In this part of the course we will be looking at a few tips around actually making your homemade skincare and cosmetic products.

Welcome to Part 7 of the online Skincare Business Course!

Hopefully you have now read through the first six parts of the course:

Making natural skincare products

So by now you should have a good idea of the range of natural skincare products that you want to sell, and you may even have the formulations and recipes already done. It's now time to give a little thought to how you are actually going to make your products.

Where to make your natural skincare products

You need a clean, dry, and well ventilated place to make your natural skincare products. It would be perfect if you had a room that you could dedicate solely to the manufacture of your products but before you rush off to clean up the garage or the outside shed, they are unlikely to be suitable premises to make your natural skincare products.

All your raw natural ingredients such as oils, butters, waxes and essential oils will need to be stored in a comfortable temperature, such as inside your house. You should not store raw ingredients, essential oils or your finished products in cold or hot buildings as the extreme temperature fluctuations can ruin them.

You will also need storage space for your skincare product making equipment and raw ingredients as well as for your finished products, although these do not have to be kept in the same space as where you make your products. You will also need suitable storage space for your empty product containers and labels, packaging and other business supplies.

Although you can assemble everything you need to make your skincare products before you start from different locations, it is better to try and have most of it within easy reach if at all possible. You could use your kitchen to make your natural skincare products in and have a couple of cupboards dedicated to your equipment and raw ingredients.

Make sure you have enough time to make your skincare products

You need to ensure that you have enough time to make your skincare products when you will not be interrupted and when you don't have to answer the phone. You will be measuring precise amounts of ingredients, particularly essential oils, and recording them in a log and it is important you are not distracted or you may make mistakes. If you add too much of an ingredient, say an essential oil, to a product then it is not covered by your CPSR, you will not be able to sell it and may even end up having to throw away a whole batch of product. This is not only frustrating, it can be very expensive as well.

Getting your natural skincare product into a container

You also need to think about how you are going to get your natural skincare product into the container that you have chosen. Hopefully you have already tested this out but do have a trial run with a small batch of ingredients before you make any huge amounts for skincare product to sell.

I once made a wonderful cream that I wanted to get into a great container I had sourced. It looked like it would be fine but the consistency of the cream was thicker than I remembered and the container opening was a lot narrower than I had anticipated. I eventually managed to fill the containers by using a gigantic syringe but it became apparent that I was going to have to find another type of container because the process took too long and was inefficient and messy.

Once you have filled your containers with your skincare product put the lids or caps on straight away (unless the product is hot and needs to cool down).

Cleaning your skincare product making equipment

After you have finished making your natural skincare products you need to clean your equipment straight away. I recommend using scientific grade laboratory equipment (see natural skincare equipment suppliers) which means that the equipment can be put straight into a dishwasher and cleaned thoroughly.

Never put your skincare making equipment in the dishwasher with your domestic crockery, it should always go into the dishwasher on its own for cleaning. You can of course wash it all by hand but use rubber gloves so that you can use suitably hot water. You will have to examine every piece of equipment after you have finished washing and drying it to make sure that it is entirely clean and won't contaminate the next batch of products that you make in it. You also need to dry the equipment off with clean cloths every time. It's much easier to use a dishwasher if you have one!

Good manufacturing process for skincare and cosmetic products

When you apply for your CPSR (cosmetic certification) for each product you will have to agree to comply with ‘Good Manufacturing Process’ or ‘GMP' for small scale manufacturers of cosmetic products.

Although each cosmetic chemist will probably have slightly different views on what this consists of, in basic terms in simply means doing things hygienically and carefully, basic common sense.

To give you an idea, the sort of things that GMP entails for the manufacture of small scale natural skincare and cosmetic products would be:

  • All ingredients must be measured to the required degree of accuracy (you will probably have to obtain some scales for measuring extremely small quantities, for example digital mini-scales which measure from 0.01 of a gram (see list of equipment needed to manufacture skincare and cosmetic products and suppliers).

  • You will need to use an appropriate system to record the amount of each ingredient added to each batch of skincare products that you make to ensure the correct ingredients and quantities are used.

