Tag Archives: resources

Sneak Peek : Featherweight Cream-To-Powder Blush

23 Apr

I’ve finally managed to put together the formulation and primary packaging of So Susan‘s new Featherweight Cream-To-Powder blush, which is my version of a creamy silk-based blush that even oily skins can wear for colour that lasts up to 8 hours. Here’s a picture of it (sorry I didn’t manage to get it professionally taken, but seeing as it’s for my blog, I think this is much more authentic!) :

I think the most difficult thing for any formulator is to choose the right shades as well as the right NUMBER of shades. I had over 200+ shades to choose from and let me tell you, whittling it down to just 7 took me 2 full weeks, and hours upon hours of testing it on different skin tones (thank you Shabana, Lee & all your amazing volunteers!).

This formulation is one I’m extremely proud of. It lives up to So Susan‘s mantra for solving skin dilemmas and I’m ever so grateful to my italian counterparts for making it just the way I want it. My apologies Federica for what may have seemed like hundreds of tweaks, but a big thank you for making it happen! And within budget too… that always puts a huge smile on my face.

The primary is a mirrored 37mm compact electroplated in gold. It feels lovely and heavy in my hands, and gives just the right “click” when I close it (very important!). My next post will be about an amazing courier company (yes, even better than Fast Lane Couriers which I spoke about it this post), which has allowed me to send & receive packaging samples from China & Taiwan at amazing prices, and even better service. They were instrumental in delivering these gold compacts to me on time, so keep your eyes peeled for that post!


Reader Question : Who Develops Our Formulations?

10 Mar

“I absolutely love your blog. I get so much information from reading it! I’m trying to look into creating my own cosmetics line and boy is it a lot of work. I noticed in one of your posts you talked about how you should connect with a cosmetic chemist to get things going. Do you have an advice on how to find a cosmetic chemist to work with? I’m just wondering how to start without using a private label and simply re-packing their products and calling them my own. I’m not a chemist myself but I still want products that will be my own on a limited budget. Any advice?”

After my last few posts on developing our formulations in a lab, I’ve been receiving lots of emails asking for advice on who best to develop customized formulations with, and in smaller, more practical quantities. The above email sums up your sentiments very well : Private label companies may be able to provide you with choice and the ability to start a range on a tighter budget, but there is just something not quite right about repacking someone else’s formula (a formula that hundreds of other companies are using) and calling it your own.

If that echoes what you feel, then here’s an alternative which I hope will help. We work with 4-5 different contract manufacturers at any given time, some very large (from whom we order in volumes to capitalize on their huge formulation choices & lower prices), some who specialize in amazing powders or emulsions (because I really am quite anal about the product I put on my own skin, and I road-test every single colour and SKU on myself), some with proprietary ingredients or formulations, who do in-house clinical tests, and ONE which I call an “artisanal” laboratory with an amazingly gifted founder and chemist. Her name is Larisa Rossi and she started her own manufacturing facility in Bergamo, Italy (where her parents are from), with her own office & warehouse in the UK. I met her quite by accident last year when she was looking for an office space in the same block as where Jelly Pong Pong‘s offices were, and it was simply a dream come true for me. We could finally develop strong, proprietary formulations in small batches in order to test the market and gauge consumer response.

There is a caveat however. You need to be aware that customized formulations require some investment, you probably would not be able to do anything without a minimum investment of GBP 2000 – GBP 3000 per formulation in perhaps 2-3 different shades (unlike taking a starter pack from a private label company, where you may end up spending less than GBP 500 in total for a whole host of products). If this is something you’re willing to take up, you can continue reading for an indication of Larisa’s prices and quantities (I’m only quoting it from previous dealings with her in order to give you an indication, so please bear in mind that this may change drastically depending on what you develop).

Powders pressed in a pan (this includes eye shadows, blushers, bronzers, illuminizers, etc…) : 1000 pcs /shade @ GBP 0.70 each

Hot pour emulsions in a pan (pan concealers, lip/cheek stains, lip balms, cream blushers, etc…) : 1000 pcs / shade @ GBP 0.80 each

Liquid emulsions (liquid foundations, concealers, luminizers, anything in a cream format) : 15 kgs/ shade @ GBP 60/kg

As you can see, the quantities are below industry average (which are 3 to 4 times more), prices per piece (or per kg) are a little higher but achievable if you are determined to have something fully customized and completely yours.

