In the cosmetic industry, new products are the life blood of every company. If you’re not creating new products, your company is slowly dying. Unfortunately for cosmetic chemists, the responsibility for coming up with these new product ideas usually falls on the marketing department. I say “unfortunately” because marketers tend to come up with three types of ideas.
1. Cosmetics that are drugs. In the U.S., FDA regulations are pretty clear that products that affect the body’s metabolic pathways are drugs not cosmetics. So when chemists are asked to come up with skin lotions that get rid of wrinkles, eyelash products that affect hair growth, or tonics that stop gray hair production, these are drugs. For the most part, cosmetic companies do not want to make drugs.
2. Incidental formula changes. Chemists are frequently asked for twists on current product offerings. For instance, if a company has had success with a basic body wash, they might ask chemists to create a new version that has a new color, new fragrance, and or new story.
3. Product claims that consumers don’t notice. When a marketer sees a competitor making a claim like “makes hair 5 times stronger” they’ll often ask formulators to beat the claim. For example, they might ask for a product that makes hair 10 times stronger. Unfortunately, even if a formulator could make a product to achieve this claim, consumers likely won’t notice the difference: 5 times, 10 times, 100 times, who cares?
This is not meant as a criticism about the way new products are generated in the cosmetic industry. Indeed, each of these strategies has led to many successful new product launches. However, from a cosmetic formulator perspective, this method doesn’t leave much room for actual product performance innovation.
Cynical formulators might even come to the opinion that there are no areas left for “real” innovation in the cosmetic industry. But they are wrong. Here is a list of 7 cosmetic product performance improvements that are just waiting for someone to solve. These improvements are not drug claims, are not incidental changes and are things consumers will notice.
7 Areas for Cosmetic Product Performance Improvements
1. Faster drying hair products. One of the top complaints consumers have about hair is that styling takes too long. Blow-drying is the time-consuming step so if you can come up with something to dry hair faster, consumers will love it.
2. Longer lasting skin conditioning. Skin moisturizers work. They just don’t work for very long and consumers have to constantly reapply. If there was a product that actually kept skin noticeably feeling good for hours it would outsell all competitors.
3. Better sunless tanners. The latest sunless tanners are much better than ones from just a few years ago. They smell better and the produce a nicer color. But there is still an odor issue and the color is still not quite right. A formulation that smells better and produces a better color would be easily noticed by consumers.
4. Long-lasting lipgloss. While lipglosses go on shiny, they don’t keep lips looking that way for long. There are long-lasting lipstick colors but the market is still hungry for long lasting lip shine.
5. Hair straightening. Straight hair is in, but most women prefer temporary straightened hair over permanent solutions like relaxers. The only solution for them is a flat iron which is effective but takes a relatively long time. Can a new formula speed up the process and make it last longer?
6. Reduce odor of perms. Speaking of chemical treatments, perms still smell awful. Certainly this product could benefit from a solution to the odor problem.
7. Longer-lasting UV protectors. Sunscreens work but consumers continue to be vulnerable to damage because they rarely reapply them in the time recommended by the product manufacturer. There is room for improvement if an enterprising cosmetic chemist could develop a longer lasting sunscreen that remains aesthetically appealing.
About the Author
Perry Romanowski is the primary contributor to Chemists Corner (http://chemistscorner.com) 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 websiteChemistsCorner.comwhere he is available for consulting about cosmetic formulating, testing and internet solutions.