Rules for requesting formulating advice/help - Cosmetic Science Talk

Rules for requesting formulating advice/help

Anyone else think it would be helpful to setup some rules, or at least loose guidelines for asking for formulating advice or help? Threads like this ( http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk/discussion/1043/face-wash-preparation#latest )are why I bring it up.

Obviously we are here to grow a community and serve as a resource for people interested in cosmetic chemistry, but we aren't here to do people's job for them. I feel like if we establish some guidelines we can "clean up" some of the threads and questions like the one above.

Comments

  • I think it's a great idea.  If regular users can post what they think are some good guidelines, I'll put them all together in a single post and tag it to the top.

    They do this on a forum I follow (which teaches me how to solve problems with forum software) and I think it's an excellent idea.

  • @Perry If I am not mistaken I had taken up this issue with you few months back, I agree with @Iaskedbetter that we are here to advise on a current effort but we cannot initiate an effort for others. Let us all try to keep it a discussion board and as@Bobzchemist always mentions that there is Google for all the human needs   :)

    cheers 
  • edited March 2015
    This about Google is absolutely right! I think we are not here just to have company and chat but to ask about our real needs and problems on cosmetics. So if you have a problem, first you must search well the web or your books to find answers and then talk about it to the forum. It's better to find the answer by yourself than to take it from another person...
    Personally, the most of the needs that i have, are about performance of various ingredients in formulas.
  • edited March 2015
    Here is my Top 5

    1) Do not request complete/finished formulations.

    The best way to get help on this forum is to show that you
    actually need help and are not trying to use us to do work for you. With that,
    if you have an existing formula that isn’t working out, post it and ask for
    some feedback on your problem. If you don’t have a formula, do some research
    and try to come up with one yourself first. If it doesn’t work out, then ask
    for help or feedback.

    BAD: I’m trying to make a nice hair conditioner. Can anyone
    provide a formula I can use to start?

    GOOD: I’m trying to make a rinse-out hair conditioner that
    improves wet combing and gives the hair a lot of shine. I tried this formula:

    (Insert Formula)

    When I tried it I didn’t get the shine or the combing
    performance I was looking for. Anyone have any advice on how to improve it?

     

    2) When asking about stability issues, provide as much formula
    composition (INCI names with percentages) and batching procedure information as
    possible.

    BAD: HELP! My cream is showing separation at 45C. Anybody
    know why? I’m using (list of ingredients).

    GOOD: My cream is showing separation at the top of the jar
    in 45C after 1 week and I’m not sure why. Here is the formula:

    (Insert formula and percentages)

    Here is how I am making it:

    (Insert batching procedure)

    Anyone have any thought?

     

    3) When asking about specific chemicals, try to use standard
    CTFA/INCI nomenclature.

    BAD: I’m having trouble dispersing my pigments in a BB cream
    formulation. Anyone know if I should try Salacos HS-6C?

    GOOD: I’m having trouble dispersing my pigments in a BB
    cream formulation. Anyone know if I should try Salacos HS-6C (INCI: Polyhydroxystearic
    Acid)?

     

    4) Avoid the word “best” at all costs. 99.99% of the time,
    there will be no objective “best” anything for whatever you are looking for. If
    you do use the word “best”, at the very least, make sure it is specific to a
    certain formula, chemical(s), or attribute.

    BAD: What is the best natural emulsifier for a skin cream?

    BETTER (but not good): What is the best natural emulsifier
    for a skin cream with 5% Jojoba Oil, 5% Shea Butter, and 2% Isopropyl Myristate?

    BEST: I want to make a nice, silky skin cream that spreads
    nicely during rub in. I am thinking about using ~5% Jojoba Oil, ~5% Shea
    Butter, and ~2% Isopropyl Myristate. Does anyone have any advice for which
    emulsifiers I can use that could be considered “natural”?

     

    5) When asking about replacements of a chemical or raw
    material, in addition to adhering to rules 3 and 4, include the following:

    -the reason you want to replace the chemical

    -the purpose the chemical is serving in the current
    formulation

    -any other attributes that need to be maintained in the
    overall formulation

    BAD: Can anyone suggest a replacement for PEG-40
    Hydrogenated Castor Oil?

    GOOD: Does anyone have any suggestions for replacing PEG-40
    Hydrogenated Castor Oil in my sulfate-free shampoo formula? The formula is:

    (Insert formula)

    It is being used to solubilize the fragrance. I need to
    replace it because our team doesn’t want PEG’s. The final product also needs to
    remain clear.

  • @Iaskedbetter: excellent. Thanks.
    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • IF you show up out of nowhere and start asking for too much help or complete formulations you just aren't going to get what you are looking for.  It is obvious most times when people have tried to research and just need a hand or whether they are looking for someone to do all the work for them for free.

