Personal Care Products

Personal Care Products


There are three main sectors of the personal-care products industry: manufacturing, made up of those who design and produce personal-care products; marketing, whose members create marketing campaigns to develop interest in and demand for the products; and retail sales, made up of the individuals and stores that actually sell these goods to consumers. Of course, there are also many other important careers in the personal-care products industry, including public relations specialists, lawyers, human resources professionals, administrative workers (receptionists, secretaries, etc.), accountants, auditors, customer-service representatives, upper level managers and executives, and information management and technology workers.


New products are developed in research laboratories by a variety of scientists and engineers, including analytical chemists, biochemists, biologists, microbiologists, toxicologists, and chemical engineers. (Engineers also work on environmental concerns, including regulatory compliance, traffic patterns within the plant, hazardous waste control, ergonomics issues, and packaging processes.) Technicians assist scientists and engineers by conducting research, running tests, maintaining and repairing equipment, monitoring production, and keeping records.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cosmetics and some other personal-care products. Regulatory affairs, compliance, and quality assurance professionals are needed to work with the FDA to ensure that products meet government safety standards.

Production workers comprise the largest segment of manufacturing employment. They operate, monitor, and adjust machines, tools, and equipment; package products; and ship products to suppliers. Large companies often handle sales and distribution from inside the company, while smaller companies may sell their products through wholesalers, who supply retail stores and other sellers with products from many different manufacturers.

Plant managers, department managers, supervisors, and forepersons oversee manufacturing plants and their workforces. These employees usually have a great deal of experience as production workers and are responsible for such areas as worker productivity, product quality, safety and health, and plant and machine maintenance.

Technological innovations have improved manufacturing quality and efficiency, which has reduced the number of production workers needed. Additionally, many U.S.-based personal-care products companies are moving production facilities to foreign countries, where labor costs are lower than they are in the United States. 


The personal-care industry is highly competitive. Many companies produce personal-care products, and a strong marketing strategy is the key to selling lots of lipstick or many tubes of toothpaste.

The marketing department begins working on its marketing campaign for a product long before a final version of the product has been developed. It conducts research to determine what consumers want from a product such as toothpaste (protection from cavities, whitening properties, etc.), and it also studies the products of competitors. The department determines which demographic group contains the most people who are likely to buy the product, and it develops a marketing campaign to reach this audience through advertisements placed in newspapers and magazines and on radio, television, the Internet, and billboards. Product packaging design is another responsibility of the marketing department. The packaging must make the product stand out from all of its competitors on store shelves or in other settings. The marketing department also develops a distribution plan for products. If a product is expected to sell well to a certain group, for example, then marketing professionals must decide how to deliver it to members of that group based on when and where those people shop.

Some popular marketing careers include copywriters, print and digital designers, packaging designers, art directors, marketing research specialists, and marketing managers. Some companies have in-house marketing departments, while others work with outside agencies.

Online advertising, especially via mobile and social media, has become an increasingly popular way for personal-care companies to reach consumers. Look for companies to expand their digital marketing efforts in the coming years. 


Personal-care products are sold in retail settings such as supermarkets, drug stores, and specialty cosmetics stores; online; by direct mail; and door-to-door. Specialty cosmetic stores have become increasingly popular in recent years. Two examples are ULTA Beauty and Sephora. As of November 2019, ULTA Beauty has approximately 1,241 stores in 50 states and also distributes its products and offers tutorials and other resources through its Web site. Sephora, which is owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, a leading international luxury-goods group, has approximately 2,600 stores in 34 countries and, like ULTA, has a strong presence online.

Sales occupations include retail sales workers, retail sales managers, and cosmetics sales representatives. Cosmetics sales representatives who work for such companies as Avon Products, Inc. or Mary Kay, Inc. are not employees but independent contractors and they usually work part time. Avon has nearly 6 million independent sales representatives active in 70 countries. Mary Kay has more than 3.5 million beauty consultants, selling its products in more than 40 markets worldwide.

Major Trends

Major trends in the industry include increasing public demand for the ethical treatment of animals used in the testing of cosmetics and other products; the increasing use of cosmetics and beauty products by male consumers; the growing production and marketing of specialty products for minorities (such as hair products for African-American women); the development of “cosmeceuticals,” products that have medicinal or drug-like benefits; self-pampering in the home products; multifunctional products, in an effort to streamline and simplify daily routines; and an increasing focus on the development of “green” products and manufacturing practices. One other trend is the growing use of nanotechnology, which is defined by as “the development of materials that have at least one measured dimension in the range of 1–100 nanometers (1 nanometer = 1 billionth of a meter).” By developing materials and structures at a molecular level, nanotechnology can increase the effectiveness of products (such as sunscreens), and its use in manufacturing is expected to, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, “help conserve energy needed to produce chemicals and reduce the amount of waste products, making the manufacturing process more efficient.” Consumers' interest in and awareness of how beauty products are formulated and manufactured continues to be on the rise. This interest is being driven particularly by the growing concern about water supplies in the future. As described by a Mintel market research report, "water is set to become a precious commodity as consumption outstrips supply. The more consumers become aware of this, the more beauty brands will need to change how they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water."