Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating anti-ageing anti-wrinkle cream/serum formulation

  • anti-ageing anti-wrinkle cream/serum formulation

    Posted by Anonymous on July 14, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Im looking for a world class formulation expert for anti-ageing product that Im developing. Does anyone have names they could recommend? Pref if the person has worked with brand name cosmetic firms like L’Oreal/Olay…

    Anonymous replied 10 years ago 3 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • Bobzchemist

    July 15, 2014 at 9:32 am

    You have fallen into the trap of thinking that you need an “insanely great” formula in order to sell a product. Truth is, anyone can formulate an average product, and if the marketing/advertising is done right, it will fly off the shelves.

  • Microformulation

    July 15, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I have done several anti-aging products. The real challenge will be to make an affordable product to produce. In my experience initially these lines start off throwing everything but the kitchen sink in there. In 100% of the cases where there was a disconnect between the costs of the raw materials the lines failed. Remember these ingredients can add up.

    Target your claims and then match up with the raw materials. It will make the sticker shock later on less painful.

  • Anonymous

    July 15, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for your replies. I want to look for a well regarded formulation lab to throw in all those magic ingredients (peptide, retinol, antioxidants, fragrance etc) and is able to put together a prototype for me. @Microformulation the cost should be factored in. @Bobzchemist: If my product works amazingly well, the product Im assuming would sell without too much marketing muscle.

  • Bobzchemist

    July 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    @Jon_R, good luck with that. Word of Mouth marketing is over-rated. OTOH, I have seen it work. Once.

    As Mark said, raw materials that actually have real effects on skin are extremely expensive. Very few companies can afford to use them at the levels that produce effects. If you are going to go that route, it’s best to determine your finished goods selling price point first, so that you have an idea of what budget is available for raw materials and manufacturing costs, before formulating a cream that you’d have to sell for $500/ounce.
    The vast majority of companies make creams and lotions that are standard moisturizers, with tiny little bits of exotic ingredients in them, and rely on marketing to sell the product - but all of the effect comes from the moisturizer, and little to nothing from the exotic ingredient(s).
    Be aware that there’s a double-edged sword of regulations out there. FTC makes you have solid proof of every effect you claim for your product, but FDA will shut you down if you make drug claims for a cosmetic product.
  • Microformulation

    July 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    @Jon_R Don’t feel as if anyone is discouraging you, just urging you to put a great deal of thought into the product and to closely steward your costs. Bob is absolutely correct about determining your finished goods cost and then working backwards.

    Let me give you some insight into why everyone is urging caution. This is an area where the acronym BDSB (hear that from Marketers all the time) comes into play. This stands for Big Dreams Small Budget. In short it is very easy to price yourself out quickly.

    My experience was this. I was contacted by a Cosmetic “Entrepreneur” to create “the best anti-aging product ever!” His experience wasn’t in Cosmetics but he observed that his wife went through a jar of Olay Regenerist a month and it was pricy. So he started a long path of research and had lots of it. He wanted to use multiple actives (such as retinol, Matrixyl, and many others). He had strong references for each and wanted to use “all of them.” On the initial call I went through his entire list and the percentages that he wanted to use. Well, it came out to about 115% total, JUST WITH THE ACTIVES. Note, I still hadn’t selected an emulsifier, products to make it feel and apply well, preservative, fragrance and any other needed materials to create a stable emulsion. So, then I got to be the bad guy, rightfully so. I think we can all agree you can’t go more than 100%. I felt like a parent at the toy store making a kid put things back.

    Well, the development was hard. As any Chemist can attest you need at least some water in there. Many of the actives were water soluble and I needed some solute to get them into the formulation. We kept paring down. On my part I was so limited that it was a HUGE challenge to get the prototype right and approved by the client. After the original prototype and 3 revisions I finally nailed it. He loved it. “We have a great product! It will sell itself.”

    So, I send him his Formula and he begins to shop it around. Every warning that I gave him about price was valid. In the end it would have had to charge over $175 an ounce to make even the lowest margin. After the third manufacturer priced it out I got the call that every Formulator has received and hates to hear. “Can we drop/decrease the percentages of the actives to make it affordable? It still has to be the best though.”

    Remember, the actions of these products are very discreet and essentially you are trying to provide a non-invasive “botox in a bottle.” You will always fall short of a botox treatment. The testing for efficacy is expensive and in my opinion uses a lot of junk science to support the activity. Not standardized testing as much, but the junk studies the larger manufacturers use to support their sales.

    Here is my best advice. Start with this exercise. Pick FIVE marketing type terms to describe your claims. You could say “Wrinkle Reduction”, “Replenishing”, “Moisturizing” and the list goes on. Why only five? Well, first no product is going to do EVERYTHING. Too many claims will muddy your marketing. Too many claims and you will have an even harder time substantiating all the claims. Secondly, as a Business Person do you really want your line to be a one trick pony? Remember you aren’t developing a new raw material or a new process at this level. We are all working from the same parts pin so to speak. Select good FINITE levels of the actives.

