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I make beauty products for the big manufacturers AMA.

120 replies

Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 16:07

As a user of beauty products I was amazed when I started working here.

We don't generally do makeup, but hair, skin, body and bath care products. Including specialist skincare.

If you can think of a brand, whether that be high end or cheaper brands, we probably formulate, manufacture and sell it. With the exception of a small handful of independent brands.


OP posts:
Circusoflove · 19/12/2020 16:09

Obvious question but do you get what you pay for or is it all basically the same stuff?

ItsDinah · 19/12/2020 16:13

Has working there made you change what you use yourself? If so,why?

Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 17:01

Circusoflove some of the more expensive brands do use more expensive ingredients, although often the extra money they spend goes on fragrance, rather than active ingredients.

The pricier brands do spend more on research but, because of UK consumer laws, it's easy for a cheaper brand to find out and use the research from the more expensive brands. That's not an absolute, some of the cheaper brands spend much more on research and development.

The short answer is that, I'm sorry but that £100 face cream probably isn't any better than the £10 version. Instead, I would suggest using twice as much of the cheaper stuff because cheaper brands tend to literally add more water to products.

ItsDinah absolutely, yes. There are some products, from some brands, that are better than other brand alternatives.

As an example; for retinol products one brand is absolutely superior to the rest, for lots of reasons. Their other, non-retinol products are not much better than the alternatives.

OP posts:
SoddingWeddings · 19/12/2020 17:04

Which is the best retinol product? 🤔😁

ItsDinah · 19/12/2020 17:16

Are there any ingredients or types of products you would avoid using? Are there any the knowledge gained from your work persuaded you to use or encouraged you to continue using?

What do you think about fragrance in skincare products?

I appreciate you don't want to name brands but can you tell us what types of skincare products you use regularly and what types of products you would use for occasional skincare issues?

BuddhaAtSea · 19/12/2020 17:19

This interests me :)

Why don’t we have a use by date on products, like the rest of Europe?

SnugglySnerd · 19/12/2020 17:21

What are brands doing to try and reduce packaging, especially plastic? This is making me look for alternatives or just manage without. I would particularly like some plastic-free moisturiser. Even the glass jars tend to have plastic lids.

Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 17:26

Argh. I wish I could tell you SoddingWeddings, ask me again in 6 months time!

The only reason that I can write this thread now is that I have just left my job in cosmetics to work in a different field my background is in chemistry.

As a clue, I can say that the brand I recommend was originally developed and only sold by cosmetic professionals. They are widely available now, mid to higher price point.

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Alb1 · 19/12/2020 17:30

Probably a stupid one, but are the products tested on animals?

ExpensivelyDecorated · 19/12/2020 17:34

What are your views on parabens? Nasty chemical or necessary preservative.

Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 18:25

ItsDinah there is a brand that I actively avoid because we had so many allergic reaction complaints about them. Actually, what I would avoid are fine. The individual ingredients are fine but their formulas are off. The research and eventual formulas are dictated by the product owners. This brand is mid priced and considered quite luxurious and sought after.

As a quick guide I consider anything between £15 - £40 to be mid priced.
Reasonable is below £15.
Cheap below £6.
More pricey is anything above £40.

Fragrance in a skincare product is about the brand's perceived uniqueness and consumer preference. Sometimes it is considered necessary because ingredients don't always smell appealing! Fragrance can cause skin reactions, often it makes a product seem expensive and appealing.

I will admit that there are some products I use that I like, in part, because of their smell.

For genuine skincare concerns I would always recommend visiting a registered dermatologist. For occasional eczema, mild seasonal psoriasis or occasional breakouts I can't recommend any specific products. I would make some suggestions if an OP posted in style and beauty asking for recommendations.

BuddhaAtSea I don't know why, that's a question for your MP but I think they would be a good idea, especially for creams.

SnugglySnerd I agree that reducing packaging and making existing packaging recyclable is vital. Pressure here comes directly from consumers to the product owners. Rally the troops and write to them, start petitions, anything that you can.

Before I finished working there I would ask the brand representatives to consider using environmentally friendly packaging. Usually their response was either that will be more expensive or consumers won't spend £££ on a product unless it feels luxurious. A particular bugbear of mine are those little plastic spatulas which are often included in high end products.

There is no longer really a need to test ingredients on animals Alb1 because pretty much any ingredient that you can think of has been tested already. Numerous studies show that testing products on animals has little use because animals don't react in the same way as humans do.

Expensivelydecorated some parabens are safe and naturally derived. Unfortunately, they have often been used to excess in the beauty industry. They can be necessary to ensure that your product arrives in your home without going off.

Rather than thinking globally we need to think small. Often a product will be formulated in the US, the UK or Germany. The product will be made in a country where labour costs are cheaper. Delivered in huge vats to the country of distribution, then bottled and packaged in that country.

