The WOW! Effect

It's said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in a venue like In-Cosmetics, the attention of beauty is captured by those things that sparkle, twinkle, illuminate, glow, bubble, shimmer, shine and beg to be viewed and appreciated by an experience using multiple senses. Among aisles and aisles of new technologies, innovative advancements, presentations, studies, and flashing signage that saturated the space at In-Cosmetics London, one of the common factors gaining attention were booths with engaging displays and eye catching appeal.  


Photo credit;  cherie buziak #in-cosmetics17

In today's Beauty Market, we who are involved in bringing products to market face that same challenge -- catching the consumer's eye, even when the consumer may be quickly walking or surfing by. With more sales completed digitally, how do we connect to the consumer? How do we make that sale? What moves a consumer to the purchase? One piece to consider is the WOW! effect. It's not something new, but it is more important now than ever.

These same things that attract us as product developers, chemists, innovators and game changers are the same things that attract our final customer. The goal is gathering all of the technology available to us to deliver something new, fresh and outstanding.

Yet, the secret sauce isn't always in the perceived visual. While continuing to try to capture the consumer's interests and market share, these eye candy, visually appealing aesthetics as pictured above is the goal. And innovation is key. 

For example, it isn’t really the sparkle that is being presented as the technology in the image; the technology is in the vehicle that suspends the glitter, the clarity of the gel, and the way the suspension of the formula holds the weight of these particles. All of these elements combined are the interrupters of someone walking by to stop, take a look, explore, ask questions and engage with the product.  

Are you interested in adding a WOW! effect to your products? Do you need technology or ideas  that will make your products stand apart and intrigue the consumers enough that they will step in and purchase the product?  If you'd like to learn more about creating aesthetic appeal or a strategy for your brand, contact me to schedule a consultation to talk through your goals. Email  Check out our site


You’ve decided to create your own private-label beauty brand. Congratulations! Next steps?

If developing a new cosmetic brand is on your wish list, I’d like to share a few key thoughts to keep in mind. 


three things to keep in mind concerning cosmetic product development.  

Concept. This is the beginning. What is the story that you would like to tell about your product?  Will it help reduce lines and wrinkles? Will it help moisturize skin? Will it help even skin tone? If it's a color collection, what is the shade line up?  How well will it wear?  Whatever the product story is, take the time to really think about how you can communicate your product in three words. Use your creative power and write out the look, the texture, how it will feel on skin, the color of the bulk, what the experience is that you want the final user to enjoy and benefit from. Write out  the claims of how the product will benefit the end user.

Note: With writing claims, you will need to ensure that the claims are viable through clinical studies.  Make sure that you have a budget set aside for testing. In the beginning, just start with a wish list of claims. This is the list that you’ll be turning over to your chemist so that he/she will know how the product should perform. THE TAKEAWAY: Create a profile for your product.

Benchmark. It’s best to start with a benchmark formula especially if you have never developed a product before. A benchmark can be a competitive product that you like for the aesthetic application, a product that you like for end benefits, or a starter formula from a chemist’s library. The reason to have a benchmark available is that the chemist or lab will know exactly where you want to land with the finished product, how you want it to look, how it should be dispensed, etc.  A benchmark will streamline the process and will take out a lot of guessing and reworking of the formula along the way, which can turn into hours of lab time and added expenses. The chemist will also be able to look at the ingredient list and will have a better idea if the performance that you have in mind will match up to some of the materials that are in your benchmark formula. You can always make tweaks along the way to customize the formula, but if it’s your first time starting out with a product, it’s easier to stay in close range of your benchmark target. THE TAKEAWAY: Have a formula starting point.

Ingredients or technology. Do you have to have the next best innovation or high-end technology in your formula to see a difference on the skin? Well, actually, yes and no. You can have a compelling story and great product performance by being very clear about what you would like the final formula to do. Let the chemist decide the primary materials to use as your formula base, and then if there is a technology or ingredient that you are particularly interested in, have a conversation with the chemist to see if the material is compatible in the base, and also inquire about the cost of the technology. At the end of development, the full product will be tested for the performance that you are looking for, so don’t be guided only on the active ingredient as the workhorse in the formula. THE TAKEAWAY: Trust your chemist.  

