How to develop a new cosmetic product

How to develop a new cosmetic product

The journey of a new cosmetic product from concepting to production involves many stages. Teampac’s product development team guides customers through the entire process from ingredient selection to packaging design to certification.

Everything starts from an idea. The customer wants to develop a completely new kind of a cosmetic product. Where should they begin, and what should they take into account from the very start?

”You don’t have to be a chemist to bring to market a new cosmetic product, all you need is a good idea,” says Teampac’s Product Developer Terhi Vesa. ”Of course, some customers bring a nearly ready recipe to the table and know exactly what they want. Still, there are many more steps in the development process before the product reaches production and, eventually, the shops.”

”The more precise the requirements, however, the more straightforward the product development process will be.”

The first step is to sit down in a concepting session, in which Teampac’s product development team and the customer put their heads together to consider the product’s requirements. How should it feel, look and smell, and what does it need to achieve? Product developers help choose and compare potential ingredients and advise upon, for example, packaging options – a jar is ideal for certain consistencies, while a tube is better suited for others. Of course it’s also up to the product development team to tell the customer what is possible and what isn’t.

Familiar trends from the dinner table have made their way into the world of cosmetics. Customers are looking for organic and local produce.

”Natural seed oils, oat oil, vegetable extracts, and ingredients from Nordic nature – both cosmetics manufacturers and consumers are very interested in these at the moment. What’s more, sustainability is a key concern for all ingredients, as well as packaging.”

Read more: Cosmetics mirror food trends »

From an idea to implementation

Once a product’s features have been decided, it’s time to create the recipe and produce samples. It takes anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months before the customer can test out the first samples.

”The time taken to reach the first samples depends on both the product type and its ingredients. If the product and its recipe require less work, and we already have the chosen ingredients at our warehouse, it can all happen fairly quickly. Occasionally, uncommon ingredients may be hard to find or they have to be ordered from abroad. The product’s consistency may also be unusual, which slows down the process,” Vesa explains.

While customers may be fully satisfied with the first samples, sometimes they request changes in the product’s consistency, its feel on the skin, or its scent. The recipe is then modified before the next samples.

”Scents are the most difficult element, as scent preferences are so personal. What I consider a wonderful scent might smell awful to a customer. In such cases all you can do is search for a better alternative. Finding the right feel on the skin can also be tricky, as people perceive things differently. Some like a cream that’s easily absorbed, while others prefer a richer consistency.”

All feedback from the customer is supremely important, as it steers the development work into the right direction.

From testing to certification

Once the desired end result has been reached, testing can begin.

”Many customers are surprised when they first hear about the testing phase. The fact that a product is ready doesn’t mean production can begin immediately,” Vesa says.

Cosmetic products undergo several tests, for instance for stability and preservative efficacy, and potentially dermatological tests. These ensure that the product is safe and keeps well. The challenge test to measure preservative efficacy, for instance, takes 6 weeks.

On occasion, the test results indicate that the recipe must be modified. That means having to take a few steps back and making new sample runs, which first require customer approval and then undergo another test cycle.

This is also the time when applications are filed for selected certificates, such as the allergy symbol of the Finnish Allergy, Skin and Asthma Federation or the COSMOS certificate for organic and natural cosmetics.

”We guide our customers through the jungle of tests and certifications, as well as ensure the product’s compliance with all regulations in collaboration with our external testing partners. I recently completed a product safety course in Brussels, so Teampac can now conduct product safety assessments in-house, too,” Vesa says.

Done and dusted!

When the product passes the tests, the development work is complete.

”The new product is now ready for production. The customer still needs to design visuals for its packaging, create print-ready files, and of course make an order for the first product run. We are there to ramp up production whenever needed, meaning we’ll order the raw materials and plan the production schedule,” Vesa explains.

So, how much does product development cost?

”’How much does it cost’ and ’how long does the process take’ are the most common questions that our customers ask. We don’t have a set price list. Instead, the costs and the length of the process depend on each customer’s requirements and ingredients. We’re equally happy to help out budding natural cosmetics entrepreneurs and well-established large players,” Vesa promises.

”The most rewarding aspect of this job is being able to develop a product that’s an exact match to the customer’s needs. Achieving that is a great feeling!”