We get it, as a brand owner you have super ambitious goals in mind about starting your own food supplements, hair care, or skin care product line at home. You might have a killer marketing plan on the top of your head, but is it enough? Not really.
For example, you start selling your custom skincare products at home and people are buying it because they are impressed since it looks and feels great. Later, they come across the fact that the product changes in appearance, or they notice some separation in a cream, or they begin to see some bacterial growth. You may not know this is occurring since the product has left your facility, but they will lose both interest and trust at the same time.
So, before you jump right into the marketing and invest in the team, ask yourself the following list of questions. Then, make sure you are maintaining high quality and regulations throughout the batches of your products.
Let's make sure the products you give your customers are safe and of high quality.
Here are 15 questions you need to ask yourself...
It is exciting to have your own brand of skincare, hair care, or nutraceuticals. Although you'll certainly be anxious to begin combining ingredients for the formulations and selecting the ideal container and labels, there are a few compliance considerations you need to have on the top of the list.
Learn about the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act first (FD&C Act) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). FDA’s law is to ensure that all dietary supplements, over-the-counter products, and skincare products adhere to the correct requirements for both quality and safety. In essence, your products must be correctly produced, labeled and packaged, and safe for people to use.
Other than this, check out the list of questions below and see if you can answer them accurately. Let us help you with them through a small briefing on each.
1. Do you understand your supplements or skincare brand?
It might seem obvious. Still, excitement can make you miss some basic aspects such as competitors, market demand, hygiene, legality, and environmental friendliness of the products.
2. Are you using a proper hand washing technique?
Understand the proper technique of hand washing. The facility where you are making your products should be clean. For proper hand washing, there must be water, soap (with antibacterial additives), a dryer, or a lint-free towel. When you wash your hands, remove all the hand jewelry, try using fragrance-free hand scrubs, and wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds in between fingers and each crevice, and under your fingernails, and dry while avoiding recontamination.
3. Are you using proper PPE?
You are using multiple ingredients; therefore, you need proper protection. Personal Protective Equipment is necessary, not only to ensure the safety of your products and customers, but also for yourself. Unless you're aware of the full safety and handling requirements of each ingredient, you may be putting yourself at risk. Therefore, you must have the complete PPE set including hair nets, beard nets, gloves, goggles, face masks, gowns, and shoe covers.
4. Do you have a way to test the Quality of Purified Water?
The ISO, American pharmacopeias, and FDA regulations must be met by the water used in the manufacturing of cosmetic or skincare products, dietary supplements, and over-the-counter products. Remember that the water permitted to be used in products should have an almost undetectable bacterial burden in addition to being free of ions that could interact with chemicals. These are not properties that can be seen by the human eye, so testing is necessary to ensure there are no heavy metals, microbials, or contaminants in the water. Distilled or deionized water are to be used for such products.
5. Are you using the proper equipment and measuring tools? How do you know they are accurate?
Remember that spoons and bowls are not accurate tools for measurement. You need special tools that are properly calibrated, such as beakers, syringes, balance scales, thermometers, and so on. When purchasing the proper equipment and measuring tools, be sure they come from a reputable company that can confirm that they are calibrated. This also helps you to stay consistent with the skincare formulation of each batch of your product.
6. Are you properly sanitizing the Utensils and Equipment before and after making the product? How do you know they don't contain unseen particles?
It is necessary to keep your utensils and equipment clean and sanitized. Each piece of equipment, including bowls, mixers, utensils, and measuring instruments, should be cleaned with deionized water, alcohol, or specific cleaning solutions to avoid contaminating the final products with foreign particles, dirt and dust, or cleaning agents that contain harsh chemicals. GMP advises you to have a procedure in place to ensure that the equipment and utensils being used are truly being cleaned and validated. Moreover, there are devices available in the market to test your equipment for possible contamination.
7. Is it possible that suppliers' ingredients may contain harmful components or bacterial growth? Are you qualifying your suppliers?
Yes it's possible, especially if you are not purchasing from the GMP or FDA-certified suppliers or buying from low-rates suppliers because of low costs. Always buy from a reputable supplier. If you are still unsure and have doubts or concerns, you must look for certified suppliers only that are able to provide documentation on their safety and quality. Keeping this in mind, local grocery stores and supermarkets may not be the best choice as an ingredient supplier.
8. Are you checking your production and packaging areas for complete cleanliness and proper atmosphere?
The space you designated for production or turn into a home laboratory—should be arranged methodically. Ensure that the tasks of production, storage, and packing are divided appropriately. Additionally, there should be proper and consistent cleaning, temperature and humidity management, lighting and ventilation, and pest control procedures in place.
