My 5-Day Juice Cleanse

19 Feb

Those that know me, know I love my cleanses. I don’t always enjoy the process of getting through them, but I am somewhat addicted to how the body feels and the discipline of the mind that comes into play after every cleanse. So it all starts off today, a simple 5-day juice cleanse, which I’ve never done before (always with soup prior to this), 6 juices a day, every 1-half to 2 hours, that should last me a good 10 hours while I work.

This is what my really bare fridge looks like right now :

Juice Cleanse

Day 1 of Juice Cleanse

Yes, I cleared out all the contents, except for a carton of eggs, it just helps being a real foodie not to have food around all the time while I’m doing this!

10am : Great breakfast drink, orange, carrot & ginger, sipping it over 10 minutes as advised, but am really taking it slow as I’m never too hungry in the mornings. Back to work & tons of emails, keeps the head busy and the body too stressed to think of food!

2pm : The banana-coconut-pineapple concoction is going well, in place of my normal lunchtime sandwich / sushi. Not too bad but am constantly thinking of a big teaspoon of my lovely Nutella. Not feeling hungry but will take a cup of Rooibos tea in any case. Am now on my 3rd glass of water, which is great as I’m usually too lazy / not bothered with drinking that much water.

5pm : I have just gulped the 3rd bottle, a citrusy, cherry light smoothie, am experiencing the first pangs of hunger, but another cup of water down and that’s managed to squelch it. For the time being.

6pm : OK another cherry-ish thin smoothie, this is juice #4 and as dinner is normally my biggest indulgence of the day, I am getting a little peckish. I can see why they ask you to “sip” rather than gulp the juice down, no matter how tempting this is. It really gives your stomache time to feel full and then you don’t feel the urge to cheat so much. Gonna take my time with this one and stop thinking of pasta!

9.15pm : Actually forgot to take juice #5 at 8pm, been tweaking & re-tweaking an artwork for our Nail Lacquers that I forgot I was actually hungry. Sipping on this, with a cup of hot fruit tea and have not been tempted to cheat so far. Coffee craving’s still there though, but no headaches or any other caffeine withdrawal symptoms yet.

11pm : My final juice (#6) which I was supposed to take an hour ago but have been so caught up with work. Really enjoying this one while watching Disney, my favourite way to relax & regroup after a long work day! Am looking forward to see how I feel tomorrow morning…


How To Test a Cosmetic Product At Home

8 Feb

“This is about testing formulations. I’m thinking about working with a small(one person) manufacturer on a skincare line. I have gotten some samples of existing products they have made but I’m planning on changing the recipes. My question is, how does someone properly test a product out? I can test it out on ourselves, but is there a way to know how it will perform over time? My worry is that I start selling the product and 3 months down the road I get a call saying that the product has separated or has starting to glow green, or something like that. Is there a way around this, or do I just have to wait it out and see how it will perform over time.

Love your blog and insights on the industry.”

I received the above question from Ellie regarding testing your product efficacy and learning about the claims cosmetic companies make on their packaging and thought this was such a significant issue to everyone (not just formulators or business owners, but consumers out there) that I decided to make a whole post out of it. Thank you Ellie for bringing this up! Here goes :

You should carry out an efficacy test on your products before you make any claim, no matter how small. Obviously claims that define a cosmetic product so that it now legally becomes a “drug” (such as any SPF claims, or if you say your product treats a skin/hair disorder, or aromatherapy claims such as the product will help the consumer sleep, etc…) need to be put through their paces, receive pre-market approval by the FDA and carry a different set of labelling requirements. Read the FDA’s guidelines on what constitutes a Cosmetic and a Drug.

There are many laboratories out there who will be able to carry out Efficacy Tests on your products so that you’re able to legally make a claim (eg : percentage increase in skin moisture, wrinkle reduction, hours of wear, etc…). However, this really is an investment as it can range from $2000 -$20,000+! And for small startups it really isn’t feasible sometimes.

If you’re not making any drug claims (again, I urge everyone to visit FDA’s website so you know exactly what the difference is between a drug and a cosmetic), a great way to ensure you’re putting well-formulated, safe products out there is to bring together a group of 50 volunteers over a course of time. Engage family, friends and their friends & family to help you do this (but no pregnant women please if you’re testing anything with essential oils!). After all, this not only enables you to document the performance of your product as well as gives you the confidence that it’s not going to irritate or sensitize skins and that you’re most likely not going to be landed with a huge litigation suit down the line, it’s also a great opportunity to let everyone know you’re starting something amazing.

Note down their age range, sex & race (as different skin tones / general genetic makeup need to be taken into consideration). Ask them to bathe as usual before they come to you. Do a test patch on them by applying the cream on one side of a sterilized medical gauze and adhere it with medical tape (not too tightly, allow for airflow) onto the part of the body that your product is meant for. Ask them not to wet or expose the part to direct sunlight. After 24 hours, remove the patch.

