For the 2019 challenge, which was designed and emceed by Mark Chandler, president of ACT Solutions, the surprise ingredient wasn’t an ingredient at all—it was the end consumer. Inside each team’s mystery box was a toy doll representing the customer whom their serum needed to reach—a teenage girl; a successful, busy 20-30something female professional; an urban male fashionista and an older man who, as Chandler described as “being anywhere between 60-80 years” old but still active and wanting to look younger than his years.
With their customer unveiled, the teams set forth to formulate their serum using ingredients supplied by ChemSpec, Safic Alcan Group, Ethox Chemicals, Mibelle Biochemistry, Seppic, Lipotec Active Ingredients Lubrizol Life Science and Lincoln Manufacturing.
When the mixers were shut down and teams’ time ran out, they had produced four vastly different serums—proof of the creativity of today’s cosmetic and personal care chemists. And their pitches were equally as impressive (this year, teams added marketing staffers to their rosters, who helped in their messaging).
The Johnson & Johnson team created a pair of formulations for the young urban male that addressed on-trend issues like pollution and blue light. One serum was fragrance-free, so it wouldn’t fight the scent he was wearing while the other had a light fragrance just in case he wasn’t wearing one, according to their marketing pitch.
Colgate-Palmolive presented next, offering up Skin Serenity, a serum that was powered by the natural science of “Mexican medicine.” It was glossy white formulation that helped de-stress, which was a core attribute for their customer—that busy Millennial woman.
The runner-up in the competition was Shiseido’s Moody Serum, a clear formulation that was priced at a wallet-friendly $19.99 and was designed to calm skin and make “IG-ready,” a sure nod to a teenage customer’s wants and needs to look great on social media.
The winning formulation came from Swiss American CDMO, which was tasked with developing a serum for an older male. The team’s “Wisdom Beyond” serum was a multi-tasker designed for use on the hands, face and neck. It was lightweight and anti-aging, with a sage and pepper fragrance.