Keynote speaker Liz Earle, founder of her own Naturally Active Skincare brand, started off the conversation by stating that great brands can only be as good as their formulations, highlighting that a product has to be effective and meet the consumers’ expectations and demands.
One of the current demands and trends concerns the sensorial aspects of a product, which has thrown texture under the spotlight, as this can affect how someone experiences a product, and this can have an impact on its efficacy.
“The industry is no longer asking for information on the latest ingredients, but rather the latest textures,” highlights Dr Barbara Brockway, Special Advisor, IMCD.
Marc Pissavini, R&D Director Basic Research at Coty, adds that sensorial properties are also important in how effective a product can be as it can determine how it is applied and how often.
“With an SPF product [for example], the feel/ experience of applying the product must be good so that people apply enough of the product carefully for it to be most effective. SPF is dependent on being carefully applied and also that enough product is applied,” he says.
“Film formers are so important in this regard, as the raw materials have a huge impact on a product’s sensorial aspect.”
Health and safety concerns
Another demand which has affected the industry and meant that products have had to be reformulated concerns plastic microbeads, which are used in personal care products such as face scrubs.
Although not the biggest culprit, personal care products do use the microbeads which were ending up in waterways and damaging the environment.
This has seen them phased out of personal care products since the situation came to light at the start of 2013; with Paolo Camattari, Principal Lead Skin Care Technology at Oriflame saying that sometime changing a formulation (such as in this instance) is necessary, and presents formulators with different challenges.
“Sometimes when reformulating we have to make a compromise while keeping the customer happy,” he says. “This is natural if you are taking out an element that made up the original formulation – something will change.”
“This compromise cannot be done on quality or performance. Maybe it can be done on appearance, but most likely it will be done on cost. When it comes to the environment, customers will normally be more understanding with this.”
Paolo’s company, Oriflame, removed microbeads from its products in 2014. In some cases, when no alternative solution could be found, Paolo says the products were discontinued, and this highlights the company’s commitment to the cause.
Depends where you are…
Aside from environmental concerns, geography and culture can also influence a product’s formulation.
For example, a consumer in France may have completely different preferences and perspective on a product than a consumer in Japan, or India.
In this aspect you see so many different types of formulation being popular for different markets, according to Florence Bernardin, Founder and CEO, Information & Inspiration, who travels between her homeland, France, and Asia on a monthly basis; and is a key expert on the Asia-Pacific region.
“For example, in Europe, everyone wants to achieve a white cream – as white as you can get – but in Asia a bright colour in a formulation shows it is enriched with the ingredients,” she says, highlighting that textures are also viewed completely differently.
Paula Lennon, Innovation Director at Gattefossé also adds that product formulation also depends on the region from a geographic point-of-view, given that climate and weather conditions in different parts of the world change a product’s stability and how it is formulated and used.
“The markets that the industry is interested in (Brazil, India, the Middle East etc) all feature in what we call the ‘tropical zone’, where climate conditions are hotter and humid. So we need to know what is going on there and formulate products accordingly,” she says.
Paula explains that in order to stay on top of this and make sure products are fully tested for these conditions, Gattefossé has a climate chamber in its facility to help deal with this.