This is why there aren't more local beauty brands being made locally
When local brands claim to be local, we may think it to mean that they are proudly made in the Philippines. But this isn't always the case. Their teams and concepts originate from the Philippines but manufacturing the actual products is a different story entirely. They go to Taiwan, China, Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia to bring their concepts to life. Why is this?
There are a few reasons. The Philippines is not super advanced yet when it comes to the scientific and technological aspects of manufacturing cosmetics. I'm not sure if there's a focus on improving our economy by way of growing manufacturing businesses. In fact, our country lives paycheck to paycheck on the backs of exported skilled workers - OFWs. Imagine how this brain drain benefits other countries at least within the manufacturing industry.
I know from experience that skincare, hair and body care manufacturing here is pretty good (this is why I was able to make In Her Element right here in the PH, and of course there's Zenutrients) but it's more difficult when it comes to cosmetics. For instance, I am not yet aware of any manufacturer that makes eyeliner and eyebrow products, or basically any makeup in pencils. Let me know if you know any!
As for other products like lipsticks, powders, and liquids, good quality ones can be made here such as the ones from Colourette and Ellana; and did you know that while Avon is not local, its lipsticks and powders are made here? They have a plant in Laguna. VMV Hypoallergenics and Human Nature also have factories here. But it's still more expensive to make makeup in the PH compared to going to Taiwan and China. Labor and electricity are quite pricey here and many raw materials still need to be imported abroad. Don't even get me started on packaging.
The more expensive something is to make, the more expensive the price will be. There are also additional overhead costs which include warehousing, logistics, marketing, and retailing (Watsons for instance takes about 40%+ of the brand's earnings).Given all this, many brands have little choice but to manufacture abroad in order to reach their target price for their market.
Let's be clear here: I'm not writing this article to make some local brands look bad. Of course it's great to support the country's cosmetics manufacturing industry, but there are also very good reasons why not all brands can afford to do so. I'm happy that more brands and coming out with great concepts - it is such an exciting and competitive time for the local beauty industry! I'd rather have more brands come out and succeed than have them die instantly just trying to fit into a black and white local-must-be-made-local hole.
My dream is that in the future, the Philippines can be a beauty manufacturing powerhouse. I want every local brand to have access to great products without having to go abroad. This can only happen if we continue to support everybody in the industry, so our demand can push for further investment and innovation.