The number of people I’ve known who work on products that they’ve never even tried has always amazed me . They miss so much when they don’t have direct experience with a product. Perhaps it’s understandable if you are not in the target market for your product, but anyone can safely use most any product and the information you’ll learn from the experience will be invaluable. Here are 5 reasons cosmetic chemists should be trying every cosmetic formula they work on.
1 – Learn the most important characteristics
When I first started working on the cosmetic industry, I was making hair care products. While I always used shampoo, I rarely used conditioner. It seemed like a waste of time. But when I was given the task to make a new hair conditioner formula, I needed to figure out the most important characteristics. Reading about slip, spreadability, and hair conditioning properties didn’t make sense until I tried the product. After using it a few times, I figured out what these terms meant and why they were important. This gave me a basis for evaluating new formulas allowing me to know when I made something better.
If you don’t try a formula, you can’t make it better
2 – Build your powers of observation
Many of the formulas you will work on are ones you’ve tried all your life. But most of the time you use them without thinking. Your mind has become dulled to the experience. When you try a product thoughtfully, you can build your powers of observation and discover all sorts of details you never noticed.
For example, you might start to notice the ease at which your hands slide while applying a lotion, or the length of time it takes to “work into the skin”. You might notice the bubble density of your body wash or shampoo. In short, using a product frequently and mindfully can make you an excellent evaluator.
You can’t make formulas better if you don’t know what to change
3 – Figure out formula problems
Sometimes your Market Research data will come back suggesting there is a problem with your formula. This will be surprising to you because companies do not like to field consumer tests with formulas they know will exhibit problems. Even if all your lab testing shows your formula is good, there may be some subtle things you miss if you don’t try it.
For instance, the product might sting or cause another unpleasant sensation during use. There might be a foul odor which you only smell when it’s exposed to skin, hair, or moisture. You might feel tiny particles that interfere with the experience.
Trying a product identifies unseen problems
4 – Learn the effects of raw materials
A great benefit to trying your formulas is that you learn quickly how different raw materials change the experience. You can read all you want about a raw material but until you actually experience it from a formula, your knowledge isn’t useful. Every cosmetic chemist should have a standard “blank” formula which they can incorporate a new raw material in and try it to determine the effects. This is the best way to learn. Even if the raw material isn’t meant to affect performance, it can have a subtle impact that you would never notice unless you used it.
The fastest way to learn about a raw material is to use it
5 – Inspire new product ideas
Finally, trying cosmetic formulas is an excellent way to inspire new ideas. When you think about the different products while using them, you may start to notice common problems. For example, maybe all the skin lotions you use feel too greasy or don’t last long enough. You should write down these observations and try to come up with new solutions. Product brainstorming while you’re in the act of using a product leads to much more useful ideas than sitting in an office just trying to think.
If not you, who?
As a formulator, you should take pride in everything you make. And if your formula is not good enough for you, how can it possibly be good enough for anyone else?
Do you try all the products that you make? Why or why not? Leave a comment below.