You Need A Chemist!
When it comes to introducing treatments to the Apothekari line-up, I know what I want. It’s important to deliver products that are both safe AND effective. To this end, I’m comfortable with choosing which ingredients should and shouldn’t be in formulations. I spend lots of time researching by reading scientific papers, pouring over clinical studies and by talking to formulation chemists. Most chemists possess strong science backgrounds, often with a Masters or PhD degree. They also have extensive practical experience in developing and creating effective, safe and stable preparations.
Working with a good chemist is key to not only developing formulas and manufacturing great products but also to keep up to date with new developments in formulation, novel ingredients and cutting edge technology. Chemists may send me samples that they are playing with to see if I like how they look, feel and smell. This helps me to refine our offerings at Apothekari and to consider the introduction of new products.
While it’s tempting to think of all the money you’ll save by creating your own skin care concoctions, there are many things to consider. Some recipes are terrific for DIY. In addition to it being fun, you can also save yourself a bit of cash and I’d never suggest that you should shy away from enjoyable projects like facial masks, which you will use immediately and not keep long term. However, when it comes to more complicated serums, which contain lots of active ingredients and an array of botanicals, sunscreens or treatments designed for around the eyes, it’s probably best to leave it to the experts unless you know what you’re doing. In addition to the possibility of creating something that just doesn’t work, you may also end up with a skin care formula that is downright dangerous.
Here are just some of the considerations involved in designing a skin care formula that is safe, effective and pleasing to use:
- Are The Ingredients Supported By Science? Are they found in the right concentrations to deliver their action?
- Will The Product Maintain Its Integrity Over Time? Will it separate or clump?
- Is the Preparation Adequately Preserved? Most skin care products should contain preservatives to prevent contamination with bacteria, mold and fungi.
- Does the Formulation Make Sense? For example, will the combination of ingredients work well together? Can we cut something out? Add something different in?
- Is the pH Optimal for Efficacy?
- Can you Mix the Ingredients Together? For example, you may want to mix oil soluble and water soluble ingredients together. This is possible, but you will require additional ingredients like emulsifiers or solubilizers to keep the formulation intact. If you don’t, the mixture will separate and become unappealing and unusable.
- Do you Have the Right Equipment? While not always necessary, some formulations require heaters, high speed mixers or other specialized tools. Additionally, you need a clean environment – something like a dedicated lab and not your kitchen counter.
- It May be Effective but is it Pleasant to Use? While many ‘hand-crafted’, natural and/or artisanal skin care products are lovely, many more are heavy, greasy and not at all what most of us would want to put on our skin!
I’m sure that I’ve missed several aspects regarding formulation, but I hope that this post provides a bit of insight into the complexities involved with creating products that deliver results. Let me know what you think.