9. Can you confirm that there are no mix-ups in ingredients or measurements?
All throughout production, make sure you're accurately labeling each ingredient and have a second-person verify each measurement. It's one of the easiest mistakes that many people make, and it's one of the easiest problems to fix. For example, you may have a white powder that needs to be added into the water phase and a different, but similar looking, white powder that needs to be added to the oil phase. If these two get mixed up, your entire batch may be at risk of being ruined. Remember to always record your ingredients and measurements at the exact time you measure them.
10. Are you 100% consistent with each batch?
Consistency is the ability to control production inputs and procedures so that a consistent outcome is attained each time. If your skincare product development process is well-documented, consistency is always possible to maintain. Inconsistencies can lead to a difference in product quality and remember today’s consumer is smart. Using properly calibrated equipment are necessary so there is no change in mixing speeds, temperatures, etc.
11. Are you sure your utensils and equipment don't have any remaining residue or active ingredient from the previous batch?
The remaining residue can be harmful to the next batch too. Therefore, GMP recommends enforcing cleaning and validation procedures for pre-production AND post-production of equipment for each batch. This may seem like common sense, but imagine if one batch for Product X contains Almond Oil and you make a batch for Product Y without almond oil. If the equipment isn't completely cleaned and validated after the Product X batch, a customer using Product Y may have a nut allergy and can develop a serious reaction.
12. How are you testing for shelf life and stability?
Your products should pass stability testing to determine your product's shelf life regardless of whether you manufacture them at home or in another setting. When you test for stability, you are ensuring that your product can remain stable at various temperatures, humidities, lighting, and storage conditions over a long period of time. Some product specifications you may need to test for includes viscosity, emulsion stability, microscope particle sizes, odor, color changes, and more. After your product has undergone stability testing, you can confidently tell your customers how long the product can last and your chances of introducing your products into a larger chain, like Target or Ulta, increases significantly.
13. Are you sure that your product won't eventually have microbial growth?
Your products must undergo safety and quality testing as well as preservative effectiveness testing, if the product contains water. Each batch should be sent out to third-party labs to have the products scientifically assessed and to generate a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to ensure your product is free of heavy metals, microbials, or other harmful components. If you have a water-based product, be sure get a Preservative Effectiveness test. This test will let you know if your preservative (whether it's natural or lab-made) is properly working and if it will prevent any bacterial growth in your haircare or skincare formulations.
14. Are you documenting each step of the way?
Documentation is the key to making sure your batches are being produced properly, accurately, and consistently. It's extremely important to record each tool being used, when any cleaning takes place, if each ingredient is being recorded at the time of measurement, if you've had a second person verify your measurements, the actual procedures of each batch, lab records, and more. It's essential to keep these records as proof of your batches, especially in the event of product returns and recalls.
15. Do you have a procedure in place if a customer has complaints or has developed an adverse reaction?
We hate to imagine it, but let's face it. We don't always know how the customer is going to react to a product. Maybe they found a strand of hair in the product or they developed a rash. So how do you track it? Each batch should have a lot number associated with a batch record (containing ingredient lot numbers and supplier names) so you can easily trace it back to the source and see if the problem was in your procedure/measurements or if it was related to an ingredient supplier. You should then be able to decide a course of action to ensure the other products from that batch don't also have the same issue and prevent it from occurring again.
We're here to make your life easier
We don't want you to feel overwhelmed and begin second-guessing yourself. We're aware that majority of haircare and skincare business owners begin by making their products at home since they have to start somewhere. However, it's essential that you follow appropriate production practices at all times. It means you need to keep your workspace neat, orderly, and clean as well as ensure that your components are properly stored and kept out of the reach of any kind of contamination. Wear protective clothing and keep your hair tied up at all times when creating your products.
In this case, BioSerene is completely confident as we are GMP Certified and we take these questions very seriously. We offer our consumers the highest quality of skincare products, nutraceuticals, and OTC products by ensuring all Good Manufacturing Practices for formulating skincare products and dietary supplements are in compliance. We know that many brand owners that make and sell custom skincare products from their homes may not be large businesses, so we offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to keep the costs affordable for small businesses to large companies, and still allow them to sell safe and high-quality products. Our goal at BioSerene is to provide full transparency, education, and guidance to our clients without the many unnecessary charges in order to support all small business owners, women-owned businesses, black-owned businesses, LGBTQ businesses, and more, to truly help their brands flourish and become successful