cosmetics formulation

Cosmetics formulation – behind the scenes

Hi…. Dr. Mike Thair here, the Australian Master Formulator at Indochine Natural. I like to talk about cosmetics formulation. In other words, give you a behind the scenes peek at our work.

With skin & hair care, we have high standards of cosmetics formulation. Moreover, the industry standards have never met them. So we borrow from Mother Nature. In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. At Indochine Natural we think differently. The way I challenge the status quo is by formulating products that are all natural, simple to use and user-friendly. And, we happen to make amazing skin and hair care products.

When formulating a new product, it’s my job to decide how much of each ingredient goes into each formulation. How do I come to this decision? It’s a decision I need to make for every single formulation and for every single ingredient.

Where do I start with cosmetics formulation?

The best place to start is the recommendations from our ingredients suppliers. For example, with Nettle Extract our supplier recommends 1-6%. But it’s broad, nevertheless a starting point. I also need to consult if there are any legal concentration limits. The cosmetics regulations  are important. These may vary from country to country. So knowing where the product will be marketed is critical.

The Price factor

This is where Indochine Natural differs from most mainstream brands. For these brands, the price is a major factor in deciding on ingredient concentrations. And their aim? The lowest possible concentration, just to have the name of a sexy ingredient on the label. This ingredient can then be exploited in their marketing campaigns. There is very little consideration if the ingredient concentration adds anything to the product effectiveness. We call this Angel Dusting.

The mainstream brands use two strategies to reduce production cost. First, reduce the concentration of claim and active ingredients. Second, Increase the solvent (filler) concentration. Remember, the active ingredients are often the costliest, the solvent (filler) ingredients the cheapest. It’s the sexy active ingredients that sell products.

This is not the way natural and artisanal cosmetics formulation works

At Indochine Natural I take a different approach to cosmetics formulation. We have OEM customers wanting me to formulate to a price. They are wanting products for their brand somewhere between conventional and natural. They can see the financial attractiveness of the green and natural market place. But want to make a cheap entry. We rarely proceed with these customers. It’s not the way artisanal natural cosmetics works. Also, we don’t formulate with cheap synthetic ingredients.

Check out the ingredient lists of conventional cosmetics products. They are becoming ridiculously long. The long list is an attempt to impress customers. Consumer thinking is that with 10 active ingredients, it must be efficacious. It also justifies the price of the product. At Indochine Natural we think differently.

How Indochine Natural works

First, we mainly work with plant oils. Our ingredients are identifiable parts of a plant. For example lemongrass powder, or an extract from Nettle. Plant oils that are cold pressed or distilled. We follow several important principles in product development when selecting raw materials.

  • The raw material must have a specific function in the formulation;
  • The raw material in a formulation must be cost-effective;
  • We question whether the raw material is necessary;
  • The raw material must be fully traceable. We want to know where it comes from.
  • The material must be properly documented by the supplier.

We keep our ingredients lists short. We only formulate using what we need to produce a superb product.

And the result? I think one of our customers expressed it the best:

“…..unbeatable, they do what most other products claim to do but did not do.”

 

Dr. Mike Thair

Master Formulator

Indochine Natural Sdn Bhd

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