Tag Archives: private label cosmetics

Follow Your Passion : Key Steps To Developing Great Cosmetics

26 Aug

I was struggling to put together content for my next blog post because as you know I can get really technical (and ultimately pedantic!) on the formulations we receive and come up with every other day and I really would like this blog to serve those of you who aren’t necessarily cosmetics chemists (for those of you who are, ChemistsCorner is a great resource), and who would just like to either start their own cosmetics business or peek into the everyday life of So Susan Cosmetics and what we get up to.

This morning, the struggle continued as I stared at a blank screen trying to decide whether it would be better for me to write something (as I’ve now committed to publishing a post every 2 weeks), or wait till inspiration hits and put something out there that will really benefit you (and ultimately myself as I too learn so much with every thought and action I put down on “paper”). Of course the Universe always gives us a reason to pause and put things on hold no matter how hard we try to be productive so I waited till I got to work. And what should pop up in my email the minute I opened it this morning was none other than an excellent piece on the Foundation of Good Formulation Development from Innovadex (another amazing resource for ingredient suppliers).

I thought it was such a great, comprehensive list but so totally focused on just formulators that I’m just going to take little excerpts from it, and add a few of my own especially when it comes to the aesthetics of the final product since I believe beautiful, functional packaging and the right pricing is just as important as the formulation of any great cosmetic product. So here is my Key Checklist to creating a product that I believe in and am inspired by :

  • Formulations must be cosmetically appealing and delight the consumer. When beginning a project, put together a formulation strategy outlining the various approaches you are considering along with a technical rationale. Ensure also that you have researched the right packaging for a consistent brand story.
  • Don’t fall in love with technology, fall in love with consumer benefits. Creating product stories is easier when you’re delivering real benefits.
  • Treat each product like a little fairytale or a good book, with a beginning (delight your customers with unique, beautiful packaging which is the first thing they see), a juicy middle (ensure the formulation feels and looks superior on the skin, do not compromise!) and a great ending (price it correctly, according to your target demographic and your brand positioning to secure that sale).
  • Be responsible for the product that you’re putting out there in the market. Label your products accurately and in accordance with all labelling guidelines in the country you want to market them in. Start stability testing and packaging compatibility tests as early as possible. Always do your final stability testing in the package you will market.
  • Never kill technology because of costs and naysayers. Push your chemist and packaging supplier for the best that you can afford and know that a truly great product is always a series of trade-offs between product aesthetics (which includes your primary and secondary packaging), safety, optimum formulation performance and cost.

It is truly less complicated and scary than it all seems, so for all you budding cosmetics entrepreneurs out there, I say : What are you waiting for? As always, I’m leaving you with a Beauty Tweet about following your passion that has always inspired me by an amazing teacher, author, poet & novelist… Franz Kafka. Tweet and share it if you agree!

TODAY’S BEAUTY TWEET : “Don’t bend, don’t water it down, don’t try to make it logical. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly” @sosusanbeauty

 

 

Today It’s All About Me…

3 Aug

There are some days when I wake up and know that today is rest day, today it’s all about Susan the living, breathing person rather than Susan the entrepreneur, or the founder of a cosmetics company, or Susan the employer. I take 3 deep breaths while still in bed and do a silent prayer, thanking God for the blessings I see in my life and asking Him to further give me the wisdom and courage to pursue the tasks of the day. (Yes I really do live by the day, maybe not so quite in the moment – it’s something I’m still learning to do ever since I read Ekhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” – but neither do I wallow in too much worry for what’s to come next year or the year after that).

And of course, after my morning coffee ritual (these 10 minutes of just making my espresso is what I call my “minutes of reflection and peace”, extremely invigorating when it’s just you pottering about in the kitchen, watching the coffee brew and taking in that delightful aroma), I curl up on my sofa and go straight to a good book. At the moment, it’s Paolo Coelho’s “Aleph” and oooh the quotes in that book are life-changing! My favourite is definitely the one about going for your dreams (see below for today’s Beauty Tweet and share it if you agree)

Later, I do what is becoming a near-obsession lately i.e. reading business blogs mostly recommended by other female entrepreneurs (and no, they don’t all have to be written by women, as long as they’re inspiring and nurturing). A few good ones I’ve been following are :

  1. Marie Forleo
    I think she single-handedly reinvented the whole concept of life & business coaching.
  2. Melissa Cassera
    Melissa makes me smile (always a good thing during your downtime), she has some seriously good tips on PR and Marketing yourself and your brand, done in a big, brazen way which I love!
  3. Mastin Kipp’s The Daily Love
    I sometimes wish I came up with this, little snippets of how to love yourself and others in your mailbox every fortnight. Helpful, Hopeful, Heavenly.
  4. Angela Jia Kim’s Savor The Success Videos
    When Angela first started vlogging her experiences on starting her Om Aroma brand, she had less than 10 followers, and I was one of them. Fast forward 6 years later, and she not only has a successful skincare brand, but a business network for female entrepreneurs making at least 6-figure sums (yes, that is a pre-requisite to joining her Savor Success Circle!).
  5. Neil Patel
    A british transplant now based in Seattle, Neil is a serial entrepreneur and I’ve used most of his companies’ services since starting out in business myself (the Hello Bar, Crazy Egg, etc…). A great marketer that we can all learn from.