Bonus point: Hire an expert to help you. Can you guide the development of a cosmetic or skin care product on your own? Sure, yes, you can. However, like everything else, is this really the one more thing that you want to add to your plate? If you want to get your product launched in a timely fashion, don’t hesitate to bring on the extra help you’ll need to source vendors, finalize the technology, develop formulas, speak in chemist language, or to use as a second eye for design, copy, and marketing.

If launching your own private-label cosmetic or skin care brand is in your plan for 2017, or if you’d like to learn more, contact me to schedule a consultation to talk through your goals. Email  Check out our site



 Imagine this:  You’ve developed your own private-label products, or perhaps you put together a few natural ingredients and are packaging your own custom formula in your facility.  You introduce the product to a long-standing client, and suddenly an allergic reaction occurs with your client or, worse yet, an infection develops after using the product. Now what?  

Having been in the product development beauty industry for years, I’ve been privy to cases where the  end product users will try to gain compensation against products they have tried on their skin, even if the formula is rigorously tested and passes all sensitivity and safety measures.  A reaction can happen. And even if you think a responsible gesture such as paying for your client’s doctor bill will cover you, it won’t. A client can sue you for damages that you never even thought of, even if they misuse the product. And unless you’re ready to back yourself up with a lawyer and court fees, the situation can put you out of business.

Here’s three thoughts to keep in mind to help protect you when developing your own brand.

Safety. It’s best to have your formulas developed with a  reputable lab that specifically prides itself in using quality-controlled ingredients. Controlled ingredients means that the material used from batch to batch will satisfy testing standards and that there will be aesthetic consistency with your formula from batch to batch.  Once the formula is made, some safety testing measures include checking that your product helps prevent a micro environment that’s ready for bacterial growth, testing for known skin sensitivities, and testing for acceptable use around the eye area.  THE TAKEAWAY:  Test products for safety

Stability. It’s easy to add xyz ingredient to a formula, bottle it, and then put a label on it.  However, consider that each adjustment made to a specific formula will affect your overall formula ingredient list (IL) or formula balance. The product must be tested for stability so that it doesn’t separate in the long term and that it can maintain its integrity in different environmental conditions. Additionally, package compatibility helps ensure that the component will not leak any of your formula and that the formula works with the component materials.   THE TAKEAWAY:  Ensure product stability

Product Liability Protection. Search for insurance companies that not only cover you and your business but also cover you and your products. Ask “what if” situational questions. For example: What if a client decides to sue you because a product that you sold them burned their skin or caused further skin complications? According to Sara Bumby  FirstImpactNY, it’s imperative that Product Liability insurance is purchased because “Most contract manufacturer and distributors will require it to work with you. Although it is not required by  law to have product liability insurance, the importance to protect yourself from a potential lawsuit is critical, or loss of your goods. I think of it similar to Homeowners insurance, it is there to protect me for the just in case situation.”  

According to Sara, “There are two main different types of insurance in the cosmetics industry which I would recommend researching, Product Liability and Professional Liability. Product Liability for cosmetics, which includes all personal care, is a specialty insurance that not all insurance carriers cover. When researching the right company for you, let them know the type of products you want to cover with your policy first thing. This insurance is for the physical goods. It not only can help protect you from a lawsuit, but will also protect your goods in case something happens and you are in need to replace them. (Every policy is different. Reading the fine print of what will and will not be covered is critical.)”    

“Additionally, Professional liability is for people who give advice. Are you directing people on the use of the products? Could you, by an error or omission, misdirect someone in the use of a product? If so, then this may be another insurance you need to look into for yourself. Be sure to research whether this will cover you if you have a blog.” THE TAKEAWAY:  Protect yourself and your business  

Bonus point: Hire an expert to help you. Can you launch a brand on your own? Sure, yes, you can. However, like everything else, is this really the one more thing that you want to add to your plate? And how are you going to protect yourself and your brand against any potential mishaps? If you want to get your product or brand launched in a timely fashion and ensure that it is safe and stable, don’t hesitate to bring on the extra help you’ll need to source vendors, finalize the technology and formulas, and to speak in chemists language.

