Formulating for rapid results

By Belinda Carli, director, Institute of Personal Care Science

- Last updated on GMT

Belinda Carli
Belinda Carli

Related tags: Product

As consumers become increasingly demanding of great results from their personal care products, how can you best formulate a product to ensure your consumer gets the rapid results they are looking for?

Provide ‘results’ within minutes…

Make sure your product ‘appears’ to be working straight away by including an ingredient that gives an instant effect. For example:

  • in tanning products, use colourants to give an instant ‘brown’ stain to the skin
  • for whitening products, add a light scattering material so the consumer perceives an instantly brighter complexion
  • for anti-ageing products, include a soft focus ingredient so that lines and wrinkles seem to instantly ‘vanish’ on application
  • for skin firming products, use a material that will pull the skin taught within minutes of application

Consumers want products that work – but truly lasting visible results will take time. Unfortunately, some consumers don’t stick with a product for a reasonable amount of time to get the results they are hoping for, so by providing them with some ‘instant’ results, they will use your product long enough for it to provide the more dramatic results provided by a good selection of actives when they have been used long enough to actually work.

Get the active to where it needs to be

Even the best actives in a bad formula just won’t work. Make sure you get the base of your formulation right:

  • formulate with good delivery in mind – if you need to penetrate to the deeper layers of the epidermis, then use appropriate delivery agents and a suitable amphiphilic base to help ensure they get there!
  • ensure the right ingredients remain on the surface – not all materials need to go deep to provide benefits! Holding skin nurturing emollients within appropriate films so they stay on the skin and protect against TEWL can be an incredibly effective way to improve the condition of the skin and leave it feeling and looking amazingly supple
  • check, check and check again that you have not incorporated any actives in an incompatible way, or in an incompatible base. Be particularly careful with things like charge and pH. An incompatible base not only compromises stability, but also reduces bioavailability – in some cases to the point of inactivity!

Make sure your product does what you intend it to by ensuring the base enhances its activity and delivery rather than deactivates or destabilises.

Make an instant impression!

Fulfil a consumers’ need for instant gratification by ensuring your product has an instant impression. This could be:

  • an absolutely amazing fragrance – however, be careful… fragrance can be somewhat personal, so take the time to make sure your fragrance matches your target audience perfectly and you’ll get their attention!
  • an immediate sensory/skin feel benefit, for example, instant cooling or instant warming. Provide a powerful and instant texture sensation to really get their attention.
  • incorporating coloured beads that break on impact or other visual ‘event’ in the packaging – even if these elements of the formula aren’t delivering an active, the consumer will think they are doing more than just looking pretty… it all adds to that crucial first impression!

While these concepts won’t actually help your product work better in a chemical way, it will ensure instant sensory gratification is provided every time they use it. This can be just as important to bring an emotional attachment to a product long enough for them to become loyal to your product and see fantastic results.

Include true performance actives as well

While you want your product to be purchased, you also want it to be repurchased, and talked about.

Providing instant effects is a great way to get the product purchased in the first place but to make sure you get repeat sales, incorporate actives that provide the long lasting visual results your consumer is looking for, and make sure your marketing can be really bold with its claims to really grab their attention.

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