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Number 1 - If you are asking for help about a formula - Include the formula! You can not get a good answer to any formulation questions if we don’t know everything that is in your formula. If you can provide the entire formula with amounts of ingredients that is ideal. But at the very least, please list all the ingredients that are in your formula. If you don’t want to list this information, then you won’t get good answers.
Number 2 - Don’t ask for formulas. This forum was not created to give away formulas. Some chemists make a living out of coming up with formulas so if you need a formula, you can hire a formulator.
But if you want a free starting formula I’ve put together a list with all the sources I know that have free starting formulas. Just go to the “Resources” section and click on the “Where to find free formulas” discussion. These formulas are a good place to get you started. When you run into problems after doing some experiments, then post your question to this forum for help.
Number 3 - Don’t ask questions that you could have just typed in Google to find an answer. So if you have a problem, first search the web, look in books to find answers. When you get stumped, then post your question on this forum. While some members on the forum do not mind answering basic questions, there are many who get annoyed and may respond with snarky comments.
Number 4 - Use INCI names when talking about ingredients. If you’re working with an ingredient and only know the trade name please go the extra step of putting the name in Google and finding out what the official INCI name is. It just makes it easier for people to know exactly what you are talking about. Often you will be asked to clarify if you haven’t provided this information.
Number 5 - Don’t just be a “taker.” At the moment, no one is getting paid to participate in this forum. People are here discussing things and answering questions because they want to help others. Asking questions is fine but remember to respond to other people’s questions if you have something to add. So don’t just take advice. If you can, be sure to give advice too. Also, show gratitude to people who take time to address your question. You might not like the answer but everyone here is doing their best to help.
Also related to the “taker” issue. If you have asked a question and gotten some responses, please update your discussion when you’ve seen the results of action taken. It is extremely helpful for people in the future who might be facing the sam e problem you have and can learn from it.
Number 6 - Tell us where you're located. If you are looking for a chemical supplier be sure to tell us where you are located in the world. Most of the people on this forum are located in the US but over 40% of people are located outside the US. We can’t be of much help if you don’t share this information.
Number 7 - Don’t ask questions privately unless you want to hire the person you are contacting. The whole point of this community is to share our questions and answers.
Number 8 - Don’t hijack other people’s discussion. If you have a new question even if it is related to a previous discussion just start a new discussion.
I previously mentioned snarky comments so this is a good time to address expected behavior. While I don’t mind a little snark, this is meant to be a friendly, welcoming place so insults and abusive comments are strictly forbidden. I believe in free speech and for the most part won’t edit your responses. But if something strikes me as abusive or inappropriate I have no problem removing posts. And if there are numerous complaints about a member’s behavior or you are spamming the site, you will be removed. Fortunately, that has only happened a couple of times over the years.
If you have a problem with a post that you think is spam or abusive, click the “Flag” link on the discussion. I will be alerted and then can decide what to do.
But also, give people the benefit of the doubt. Text is not always an efficient way to communicate exactly what you want to say so something may come off as rude when it wasn’t meant to be. Do your best to view all comments in a friendly light. And develop a thick skin. No one is trying to make anyone else look stupid, feel bad or become embarrassed. Ask for clarification of what has been said before you get upset and start throwing out insults.
Remember we have people on this forum with a wide range of experience and backgrounds. We also have people to whom English is not a primary language. Please have patience in your responses. If a discussion annoys you, feel free to ignore it.
Additionally, this is meant to be a place to discuss formulating products, science and the cosmetic industry. This isn’t the place to talk about politics or religion or even your favorite sports team. Of course, I understand that sometimes we all have other things we want to discuss so if you want to talk about some other subject please use the “Off Topic” category or go post on Facebook or Twitter.
1) Do not request complete/finished formulations.
The best way to get help on this forum is to show that youactually 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 forsome feedback on your problem. If you don’t have a formula, do some researchand try to come up with one yourself first. If it doesn’t work out, then askfor help or feedback.
BAD: I’m trying to make a nice hair conditioner. Can anyoneprovide a formula I can use to start?
GOOD: I’m trying to make a rinse-out hair conditioner thatimproves wet combing and gives the hair a lot of shine. I tried this formula:
When I tried it I didn’t get the shine or the combingperformance I was looking for. Anyone have any advice on how to improve it?
2) When asking about stability issues, provide as much formulacomposition (INCI names with percentages) and batching procedure information aspossible.
BAD: HELP! My cream is showing separation at 45C. Anybodyknow why? I’m using (list of ingredients).
GOOD: My cream is showing separation at the top of the jarin 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 standardCTFA/INCI nomenclature.
