In the world of skincare, it's easy to get lost in the sea of options. Shelves brimming with colorful bottles and tubes promise the secret to radiant, flawless skin. Many consumers diligently pore over ingredient lists, hoping to find the perfect product for their unique needs.
However, there's a phenomenon occurring in the skincare industry that often goes unnoticed by even the most discerning consumers: White Labeling.
White labeling also known as contract labeling, or private labeling, is a practice where a skincare manufacturer, usually a lab, produces a product or formula and sells it to multiple brands, allowing them to pack them in pretty bottles or jars, slap their labels on it and market it as their own.
This means that different brands can offer nearly identical products with different packaging, claims, fragrances, and colors at varying price points.
The Hidden World of White/Private Labeling
White labeling is not unique to the skincare industry; it's prevalent in various sectors, from food to electronics. However, it's particularly rampant in the beauty and skincare industry. Many consumers are unaware that their favorite skincare product might not be as unique as they make them look.
Here's how white labeling typically works in the skincare industry:
Manufacturers or Formulators Develop Formulas: Skincare manufacturers invest in research and development to create skincare formulas, which aren't necessarily effective. These formulas can include cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and more.
Brands Purchase These Formulas: Skincare brands, often smaller or newer ones, purchase these pre-developed formulas from manufacturers of formulators. They may choose to customize the formula slightly by changing the fragrance or color, or keep it as is.
Branding and Packaging: Manufacturers or formulators often times offer suitable packaging options and even labels. If not the brands purchasing these already on the market formulations, create their packaging, labels with product listing provided by the manufacturer, and marketing materials. They often market the product as a unique creation exclusive to their brand as a selling point. However searching for the entire list of ingredients often times reveals the same formula with at least 10 different labels from various brands.
Retail Sales: The newly branded products are then sold in stores or online, often at varying price points depending on the brand's reputation and marketing strategy.
The Impact on Unaware Consumers
While white labeling can offer some benefits, such as cost savings for smaller brands and faster product development, it has several implications for unsuspecting consumers:
- Duplication of Products: Consumers may unknowingly purchase multiple skincare products from different brands, believing they are unique when, in reality, they contain the same formula of some of the products they already have. This can lead to wasted money and confusion.
- Inflated Prices: Some white-labeled products are sold at premium prices by well-known brands. Consumers end up paying more for a product they could find at a lower cost from another label.
- Lack of Transparency: White or Private labeling often obscures the true origin of a product, making it challenging for consumers to trace the source of the formula, manufacturing practices, or ingredient quality.
- Product Efficacy Concerns: Different brands may claim different results or benefits from the same white-labeled product, leading to confusion about the actual efficacy of the formula.
- Missed Opportunities: Consumers may miss out on discovering other, potentially more suitable products because they are unaware of the identical formulas available under different labels.
How to Navigate the World of White/Private Labeling
To navigate the world of white labeling and make informed skincare choices, consider the following tips:
- Read Ingredient Lists: Always read the ingredient list carefully, as it can reveal whether a product is similar to others on the market or already in your beauty arsenal.
- Research Brands Carefully: Investigate brands to see if they are transparent about their manufacturing processes and ingredient sourcing. Brands that prioritize transparency will have unique formulas, and will disclose them as such.
- Use Google to your advantage: Goggling the entire formula might bring other products with similar or identical formulas.
- Don't Rely on Certifications: In skincare certifications don't mean much or nothing at all when it comes to unique or proprietary formulations. Certifications like organic, cruelty-free, or dermatologist-tested are only used to prove the product either A) complies with the USDA Organic Certification if they claim the product, but this is only valid if the seal from the USDA is displayed on the label legally as there are many using this label without approval, and B) the product abides by strict cruelty-free practices such as the Leaping Bunny Program. C) In the case of Dermatologist-Tested or Dermatologist Approved it really means nothing as anyone can use that label even if no dermatologist has actually ever tested nor approved the product, since there's no organization behind to regulate these claims.
- Consult Reviews and Recommendations: Seek out product reviews and recommendations from trusted sources, such as dermatologists, estheticians, or reputable beauty influencers. They can help you identify effective products regardless of branding. Just be careful which beauty influencer you're trusting, as there are some shady ones out there with thousands followers giving the masses the wrong advice.
- Consider the Price-Effectiveness Ratio: Evaluate whether the price of a product matches its quality and performance. Don't assume that a higher price always means a better product.
- Support Transparent Brands: Consider supporting brands that are transparent about their manufacturing processes and ingredient sources. They are more likely to offer unique formulations and genuine product innovations.
- Explore Lesser-Known Brands: Don't limit your skincare choices to well-known brands. Lesser-known or indie brands may offer innovative, high-quality products that are not part of the white labeling cycle, just like us!
- Ask Questions: If you have doubts about a product's origin or formulation, don't hesitate to contact the brand's customer service and ask questions. Transparent brands will be happy to provide information.
- Keep an Eye on How Often a Brand Reveals New Products: A brand that formulates its own products based on its own unique proprietary formulas would release new products far and in between. A brand that buys ready made formulas or that don't follow the protocols in place for new formulations, might release several products every month. We here at By Valenti take developing new formulas to a whole new level. We not only design our formulas from the ground up, we test, and test, and when we think everything is great, we test some more. One of our proprietary formulas takes an expensive and long journey of 6 months to over a year from design to completion. So when you purchase one of our products you can rest assured you won't find copies anywhere else under any other brand, as we do not offer private labeling.
White, Private or Contract labeling in the skincare industry is a widespread practice that can leave consumers puzzled and potentially spending more than necessary on products that are, in essence, identical and sometimes not worth it at all.
Just like in the fashion industry and their fast fashion, the cosmetics industry is experiencing a similar trend, of cheap apparently effective, skincare formulations.
However, armed with knowledge and a discerning eye, you can navigate this landscape more effectively. By reading ingredient lists, researching brands, and seeking transparency, you can make informed decisions about the skincare products you choose.
Ultimately, the goal is to achieve healthy and radiant skin without falling victim to marketing gimmicks or unnecessary expenses.