safe cosmetic testing cosmetic chemist

Notes on the Personal Care Industry from a Product Development Chemist

I would like to offer my personal & business view point on the Personal Care Industry as I have seen it the last few years here in Australia. This as a summary for 2021 in the hopes for some discussions & change in 2022!

As a starting summary Statement I would like to say …

I’m advocating for a Safer Personal Care Industry here in Australia & New Zealand!

There .. I said it! In fact, I’ve been saying it for over 3 years! Ever since I started to see our industry growing at a very fast pace and there are some parts of our industry that just aren’t keeping up. One such part is Safety and Regulations within the Personal Care (PC) space.

Like most businesses in the PC industry, I too want our industry to thrive for the future and be a gold standard and be a reputable one both locally & globally. I want us to keep our clean A-Beauty tittle & reputation. 

And on that, the A-Beauty platform has been thriving the last few years with so many indie brands popping up. It is such an exciting time to see these indie brands & startups, however not at the expense of consumers.

Anyone want to apply a cream or mascara or lipstick that is riddled with bacteria or mould or that separates in 2 months?

Not me! 

I receive so many pictures of people with swollen eyes and products with things growing in them, especially from Influencers asking “should I be using this?” … the answer is NO!

I see failed products on the market which clearly have not undergone any proper stability or testing as visible signs of separation are evident … all to meet a product launch date as marketing and photoshoots were booked!

This happens all too often.

Over the last few years I have been speaking with brands, buyers, raw material suppliers, manufacturers and industry experts to get a better understanding of the processes that being followed and what actually happens these days in launching a brand.

Here are some take home findings:

  • Anyone can launch a brand and & create personal care products in Australia 
  • Ingredients are being bought into the country by people who have NO idea about ingredients and if they are even AICIS registered or suitable for use in Personal Care
  • Many people don’t know what AICIS stands for; the purpose of this agency & also the old NICNAS
  • Many big online platforms that sell personal care products DO NOT TEST or see any testing reports (such as PET or Stability or even an SDS), on the hundreds of products being sold to consumers (this is straight from one of my interviews if anyone tuned in)
  • Certifying bodies (such as ACO) DO NOT look at a personal care products as a whole when certifying; their safety, physical state or any supporting testing and stability data. They just need to look at a paper formula and approve it. Oh and take your money thank-you very much!
  • PET Testing is NOT MANDATORY in Australia 
  • Stability testing is NOT MANDATORY in Australia 
  • PC products do not need to be registered on any platform or with any organising body here in Australia & NZ. There is no real traceability of products that are being sold, especially IF the organisation that is making & selling the products have no GMP, ISO accreditation.

And so then let me tell you something about the last 3 facts AND the domino effect that has happened of late …

Many years ago when you worked with people that wanted to launch a brand and you explored and explained the process of launching a personal care product; that is the time, costs & liability, they would partner with a reputable CM and formulator and build a product portfolio that is safe for consumers. The whole process would take time and cost !!!

Now, people have caught on that anyone can create a product (literally anyone… not just Qualified Cosmetic Chemists 🧑🎓👩🎓… all you need is a kitchen, pyrex dish and a whisk and off you go!). You see people have caught on that raw material suppliers offer FREE samples (and the sample sizes are large enough in some instances to make a product commercially viable), and that you can learn how to make personal care products (even sunscreens) via free Youtube channels and you can sell your product for free via Instagram, TIK-TOK or other social media platforms!!! 

How amazing is all this right!!?? 🤦

When I first started in the industry, it took over 18months to launch a product properly and safely and thousands of dollars. A product had to go through countless testing protocols and approvals and as a MINIMUM, brands & retailers would want stability and PET. (If you are reading this and have a brand, or formulate or manufacture or sell ingredients and have no idea what PET stands for, here’s a couple of emojis for you 😬👎🏿).

So when I see brands pop up and sell product I have to question if they did their due diligence. And most often the answer is no.

As a result, we find Local regulatory authorities quite ‘reactive’ to industry issues, resulting typically in physical harm to consumers, high costs and poor PR for the industry. Authorities in other jurisdictions, spot check product safety and product claims (particularly free from claims), publishing breaches and issuing recalls.

The other thing I have noticed is, many small indie brands that have an ethos of sustainability and “waste-less” are selling their products with so much packaging! Boxes inside boxes, with cards and brochures … wow wow wow! What is happening here …

🌱Wasteful packaging

🌱Wasteful boxes

🌱Wasteful mailers 

🌱Wasteful … full stop!

This is another post for another day!

So I say to brands, please … IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO INVEST IN YOUR BRAND, YOU NEED TO INVEST IN IT FIRST! Show your customers that you have them at your forefront of mind not the dollar sign to make a quick buck because you want the ride the billion dollar beauty wave.

✅ Understand what you want to create

✅ Build a business plan

✅ Work out how much it will cost you and what you can do with the budget you have

✅Incorporate testing in your development and the costs associated with it – Safety In One product should look like:-

  • Preservatives: Your product should contain a proper preservative system
  • Compliance: Your product should meet local compliance for packaging, labels and claims
  • Stability: your product should undergo stability testing to ensure it is going to hold up on shelf
  • PET: Your product should undergo Preservative Testing to ensure it is safe for consumer use
  • Launch: Think about all the contingencies such as insurance and legalities before launch time!

✅ Work with qualified industry specialists!

If you are a raw material supplier, a contract manufacturer, a brand, a marketing company, an educator, a blogger, an influencer and want to join the #safepersonalcare movement here in Aust & NZ, please reach out and let’s start something that will ensure our industry operates at the highest quality, ethics and sustainability so that we can set a bar and path for future beauty enthusiasts. 

I’m advocating for a safer personal care industry, here in Australia & New Zealand.

– Rita Sellars, Chief Cosmetic Chemist at pH Factor