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Product testing – when seeing is believing.

November 16, 2019

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog post about the importance of not forgetting the ‘development’ part of the R&D relationship.  As a follow up I’m sharing a video that I made this week with hair stylist, brand owner and photographer Sam Overton. One of the best ways to develop your formula is through the actual testing and evaluation of how it works in practice.  That sounds obvious enough but how many times have we (me included) tested out a facial moisturiser or foundation on the back of our hands rather than worn it all day? How many times have we just focused on the foaming profile and viscosity of a shampoo without really testing it – and not just once, but I mean really tested it a few times?

This video outlines a great in-use protocol that can be followed to accurately evaluate the product being tested, in this case a hair mask.  An accurate use protocol is really important as many products feel and act differently when they are under or over-dosed.  While we don’t have ultimate control over that as formulators we do have some control. The way our samples are presented to clients, especially clients who have a limited experience of the R&D process, will help to guide how much they use.   In this video I gave Sam a huge pot of product, 500g!  Sam is experienced with hair masks and so only took what he knew was a typical application of a product like this. This is not a trivial detail as when I tested this on myself at home I took a huge dollop of stuff and rubbed it into my hair in a much more hap-hazard way. Luckily I still enjoyed the results I got but I would have had a very different perception of how many applications the 500g pot contained to Sam and in business that would really matter even if it didn’t negatively impact the outcome.

Asking an industry professional to test a product gives you an informed opinion of what you have created and that is a really important step. However, testing like this doesn’t constitute a scientific trial, for that we would have to try the product on more people and control more variables so that results could be compared.

Once a good in-use protocol has been established and the product has been deemed as worthy of further investment, the next step is to get some measurable benefit results. For a product like this, good results to collect may be an evaluation of the shine (if applicable) that the product imparts. Another may be a measure of increased  moisture content or hair strength before and after use.  The number of outcomes  you wish to evaluate will inform the number of times you have to repeat the experiment in order to get a statistically valid result.  Generally speaking a panel of ten is the minimum you would need to find a basic result that you could have some confidence in.

Conducting trials such as the above in a validated test lab set-up can be very expensive but definitely worth investing in, if you have a limited budget you can still have a go at creating a basic trial with a few volunteer test subjects.  Another thing you could (and probably should) do is look at how the product compares with another (benchmark), that can be really valuable as it may be that all products work as well as yours (and that’s not a bad thing at all).

Anyway, enough of the chatter, this is what we did.  It’s all good fun and I hope you enjoy the video.




One Comment leave one →
  1. November 16, 2019 9:58 am

    Great article. Thank you

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