As a formulator, the best projects are those for which you get to create a whole new formula. It’s exciting to start from scratch and create a formula that provides some new, measurable benefits.
Unfortunately, these are few and far between. Most of the time you’ll be working on projects where you have to formulate without changing the consumer’s perception of how the product works. Here are the most common times when you have to reformulate.
If a consumer doesn’t like your product or it is causing some type of damage, they’ll let you know – often through social media or in some cases, through a class action lawsuit. When enough consumers complain, you’ll have no choice but to reformulate.
Sometimes the local, state or federal government will pass a regulation which impacts your formula and your ability to sell the product. This is particularly true of preservatives, since countries often institute new bans. When this happens, you’ll need to create something that complies but isn’t noticeably different. It can be a tough challenge.
Perhaps the most common voluntary reason for reformulating is that you are trying to reduce the cost of your cosmetic formula. Since most formulas are not optimized, there are almost always ways to reformulate and make them less expensive. But be sure to check your reduced cost formula against both the current formula and the original formula. You can reduce the quality too far.
Discontinued Raw Material
Sometimes you are forced to reformulate because a supplier stops producing a raw material. This can be very annoying and demonstrates why you should always have a qualified second supplier for every raw material you use.
Acquisitions in the cosmetic industry are quite common. Whenever you acquire a company, you’ll have to work on integrating the new company into yours. Since the acquired company usually has different raw material suppliers or follows different protocols, you’ll have to reformulate all of the purchased products in some way. This can take years to complete.
Another time to reformulate is when your marketing group wants to sell products in a different way. Suppose they want to relaunch and add the phrase, “new and improved formula.” You’ll have to change something about the formula to make that happen. There are other marketing reasons such as adding an ingredient to be consistent throughout the line or claiming your products are all-natural. All will require some reformulation.
Sometimes your production people find a faster way to do things, such as moving from a batch process to an inline, continuous process. Whenever something like this happens, you’ll have to reformulate to ensure that you can make a product that matches the new process.
On occasion your formula will start to exhibit stability problems. This can happen if there is a subtle ingredient change that you didn’t know about. In these situations, reformulation is typically the fastest way to solve the problem.
These represent the top reasons for cosmetic reformulation. While reformulating can be annoying, overall it is a good thing. It allows you to learn more about the formulas you work on and become an expert in formulation problem solving. These skills will be useful when you get those rare projects requiring you to create a new formula from scratch.
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