If launching your own private label brand is in your plan for 2017 or if you’d like to learn more, contact me to schedule a consultation to talk through your goals. Email  Check out our site

If you’d like to learn more about quality control and global regulatory requirements, contact Sara Bumby  Or visit her site FirstImpactNY

Stay tuned for the next post in this series on  “product and formula development.


It’s 2017 and perhaps you’ve thought “I want to launch my own skin care/cosmetic collection.” If you are a small business owner, an esthetician, or a cosmetic medical or spa owner, launching a new product brand is a great way to establish yourself in the marketplace and gain additional income for your business.

If a new brand is in your future, here are a few things to consider.

1.  Have a plan. Start out with a  business plan supported by a marketing plan. Your plan is adjustable and you can change it along the way. Consider it almost like a living document. In the plan, consider your mission statement, your goals, the financial commitment needed for your brand for development and sell-through, your target market, pricing strategy and competitors. It doesn’t take a long time to create a plan, but you need to know where you are going and how much this will all cost. And consider the extra help or expertise that you may need to hire on, even if temporarily, to get your brand launched. THE TAKEAWAY: Create a business plan.

2. Marketing. Alongside a business plan is a marketing plan. Sometimes marketing plans are included at the end of the business plan as an addendum. However you treat it, it’s best to have a marketing plan in place. Once you have thought about your products and created your business plan, how are you going to sell the product through? What PR support or other media will you use to promote your collection? How will you plan new product launches or introductions? This, like the business plan, can have room for adjustments along the way. THE TAKEAWAY: Create a marketing plan as you create your business plan.  

3. Start small. Depending on the size of your facility, there is no need to rush into launching a 10 to 20 sku collection. Start with just a few key pieces to give you the opportunity to introduce the products and its special features to your clients. Also, launching with only a few pieces allows room to spare for new product launches in the future. THE TAKEAWAY:  A conservative launch is okay.  

Bonus point: Hire an expert to help you.  Can you launch a brand on your own? Sure, yes, you can. However, like everything else, is this really the one more thing that you want to add to your plate? Adding product development can be a great note for your CV, but if you want to get your product out in a timely fashion, don’t hesitate to bring on the extra help you’ll need to source vendors, finalize the technology, develop formulas, speak in chemist language, or to use as a second eye for design, copy, and marketing.


If launching your own private-label brand is in your plans or if you’d like to learn more, contact me to schedule a consultation to talk through your goals.  Email  Check out our site

Stay tuned for the next post in this series: “Protect yourself against possible product liabilities.”


Skin Needling

The following review and test on Skin Needling is free of charge from BeautyEdge LLC. 

To take the certified test on Skin Needling and receive (1) continuing education credit, follow the NCEA link and instructions  > > >  NCEA    ******************************************************************************************

Skin Needling 

Skin needling can also be referred to as micro-needling therapy, collagen induction therapy (CIT), percutaneous collagen induction (PCI), derma rolling, dry tattooing, and intradermabrasion. A minimally invasive nonsurgical and non-ablative procedure, it involves the use of a micro-needling device to create minute, yet controlled skin injury.

There are a number of different skin-needling device brands in the market today. This review is a broad stroke study of the skin-needling process in general. This review does not provide proof or permission that estheticians should be providing micro-needing services. Estheticians should check state regulations for microneedling guidelines before rendering any services.

Before starting any micro needling procedures, patients need to be fully informed of the potential complications. It is imperative that they sign an informed consent form. This protects both patient and clinician in the event of an adverse result.

The purpose of the design of micro needles is to cause a measured degree of damage to the skin thus triggering the skin to heal, stimulating collagen development. The length of the needle will determine which area of the skin will be affected to trigger best aesthetic results.

Skin needling is not comparative to chemical peels, dermabrasion, or laser treatments, as skin needling directly targets specific skin layers, cells, and trigger points within the skin to produce the desired end result.

There are various skin-needling device designs available on the market. Some design options are needles secured on a circular roller that are rolled over the skin, needle stampers, and pens with cartridges with a cluster of needles at the tip.

Micro-Needling FDA Classifications: There are three classes for medical devices under FDA ruling. Class I includes devices with the lowest risk, and Class III includes those with the greatest risk. No matter the classification level, the FDA does not automatically approve a medical device just because of its named classification by the manufacturer.

