Is It Wise To Use Rare Botanical Ingredients In My Skincare Formulas?

Uncategorized Aug 29, 2019

If you are a cosmetics formulator the answer to that question is relatively simple, you use the ingredient that will give the best results for the intended purpose of the product. Provided the research has been done, and the ingredient declared safe, a formulator is free to use whatever he or she wishes.

If you are a marketeer the considerations are more complex: your choice of ingredient could be the raison d’etre of your brand. As an SME looking at a new ingredient you need to ask yourself the following questions:

 1.  Does it really do what it says on the bottle ?

  2. Is it economically viable given my intended target market and price point

  3. Can I source it safely and reliably ?

  4. Has anyone heard of it ?

There are many companies who have made their names focussing on unusual cosmetic ingredients and they have done so with total passion and complete belief in the results they could achieve. Who knew that mud from the Dead Sea could be a cosmetic dream or that extract of placenta when slapped on the face would somehow make us more beautiful. However, in order to get new products recognised and understood in the public arena a huge investment in both research and marketing is required. This fact needs to be fully taken on board before you decide that you are going to be the one to herald the discovery of Bonga Bonga oil (I made that oil up) and declare that you were the first to land in beauty Utopia.

The issue gets even more complicated if the magic ingredient claims to be a natural solution for some common problem. Sorry folks but as I write, there is no cure for Acne, Eczema or Psoriasis (although many natural creams can relieve those conditions) and I have yet to find a totally reliable natural preservative although much marketing out there will tell you to the contrary. Vast amounts of money have been spent on clinical trials and purchase of useless stock by well meaning people who were confident they had found the ultimate solution to these issues.

For the new entrepreneur, rather than risking your bank balance it is far more sensible to watch the trending of a new ingredient, allow one of the big boys to spend their marketing budget promoting it and then, at the optimum point in time, jump in with some stunning and utterly unique product that includes it.

Despite its centuries old, skin enhancing reputation, it wasn’t until Anita Roddick spent fortunes launching a range of fruity body butters that anyone, other than African village communities and the cosmetic fashionista had the faintest idea what Shea Butter was. Thanks to Body Shop’s sensational promotional campaigns there are now many small producers focusing on this one product and doing it brilliantly.

To get a real idea as to whether a botanical oil is trending check out the big boys. When you notice that P&G and Nivea are using Argan oil in their shampoos and skin creams and that Aloe Vera is now a staple inclusion in fabric softeners you can rest assured that the general public have twigged to the notion that these are great ingredients to use.

There are times in your business when being second is a strategically clever move. This is one of them.



Should I turn my soap or skincare hobby into a business

As a business mentor I am always gobsmacked when I am asked the much posed question ‘can I really make money selling soap and skincare products?’ Just think about it, 90% of the world’s population use soap and those who don’t simply remain to be persuaded. Of course you can make money in this business but your ability to do so is not primarily down to the market or the products you are selling, it is in the main part down to your skill as an entrepreneur. In my view your path to success lies heavily in your personal mindset.

Many prospective clients who come to me do so because they have a passion for making products. In a typical scenario they tell me that they have been making products for themselves and their family and friends for quite a while and everybody thinks that these skin goodies are fab and that maybe they ought to think about selling them. In addition, their bathrooms are now overflowing with soap and creams and funds are needed so they can afford to make more. This thinking is totally logical and definitely a journey I made myself. The problem is that sometimes, turning a passionate hobby into a business can kill the passion and here are some of the reasons why:

  1. When making products for yourself you can afford to play with any ingredient you want to. When making products to sell, the ingredients you use should only be those you can afford to use and still make a profit.
  2. You may hate the smell of lavender but 80% of the most commercially successful soaps contain lavender oil. Running a business means that you must accept that what your market likes and dislikes is more important than your own personal taste.
  3. When making products for a hobby you can indulge in ‘stirring the pot’ seven days a week. When running a business you can only afford to set a very limited time aside for making your products. If you want to be successful the vast majority of your time should be spent building your business. I’ll go further here, if you want to make substantial money you really need to outsource your production at the earliest possible time.
  4. You want to make the very best products available to man (all honest people want to do this). Your talent in communicating this message is actually far more likely to lead you to commercial success than your talent for formulating products.

If you haven’t gone off to get a frying pan to hit me over the head with I would also suggest that you consider the following. These are all skills that are needed to build a business but the important thing is not that you personally have these skills but that you recognize your own weaknesses and make sure you get someone else to cover these tasks for you.

  1. Book-keeping - If you don’t make a profit you do not have a business. You need to have a firm grasp of figures and financial management. (Alan Sugar once said ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’ – so true ! )
  2. Record keeping – There is a lot of legislation involved in any business, if your records are dis-organised you could hit serious problems.
  3. Confidence – Can you communicate the value of your products with authenticity and authority? If you are a blushing Beverly or a shy Cyril, get someone else to do your selling for you.
  4. Branding - Do you accept that a huge part of your ability to succeed lies in the message your range puts across? – don’t do your branding on the back of a shopping list – get the best expert help you can afford for this. If you are serious about your business it will be worth every penny.
  5. Planning – As a solo entrepreneur you are sometimes so busy dealing with the detail you completely miss the bigger picture. Write a business plan and spend your money on paper rather than taking it out of your wallet. If the figures on your plan tell you something doesn’t add up, it really doesn’t.
  6. Employing help - Are you a good people manager/delegator? You cannot grow a business and still do everything yourself.
  7. Marketing - We are living in magical times when we can reach millions with one click. How are your internet and social media skills ? Can you get the best from this almost free route to market.
  8. Time management – If you are starting a business because you think it will give you more flexibility and time to yourself, it can, but only if you understand the principles above.

 With all the above taken on board do you still feel you want to start a skincare business, because if so, do it, or better still call me because I can really help you. You have accepted, if not laid, some of the solid foundations needed for success and yes, there is plenty of money out there just waiting for you to call it in.


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