You need to be aware that like many contract manufacturers based in Europe (other than really large ones who have specialty packaging departments to offer full, turnkey services), Larisa only offers formulations and not primary or secondary packaging. I believe I have spoken at length about primary and more particularly secondary packaging providers. If you have the means to order bulk formulations, make time and hand-pour them into your own bottles or jars right in your kitchen sink to keep your overall budget to a minimum.

So drum roll please, here comes Larisa’s email!

Larisa Rossi : larisarossi2@gmail.com

Reader Question

8 Feb

“I’m so glad I’ve come across your blog I’ve been looking everywhere for help! I’m a 16 year-old looking to start a small business-like system just to make a small profit and possibly mess around and see if starting a makeup business could be long term. I’m at the great age where people respect kids with big ideas and where there’s no taxes and not too many consequences should it fail. I am so ready to start this, makeovers, makeup for dances and descent priced makeup etc. is in a good demand in my area. However, I’m going to need makeup that I can re-sell.I have money to invest for the cost of makeup but I’d still like to keep it low budget. Help?”

You could definitely start with all the private label manufacturers that I mention in previous posts. Another great way of getting started if you’re on a really low budget (and this is great for anyone at any age, in fact the younger you start a business, the more you learn at a greater pace), is to make your own. Go to a website like Bramble Berry where you can learn to mix & hot pour your own lip balms, lipsticks, soaps, etc… Another great website is TKB Trading, I’ve actually bought some pigments from them before to mix before I hand over to the lab to further develop into larger vats. They’re a a great place to start if you want to make your own nail polishes (it’s really quite ingenious!), eye shadows (and I mean those you press in a pan, very professional-looking albeit tedious), mineral powders, lipsticks (complete with metal lipstick moulds which are SO difficult to source for!), etc… I am quite impressed with their array of products. The only problem I find is the inconsistency in their colour pigments. Once we re-ordered the exact same red (I think it was red 7 lake), and it came out in an entirely different shade. On the whole though, cheap & cheerful ingredients to start you off.
Best of luck!
xx Susan.

Starting So Susan and Sourcing For Primary Packaging

6 Jan

This is my first soft announcement that I’m starting another brand called So Susan Cosmetics, which follows my evolution as a cosmetics entrepreneur to cater to a more sophisticated target audience, one who still buys colour cosmetics, but with the added infusions of anti-aging peptides, amino acids and plant botanicals that target signs of skin fatigue. The past few weeks I’ve been busy testing out formulations from my 2 reliable Italian manufacturers, which is just such a delight to do, I literally jump out of bed excited in the mornings!

Sourcing for the primary components though (the bottles, jars, compacts that will directly house your formulations) has been a huge headache. It’s common knowledge that packaging (both primary and secondary i.e. the boxes that house your primary components) generally costs more than the formulation itself (only in very exceptional circumstances have I come across a case that proves the opposite). Granted, I now have a larger budget than the GBP 700 I started with, but I still don’t want to spend it unnecessarily as in this economy, we all need financial buffers. The good news is that I’m finding lots of packaging suppliers who are also competing in this tough economy and who will go down on their minimums, from 10k to 3k for one based in Taiwan which I’ve found, and with no price increases. They’re called Chien Ching, a family business, and although they have limited choices, are easy to work with, at affordable qtys and prices. We’re talking about lipgloss containers with doe-foot applicators, fully customized with logo/brand print, at something like USD 0.20 or less per unit.

As for glass components and bottles with treatment pumps, airless containers (for primers and foundations),  this is an ongoing mission, and I will spread the word on this blog again once I’ve found a company worth touting.

