Formulation Tools & Guidelines Industry Standards

How Can I make Products That Work?

Written by Mark Fuller

Recently I travelled to the NYSCC Suppliers’ Day, a huge exhibit of new raw materials and new technologies in the Cosmetic Industry. As I wandered the huge exhibit hall and was bombarded with new materials promising anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle, environmental protection and other “Fountain of Youth” complaints, I was admittedly overwhelmed. Then I thought “If this is so confusing for me, how confusing must it be to new Home Crafters?”

We have at our disposal many raw materials with interesting and impressive names. When we initially do our research in many cases the first thing we will encounter will be “Mommyblogger123” who will use scaremongering and the “naturalistic fallacy” to qualify her ingredients. While I am a huge proponent of the naturally compliant market, I feel these non-credentialed and hardly impartial citations do more damage than good.

White Cosmetics Array - VectorSo, how do we address this issue? How do we make great products that will bring value to our clients and actually do some good? Simple. Remember this mantra; “the claims we make should be born out in the materials we choose.”  Too many times I see this reversed. For example “Coconut Oil is the best thing in the World from what Mommyblogger says, so I want to make a lotion with it.”

In the course of a year, I will work on over 75 Commercial products that will make the shelves. I do this without a Marketer and the first step is to have the client write a “Product Development Brief” which in the end becomes what is roughly a “work order” for their product. How do I do this?

First I will challenge my client to give me Five (5) Claims or Benefits that they want their product to deliver. Nothing technical. Perhaps we will use terms such as “Moisturizing”, “Replenishing” and other such subjective terms. In many cases, we will have to avoid terms such as “Anti-Acne” or “cures eczema”, as these are drug claims. Regardless of your beliefs on natural materials and their benefits, these are simply unapproved terms, as they are drug claims, not Cosmetics.

Why only five claims? This is simple. Too many claims and our product becomes overwhelming and will simply not deliver. Too few and you will have a difficult time communicating a significant value to your clients.

Next, we will use these terms to select the raw materials, NOT THE MATERIALS SELECTING THE PRODUCT! It can be complicated, but as one gets familiar with the materials one will see the value in this approach. For example, suppose we want to deliver “moisturization.” In a lotion we can accomplish this with oils and butter (occlusive barriers, roughly like “deck sealant” keeping the moisture in), humectants (drawing water into the wood) and other great actives such as urea, Hyaluronic acid and various other ingredients readily available through retail to us all.

Also, I would urge everyone to set an internal standard for credentialing our research. I want each of us to pretend that we have to defend our research to the pickiest teacher we have had in University. Imagine them hovering over your Product Development (here think term paper) with the red pen uncapped and ready to go. This is the standard that we must ETHICALLY set for ourselves. With diligence, we can find resources that are footnoted and written by credentialed authors. Imagine this teacher looking down her nose red pen in hand. Would you be comfortable submitting to her a citation with no footnotes, written by Mommyblogger123, who has a degree in Communications and lists ballroom dancing as her hobby? (That is an actual example of an article I was sent by a client). In the end, I hope that we will strive to become “Cosmetic Chemists” and Scientists. With the information age, this opportunity has never been more available to you.

This approach will result in better products. It will produce more ethical products that actually deliver what we promise and not simply “hope in a bottle.” This will allow us to do what we all wanted to do from Day 1 – make products that will ethically bring good to our clients safely and effectively.

Now, let’s make some products!


Mark Fuller is a professional cosmetic formulator and would be happy to help with any formulation needs that you have. Mention that Saffire Blue sent you to save $200 off your formulation advice fees.  You can contact him through his website

0/5 (0 Reviews)

Add Comment

Leave a Comment

Flat Rate Shipping $29.99 and Free shipping for orders over $300 before tax* 

*Not applicable for Canada Post, bulk or case sizes