  • No changes can be made to the permitted ingredients and concentrations in the CPSR's for the skincare products that you manufacture.

  • Manufacturing or making of products should only be carried out by suitably experienced personnel (this means if someone helps you then you will have to train them and show them what to do before they start making your natural skincare products).

Good manufacturing process in the working area

  • The work area should be kept clean and tidy at all times.

  • Clean down all work surfaces before you start to make your skincare products.

  • There should be no smoking, eating, drinking or food preparation in the work area during the time that you are making your natural skincare or cosmetic products.

  • You should ensure that there is adequate ventilation (especially when working with essential oil as they can make you light headed).

  • Your equipment will need to be checked before and after any use for and cracks or breaks.

  • Your skincare making equipment will need to be cleaned and put away immediately after use.

  • The equipment used to make your natural skincare products needs to be different from any used for other purposes, for example for equipment that you use at home for food preparation and eating. Basically you will need to buy a whole set of equipment specifically for your business (see list of equipment needed to get started and suppliers). Luckily, you can start with a small range of equipment.

Good manufacturing process in relation to personal hygiene, health & safety

  • Good personal hygiene must be maintained at all times.

  • Protective clothing should be worn (ideally you should have a lab type jacket and a disposable hair net and you must wear footwear that covers the upper surface of your feet, no sandal type shoes or flip flops should be worn).

  • Any small cuts or abrasions to the hands should be covered with a food grade dressing and/or vinyl gloves until healed. (It goes without saying that if you are unwell in any way or have any skin infection you should not manufacture any natural skincare products until you have recovered).

  • Hands should be washed immediately before making the skincare products.

  • The floor should be clean and kept free from any spillages.

  • Use vinyl gloves and protective eye glasses when measuring or pouring essential oils.

As you will see, most of the good manufacturing process is about common sense and basic hygiene, as if you were preparing food to sell for instance. Once you have done it a few times it becomes second nature so don't worry about it.

Keeping production records when making natural skincare products

When you make your homemade skincare products the type of records that you need to keep will be details of the product, the recipe, who made the product, the date and time of making the product and the batch number. You will also need to keep details of the raw ingredients used, for example which ingredients, the supplier they came from and the supplier batch number on the raw ingredient. All this can be done quite simply on one sheet.

This may seem a little long winded but again, once you get started making your skincare products it becomes automatic and serves as a checklist for you to confirm that you have put all your ingredients in to the batch and in the correct quantities.

The reason you need to do this record keeping is so that if you have a customer complaint or problem with a particular batch of product you can go back to your records and see where your raw ingredients came from and which supplier. It is also good practice to keep a small sample of each product that you make and keep it for as long as the shelf life of that particular product. You can then refer back to the sample if you need to.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for your raw ingredients

For every ingredient that you use in your natural skincare products you will need to keep a copy of the material safety data sheet or MSDS. You have to have one for every ingredient that you use but every ingredient supplier has to provide these for each ingredient that they sell and they are usually downloadable from their website or by request.

Simply set up a system either on your computer or manually in a file where you have an MSDS sheet for each ingredient that you use in making your natural skincare products. This means every single ingredient, including essential oils.

Typically these MSDS sheets can be anything from one to two pages to about fifteen and list details like the botanical name of the ingredient, the INCI name (the official name that will go on your label), the supplier name, any relevant health and safety data, first aid measures, allergen details and handling and storage information.

As an example, have a look at this very detailed MSDS sheet from NHS Organic Oils for bergamot essential oil.

NHR Organic Oils MSDS sheet for bergamot essential oil
Download PDF • 508KB

This is really a one-off job. Get all your skincare product range recipes together and make a list of the ingredients they use (some will use the same ingredients) and the suppliers that you get the ingredients from. Then just obtain an MSDS sheet for each ingredient. If you buy the same ingredient from more than one supplier you need an MSDS sheet from each different supplier.

So now you have a few things to think about when you manufacture your natural skincare products. There will be other things that you come across but these are the main points that you need to consider at the start of your business.

You are ready now to go on to the next article on Selling homemade skincare products.

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