Skin-Needling Process: Fine needles puncture the skin, creating a channel or minute wounds. It is the skin’s own physiological response to that damage that develops the desired aesthetic result. Once the skin is wounded, and depending on the depth and location of the wound, the skin’s regenerative potential brings about remodeling and the formation of new structures, eventually resulting in repair of the affected skin structure. Improvement is seen with multiple treatments; however, results can still be limited based on variables such as an individual’s age, health, skin type, skin quality, and extent of existing skin damage.

Needle Length and Performance: All sizes of needling cause injury to skin; however, according to Aust, Baithe and Fernandes, authors of the book, Illustrated Guide to Percutaneous Collagen Induction: Basics, Indications, Uses (Aesthetic Methods for Skin Rejuvenation), the length of the needle mainly determines if the device is cosmetic, medical, or surgical, and thus whose hands should administer the procedure.

Cosmetic Needling or micro-needling extends to just below the stratum corneum (0.1–0.3mm needles; this type of needling does not cause percutaneous collagen induction [PCI]; it is merely a method to enhance penetration of topically applied active ingredients). No anesthesia required.

Medical Needling extends into the papillary dermis. Medical needling (1–2mm needles; at this depth one can expect PCI). Local anesthetic cream is used. Performed on an outpatient basis.

Surgical Needling extends as far as the reticulardermis or subcutis. Surgical needling (3mm needles; PCI). General or regional anesthesia is required.

Esthetician Regulations: It is recommended that skincare professionals know their scope of practice within their state and obtain the proper training before offering any new treatments or services.

Esthetician Guidelines:

  • Follow state regulations if allowable and under what conditions.
  • Quality instruments should be used. Poor quality instruments may lead to breakage of needles in skin.
  • Gain training on the device being used.
  • Client education: Review treatment plan and expectations pre-treatment.
  • Client consent: Ensure client understands and signs agreement.
  • Documentation of the treatment procedure in client chart.
  • Client post-treatment: Review at-home product use and updates.

Symptoms and irregularities that can be treated by micro needling vary depending upon:

  • size of needle
  • depth of needle penetration
  • the angle that the needle penetrates the skin
  • the angle that the needle withdraws from the skin
  • the speed at which the needles enter and leave the skin

Benefits of skin needling:

  • reduction of scars
  • reduction of wrinkles
  • reduction of acne
  • reduction of hyperpigmentation
  • reduction of hypopigmentation
  • improvement in skin texture, firmness, and hydration
  • reduction of hypertrophic scars caused by acne, surgery, thermal burns
  • fading of stretch marks
  • reducing fine lines and deep wrinkles
  • improvement in dyspigmentation/melisma
  • reduced risk of hyperpigmentation and scarring, therefore safe on darker skin

Possible Side Effects: The goal is to have minimal pain, redness, and discomfort to the patient/client receiving a skin-needling procedure. Generally, the procedure is well tolerated depending on the area to be treated and the severity of the problem. However, in cases where a longer needle is used and the treatment is facilitated by a physician, surface bleeding can occur.

Normally, the treated areas recover rapidly from skin needling. However, there are occasional side effects, which include:

  • Oozing and swelling during the recovery phase
  • Skin infection or herpes simplex
  • Milia development
  • Acne flare
  • Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • Use of topical formulas with the treatment can sometimes produce undesirable skin reactions.

Post-procedure care: Skin needling is well tolerated by most patients, but dryness, scaling, redness, and swelling may be seen after treatment, lasting for several days or longer, depending on the depth of penetration of the needles. Clients can gently cleanse the area treated and, depending upon desired skin improvement, topical formulas and/or topical antibiotics can be recommended and prescribed.

Rejuvenation of skin may be seen as soon as one to two weeks and as long as six to eight months after the medical procedure. Burn scars are slow to respond. It can take up to six months to one year to see the final results from a single treatment.

Necessary follow-up treatments depend on the individual skin condition and desired results. Individuals must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.