    Also those people that take, take, take and never have time to help anyone else just aren't getting a response from me.  Most here make a living from development in some form or another.  While
    many of us are happy to help each other, there has to be give and
    take.  Not all take.


  • Partly agree with you @DavidW. You can easily spot the people who are "takers". However, I realize that a lot of people use this site as an educational tool, and aren't in a position to give sage advice. I think a general "best practice" would be to:

    A) Show gratitude towards those who try to help and,
    B) Update your thread with results of the things you have tried. Even if the suggestions you tried don't work, it is helpful to get feedback and sometimes knowing what doesn't work is just as, if not more valuable than knowing what does work.
  • Those are good ideas.  I would just like people to participate instead of always taking.
  • @Iaskedbetter Great basic guidelines.

    I would like to add that people should introduce themselves in the introduction thread before requesting information/help.

    Also, if you are asking for suppliers of a particular chemical tell us how much you want and where you are located. There is no point you telling us that you want xxxx chemical and then we tell you that you can buy 200kg drums of xxxx from a supplier the USA if you are are only making 200 gram batches at home in Europe.
  • yep I agree, Iaskedbetter.  I've already answered a few questions that don't meet those guidelines in the last couple of days!

    Is there anyway to "pin"/"stick" this thread to the top of the forum so it's more visible?
    Jane Barber
    Head Cosmetic Chemist
    www.makingskincare.com (Formulation Development and Online Classes)
    Formulation discussion forum (11,000 members): www.facebook.com/groups/makingskincare/
  • I'll make this one stay at the top.
  • edited March 2015
    Well, the simplest solution when you see a post where it is apparent that the poster has not first bothered to do their homework is to just not provide any information. You can't stop anyone from asking, but you certainly can stop yourself from answering.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • @MarkBroussard Unfortunately I think doing that hinders or even prevents growth. Ideally, we (or at least I) would like to see this small community grow. And it doesn't have to be just experienced chemists and people within the industry. Home crafters, new techs/chemists, and small business entrepreneurs who are genuinely interested in learning about cosmetic/personal care chemistry can be great resources themselves if they are willing to share their hurdles/learning experiences. Ignoring people is basically slamming the door to our community in their face. I think we can get more people involved here if we at least try to help them help themselves first (if they seem to have put little effort into doing so).
  • Well, I agree that the community growing is a laudable goal and I am more than happy to help anyone where I think I have some sound advice to offer.  Likewise, I am very appreciative of the contributions other members have made in answering any questions I may have.

    But, here's where we differ in viewpoint.  I do not have time, nor am I willing to share my expertise and diligent research with someone who is simply looking for someone else to put together a formulation for them, or solve a problem for them, when there is no evidence that they have first tried to solve that problem on their own.  

    You cited the perfect example in your first post. The "culprit" joined the community and immediately was looking for someone here in the community to put a formulation together for them.  But, if you have time and the inclination, by all means, point them to the proper protocols.

    I don't know if Perry has promoted the site to the members of the various chapters of the Cosmetic Chemists Societies, but certainly, we can all benefit from each others' experience.  Oftentimes, a question from a homecrafter raises some interesting issues. 
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • I've read a number of posts that are very demanding and rude and have been surprised by it. I can understand how the experts would be offended and not interested in assisting. On the other hand, I am keenly aware most of you are much more knowledgeable and experienced than I am. I've been nervous about asking anything or even initially making an introduction. I've spent a lot of time researching, learning, experimenting with formulas but it's intimidating to ask a question here just based on all of your backgrounds. My question might be very obvious to those here even if I have spent time on the subject myself but can't figure it out. How do I establish that I've done background work?

    There are those of us new to this and trying to learn to do things the right way. There are brazen one timers, too. The brazen ones will probably never stop. I think Iaskedbetter has a good point in that those who are sincere may get lost in the mix.

    Okay, that's my supply of courage for the week. As always, thanks for all you guys share.

  • @NVaughn: I'm self taught although I have been a chemistry teacher in the past, so at least I understand stoichiometry and acid-base reactions and so on. However, cosmetic chemistry bears only a superficial relationship to general chemistry.
    My first experiment involved using hair gel to obtain some off-the-shelf carbomer gel; organic shea butter, glycerine, some aloe vera, because that was what Evelyn & Crabtree had on the label of a tube of cream that actually worked.
    To my surprise I was able to create a reasonable copy, and decided to pursue the subject.
    Most of the people here are far more knowledgeable than I, although I do have a few useful specialities. I've posted complete formulae developed here, for anyone to use. I will help in an instant to the best of my ability a person who is developing or modifying a formula; but I find it a complete turn off if someone posts a LOI of INCI names  a yard long, typically ending in "linalool" and asks how to make it.
    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • @NVaughn

    It is easy to establish that you have done background work.  Simply state the problem you are trying to solve, post your formula, and describe what happened.  And don't be sensitive.  As scientists, we are in the business of educated trial-and-error, so we know all too well that a formula might work perfectly on paper, but when you actually try to make it, you will encounter problems.

