The difficulties of developing a personal care product: Part 3 of 3


For this final article I am going to attempt to take some of the stress out of developing a new personal care product by providing an overview of the information that you will need prior to your products going into manufacture...

For this final article I am going to attempt to take some of the stress out of developing a new personal care product by providing an overview of the information that you will need prior to your products going into manufacture. Your chosen manufacturer should be in a position to provide you with all of the information that I will discuss in this article and is something which is common practice at Expac.

The previous two articles that have been released have been focused around the product formulation and packaging. Clearly these are two very important components of your product as this is what the customer is paying for, so it is essential that you find something that works for your brand. I am going to break down the product formulation and packaging and discuss what will need to be organised in order for the product to be ready for manufacture. I will cover topics such as formulation development, the new EU Regulation 1223/2009, packaging suppliers and how all of this will be brought together to create the finished article.

I have always thought that developing a personal care product is a little like cooking... there is a lot of preparation work, each ingredient requires different cooking times and once everything is in the oven you just need to step back and wait for the end result. However, if an ingredient wasn’t prepared properly, or something was placed into the oven too early then this can jeopardise the entire meal. Before people start thinking that I have lost the plot I had better explain myself in a little more detail. During the initial stages of developing a personal care product a lot of input is required from the brand owner. The initial stages are possibly the most important as these are the decision that will shape the end result! When you first approach a contract manufacturer looking for a quote they will most likely ask you three questions, do you have a formulation? Are you aware of the new EU regulations? Do you know what packaging you will be using? Each of these questions will involve a lot of input from the brand owner but the answers are what will form the finished product. Unfortunately providing the answers to these questions is not an easy task and I shall break each of the three questions down further, and explain the order and lead times that are involved with each.

Do you have a formulation?

Unless you are a development chemist or have one that works for/with you then you will need to find one. Most contract manufacturers will know of a development chemist or have one working for them. This will be the easiest way to finding a development chemist and it makes things a little easier in the respect that the development chemist and contract manufacturer already work together. A key benefit to this is that you will be able to get a formulation from the development chemist that will work with your chosen manufacturer. Trust me, this is a big advantage! If the development chemist has knowledge of the capabilities and raw materials used by the contract manufacturer it can save a lot of time and in some cases money.

Developing the formulation will be one of the first tasks undertaken and generally should take around 2-4 weeks before you receive samples to review. Based on the samples provided further changes can be made to the formulation if required, it will all depend on your requirements as the brand owner and how you want the formulation to look, smell and feel. Once you have agreed on a formulation this will need to be passed on to the contract manufacturer for them to price up.

However, a lot of work is still yet to be done on the formulation and this shall be discussed a little later in this article.

Do you know what packaging you will be using?

I have always recommended that deciding on what type of product packaging used should be done at the same time as the formulation is being developed. In order for lead times to be aligned and all components to be ready for production at the same time it is very important to plan every detail of your project. Once you have sent a brief to the contract manufacturer or development chemist you will have roughly 2-4 weeks whilst samples are prepared. This is ample time to start working on what kind of packaging you want to use. Most packaging suppliers (bottles, tubes and caps etc) will have a brochure and/or their range available to view on their website; they will also send out samples within a couple of days for review. Finding a style of primary packaging can be a relatively pain free process in the respect that lead times for samples are short and majority of the packaging suppliers are easily accessible and there are many around. Finding the right type of packaging supplier for your brand is important! There are two avenues that you can take; you can either go direct to a large bottle manufacturer who will have a large range of styles. If they don’t offer a style of packaging that you are looking for then you can have a bespoke mould made, but this can be a costly process. One comment I would like to make is that most of the larger packaging manufacturers have a minimum order quantity of at least 5,000 units, and depending your brand this may or may not be too high. Alternatively, you can go to a packaging stockist. These companies buy various styles of bottles, tubes and closure etc. in bulk for resale. A big advantage to stockists is that they have low minimum order quantities and you can buy as little as several hundred items from some, but of course you will pay a premium price for the smaller order quantities.