 You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward. Conrad Hall

Sensitized Skin


The following test on Sensitized Skin is free of charge from BeautyEdge LLC. To take this NCEA certified test and receive (1) continuing education credit from the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors  & Associations, follow this link and instructions  >  NCEA                 


After reading this article and taking this test, the skin care professional will be able to:

1.     Understand the cause of sensitized skin and how to lessen the chance of skin reactions.

2.     Understand the sensitive skin product claim, and facial treatment options.


1. Read the article below.

2. Scroll to the bottom of article to take the test.

3. Your average results will be visible at the end of the test.



About Sensitized Skin:  The term allergic reaction is sometimes misused to describe the symptom of a sensitive skin condition. An allergic reaction and sensitive skin are not one in the same, however, they can have overlapping physical and visual results. 

Background: According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), thus far in 2014*, sensitive skin claims represent 25% of total skincare claims, compared to 15% in 2009. What’s more, 71% of facial skin care users say they are interested in ultra-gentle products.  

This review will focus specifically on sensitive skin or over sensitized skin, not rosacea, specific dermatological conditions or diseases, although they are common diagnosis’ to sensitive skin conditions.

Understanding Sensitive Skin Product Claims:  Skin care formulas that are typically not problematic for the general population can cause intense stinging, burning, and redness in individuals with sensitive skin. When the claim suitable for sensitive skin is on the product’s label, the formula itself is tested, not the individual ingredients within the formula.   There should be clinical support from the manufacturer that the formula was specifically tested on individuals that claim they have sensitive skin.  

“Known to” claims means that a formula can contain an ingredient “known to” soothe sensitive skin.  This does not mean that the formula itself soothes sensitive skin. 

Some products are labeled hypoallergenic, a marketing term recognizable to the consumer, but again, there really is not an industry standard to measure the claim hypoallergenic. Generally, with this type of formula the manufacturer has taken measures to remove known allergens from the formulas yet irritants may still be present.    

How Healthy Skin Becomes Sensitized:  Skin contact with a formula or surface known as the irritant can create skin sensitivities or contact irritant dermatitis. This contact is not the same as contact that causes an overactive immune response with the release of antibodies (histamines) like an allergic reaction does.  What happens is that the stratum corneum has been damaged creating a condition for the epidermal barrier to be affected.     

When treating sensitive skin, keep in mind that skin becomes sensitive through physical and emotional causes.  

Sensitive skin with sensitized being a better descriptor, is not necessarily a skin type, but a symptom of a skin’s condition.  Sensitive skin has become a common term to describe the condition rather than a medical diagnosis.  When referred to in skin care it describes reduced tolerance to the application of cosmetics and personal care products.  Dry, mature, combination, oily, and acne skin types can have symptoms of sensitivities. 

Sensitive Skin Stimulants:

Lifestyle - Busy schedules, physical/emotional stress, poor diet, over-indulgence in alcohol or drug consumption, extreme perspiration with exercise, and certain medications.

Climate - Heat, humidity, sun exposure, cold, forced air, pollution.

Aggressive Contact - Excessive friction, brushing, rubbing, scrubbing, scratching, chemical peeling, overuse of cosmetic products.

Improper Hygiene -  Improper facial cleansing, or not cleansing skin at all before bed leaving behind irritants from the day.

Improper Cosmetic Product Use -   Skin can become over-sensitized by layering multiple skin care products on it, practicing multiple cleansing steps, continually switching skin care products or applying too many products on a daily basis. 

Cosmetic Ingredients - Individuals can be sensitive to a substance or ingredient that does not bother other people. SLS and SLES are included in many cleansers on the market to deep cleanse and to give the foaming and sensorial experience during cleansing.  Fragrance and parabens can be culprits as well.

Additionally, natural or organic ingredients in a facial formula does not necessarily mean that a product will not cause a reaction for an individual with sensitive skin.

Hormonal Fluctuations - Female monthly changes.

Age - As skin matures, physiological protective and repair functions slow down.

Physical sensations resulting in sensitized skin includes: redness, erythema, inflammation, itching, stinging, burning or extreme dryness.  However, there are cases where an individual can suffer from the physical burning or stinging, but there may not be a visual counterpart of these manifestations. 