Ensure this is repeated every alternate day until you get a series of 9 or 10 readings. In the event of any severe adverse reaction (say, a weeping rash or red skin bump develops), ensure that your “test subjects” notify you immediately and record the severity of the reaction with area measurements and photos. You then know you either need to reformulate or re-test in a proper lab.

Otherwise, record your findings for each of your 50 “test subjects” by scoring them :

0 for no reaction (i.e. completely safe),

0.5 for a barely perceptible/light pink spotty inflammation,

1 for a mild inflammation covering most of the contact site,

2 for moderate inflammation visibly uniform in the entire contact area,

3 for marked, bright red inflammation with itching

Take photos of all results wherever possible. This now becomes your test result and you can then decide whether to put it to market or not. Remember to keep all original samples, raw data and any notes safely for future referencing. Remember also to keep batch samples of all your products for 2-3 years so that you can compare and determine shelf life stability for your own peace of mind.

Facial Oil Blends : My Journey To Creating One

21 Jan

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m simply obsessed about moisturizing. I always need to have my heavy duty facial cream within reach, my lip salves and balms are strewn everywhere and I simply love giving (and receiving) any and every type of lotion and potion. My ultimate obsession over the past year and a half however, has been facial oils. It started with “borrowing” my mom’s secret stash of rosehip oil which she has applied everyday for as long as I can remember (she’s 60 but has the neck and cheekbones of someone half her age), which I used to not just moisturize but to cleanse (I add in a little polysorbate-80 & grapefruit oil as I love a squeaky clean feeling), remove my makeup, exfoliate… resulting in baby-smooth skin and a skincare regiment of hardly 3 minutes a day. I’m pretty blemish-free as it is, but this was literally life-changing, I kid you not. And when the whole argan oil and OCM (Oil Cleansing Method) phase exploded onto the cosmetics industry and was lauded on the pages of every fashion magazine you could think of, I become a woman on a mission. A mission to not only create an amazing facial oil blend that not only functioned well, but which looked and smelled just as luxurious.

So fast forward 8 months and my amazing italian formulator, who very cleverly worked with an english aromatherapist (I would LOVE to give out her name here but she works with other shall we say, competing companies, so I’ll keep mum about her for now) came up with a formula of 9 essential oils and the result is BEAUTIFUL, here’s the list :

– Evening Primrose Oil, Argan Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Passionflower Oil, Camellia Oil, Organic Rosehip Oil, Pomegranate Oil, Rose Absolute, Lavender Oil.

So now you know what I’ve been slathering all over my face and body for the past 5 months while waiting for the packaging to be completed. Now, onto the packaging, another incredibly tiring but satisfying mission on its own.

Standard Amber Dropper Bottles

I started with your typical amber drop bottles (picture above), they cost $0.18 at most for a 30ml bottle, really cheap but which didn’t quite do justice to the formulation within. I suppose I wanted something less clinical, a little more luxurious, which you’d be happy to display on your bathroom cabinet or vanity table, and which would also radiate shelf presence.


After a long search through,  and lots of Googling, these amazing push-button dropper bottles found me (I like to think it was positively providential!) and a quick 1 week later, 20 samples were ready on my table with caps in every shade of silver and gold (I was specific about having it metallized), matte, reflective, rose-gold, light-gold, heavy-silver, chrome, etc… The button “clicks” with just the right amount of pressure, it draws in the right amount of oils, it’s much more tactile than a rubber dropper and the clear glass bottle, although not double-bottled (which I always prefer), works immensely well with the rich marigold colour of the oils. They are definitely much more expensive (a good 5x more, without any printing) but I’m absolutely in heaven. However, we’re not done yet…I’m now putting these babies through a 3-month compatibility test after which if all goes well, I’d be very happy to report its launch!

Next challenge : A cleansing oil that will leave your skin moisturized, but with that squeaky-clean feeling at the same time, and which smells invigoratingly good.

Help A Reader!

20 Dec

Name: Jasprin Smith
Your Questions: Susan,

I am looking to start a lip gloss line to go with a business I am starting.  I don’t want a full blown cosmetics line, only lip gloss.  Do you have any recommendations for companies that do packaging and labeling of lip gloss?  I am going to use my own formula, I just need the packaging.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.


Collaborating with Amazing Illustrators

21 Nov

In this business where I have to say I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many talented artists, graphic designers and creative minds, it’s sometimes so difficult to decide with whom I’d like to collaborate most. However once in a while, the stars align, the creative gods smile upon me, and I have the honour of meeting incredible illustrators who just epitomize our brand and the message we want to send out. One such person is Lucy Joy Oldfield, whom I worked with over a year ago to develop some illustrations for Jelly Pong Pong’s catalogue.