Another thing I like to do on my “It’s All About Me” day is to work, and I know that sounds counter-intuitive but when I say work, it really has none of the negative connotations relating to doing something that someone forced upon me, or the daily humdrum of having to complete a project when all you really want to do is bask in the sunny outdoors with a lemonade. I L-O-V-E the creative part of my work, so it really is something I jump out of bed excited to do, especially when designing packaging, creating colours and tweaking our formulations. You can see from below, my hands are constantly (and I meant constantly!) covered in makeup. The picture below was taken when I was trying to compare whether the fill would fit in nicely with the injection colour of the primary component samples that I’d received just a couple of days ago.

Photo 03-08-2014 11 56 59

And below another shot (sorry I could have made it clearer but it’s my “All About Me” day today :)) of the 2 primaries which I have to choose from, a really fun part of the creative process as you look for brand & design consistencies.

Photo 03-08-2014 11 50 28 copy

 

TODAY’S BEAUTY TWEET : “Don’t be intimidated by others’ opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do”@sosusanbeauty

Creating a Cashmere Blush

9 Jul

So here’s another project I started working on, oh about 8 months back when a girlfriend mentioned how she would love it if she could magically infuse the perfect shade of blush into a powder primer (yes I think that’s a genius idea too, why are primers always in liquid form? After our moisturiser, eye cream and sun screen, do we really need to slap any more gook on, and then follow that up with foundation?!) to both give colour and a smoother complexion . So of course I had to send an email that very evening to Lara, our trusty cosmetics chemist to see if anything could be done, and even though she often tries to talk me out of the zany ideas I have (normally emailed over to her in the middle of the night and then expecting an answer first thing the following morning!), she was really excited about this one and got to working on it very quickly.

FirstVersion-CashmereBlush

The first version (as you can see above) didn’t quite meet expectations as the powders often came loose, adhering to the mirror and sides of the packaging, not a pretty sight if our whole point is to delight our customers each time they open our compact. It was however a really remarkable formulation as it went on smooth as a velvety cream and reduced the sight of small pores, so technically it worked a treat. But the aesthetics needed to be improved.

The next version was infused with small amounts of silicone (the main ingredient in most primers), which I believe not only locked in the amazing texture and reduced the flyaways but when applied, seemed to minimize even further the appearance of small pores.

CashmereBlushShades

We chose (as you can see above) 7 multidimensional shades, 3 with shimmer and 4 without, to flatter as many tastes and skin tones as possible. Not an easy task after having been shown 25 beautiful colours! I wanted them all!

Now onto the packaging which I wanted to be as bright, happy and optimistic as the promise of the Cashmere Blush. After having worked with amazing illustrators like Bijou and Lucy, I knew I wanted to work with unique illustrations that were both cheerful and upbeat, so I contacted Ning (whose email I now have approval to release in case you were looking for something similar : ning.illustrates at gmail dot com) who is also one inspirational lady herself as she works 12 hours as an investment banker, coming home to then do her sketches at night (whoever said bankers didn’t have a soul hasn’t met her yet!)

Illustrations

She put together 2 amazing little sketches for me (above), and even though they were just rough ideas, I loved them so much they were immediately scanned in, tweaked (just a teeny tiny bit), and incorporated into our secondary packaging with a wonderful quote on beauty and youth by Franz Kafka (see below for today’s Beauty Tweet and share it if you agree)

And voila…A final view of our Cashmere Blush (with PoreFade™ Technology) in both its primary and secondary packaging…

CashmereBlush

TODAY’S BEAUTY TWEET : “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” @sosusanbeauty

Weekend Spent Formulating Foundations

17 Mar

Buriti Foundation Samples

OK, so not quite the weekend (that itself was spent just finalizing the colours), this has been in the making for 2 whole months trying to get the texture just right while being able to incorporate the various peptides and botanical oils that I wanted. Ever since trying Buriti Fruit Oil on my hair and mixed in with my facial oils, I’ve been quite obsessed with this slightly orange, matte oil that just moisturizes everything (hair, nails, skin) without leaving an oily residue or any nutty, cooking-oil smells (think : Argan!). Also as I’m now in my early thirties, the word “anti-aging” appears more and more in my vocabulary and in nearly every other sentence I utter when I’m in the lab formulating and even though I still sometimes get asked for my ID when buying a bottle of wine at my local Waitrose, lines and wrinkles (and my near-obsession with preventing them from appearing on my face) are still a big worry. So I had Lara (our cosmetics chemist) incorporate the trusty Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamins C and E and the Buriti Oil into a few formulations (matte, waterproof, dewy, light, tinted moisturizers, etc…) and she very kindly (and quickly! – which I’m always grateful for) developed samples for me to test at home on myself and absolutely everyone I come in contact with.

Foundation Shades

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.