    I think what you are encountering is more an issue with not providing the proper information for someone to even begin to have an idea of what might be causing the problem, much less how to solve it.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • edited March 2015

    How can we all better
    help the community when asking (or answering) a question?

     1)            Please do not ask us to do your lab work
    (or your research) for you.
    Do not request complete/finished formulations
    unless you have already looked at the sources for that information and found
    nothing helpful. If you show up out of nowhere and start asking for extensive
    help, or otherwise demonstrate that you don’t want to do any work yourself, you
    just aren't going to get what you are looking for.  It is obvious most times when people have
    tried to do research and just need a hand or when they are looking for someone
    to do all the work for them for free.

    2)            Introduce yourself in the introduction
    thread before requesting information/help.
    The newer you are in our
    community, the more necessary it becomes to explain your situation and why you
    need our help, especially if you are asking for information that most chemists
    could find on Google with a quick search.

    3)            Do not DEMAND help. Being that rude is
    a good recipe for getting nothing at all, ever. No one in this community is
    getting paid to do this, and we have NO obligation to help you – or even to
    respond to you at all. Asking nicely and politely works much better. Also,
    those people that just take information but never have time to help anyone else
    are eventually going to find this community much less helpful.  While many of us are happy to help each
    other, and even first-timers, there has to be give and take.  Not all take.

    4)            Please don’t ask questions privately.
    The whole point of this community is to share our questions and answers. If you
    do need to ask a private question, due to privacy/trade secret concerns, don’t
    be surprised if the person you’re asking requests a consultants fee for an
    answer.

    5)            Please don’t hijack other people’s
    discussions, but if you don’t understand something about that question or its
    answers, ask us about it.
    If you want to ask anything that’s different than
    the original question, START A NEW DISCUSION.

    6)            Do NOT ask for an amount of help of the
    kind and/or quality that would ordinarily require you to pay a consultant for.

    Don’t request complete or detailed manufacturing procedures, Standard Operating
    Procedures, equipment info and/or sources, etc. This is all info you will have
    to pay a consultant for.  


    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • edited March 2015

    1)      Please
    use correct English, or at least as close as you can get to it.
    Proofreading
    helps. Also, if you are not sure of how to say or ask something, tell us that –
    don’t just assume that we will automatically know what you are asking,
    particularly if English isn’t your first language.

    2)     
    Please
    have or develop something of a thick skin.
    Nuance is hard to communicate in
    print – but we can guarantee that no one here wants to make you look stupid, or
    feel bad, or embarrass you. It is much more likely that something here that
    upsets you is the result of a too-quick and/or thoughtless response. Please ask
    for clarification before getting angry or flying off the handle.

    3)     
    Please
    wait patiently for an answer. Or a response, etc., and please let us know how
    things turned out.
    Asking a question, getting an answer, and then going
    away without helping the rest of the community by sharing your results is going
    to make most of us very reluctant to answer your next question. If multiple
    suggestions are made, please identify what suggestion you used to solve your
    problem in your follow up. It will help the community, add some credence to the
    suggestion, and help future people looking at the discussion. In addition, thanking
    the responders for their help is the only payment they get – please keep that
    in mind.

    4)     
    Please
    use a descriptive title.
    Not just “help, xyz does not work”. Also, post as
    much information as you can relating to the issue – the more detailed you are,
    the better we can answer. Consider refining or elaborating on your question if
    you are not getting the answers you really think are helpful,

    5)     
    When
    asking about stability or formulation issues, please provide as much formula
    composition (INCI names with percentages), batching procedure and equipment
    information, and any other information about your problem as possible. Be
    SPECIFIC! Please also tell us what your status is.
    Our answers will be
    different if you’re a professional chemist than they will if you are a DIY
    kitchen formulator or if you are a small business.

    6)     
    When
    asking about specific chemicals, use standard CTFA/INCI nomenclature AND trade
    names, and be as specific as possible. Please don’t make us have to look
    information up ourselves if we don’t need to.
    When asking about alternatives
    or replacements for a raw material, please include at least the following info: the reason you want to replace the
    chemical, the purpose the chemical is serving in the current formulation, the
    type of formula it is, and any other attributes that need to be maintained in
    the overall formulation. If you are asking for suppliers of a particular
    chemical tell us how much you want and where you are located. There is no point
    you telling us that you want xxxx chemical and then we tell you that you can
    buy 200kg drums of xxxx from a supplier the USA if you are are only making 200
    gram batches at home in Europe.


