a lot easier than you may think. While significant retailers often sell cosmetics, for at least 50 years, the business model has enabled direct distribution to independent vendors. These direct sales companies rely on independent business owners to sell their wares, and they are always looking for new partners.

Hopefully, this has you excited enough to keep reading. Below are the steps to help you start your own dream cosmetics distribution business. 

Find a Direct Sales Company

How to Start a Cosmetics Distribution Business

Direct sales companies facilitate the sales of their products directly to the consumer through a facilitator, which is the cosmetics distributor. Distributors are essential for cosmetics companies because it is difficult for many women to choose their own cosmetics. 

Distributors receive training from direct sales companies to help women choose the best cosmetics for their features. Read on to find out what cosmetics direct sales companies are always looking for distributors.


With Avon, you can efficiently run your cosmetics distribution business in your spare time from home. Conversely, you can also manage your company as a full-time distributorship. Having been around for 135 years, Avon is one of the oldest and most well-established names in the cosmetics industry. Since its inception, it has always partnered with independent distributors. 

Avon pays you 25% in commission for all the products you sell to customers. This is an excellent rate, making it one of the most lucrative cosmetics direct sales companies. They also pay additional bonuses as you meet various sales targets. To get started, all you need is to pay the $25 sign-up fee.

If this sounds good to you, you can become an Avon distributor here.

Mary Kay

Mary Kay is another excellent direct sales company that has been around since before your grandmother was born. Mary Kay provides enhanced support to help you get your cosmetics distribution company up and running.

At Mary Kay, you work with an experienced Independent Beauty Consultant to get started. If you don’t already know anyone that sells Mary Kay, they will connect you with one. 

There are these two package options to choose from when you sign up to be a cosmetics distributor with Mary Kay:

  • Mary Kay eStart costs $30, and it gets you a personalized website and online store. You also get access to free education as you develop your business
  • Mary Kay Starter Kit costs $100 and gives you everything in eStart, plus $400 worth of full-size products and samples to demonstrate with your clients, party supplies, and educational literature. 

With either package, you can add an optional New Beauty Consultant Sample pack for $45. This gives you additional frequently requested samples and products you can share with your customers to get them excited about buying from you. 

Mary Kay has an extraordinarily generous 50% commission that it pays its distributors. You do have to pay for your own marketing expenses, however.

To learn more about becoming an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay, you can sign up here.

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If luxury makeup is more your style, consider becoming a cosmetics distributor with Motives. Getting started with Motives is significantly pricier at $169.95 just for the application and starter kit. Motives also expects you to purchase additional kits to in the beginning, so the minimum investment you will have to pay to become a Motives distributor is at least $500.

If you are into high-end cosmetics, you should at least check them out. You can find out more information about their program here.

Build Your Client Base

Next, you need to find clients to buy your cosmetics. After all, what is a business unless you’re in it to make money? 

Start with Friends and Family

Your friends and family will be ideal supporters of your new business. At first, this may feel uncomfortable, like you are asking your closest contacts to give you money. It’s all in how you do it. 

You don’t want to pressure your friends and family to buy your products, especially if they don’t usually purchase many cosmetics. Instead, you want them to make the decisions for themselves, to choose to patronize your business. 

An unobtrusive way to advertise your products is through a simple Facebook or Instagram post. Let your contacts know that you are selling cosmetics, and post a few photos of your samples. You can even offer free samples to the first ten people that place orders with you. 

This is a great way to get your friends and family involved in your business without pressuring them to do so, which might lead to awkward moments.

Get Them to Work for You

How to Start a Cosmetics Distribution Business

The best sources for new customers are existing customers. Once your clients are satisfied with their products and your services, see if they would be willing to recommend you to their friends and family.

As before, you don’t want to pressure anyone too much. But in many cases, they will be eager to help further your enterprise. 

You can market your products to wider audiences through social media and your web presence. Direct sales distributorships rely on word of mouth rather than mass marketing campaigns, but word of mouth can spread online just as quickly as it can in “real” life, if not more so. 

Grow Your Business

You need a growth strategy to move your business forward. It isn’t just finding new clients but also planning every aspect of your business to increase your sales and profits. 

Start with a Business Plan

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, you increase your business’s chance of success by 30% through the simple act of writing a business plan. 

A business plan does not have to be an overly formal endeavor, and you don’t necessarily ever need to show it to anyone else. The questions you answer in your business plan will help you refine your growth strategy. 

You can find a free business plan template here

Leverage Free Small Business Expertise

Speaking of the SBA, did you know that you can get free advice and small business counseling through its network of more than 13,000 SCORE Association mentors? These are successful entrepreneurs who want to help you become successful too. 

You can interact with SCORE mentors locally or online. To find out more about this program, which is sponsored by the SBA, you can click here. 

File Your Taxes

It goes without saying that as a cosmetic distributor, you need to properly file your taxes. This includes reporting all your sales and accounting for all your expenses, which can offset the taxes you owe the IRS.

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Default Business Structure

Unless you choose a different one, your default company structure for tax purposes will be a sole proprietorship. This means you are doing business under your own name (unless you file separate “Doing Business As”/DBA paperwork. You will also file your cosmetic distributorship tax return under your name and social security number along with your other income.

Where to Get Tax Help

As a small business owner, you may be eligible to itemize your expenses to offset your owed taxes. These expenses can include costs associated with a home office, travel expenses, startup expenses, and even a portion of your utilities relative to your home office space (which must be dedicated specifically for that purpose). You may also have to pay quarterly withholding to avoid IRS penalties at the end of the year.

I know this because I own and manage a small business, but I should warn you that I am not a tax professional, and your tax situation might be different. 

H&R Block has excellent small business products to help you with your bookkeeping, quarterly withholding, and annual tax return. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. How many people buy cosmetics directly from independent distributors?

About 50% of cosmetics sales are done through small distributors instead of retail establishments. Small distributors sell cosmetics both online and in person. In addition to makeup, distributors sell lotions, shampoo, and other personal care products.

2. What are the fastest-growing products in the cosmetics industry?

As the population ages and people live longer, there is more demand for anti-aging products. The anti-aging segment is growing nearly 4% per year. Make sure you include these products in your cosmetics line.

To learn more on how to plan your own cosmetic distribution business click here!

Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.