How to Make a Cosmetic Product Brief Part 1: Define Your Product

Elizabeth Heath

Sep 28, 2021 · 4 min read

If you’ve been following the Goldn blog, you’ve likely seen numerous references to the Product Brief. We often cite how important it is – in fact, it’s sort of the “skeleton” upon which your entire product gets created and goes to market: No skeleton = no body!

Getting a new beauty product to market is a very complex process. A massive amount of coordination goes into getting a new cosmetic product from its initial concept – the dream stage – to being on the shelves or available through e-commerce.

For Beauty Brands, Indie Brands, Beauty Founders, and professional Cosmetic Developers, there is one fundamental piece of the Cosmetic Development roadmap that is as challenging as it is important.

And that’s the Cosmetic Product Brief.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly the Product Brief entails, why it matters so much, and, most importantly, how to create one. It’s a big topic, so we’ve broken it into two separate posts. This first one deals with the first principle of your brief, the Product Description.

What Is a Cosmetic Product Brief?

Your Cosmetic Product Brief is the document, or a few documents, that lay out the information for each of the parts of your product development strategy. If you are going to market with more than one product, let’s say, a line of skincare that includes a cleanser, a serum and toner, then you have to create a brief for each of those products.

The Product Brief is your overall product development strategy that encompasses the details of your product beyond its physical components, to include the target market, launch strategy, and other considerations.

If you don’t have a complete, well-thought-out Product Brief for your new cosmetic idea, you’re essentially laying an unstable foundation for everything built on top, and for every step that comes later during product development. And not defining every section in your Product Brief thoughtfully can lead to painful losses, not just in money but in time – a precious commodity when you’re trying to get your new Cosmetic Product to market.

The Three Principles of the Product Brief

There are three principles that will set you up for success when you’re creating your Product Brief. They are:

  • #1 Physical Description
  • #2 Commercial Parameters
  • #3 ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)

Each is an equally essential part of the Product Brief, and each one depends on the other. We’ll take a look at each of these principles and what goes into them, starting with the Physical Description.

Principle #1: Physical Description

Most Cosmetic Creators are likely to start by describing the physical characteristics of their product. This is the fun part – thinking about what your product looks like, smells like, and what it feels like when applied. These aspects are all tied to your formula.

Let’s say your plan is to develop a sunscreen. The first thing you’ll want to think about is the formula. And that means you really have to pin down your ideal chemical and physical description, so that whoever is reading your Product Brief – for example, a formulator – can come back to you with solid feedback on feasibility.

Some sample points to consider:

  • Do you want your sunscreen to be mineral based, and have a physical filter?
  • Do you want it to be creamy, or more of an oil consistency?
  • Will it be white or pigmented with color?
  • Do you want it to be odorless, or with a tropical scent?

You don’t have to be a chemist or cosmetic formulator yourself to decide these answers, and you don’t have to know everything there is to know about ingredients. But hopefully, you’ve done your market research and learned enough about textures, colors, and smells, in order to write a physical description of the product in the brief.

The next thing you want to include in the physical description of your Cosmetic Product Brief is your primary packaging – that first layer of packaging and the one that has direct contact with the formula.

It’s important at this stage to provide as much detail as possible, even if you haven’t decided on the exact packing or the specific package supplier you’ll order from.

Using the sunscreen example, you’ll need to decide if your product will be sold

  • in a tube
  • in a bottle with a flip-top
  • in a can, such as a pressurized foam or mousse
  • in a spray or pump bottle

Information on primary packaging is important for a few reasons. Your formulator will consider formula-packaging compatibility and can flag any potential issues up front.

For example, you might want a spray bottle. But your mineral sunscreen can’t be formulated with the fluidity necessary to pass through a spray nozzle. Or your thick and nutrient-rich sunscreen will work best in a tube, rather than a pump bottle. But using a tube might mean you need to order packaging in higher quantities.

The focus for many first-time Beauty Founders at the start of their journey is often to put all the attention on either formula or packaging, but not on both. But if your focus is mostly on one or the other, then your Product Brief can be a little disconnected from other parts of your plan.

Information like this might seem trivial at this stage. But wait until you flesh out the rest of your brief – and your budget – and you’ll see how getting the right combination of formula and primary packaging is essential to successfully develop and launch a product.


Next in this two-part article, let’s look at the two other principles of a Cosmetic Product Brief: Commercial Parameters and ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).

And remember, once you’ve familiarized yourself with the key elements of the Product Brief, consider signing on to Goldn and accessing the Goldn Product Builder, a first-of-its-kind digital environment for creating a Cosmetic Product Brief and taking your idea all the way through formulation, production and to-market.

Until the end of 2021, access to the Product Builder is free for Beauty Brands and Cosmetic Product Developers – making now the perfect time to launch your new cosmetic product or brand!

Written by

Elizabeth Heath

Liz is a writer and editor based in central Italy.

Connect with Elizabeth Heath on LinkedIn.

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