BAD: I’m having trouble dispersing my pigments in a BB creamformulation. Anyone know if I should try Salacos HS-6C?
GOOD: I’m having trouble dispersing my pigments in a BBcream formulation. Anyone know if I should try Salacos HS-6C (INCI: PolyhydroxystearicAcid)?
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. Ifyou do use the word “best”, at the very least, make sure it is specific to acertain 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 emulsifierfor 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 spreadsnicely during rub in. I am thinking about using ~5% Jojoba Oil, ~5% SheaButter, and ~2% Isopropyl Myristate. Does anyone have any advice for whichemulsifiers I can use that could be considered “natural”?
5) When asking about replacements of a chemical or rawmaterial, 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 currentformulation
-any other attributes that need to be maintained in theoverall formulation
BAD: Can anyone suggest a replacement for PEG-40Hydrogenated Castor Oil?
GOOD: Does anyone have any suggestions for replacing PEG-40Hydrogenated Castor Oil in my sulfate-free shampoo formula? The formula is:
It is being used to solubilize the fragrance. I need toreplace it because our team doesn’t want PEG’s. The final product also needs toremain clear.
How can we all betterhelp 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 formulationsunless you have already looked at the sources for that information and foundnothing helpful. If you show up out of nowhere and start asking for extensivehelp, or otherwise demonstrate that you don’t want to do any work yourself, youjust aren't going to get what you are looking for. It is obvious most times when people havetried to do research and just need a hand or when they are looking for someoneto do all the work for them for free.
2) Introduce yourself in the introductionthread before requesting information/help. The newer you are in ourcommunity, the more necessary it becomes to explain your situation and why youneed our help, especially if you are asking for information that most chemistscould find on Google with a quick search.
3) Do not DEMAND help. Being that rude isa good recipe for getting nothing at all, ever. No one in this community isgetting paid to do this, and we have NO obligation to help you – or even torespond 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 elseare eventually going to find this community much less helpful. While many of us are happy to help eachother, 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 youdo need to ask a private question, due to privacy/trade secret concerns, don’tbe surprised if the person you’re asking requests a consultants fee for ananswer.
5) Please don’t hijack other people’sdiscussions, but if you don’t understand something about that question or itsanswers, ask us about it. If you want to ask anything that’s different thanthe original question, START A NEW DISCUSION.
6) Do NOT ask for an amount of help of thekind and/or quality that would ordinarily require you to pay a consultant for.Don’t request complete or detailed manufacturing procedures, Standard OperatingProcedures, equipment info and/or sources, etc. This is all info you will haveto pay a consultant for.
1) Pleaseuse correct English, or at least as close as you can get to it. Proofreadinghelps. 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) Pleasehave or develop something of a thick skin. Nuance is hard to communicate inprint – but we can guarantee that no one here wants to make you look stupid, orfeel bad, or embarrass you. It is much more likely that something here thatupsets you is the result of a too-quick and/or thoughtless response. Please askfor clarification before getting angry or flying off the handle.
3) Pleasewait patiently for an answer. Or a response, etc., and please let us know howthings turned out. Asking a question, getting an answer, and then goingaway without helping the rest of the community by sharing your results is goingto make most of us very reluctant to answer your next question. If multiplesuggestions are made, please identify what suggestion you used to solve yourproblem in your follow up. It will help the community, add some credence to thesuggestion, and help future people looking at the discussion. In addition, thankingthe responders for their help is the only payment they get – please keep thatin mind.
4) Pleaseuse a descriptive title. Not just “help, xyz does not work”. Also, post asmuch 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 ifyou are not getting the answers you really think are helpful,
5) Whenasking about stability or formulation issues, please provide as much formulacomposition (INCI names with percentages), batching procedure and equipmentinformation, and any other information about your problem as possible. BeSPECIFIC! Please also tell us what your status is. Our answers will bedifferent if you’re a professional chemist than they will if you are a DIYkitchen formulator or if you are a small business.
6) Whenasking about specific chemicals, use standard CTFA/INCI nomenclature AND tradenames, and be as specific as possible. Please don’t make us have to lookinformation up ourselves if we don’t need to. When asking about alternativesor replacements for a raw material, please include at least the following info: the reason you want to replace thechemical, the purpose the chemical is serving in the current formulation, thetype of formula it is, and any other attributes that need to be maintained inthe overall formulation. If you are asking for suppliers of a particularchemical tell us how much you want and where you are located. There is no pointyou telling us that you want xxxx chemical and then we tell you that you canbuy 200kg drums of xxxx from a supplier the USA if you are are only making 200gram batches at home in Europe.