I saw this infographic titled “how to excel as a formulator” which lists 9 things you need to achieve that goal. The 9 tips from George Deckner are great but they could use some expansion. Unfortunately, the article on which the infographic was based does little to expand on the advice. So, I thought I’d do that here.
9 steps to becoming an excellent cosmetic formulator
1. Be an innovator not an inventor – An inventor makes a new product and hopes the benefits are so obvious it sells itself. Sometimes they do, but usually they don’t. An innovator takes an existing product and makes it better. Since most cosmetic formulation types have already been invented, to be a great formulator you need to focus on innovation.
2. Partner with suppliers – It used to be that formulators tried to keep their projects a secret but this doesn’t make much sense these days. You can get much more accomplished if you outsource as much of your research as you can. Getting suppliers to assist your lab work will help you screen more materials and develop better products faster. Don’t worry about secrecy. The formula does not sell the product! Your idea is not unique and the thing that will make it successful is your marketing efforts. Great formulations are important but there are lots of excellent formulas that never achieved market success.
3. Develop raw material expertise – Being a cosmetic formulator is like being a cook, you just use different ingredients. To become a great formulator you need to know all the ingredients at your disposal. You should make it a point to create & test samples of any new raw material you encounter, even if it is not obvious when you would use it.
4. Kill bad prototypes quickly – Don’t waste time on technologies that don’t have great promise. Whenever you get a new raw material test it at the highest concentration level suggested. If you can’t see a performance difference at the highest use level, don’t bother testing it at lower levels.
5. Manage risk? I’m not really sure what this means but I suppose the advice could be that you should test things before launching. Ensure that your products are safe and effective before committing to a launch date.
6. Sell your ideas – As a scientist and formulator you probably didn’t get any sales training. However, in the business world people don’t really care which surfactant you used or about the clever emulsion technology you developed. They want to know the benefits of your technology and why they or anyone else should want to use it. Learn to tell stories that inspire people to get behind your ideas. And try not to get discouraged. The ideas from R&D people are often ignored in the cosmetic industry.
7. Benchmark your formulas – Excellent idea. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to create a formula that works as well as the best performing cosmetic products on the market. Here you can learn to benchmark cosmetic formulas.
8. Quickly identify killer issues? – I’m not sure what this advice means but perhaps the suggestion is to think through the entire production process and address potential issues. Know whether your suppliers are going to be reliable or whether your lab formulation can still be produced on a large manufacturing scale.
9. Archive your knowledge – You are going to learn a lot over time and you are going to forget most of it. You should have a way to relearn information and keeping a digital archive is a great way to do that. Write notes about what you learned from every project. Keep copies of articles you found particularly helpful. Using a service like Dropbox or Evernote is a great way to keep your information online and secure.
So there you have it, 9 expanded tips on how you can become an excellent cosmetic formulator. Thanks to George Deckner for the original info graphic.