Is it better to own your custom formula? (Also how realistic is it to try at home?)

Hi! I'm an entrepreneur looking to start my own skincare line. I don't have any connections or a lot of experience but I do think I have a great idea for a custom product into which I'm willing to invest what little money I have. I've called around to various labs and companies that either seem to 

a) charge a larger sum of money to formulate your product and give that formula to you to manufacture with someone else, or 

b) charge a less large amount to formulate and manufacture your product, but the company would own the formula and require you to purchase it for $$$$ if you want it, if they offer that option at all

Is it better that I find separate companies to formulate and manufacture my product so that I own the formula (in which case I would have to give the formula to the manufacturer anyway?), or that I get someone to both formulate and manufacture it, but without owning the actual formula? What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning/not owning the formula? 

I'm also feeling ambitious and interested in creating the formulation at home by myself, armed with a list of my competitor's ingredients and some basic idea of what each one does. This would help save a lot of money on creating a formulation with someone else but I do still think to get certified and manufacture I would have to hire some third party for testing and such. I am pretty confident I can do it, but as a third party how realistic do you think this plan is?

Any input is greatly appreciated, thanks!

Comments

  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    I work with start-ups and I will hit some high points;
    • While you may have an idea for a new product, keep in mind that unless you are developing a new material or technology, it is likely that a similar product is out there if you know where to look. Alternatively, it could be a product that is not supported by the limits of Chemistry. For example, I was approached recent;y with the request; "I want to make a product that changes color over time in the hair, but it must use only natural oils and butters."
    • Next, how you proceed relies a great deal upon your budget and Business plan. One of the universal truths in Cosmetics is that honestly designing the product and formulation is about 20% of the task. The bulk for a start-up client will rest in Sales, Marketing and other Business tasks. If you are a Business person by nature, hire and delegate out the tasks to a Formulator. If you are a Formulator such as myself, you would want to delegate some of the Sales, Marketing and Business to someone better able to be effective. Honestly, in a successful line, attempting to fill both roles will quickly become over whelming.
    • Many start-ups will need to own the Formula to be competitive. This really assumes that you have a product or two that will be your primary or "hero" products. If so, you would want to likely use a Consultant Formulator to maintain ownership of the Intellectual Property (IP). If you are making a broad line (many products), likely Private label is the way to go.
    • In most cases the Contract Manufacturer will want to maintain ownership of the Formula if they do the R&D although there are exceptions. You need to determine how important it is to maintain the ownership in the end.
    • Have a realistic budget Being underfunded will doom your project.

    We do an initial one hour call at no charge if you have further questions.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    From my own experience, yes, it's possible. But it will take quite a while. Finding a "star" product is not easy. It's the public that decides what becomes a star. In our case for instance we have around a dozen skin care products. One of them became a star. We have several shampoos, all of which sell well, but it was the unexpected one, the complete "shot in the dark", the coffee, which became the star.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    @BelassiAnd in my experience it is not always the product that you believe will be your "hero" product that excels. Usually it is something that catches you unaware.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    If you want to become a cosmetic chemist, then certainly making the product on your own is something you could do.

    But if you want to start a product line and be successful at selling it, you should not create your own formula. There are much more important things you need to work on (like marketing, sales & brand building) than coming up with your own formulas.
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