I spend hours upon hours reading design blogs, sitting on my sofa with a cup of rooibos tea & going through these blogs are a HUGE part of my life! It’s one of the ways I inspire myself and my team to create wonderful products in unique, one-of-a-kind packaging. It was through one of these blogs (I’m sorry, I completely forgot which one as I go through too many!) that I spotted Lucy’s playful yet sophisticated illustration for a tea company and I just knew I had to meet and work with her. You’ll see why below :

I love everything to do with desserts! Lucy very beautifully incorporated our Soap Popsicles (below) into this particular illustration of the inside of a girly fridge. It cemented the fact that she really thought about the design and about making it relevant to the Jelly Pong Pong brand.




Our irresistible Soap Popsicles lovingly made by hand, which we could never keep in stock, each time we brought them out, they’d sell out! I love that Lucy drew them upside down in the fridge, as though they were just being made & were still freezing in their little moulds.




My other favourite image is this baking scene with magical sprinkles, our “Jelly Pong Pong” branded mixing bowl and a little recipe book inspired by our Gourmet Lip Therapy spy-book packaging. The detailed patterns on the cleverly placed fork, salt & pepper shakers and butterflies are just incredible.




Simply the most girlish, adorable bubblegum machine in the world. This particular image so captured everyone’s imagination and hearts in the office that we decided to further immortalize it in the form of a product, an ingenious lip & cheek stain by the name Jelly Stain (see below).


This is the new Jelly Stain with Lucy’s incredibly sweet rendition of a bubble gum machine. Due to printing restrictions, we had to limit the entire tube to just 3 colours, but it works really well together with the unique, multifunctional formulation, sending a consistent brand message and creating excellent shelf presence. The lower count print also financially made sense for us without jeopardizing overall product impact.

A big Thank You to you Lucy, our design heroine!

Help A Reader!

11 Oct

Hi Kaitlyn!

I remember those days when I used to wreck my brains over the figures for every little thing, from packaging to formulation to labour costs to shipping and packing, to fulfillment costs, even to the sandwich I was going to have for lunch! It’s still a big headache today, only now I have the luxury of a customized software that we use as well as several more hands to help me with the nitty-gritty bits of the business.

To be honest, there is no other way of getting an accurate evaluation of your business plan or the funds you’re going to be needing (and ultimately spending!) if you don’t request for current prices from your manufacturers. Each product that you come up with (if you’re contract manufacturing, which I’m supposing you are) is so customized to your exact requirements (from print size, colour, texture of the components, to formulations, to fill quantities, to the final quantities you order, to your packing methods, etc…) that there just isn’t any way of “guessing”, unless you’ve had that exact product manufactured before.

A few things that may be able to help though is perhaps getting a buffer fund together i.e. an emergency fund, something you can fall back when and if you have underestimated or come across an unexpected cost. In this economy, I think it’s also great to keep your current job (i.e. in makeup artistry) going at full-force while you are planning your next steps so there’s always a sense of security and most importantly relevant trading history.

I hope this has helped, but I’m opening up the question to the public in any case.

Rgds, Susan.


Name: Kaitlyn
Website / Blog:
Your Questions: Hi there!

I’m so happy to have come across your blog. I’ve been wanting to start a makeup line for years and have been working as a makeup artist in film/tv and fashion. I’ve been very ill and have just started to recover and realized that I really need to get things going with this dream of mine, because… life is just too short!
I have all of my products planned and have been doing a ton of research again. I have been updating all the notes I had on my business plan but now that it comes down to getting actual figures to apply for grants and loans, I really have no idea what figures to come up with. When you did your first business plan, how accurate were your figures for start-up costs? I’m trying to figure out the costs of a smaller start-up once everything has been formulated (I’ve teamed up with a cosmetic chemist). I’m trying to find out what our start-up costs will be if our goal is to really try and do it right (our brand will rely on a target market with money and therefore their attention to quality and luxury-type items will be key)

Is there any way you can think of to do this without requesting real quotes from companies? I’ve researched lots of companies, but I don’t yet have the details they require to give me a quote. I want to make sure that the numbers on my business plan will reflect the amount of money I’ll need but these figures are so daunting!

The information you supply on your blog is so valuable and it’s helped me so much! Thank you for sharing with all of us who are passionate about getting into this business 🙂

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Kaitlyn Rae

Help A Reader!

28 Aug

Hi Kristin! Thank you for your lovely comments, but I will need to open your question up to the public as I’d love to know a good source of great fragrance blends as well. We’re currently working with an essential oil-sourcing company but as I haven’t put them on a proper trial yet (i.e. launched the product), I won’t blog on them until I’m certain they’re worth the time & space here. If anyone’s able to help, please post your comments below, thank you!


Name: Kristin
Your Questions:

Hello!  Your blog is such an amazing inspiration and resource!

I’m wondering if you have any sources for (affordable) custom fragrance blends, particularly using essential oils rather than synthetic/fragrance oils.  I feel like scent is the one area where information is very hard to come by – and quality products can be equally hard to find!

Thank you!