Expert's Opinion

How To Make the Cosmetic Industry More Innovative

By Perry Romanowski | December 11, 2009

Perry Romanowski provides five ways to improve the innovation process.

Each year thousands of new beauty products are launched and there are also thousands of new patents issued related to cosmetics. Based on these facts, it seems that the cosmetic industry is teeming with innovation. Unfortunately, this is an illusion.

Significant Innovations in Cosmetics

The truth is that the personal care and cosmetic products that people use today are not significantly better than the ones they used 10 or even 20 years ago. Shampoos are still based on the same basic detergent systems. Lipsticks still use the same type of waxes. Skin lotions, hair conditioners, deodorants, etc. have not changed appreciably in the past two decades.Certainly, there have been some incremental, aesthetic improvements but as far as big innovations go, not so much.

Why Aren't There more Innovations?

There are a variety of reasons why products haven't improved significantly such as cost, timing, and the difficulty of discovery. One of the primary reasons is that the cosmetic industry is driven more by marketing stories than scientific advancements. The constant demand for new products outpaces the ability of scientists to make new discoveries. The result is that cosmetic chemists are forced to take formulas that they have previously developed and adapt them to fit the latest, high-scoring marketing story. With the right packaging and advertising, this strategy can result in some successful new products. Unfortunately, even most successful new products are not innovative from a technical standpoint.

To create new products that are technically superior to existing ones, cosmetic scientists are going to have to become the leaders of innovation. While this is no easy task, there are a variety of things that can be done to help improve the chances of developing truly innovative products.

5 Ways to Create More Innovative Products

1.Focus on solving significant problems. To create a breakthrough innovation, you have to solve a big problem. First, identify the biggest problems in whatever area you are working on. These problems should be easy to find as they are the same ones that people have had for years. Search beauty blogs and forums for the problems that people complain about most often.

2.Come up with new ideas every day. Once you know what problems to solve, spend some time each day coming up with new ways to solve them. You can use a variety of brainstorming techniques but the key is to create new solutions every day.Give yourself an idea quota where you have to generate a certain amount every week (say 50 new ideas a week).

3.Ask “what if” and “why” questions. To create useful new ideas, ask questions to yourself and to other people. The most effective ones for generating new ideas are “what if” and “why.” For example, if you are trying to come up with a new type of shampoo ask yourself a question such as “What if my customers were color blind and unable to sense odors? How would I differentiate my products?”

4.Invent outside your area of expertise. Sometimes the best inventions are created by people who are not well versed on a topic. They look at the problems from a completely different perspective than industry experts. If you are a hair care chemist, try generating new product ideas for skin or makeup products.

5.Spend more time observing. The internet has already changed the way that people interact but companies have barely scratched the surface in how they can use it to invent and market new products. One way you can use it to come up with new products is to go to video websites like YouTube and watch how people are trying to solve the problem you are working on. There are numerous cosmetic videos which can show you exactly how people interact with their cosmetics. Spending time to observe real consumers using real products will lead to potential new solutions.

About the Author
Perry Romanowski is the primary contributor to,a website dedicated to training scientists to become better cosmetic chemists. He is currently Vice President of Brains Publishing which specializes in science education delivered through the internet. He spent the last 17 years researching and developing products to solve consumer problems in the personal care and cosmetic industry. His primary focus has been on hairand hair related products.

Perry received his B.S. in Chemistry from DePaul University and also an M.S. in Biochemistry. He has written and edited numerous articles and books, developed a number of successful websites and currently teaches the Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry continuing education class through the SCC. His latest book project is the third edition of Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry published by Allured. He can be reached thorough his website where he is available for consulting about cosmetic formulating, testing and internet solutions.