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The Financial Benefits of Hiring a Cosmetic Chemist

July 28, 2015

OK so how shall I write this? Shameless plug, advertorial or straight-up honest appraisal of the blooming good job we can do for a brand given half a chance?  I’ll take the latter.

There’s nothing that annoys me more than reading or hearing people dis-regard the chemistry part of new product development as if anyone could do it.

Yes anyone with a bit of google literacy, some time and a bit of money can whip up a cream but that’s not the point.

It is easy to accept that we wouldn’t put a happy home-maker who successfully follows the back-of-a-cake-box recipe every birthday and Christmas and the Chef of an exclusive Michelin star restaurant in the same league we find it harder to make that justification when it comes to cosmetic chemistry.  Why?  Well I blame TV.  If there were more TV game shows pitching cosmetic chemists against each other (or the public) then we would find it easier to bridge that gap. Maybe……

Anyway, where were we?

What I want to demonstrate here is just one of the benefits of hiring a professional to help with your formulating, the financials.

Financial optimisation is key to brand success as launching a cosmetic product is extremely expensive and keeping it out there is equally challenging – advertising, social media, manufacturing, transport and storage etc.  Your products are your sales force and they need to be lean, hungry and effective!

The saying that I keep in mind while formulating is this ‘make sure there is no money left on the table’.  What that means is that I must pressure test each ingredient to make sure I’ve not been lazy and added more than I need or have opted for the simple but expensive solution over the trickier but cheaper route.  I consider all sorts of things when costing a formula including minimum pack size of ingredients (not always possible to avoid having to buy a full drum when you only need a few Kg but this does need to be highlighted),  ingredient transport costs (air freight etc), formula optimisation,  manufacturing method, packaging choice and how that impacts my formula costs and claim substantiation.

It is a little over simplistic to think that the difference between a professional cosmetic chemist and a hobby-chemist is that the hobby chemist uses lashings of the good stuff whereas a professional only puts in a slither just so they can list it on the label.  We don’t.  The measure of a formula is its efficacy and ingredient optimisation involves as much reading as it does laboratory fiddling.  Time and time again I see people using expensive ingredients at say 5-10% when the literature supports their efficacy at 2-3%.  That is money left on the table people.  Oh and it may also be an irritation reaction waiting to happen. More isn’t always better.

While it is impossible to know how much in dollar terms a cosmetic chemist might be able to save you on your particular formula it is unlikely that the amount will be zero and those cents and dollars add up.

One job I’ve not long finished involved an anti-ageing cream formula that was originally costed at around $50 per Kg.

I actually added a few things in to improve the formula stability, tweaked a few other things and reduced the volume of some ingredients that were used far more liberally than needed to get a good result.  The end result was a formula costing around the $30 per Kg mark – a $20 per Kg saving.

That $20 per Kg would equate to $200 for a 10Kg batch – pretty small batch size but relatively typical for a small, hand-made brand starting out.

By the time that brand makes it to 50Kg batches they are saving $1000 on each batch – there’s your preservative efficacy test covered and a start into your stability.

Make 100Kg and we’re up to $2000 which covers full stability and micro testing or a big chunk of what you paid for the formula Intellectual Property in the first place!

and you have only just got started.

Remember that hiring a professional cosmetic chemist isn’t about cheapening your product or replacing your beloved natural or organic ingredients with ‘nasties’,  it’s about bringing it into balance, shaving away the excess,  getting it fighting fit!

You never know, you could even save enough money to do some proper efficacy testing and find out if your product really works.

Now that would be cool.

Amanda x

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2015 12:53 am

    On top of formula optimization, there’s also knowing how to conduct, document, and interpret a proper environmental stability and package compatibility test, which allows us to advise (and possibly save money) for clients on component choice as well as formulation.

    When your $50kg cream leaks through your container, or a little of it dissolves your label, or it changes color, or separates, etc. (the list of potential packaging disasters goes on and on), not immediately, but 2 or 3 months after you’ve filled your entire batch into its packaging, you’ve probably just lost more money than you would have spent hiring a cosmetic chemist in the first place.

    To avoid most of that, you could choose the most expensive, most chemical-resistant packaging components that you can find (and you’d still be crossing your fingers and praying), or you could hire a cosmetic chemist, and potentially save yourself 50% or more on your packaging costs, in addition to your formulation cost savings.

  2. Sinead Corrian permalink
    May 5, 2016 8:21 am

    Can anyone recommend a good cosmetic Chemist. Please.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      May 6, 2016 9:22 pm

      Where are you located and what sort of product/products are you looking to have formulated?

      • permalink
        October 1, 2016 3:42 am

        I live in the Houston area and I’m looking for nail chemist. Any recommendations?

      • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
        October 2, 2016 7:51 pm

        I am based in Australia so I’m not personally connected to many people over in the USA but I do know that Doug Schoon is good on nails, I think he’s over there:

  3. Annie Kim permalink
    August 16, 2017 9:58 am

    Hi Amanda, I’m looking for a cosmetic chemist to create an anti-inflammatory facial bar soap. I have a list of ingredients I’d like to put in but I agree that the rest should be left for a professional. Any recommendations for someone near Los Angeles?

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      August 16, 2017 10:10 am

      Hi Annie,

      Being a bit of a recluse here in Australia I don’t happen to know of a LA based chemist but I can recommend you contact the Society of Cosmetic Chemists in California as they will know who’s who in your area. Good luck:

  4. Simone permalink
    September 29, 2017 11:15 pm

    Hi Amanda,

    I was hooked by your tone of voice by the first sentence, so i’m gutted you’re in Australia!I am looking for a UK based chemist to formulate a vegan, cruelty free, natural tattoo aftercare lotion. Could you point me in the right direction?

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      September 30, 2017 8:11 am

      Hi Simone, I can’t vouch for the credentials of any UK consultant at this time as I haven’t personally worked with any. There is a group called Formula Botanica that run courses. I don’t know if they also consult but they look OK (although it is a team effort being it and so it would pay to get to know the individual if you end up working with them). I do have UK based clients and it can work out well. It takes me longer to post samples for international clients because I try to get lots of options explored before submitting rather than what I do with local clients which is develop it along with them, sending one or two versions then working with their feedback to make the next. That still happens with overseas clients but I do try to cut down the sample transportation time. So if you can’t find anyone local do come back to me.

  5. Carol permalink
    December 5, 2017 5:33 pm

    I live in North Carolina, can you suggest a good chemist that specializes in ethnic Hair care products?

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      December 11, 2017 10:42 am

      Hi Carol, I’m not really that well connected in the USA so I’m not sure that I can help you much but I would suggest asking on this site as it is based in the USA and Perry has a background in hair care development so might have better contacts:

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