Sensitive skin can be clinically compartmentalized in two ways:

1. Subjective/sensory irritation, also known as sensorineural irritation - This is characterised by sensory discomfort such as itching, stinging, tingling or burning, but in the absence of any clinical or histological evidence of inflammation. Involvement of nerves and blood vessels contribute to the development of the symptoms. It is generally of acute onset.  (

2. Non-erythematous irritation, also called suberythematous irritation

This form of irritant contact dermatitis differs from subjective irritation in that, although the person experiences similar symptoms and no rash is visible, there are changes of inflammation seen on skin biopsy. It often develops slowly and discomfort is experienced with multiple chemicals.   (

Stratum Corneum:  The process that causes skin to be sensitive or more sensitized is the weakening of the stratum corneum which provides a protective barrier to help defend against environmental/physical aggression. This weakened layer allows external aggressors to penetrate more easily and cause a reaction.

Epidermal Barrier:  Impairment of the epidermal barrier, the outermost compartment of the skin, is the breakdown of skin’s ability to defend and repair itself.  Transepidermal water loss, UV exposure, free radicals, high pH products all contribute to the breakdown of the skin’s barrier.   

This barrier can be divided into three lines of defense: the physical barrier against pathogens and mechanical injuries, the chemical/biochemical barrier with antimicrobial activity, and a barrier against the unregulated loss of water and solutes. The skin barrier is formed by differentiating keratinocytes Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14 6722 Cytokines and the Skin’s Barrier

Treating Sensitized Skin:  The first order of action for a client experiencing sensitized skin is for the client to receive a dermatological assessment.  The reason for this is that sensitive skin can also have underlying skin reaction patterns that may require topical medications to address the inflammation, itchiness, and redness and to help rebuild the skin’s barrier.

Precautions During Facial Treatments:

●      Use mild cleansers with clean hands to cleanse the face; no cloths, no brushes, no scrubbing.

●      Use fragrance free products.

●      Avoid cleansers with sodium lauryl sulfate.

●      Avoid foaming cleansers, look for non-foaming or milky cleansers.

●      Avoid over stripping the skin mantle, for example, use one cleaner, do not cleanse, then deep cleanse, then exfoliate.  This may over exacerbate the skin adding to skin sensitivities and barrier breakdown.

●      Avoid aggressive granular exfoliants, look for gentle exfoliants that are lightly rubbed off of skin, or ingredients that exfoliate other than acids.

●      Avoid excessive hot facial steaming.

●      Avoid over manipulation of the skin with massage, this may bring up more redness in the skin.

●      Review the formula ingredient list.  Take into account that one ingredient may not be the culprit.  The formula itself needs to be tested on the client's skin.  Sample the product to the client before purchase and instruct the client to use the product on one small area on the face multiple days to ensure that the skin can tolerate the new product. 

Strengthening The Epidermal Barrier:  A strong barrier makes skin less permeable. There are no leaky ‘holes’ or cracks. The aim in management of sensitive skin is to restore the barrier function through the application of ceramides, and nutritive lipids to improve the lipid content that holds the skin cells tightly together.

The most effective lipids are the one’s that are most similar to skin’s natural lipid composition.  They are ceramides (sphingolipids), cholesterol, and fatty acids.

The lipids in skin are found in:

- The Stratum Corneum layer of the epidermis.  They are located in the stacked lipid bilayers. Lipids form around the corneocytes and acts like the glue that holds the corneocytes (dead skin cells) together and traps water in the skin. 

- The Granular layer of the epidermis located in the intercellular matrix. Lipds here exist in the form of free fatty acids, cholesterol, and sphingolipids as they are released from lamellar bodies in the keratinocytes that are in the process of breaking down into corneocytes.

- Cell membranes.

- Sebum – this is the oil produced by the sebaceous glands attached to follicles.

Patients and clients with sensitive skin still require cleansing hygiene. Synthetic detergent cleansers, also known as syndets, provide the best skin cleansing while minimizing barrier damage.   These products may contain water, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, sodium laurel sulfate, and occasionally propylene glycol. They leave behind a thin moisturizing film and can be used effectively in persons with excessively dry, sensitive, or dermatitic skin. 

Moisturizers should create an optimal environment for barrier repair, while not inducing any type of skin reaction.  The best moisturizers are simple emulsions for sensitive skin.  The fewer ingredients the better.


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