    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Sorry about the formating glitches.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • edited March 2015
    MarkBroussard has it right. Here's an example I came up with, based on what @Iaskedbetter wrote:

    BAD: HELP! My cream is not stable! I’m using (ingredient X). Why is my cream failing? What can I do to fix it? I can’t tell you any more about the other ingredients because I want to keep my formula secret!

    BAD: HELP! My cream is not stable! I’m using (incomplete list of ingredients). Which ingredient is wrong?

    BAD (but slightly better): HELP! My cream is showing separation at 45C. Anybody know why? I’m using (complete list of ingredients, but no percentages).

    GOOD: My cream is showing separation at the top of the glass stability jar in 45C after 1 week and I’m not sure why. Here is the formula: (Insert formula and percentages)
    Here is how I am making it: (Insert batching procedure and equipment settings)
    Anyone have any thoughts?

    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • edited March 2015
    Here's another example, again based on what @Iaskedbetter wrote:

    BAD: I’m having trouble dispersing my pigments in a BB cream formulation. Can I use Salacos HS-6C?

    BETTER: I’m having trouble dispersing my pigments in a BB cream formulation (Insert formula and percentages). Anyone know if I should try Salacos HS-6C (INCI: Polyhydroxystearic Acid)?

     BEST: I’m having trouble dispersing my pigments (list of pigments and percents) in 500ml of BB cream formulation (Insert formula and percentages) after 15 minutes of homogenizing with a Silverson L4RT mixer using the square-hole screen at 3,000rpm and at 60C. After homogenizing, I stir down to room temperature at 50rpm using a paddle stirrer, which takes about an hour. When the batch is finished, it looks beige/light brown, but turns dark brown when I rub it into my skin. Does anyone know if I should try Salacos HS-6C (INCI: Polyhydroxystearic Acid) for better pigment dispersal? Is there anything else that someone could recommend? Is my procedure OK?

    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Thank you to all.

    @bobzchemist, I hope one day I can pose a question in that last "Best" format. In the meantime, I will always do my best to be respectful of the experience here and post as much detail as possible. But, sometimes I am just unsure of a general dilemna, ex, which thickener is best to use along with ECOmulse and sodium carbomer when trying to get a smooth cream with a soft, silky skin feel. If it is best that I figure that out through my own experiment I can handle hearing that, though. I just want to know if it is okay to ask something like that.

    @belassi - thank you so much for sharing your beginnings. Gives me hope and I dare say other beginners who take a look here.
  • INCI for ECOmulse: Glyceryl Stearate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
    Sorry!
  • You already have a thickener with the carbomer in that example, which is an interesting example because there are two distinct thickening methods taking place; the carbomer being one, and the ratio of lipids+emulsifiers to water being the other.
    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • @NVaughn:

    What you are making by the inclusion of carbomer (a gelling agent) and ECOmulse (an emulsifier blend) is known as a "gel-cream"

    Cetearyl Alcohol functions as a thickener.  If you find that your concoction is not thick enough, just add more ECOmulse or try adding 1% Cetyl Alcohol.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • edited March 2015
    I'd also like to add that the carbomer itself can be selected for the preferred sensorials. For instance, 940 gives a more emollient feel than Ultrez, which is more gel-like. For gels I use Ultrez. For creams I use 940. (But don't use 940 in Europe)

    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • edited March 2015
    @NVaughn I personally have used EcoMulse (Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate) and have not been able to successfully add carbomer to the emulsion. It either breaks the emulsion or gets all chunky. It is because of the sodium stearoyl lactylate you can't use carbomers 1) because of the sodium salt (cationic) head and 2) because it's anionic in nature. Two things carbomer hates. Carbopol 940 gives a great skin feel though! So if you want to use it for a lotion or cream go for something like glyceryl Stearate & PEG 100 Stearate, eWAX, or use the HLB system. @MakingSkinCare has a great calculator on their site.

    Sidenote: I'm not sure if sodium carbomer is as sensitive electrolytes as carbopol 940 as I've never used it.


  • Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Well, this discussion seems to have gotten off track a bit.  I'm going to close it to new comments.
  • @NvaughnI wasn’t talking about the type of equipment you had access to, I was talking about the level of detail. You can do this with almost any activity. For example:

    Bad: I made some ice.

    Better: I filled an ice cube tray with water, put it in the freezer, and I used the ice after it was frozen.

    Best: Into a silicone rubber ice cube tray that has 12 square cavities arranged 2x6, I added 250 grams of Kansas City tap water. I then placed the filled tray into a Kenmore freezer operating at 10F for 3 hours. When the tray was removed from the freezer, the water had completely frozen into ice. 

    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
This discussion has been closed.