Fast Track Your Formulations in 2017

By Belinda Carli, Director, Institute of Personal Care Science

- Last updated on GMT

Fast Track Your Formulations in 2017

Related tags: Formulation

You have a great formulation idea but now that you are about to put that idea into action, what is the best to get it to market as quickly as possible. What's the best approach?

Well here's the first hurdle: did you know, the standard formulation (R&D) process is usually at least​ 12 months to allow for innovation and evaluations. Yet consumers are increasingly expecting product launches and innovations in reduced time frames. How can companies reduce this standard time frame without risking safety, stability and efficacy? 

Be clear on the Brief

The number one way to ensure formulations are developed as fast as possible, and just the way you want them, is to make sure your brief is clear and confirmed as early and as promptly as possible. If you are a Concept Developer, make sure you have:

  • thoroughly researched your target market needs and wants
  • compiled all essential ‘must have’ and ‘must avoid’ ingredients
  • productive discussions with the Formulator on any changes required and confirm required changes in writing promptly
  • an innovative Formulator to work with – sometimes Formulators need encouraging to think outside the square; and sometimes what you ask for is just plain impossible – but choose a Formulator that is willing to work with you on stretching the science if it can be done!

Formulators need to capture your concepts in a bottle… the better they have this information relayed to them the better (and faster) they can create what you are looking for!

Prepare Simultaneous Performance/Stability Based Samples

There is nothing that can extend the formulation development process more than preparing one sample at a time and waiting for feedback between each sample submission. Instead, make a ‘round’ of sample submissions with multiple samples submitted to get faster feedback and approvals.

Formulators can prepare multiple variants of a formula, manipulating just the stability enhancing ingredients (e.g. Version 1 with more emulsifier, Version 2 with less of the same emulsifiers, Version 3 with the same emulsifiers as Version 1 but more polymer etc) and/or vary the input or amounts of the active materials in a similar way. Concept Developers can then evaluate the different versions to select the preferred performance while the Formulator conducts accelerated stability testing.

Then it’s a matter of combining the best performance with the best base in the next round of samples.

Prepare Multiple Sensory Variants

Consumers are now very particular with the way a product feels. Formulators have literally hundreds of different sensory materials to select from when creating a product. Once you’ve got the performance and stability sorted, the next best way to fast track formulations is for the Formulator to prepare ‘multiple’ samples varying in sensory components that best emulate the benchmark product and submit these at the same time. 

If you are submitting 3-5 samples of varying sensory textures and/or aromas, then: 

  • best case scenario: one of them will be signed off
  • worst case scenario: your Concept Developer will be able to compare between 2-3 of the samples you submitted and guide you, very specifically, as to what they did/did not like so you can get it right in the next round of samples

You may get feedback such as, ‘V2 spread better on the skin but with the aroma of V3’ – which is great – the next round of samples would combine the key elements the Concept Developer preferred, but in one final version. Remember, it’s not what the Formulator likes, or even the Concept Developer… but what the target market wants/needs that should be approved! 

Utilise Minimally Disruptive Formulations

To really fast track your formulations, you can utilise ‘Minimally Disruptive Formulations’. A Minimally Disruptive Formulation (MDF) base is one that uses certain functional ingredients with a proven stability profile and then manipulates a few aspects to make a ‘tailor made’ version of the MDF base.

To do this, the Formulator needs to create a MDF base that can accommodate various sensory and active inputs and manipulations without being too disrupted – but once done, MDF bases can enable a Formulator to create multiple performance and sensory variants in a reasonably predictable stable base to get sample submissions out fast with a relatively high confidence in its prolonged shelf life.

It can mean cutting up to 6 months off the normal development process but should be only be attempted when the MDF base has been tested appropriately to ensure suitable confidence.

Don’t compromise quality for time

There is nothing worse than a product recall, so don’t compromise required performance or stability testing just to get to market faster.

If you can get the formulation stage completed faster using a relatively predictable base you can hasten your testing but never cut this stage so much that it compromises product quality or performance.

The ultimate test of a product's efficacy and stability is in the hands of the consumer and product safety is of utmost importance, not just getting to market fastest with the latest innovations.

Enjoy turning those products concepts into reality in 2017!

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