Reader Question

19 Dec

“I am a makeup artist and clinical esthetician. I have been researching products and companies for two years now with my site on opening my own cosmetic/makeup line. I want it to be unique and different from the many lines in the industry so I am taking my time. I do find it hard to find a company who will design my labels with no minimums. Do you have any suggestions? I need labels for my different products and all the companies I find require a large order. Thank you for your inspiring blog and makeup line:)”


You will find it extremely difficult to find a label company with no minimums. I honestly don’t believe the concept of “no minimums” exists in the cosmetics industry, especially if you want a customized product, be it packaging, labels or formulations. And I’d be wary of any printing company which claims it doesn’t impose minimum quantities, this simply means they may “hide” all their costs into setup fees, plate charges, administrative / document charges, hourly charges for tweaking your artwork, etc…

The only printer I trust is one based in Malaysia (where incidentally I’m from), and about whom I’ve written before in a previous post. A family business, I’ve never seen any other bulk printer who is as passionate about paper and ink, as much as I am about cosmetics. Another little secret which I’m sure you’re dying to know and which I didn’t let on in my previous post is that he isn’t expensive at all. His minimums are normally 1000 pcs per print run (very small compared to the 5k which some start at), and range from GBP 0.20 for something simple like a printed lipstick box with gold accents. Simple peel & stick labels are cheaper (also minimums of 1000 pcs), it goes right down to pennies for each. Nothing that will dent your budget or bank account.

Perhaps the only major cost you need to consider is courier-ing the finished goods over. It may sometimes cost more than your labels or packaging itself, but if your packaging is designed to be flat-packed (and it always should!), then this will save you a considerable amount of money. In any case, as a company policy, we do comparison costs every year to ensure we’re on the right track with all our suppliers in terms of cost (and are not paying more than necessary), and Optima Printers has consistently been the most economical, including shipping.



Reader Question

29 Nov

“Hi! Just found your blog and truly enjoyed your honest entries about starting a makeup business. I am interested in finding a company that specializes in high performance eye cosmetics (I have a niche clientele with many eye disorders and sensitive eye issues)that I could private label to start my line. I have tried Grafton, Your Name Pro, Lady Burd. Are there any others that you would recommend? Thanks so much!”

I am an avid believer in not overloading your skin with products, particularly if it is already sensitized. Unless you’re working with a cosmetic chemist, a general rule for startup entrepreneurs is to ask the manufacturer for their ingredients listing and to go for the one with the shortest list in its base (i.e. excluding colour pigments which are classified under the “+/- (may contain)” portion). You may find “fragrance/parfum” even in eyeshadow powders, so a formulation which omits that will be your priority.

Grafton, Your Name Pro and Ladyburd are all decent companies, Your Name Pro being the most expensive in my experience, but also the most innovative & sophisticated in every way, from their formulations to their private label packaging, to even their marketing material that is provided free. I have also come across Audrey Morris recently, they have added a mineral line with very simple ingredients that is worth trying out.

Britain’s Next Top Model Live Show & our 3D designs

20 Oct

One of the moments I most look forward to in the Jelly Pong Pong office is when our resident 3D designer Ben, calls me up and tells me a render is ready. I literally hop & skip to his desk to check the image out & it is almost always what I envision.

This time is no different. As you all know, we’re participating for the first time in Britain’s Next Top Model Live Show at London Excel Centre. It promises to be 3 fun but entirely exhausting days of putting up & decorating the booth, meeting & greeting our biggest fans and selling limited-edition show-only bags.

Strategically though, when planning how the booth will look like, we need to ensure it will fit all our stock (as you’re not allowed to trolley extra stock in from your storage area, you want to ensure you maximise your revenues by not running out in the middle of the day!), our sales team & their personal belongings (coats, bags, etc.. .), display cases, paper bags, etc… At the cost of £240/m2 + VAT (and another £150 for lights) , you really want to ensure you utilize every single square inch!

Ben makes my job 1000 times easier and more accurate simply by rendering a 3D image of the booth (see below) and according to scale so I can see how things fit. It also gives me an accurate portrayal of whether the booth in its entirety will look good with the decorations we’ve chosen. After all, for these 3 days, it will be a retail environment for our customers and we need to ensure it sticks to Jelly Pong Pong’s fun, flirty ethos.


So here’s another handy resource you can use, as Ben works freelance. Big drumroll & say hello to our 3D extraordinaire!

Benjamine Lim

Email : wanderer.thewmddeveloper@gmail.com