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Conversations with your cosmetic chemist. Oh the things people say!

June 30, 2017

It’s Friday, I’m about to go on holiday and I am feeling pretty chilled on this, the last day of the 2016-17 financial year.  As such, I thought I’d wrap up the year with some of the funny things that people, prospective customers, existing customers and blog readers say to me as I go about my business of being a cosmetic chemist.   Before I start I do acknowledge that there are no silly questions, that it’s better out than in (unless it’s a fart in a lift….) and that all’s well that ends well and other suitably cozy and reflective puns and one-liners.

I love you all really.
Here goes….

  • I know which ingredients I want in my product and all I need you to do is just tell me the percentages.
    • Me ‘you really don’t understand this process do you?’
  • But I’ve never had any micro issues before.
    • Me ‘so how often do you run micro checks on your batches. What do you mean ‘what’s a micro check!’
  • HOW MUCH?????  (when I explain formulating costs).
    • Me “There are other cosmetic chemists out there, let me get you some details”.
  • But I can get a recipe for free online.
    • Me “Yes, online you can find free recipes, a formulator will create you a formula optimised for your business. These are not the same thing’
  • I did an online course and I’m just wondering if that qualifies me to be a formulator?
    • Me (Bangs head against the wall)…..
  • I’ve got customers in China who are desperate to buy my brand once you’ve formulated it.
    • Me ‘????? buy what? You currently have nothing?”
  • There’s nothing else like this on the market.
    • Me “Look dude, I HATE shopping but I know I’ve seen at least ten other brands with that idea not that it matters”.
  • My product is great it is just that you have to keep it in the fridge/ nuclear bunker/ suspended animation/ or it falls apart.
    • Me (Bangs head against the wall again).
  • What’s a pH meter?  
    • Me !!!!!!!
  • I want it to be free from silicones, parabens, sulfates,  mineral oil, PEGs, Fragrance, Colour, Gluten, GMO’s, Animal Products (Vegan Friendly), Palm or its derivatives and anything else you think I might not like.
    • Me “water, try water”
  • I want to match this Dior product but I want it to be organic and I’m going to sell for $5 per bottle.
    • Me “Hang on, let me get my magic wand out of retirement”
  • How come it will take 12 weeks to create a new formula? I can whip up a product in my kitchen in an hour.
    • Me “make that 16 weeks”.
  • Oh I can’t afford stability testing, how come you can’t just tell me how long it will last?
    • Me “Let’s grab a cup of tea and I’ll explain the sciencing thing to you”.

If, after reading this you feel that you would like a sensible explanation on any of the above please do feel free to comment or email and I’ll lovingly explain myself.  One thing I really enjoy about this work is sharing in peoples journeys from wide eyed newbie to experienced brand owner with stockists galore!   It makes it all worthwhile even if, every now and then I do wonder what is going on inside peoples head when they start out.

Have a great weekend everyone.






9 Comments leave one →
  1. Ric permalink
    June 30, 2017 3:26 pm

    What about;
    Why does your formulation cost so much?
    Mine is half that cost.
    Do you cost your labour and overheads when you make it in your kitchen.
    No. Thats free.

  2. June 30, 2017 5:14 pm

    Great article Amanda! I’d love for you to post how to deal with the emulsion and oxidation issues of Ascorbic acid. I’ve tried making 20% Ascorbic acid serum an algae extract that forms a biofilm. It mitigated the stickiness that you referred to.I was hoping to seal out the oxygen in with the biofilm. It did overtime (in the bottle) discolor from a whitish solution to yellow. I assumed yellow was indicative of oxidation. I didn’t keep tract of how long before it oxidized but it May have been in your 80 day range.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      June 30, 2017 6:08 pm

      Hi there,

      That is a bit too specific for a blog post and is more like what I’d look into as a work project. While there is an over-arching philosophy of what might retard oxidation of Ascorbic Acid or some other active, it isn’t a case of one-size-fitting-all. As you have noted vitamin C serums can be very sticky, un-sticking them with other ingredients is possible but can then cause other issues. As a consultant I’d have to keep in mind the products aesthetics while applying a fix to the oxidation issue both chemically and physically (looking at packaging and pack size for example). Colour change is a good indicator of oxidation in vitamin C and some other ingredients but isn’t the only change and one thing that is worth mentioning is that some ingredients are yellowish anyway so one ‘rule of thumb’ that I’ve seen banded around is that people shouldn’t trust a yellow vitamin C serum is complete rubbish. I’m flicking all over the place here but I’m sure you get the gist. Another thing that I might suggest for a formula like yours is to run assays on the sample as it ages to track oxidation to get a better handle on what’s going on and when. Of course other things to consider are your product pH and the other ingredients in the formula (non-actives) which might boost or hinder product stability. So as you can see it would be a similar approach for all formulations but with potentially very different outcomes that couldn’t be cut-and-pasted in for everyone.

  3. Madeleine permalink
    June 30, 2017 11:33 pm

    Thanks for the chuckle Amanda. The one I hear is “Why can’t I use drops to measure my formulations?” and seeing the one formulation with ingredients in volume and mass.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      July 1, 2017 12:31 am

      Oh yes that’s a challenge. I’ve seen recipes with spoons, ml and grams in them and even recipes that add up to 132.8% 🙂

      • Jess permalink
        July 3, 2017 9:28 pm

        Thanks for the article Amanda. Can you confirm formulations should always be by weight, even those in liquid form like toners or mists? I was told I had to convert all of mine by using weight = specific gravity x volume, as volume was not an accurate measure and definitely not to use drops!

      • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
        July 8, 2017 7:27 pm

        It is best to weigh everything that you are making as if you do end up scaling up either yourself or at a manufacturer they will weigh the ingredients rather than use volume. Volume relates to weight by specific gravity. Volume is an accurate measure but isn’t so practical when you have formulations that are requiring solids and liquids in the mix. If you are just mixing up an oil blend volume might suffice but again, scaling up a volume calculation can be more trouble than it’s worth. Drops depend on viscosity and density of the fluid so one drop of lemon oil for example will typically be much lighter than one drop of Sandalwood so I’d agree that using drops in a professional recipe is a no no.

  4. July 4, 2017 4:26 am

    “Try water”…ha! I think that’s the only thing people in those kinds of markets can have without violating one principle or other…especially the raw/paleo types.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      July 8, 2017 7:28 pm

      It certainly feels like it. The way I look at is that often, except in very special circumstances, everything in moderation is OK ish.

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