    Once you have the claims, select Raw Materials that support the claims. That should be your starting point. Based upon too many issues to discuss here, your Formulator will select an emulsifier, a preservative and help you to select a fragrance. Put the emphasis on CORE performance and Claims substantiation. Have a product that spreads well and leaves a nice residual feel. These are all factors in designing the Formulation.

    When you have all this shop out for manufacturing. This will be where you see the sticker shock. It is difficult to guess but if I had to you are probably looking at an overall budget from about $27,500 to $30,000 (anyone feel free to weigh in to augment/correct that number) to get product to your distribution point.

    Now, lastly I agree with Bob entirely. Don’t fall for the fallacy of what I call the “Field of Dreams” Marketing plan (If you [make it}, they will {buy it}). This doesn’t work at all. I am sure that Bob’s “Once” is backed up with an interesting but uncommon scenario.

    In the end I think you will find that the Product Development, Formulation and Production will only be about 25% of the task overall. Marketing, making sales and other such functions will rightfully take up the bulk of your time.

    In the last 4 years in Consulting I have tied the bulk of the Product failures to two simple factors; being under budgeted and an immature Sales/Marketing strategy. If this is your first foray into the Cosmetic Field I would recommend taking Perrys Course on Starting Your Own Cosmetic Line or one of many others. It is a unique Business with unique processes, service and demands. One needs to explore the Business end fully and get acquainted before jumping in with both feet. That is my opinion.

  • DavidW

    July 16, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Wow Mark, you wrote half a book.  Are you bored?  LOL

    @Jon_R I have been in this industry for 28 years.  We develop, manufacture and package all kinds of anti-aging and have done so for many high-end and multinational companies.  If you are interested send me your contact information and I will get in touch.  The deposit fee for development of such a high end product is going to be $2,500.  After our discussions and I have a better idea of exactly what your project will entail we will let you know what the total cost for development of your product will be.  There is no charge for discussions.

  • Microformulation

    July 17, 2014 at 9:38 am

    @DavidW I type pretty fast and I was waiting for my water bath to reach 75C.

    @Jon_R David could most definitely get you a strong product out. In your case it would free you up for Marketing. This is where your real focus will need to be.

  • Anonymous

    July 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for your comprehensive response, Mark. I guess Ill have to rethink my approach. But that is why I would need formulation expertise to help me test different iterations of formulas and to see if I need .5 or .05% of each actives for it to be efficacious. I do foresee some hurdles, one of it would be raw material cost. Do you have any evidence to justify the $30k price tag?

  • Microformulation

    July 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    @Jon_R I only formulate. I don’t produce. That was based upon historical data relayed back to me from clients. Once you have a Formulation you can approach a Contract Manufacturer. Some here can also weigh-in.

    You really wouldn’t “test different iterations of Formulas” since the testing is pretty expensive.

  • Bobzchemist

    July 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    @Jon_R, consulting cosmetic chemists typically do not/can not test for efficacy of skin care actives for two reasons:

     1) Accurate, reliable testing equipment is very, very expensive - and even the best tests are not that repeatable.
     2) 99.8% of all skin care ingredients do absolutely nothing at any concentration, despite exaggerated claims made by suppliers.
    Here’s how I’d suggest proceeding:
    1) Think about possible claims from a marketing standpoint. Examine all of the high-end products, the claims they make, and the ingredients that (theoretically) allow them to make those claims.
    2) Make a short list, between 5-10, of the claims you might want your new wonderproduct to make, with an eye towards which claims will allow you to charge the highest price for your product.
    3) Sit down with Mark, or David, or someone else to go over those claims and determine which actives are available, and which actives have the most/best clinical data to back up their claims. Trust me, you will not be able to afford to do that testing on your own. In particular, look at claims/actives that might be synergistic with each other.
    4) Narrow your claims down to two or three. Keep an eye open to stay on the safe, cosmetic side of the FDA.
    5) Start roughly pricing out the formula and packaging, plus manufacturing and filling costs
    6) Do some market research (If I made a cream that did x, y, and z, how much would you pay for it?)
    You can proceed from there on your own.
    One thing many entrepreneurs discover is that a mediocre, somewhat effective cream that costs $1.50 to manufacture sells exactly as well as an excellent, incredibly effective cream that costs $15 to manufacture, if you put exactly the same marketing and sales effort and dollars behind each of them, particularly if they are both in the same, expensive-looking package. 

    This is why there are so many mediocre products out there.
    Why spend the money developing an amazing product if it doesn’t sell any better than a mediocre one does?

    (Please pardon my cynicism - it’s been a long day.)
  • Microformulation

    July 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    @bobzchemist I always like your cynicism. It is resulting in some straight forward advice for the client.

  • Bobzchemist

    July 17, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    I honestly don’t know why the fonts get weird as I type

  • Anonymous

    July 18, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Im not really comfortable with all this marketing-focused talk. But you guys know the industry better than I do…..

    @Bobzchemist: Good points! But rather than focusing on the claims, I was thinking of starting with the product, getting it in a nice package and seeing how it sells. Also, I don’t intend to say the same things that the big cosmetic firms tout with their product. (Thanks for your confirmation that the claims cannot get too scientific or technical or it becomes a drug and has to be approved by the FDA. I read about that recently.)

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