Once you have found a style of packaging that you are happy with let the contract manufacturer know, you want to ensure that they are able to fill this type of packaging and how much it will cost you! If it is an unusual style of packaging then it will probably cost more to fill in comparison to the generic 250ml Boston Round. With regards to lead times, if you opt for a packaging manufacturer, depending on your order quantity this will usually take 6-8 weeks from placing your order to the packaging being ready for delivery. Stockists on the other hand will have shorter lead times providing that the style of bottle that you want is in stock, as it is readily available you can have the stock delivered within 1-2 weeks.

Moving on from the primary packaging, all products need some form of artwork on them. You can either label your products or screen print them. Having the artwork designed can take a long time and completely depends on how busy the graphic designer is. Lead times are very much dependent on you as the brand owner and your requirements, however I would advise that it can take anything from 2-4 weeks for a design to be created. When this is to take place in relation to other tasks is dependent on many factors. The key consideration being whether you want your artwork to be directly printed onto your packaging or you opt for labels. Irrelevant of whether your packaging is to be printed or you will use a label you will need to liaise with the designer and packaging supplier at the same time to ensure that the artwork will be sized correctly for your chosen packaging design.
Once completed if the artwork is to be directly printed onto the packaging then this artwork needs to be sent to your representative at the packaging supplier. If, on the other hand, you are using a label then you will need to find a label supplier, your contract manufacturer can often recommend a good label manufacturer. As for lead times, if you are to have your packaging screen printed then this will add roughly a week to the manufacturing time from your packaging supplier, or if you are to use labels then most label companies will take 2-3 weeks to produce the labels from the point of placing your order.

The next aspect of packaging that needs to be considered will be the outer case that the product is packaged into. If I am quite honest I would leave this to your chosen contract manufacturer to organise. They will be ordering outer cases every week for their different customers, and so, will be able to get a much more competitive price.

My final area of discussion on the product packaging is about who orders what. This can be done via two methods. Either the brand owner can purchase all packaging and free issue in to the contract manufacturer. The advantage to this is that the brand owner will have control of all aspects of their project at all times. On the other hand you could ask for a full vend service from your contract manufacturer. This is where they will order all components and plan everything for you. The benefits to this is that you should see a slight cost reduction on the end unit as the contract manufacturer should be able to achieve a better unit cost due to economies of scale. Also let’s not forget it should make things slightly more relaxed for you as the brand owner!

Are you aware of the new EU regulations?

The final area of consideration for this article is with regards to the EU regulations that were put in place for personal care products back in June 2013. As a very brief summary of the 150 page document, all products that are to be applied to the skin need to be tested and have all relevant test data, along with the certification of the raw materials and product information uploaded in a product information file (PIF) format onto the EU portal. There is no need to panic too much about this as it can all be organised by your contract manufacturer or chosen testing house. It can be a costly exercise as each individual product needs to have its own PIF, so if you have a range of products then you are going to need to have a lot of testing carried out. As this will be contracted out the big consideration that needs to be made will be with regards to the lead times involved. Most products require two different forms of testing carrying out, a challenge and stability test. The lead time for these tests to be completed will be 12 weeks, so for the PIF to be created and uploaded onto the online portal I usually recommend that a time period of 13 weeks is to be allowed for. Of course this is a very long time, so as soon as you are happy with the formulation and you have chosen your primary packaging, the formulation needs to be put onto testing straight away! Whilst the testing period is underway other aspects of your project can be organised, this will include things like getting your artwork organised, production of the primary packaging and labels etc. The contract filling of your products cannot take place until the results of the stability and challenge test have been submitted, so it is very important that you get all work completed during this 13 week period. This way once the PIF is ready and the products are uploaded onto the online portal, your contract manufacturer can begin with production.

As will be seen from the above, there is a lot of work involved with developing a new personal care product. Especially when you consider that this has only looked at the process from a contract manufacturer’s perspective. What this series of articles has hopefully done is provide the potential brand owner with an introduction to the type of decisions that need to be made when developing a new product. If you are considering creating your own brand of personal care products, or already have one and would like to know any more information on the past three articles feel free to contact me on:

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