If you want to start a professional skincare line, now is an amazing time to do so, since you have more options than ever. You can private label, you can contract manufacture, or you create your own from pre-made bases. You can offer various types of custom skincare services, and you can even just keep things super simple and start from scratch in your own kitchen. No matter which option you choose, my best advice to you is to learn skincare formulation, and really learn about skincare ingredients.
You might wonder why I’d give you that advice, even if you plan to work with a formulation chemist and contract lab, or private label company. After all, isn’t that part of what you pay them for? Yes it is, but today I want to share a video “lunch and learn” I did on LinkedIn and Facebook recently, which outlined the top three reasons I think any skincare practitioner or skincare business owner should learn skincare formulation.
Watch my “3 Reasons to Learn Skincare Formulation and Ingredients–Even if You Plan to Private Label or Outsource Manufacturing” video below:
And here’s the overview in case you like to read versus watch videos!
1. You need to have a clear understanding of what’s in the products.
You also need to understand why the ingredients were chosen for your formulations, what the function or benefit of the ingredients are, and how they are sourced. You’ll want to know if the ingredients are synthetic, naturally derived, bio-identical, organic, plant-based; whether the nutrients come from whole food/plant sources or are isolated, or if the ingredients have been genetically engineered or modified.
You will want to be sure that ingredients and formulations are non-toxic, which should be a given; but sadly due to the lack of standards and regulation in the cosmetic industry, many that is not the case. If the ingredients are synthetic, are they ones that are approved for use in natural and organic formulations by third party certifying bodies?
These are questions that you as the business owner need to know the answer to, because nowadays your customers are more informed than ever. They ask questions that are far more detailed than they would have even 2 years ago–nevermind 5 or 10 years ago. They WILL ask questions like this through your website, on your social media platforms (sometimes publicly, sometimes privately).
You have to be able to discuss your ingredients and formulations confidently in regular conversations, when presenting your brand at a conference, when talking with potential investors or vendors, and when pitching the media. You have to know how to answer those questions quickly and in an informed way, in order to instill confidence that what your customers are buying from you is top quality. Your ingredients and formulations must be aligned with the brand philosophy and messaging that is bringing these customers to you in the first place. It is really not a great idea to just rely on that third party manufacturer or lab to have the answers to that questions, because yours is the name associated with the brand, and YOU are the person who customers will rely on for these answers. And to be honest, your representative might not actually have all those answers if they were not involved in sourcing your ingredients.
Every chemist, formulator, lab, or private label company has their own ways that they like to source ingredients and formulate products–you must make sure that it aligns with what you want for your brand, and what your customers expect. The only way to know that, is to learn skincare formulation and educate yourself about skincare ingredients.
2. You need to know what you’re paying for!
When you learn skincare formulation, you will also learn how much time, money, labor, and energy goes into research and development, production, sourcing ingredients and packaging, compliance, and labeling.
When you hire a lab, chemist, or private label company to create your products for you–whether the are private label products or stock formulations, or they are creating something for you from scratch–you’re paying them for that service. You want to make sure that you agree with what you are being charged, that you understand what all of this really costs up front and on an ongoing basis, and that’s not something that you’re really going to understand until you actually look at those costs yourself.
The industry has changed so much over the past several years. Now more and more skincare enthusiasts and professionals alike are starting their own small batch lines because they want to have control over that process, the costs, their intellectual property, reformulations, discontinuations, lead time, and all of these different factors. Even if you do want to outsource your manufacturing, it’s really important that you have a personal understanding of what you’re paying for, and that you’re okay with that. When you take the initiative to learn skincare formulation yourself, and understand all of these various factors, you’ll go into any manufacturer relationship more informed, which could save you a lot of time and money.
3. After you learn skincare formulation for yourself, and all the factors, costs, and lead times involved, you might decide you would rather do it yourself!
It might sound daunting, but many successful indie skincare brands (and many of my Create Your Skincare Pro grads) have chosen to handle their own manufacturing. They start small–often in their own kitchen–and then grow to larger spaces as the business dictates, or as funding becomes available.
Once you learn about various different types of skincare ingredients such as herbs, carrier oils, extracts, vitamins, plant stem cells, enzymes, preservatives, emulsifiers, surfactants–and where they come from, how they’re packaged, how they’re manufactured, how the products themselves, or the ingredients themselves are formulated–you might decide you actually love that part of the process! You might find that you want to involve family members, friends, or members of your community in your process. After all, amazing things happen when women gather and create together 🙂
There are actually quite a few reasons not to outsource your manufacturing or just buy private label products. When you outsource manufacturing, or when you entrust your brand’s image and reputation to a private label company, you only have one certain amount of control over that process. Different manufacturers like to do things different ways. They have different methods and ingredients that they like to use to keep their costs down, to keep their products safe and stable (which obviously is always going to be the foremost goal), and to determine efficacy. They might insist on using certain ingredients (such as preservatives and emulsifiers), sourcing their raw materials from specific suppliers, or packaging their products a certain way to keep their costs as low as possible to ensure their highest profit.
The good news is that it’s not hard to learn skincare formulation.
Learning all about different ingredients, how they work together in a product and on the skin, how to safely preserve them and keep them stable, how to test them for safety and efficacy, and package them correctly are all learnable skills. You can also learn how to source ingredients, position your brand, organize your time and plan out your schedule so that you have room for production, fulfillment, marketing, selling– and how to do other necessary things on the backend and the front end to get your products to market and grow your business. Whether you are doing this as your sole source of revenue, or you are using this as an additional revenue stream to support your aesthetics or coaching practice, everything you need to know is learnable.
I’m not going to lie–learning to formulate and growing a skincare business does have its complexities–but it’s not hard per se, and you don’t need to be a scientist or have business experience to have a successful skincare business. Skincare formulation takes practice–even the most seasoned chemists and herbalists screw up and have to go back to square one. It happens. But that’s all part of the fun of skincare formulation!
I personally find skincare formulation very creative. To me, it’s very much like cooking or painting. There’s a lot of artistry and creativity that goes into formulating a skincare product. And by doing it yourself , you will have maximum control over the ingredients, the sourcing of the ingredients, the type of packaging that is used, the lead time (sometimes it can take weeks to months for manufacturers or private labelers to replenish your products), and the costs.
If supply issues occur that make it necessary to either find a new supplier or find a substitution, then you will be able to decide what changes to make, and not have to be at the mercy of somebody else’s reformulation that may or may not work for your clientele. These are really important issues! So it’s a really good idea to have control over those parts of the process, and of course, your cost.
Learn skincare formulation and spot-on ingredient selection in Create Your Skincare Pro!
If you want to start or grow the herbal skincare business of your dreams–or if you’re an aesthetician, health coach, or other skin wellness practitioner who wants to learn skincare formulation to create custom products for your clients–then I would love to teach you.
Learn more and choose the enrollment package that’s right for you here!