Again, it comes down to consumer pressure. Convince brands to manufacture a product in the country in which it will be sold and you reduce the need for parabens and other preservatives.

This is my own opinion: in the UK we have the ability to manufacture products, we need the jobs and it will reduce any surcharges applied post Brexit.

OP posts:
Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 18:27

That should say what I would avoid are their moisturisers not what I would avoid are fine.

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Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 22:47

ItsDinah I worked there for years and to begin with I was very taken aback by the business practices. For starters, the products of some of the most expensive brands are made, not just in the same factories, but on the same day as a product made for 8% of the retail price as that product. I stopped using the expensive products solely because it is an expensive brand, overnight.

Also I replicate one of the expensive toners in my own bathroom. This isn't industrial espionage because it wasn't a brand that I had ever worked on. I saw the ingredients and copied them.

You asked about products, a real frustration of mine is hair products. Often in Style & Beauty an OP will ask which haircare product to use. Inevitably people recommend a product that is, say, £30 for a shampoo and I think to myself, with the exception of smell, that is identical to the drugstore version.

Previously, I didn't feel that I could make a comment because of my job now I would speak out. I do have my holy grail hair products that I stick to and some of them are very cheap indeed, the perfect shampoo remains elusive, though I do have some favourites.

For moisturiser I alternate between them, depending whether or not it is a retinol night. When it is a makeup day I wear a lighter moisturiser than I do on no makeup days. Again, I'd be happy to add my recommendations to a style and beauty OP.

OP posts:
ChocBeforeCock · 19/12/2020 22:50

Hello, is Beauty Pie for real or a big con?

Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 22:50

When I say that I saw the ingredients and copied them I don't mean that I knew the exact formulation, I mean that I literally read the ingredients list and worked it out myself.

OP posts:
LynetteScavo · 19/12/2020 23:21

What do you even use to make your own toner? I wouldn't have a clue what toner is made of!

And micellar water - how does that work? Hmm

I'm curious about the Aldi copies. Are they exactly the same as the expensive brands?

Arboria · 19/12/2020 23:23

Why were you amazed? This is going to be a great AMA!

How much profit is in a £30 face cream?

Labobo · 19/12/2020 23:30

Do you think retinol products make a significant difference then?

Do you believe that different skin types suit different brands or is that all in our minds (I find Nivea Q10 really comfortable to wear but other similar priced products really greasy and they bring me out in spots. But I've often wondered if they are all the same in different packaging.)

Motnight · 19/12/2020 23:40

What shampoos and conditioners would you recommend, Op?

Love this thread!

JaniceBattersby · 19/12/2020 23:49

I have eczema and can wear makeup with no problems but cannot find a bloody makeup remover that doesn’t flare up patches of eczema on my face. Have tried micellar water with no success.

Have you any idea what ingredient it is I should be avoiding or any alternatives I could use? Thanks!

Photographsandsand · 19/12/2020 23:54

I'm sorry Chocbeforecock I've never taken a good look at any Beauty Pie products and I've never been able to find any of their ingredients lists either.

At one point I was seriously considering taking out a BeautyPie subscription but then I gave my head a wobble. One of the perks of my job was that I was given free products or a huge discount. The result was that I always had enough for me, my family and friends. So why, with the exception of my lifelong hair product quest, would I pay?

If I were to take a good look at Beauty Pie I would want to take a good look at the ingredients lists vs those of the products they are emulating. Then I would use my existing knowledge to test their formulations, anyone with the knowledge, experience and a decent home 'lab' can do this.

It's something that I do plan to take a subscription on in the future, purely out of professional nosiness.

I forgot to say ExpensivelyDecorated I'm not a perfumer by any means but I think that this job made me more sensitive to smells. By far the worst products as far as parabens and preservatives are concerned are perfumes.

OP posts:
Photographsandsand · 20/12/2020 00:20

None of these are recipes.
I'm sure that Google can offer recipes but please proceed with caution, particularly when using detergents on the body.

Toner is almost entirely water with a small part detergent, often essential oils and sometimes active ingredients in small amounts i.e. acids LynetteScavo. I make one at home that is a mixture of water, a bit of witch hazel, a few drops of essential oils et voila. The other is home distilled rose water again with a few drops of essential oil mixed in.

Micellar water is (mainly): water, a tiny bit of moisturiser and detergent. It works by using water and detergent to clean the skin and moisturiser to add moisture back in. If you are using micellar water to remove makeup my own advice would be to wash your face with water and a gentle gel cleanser, then use a light moisturiser, followed by a heavier moisturiser. Skip the serum for this one.

I don't know for sure about the Aldi copies as we didn't make them in our labs. Like the Beauty Pie versions I haven't had the need to investigate, it's on my to do list. My best guess is that they are probably much the same as their more expensive alternatives but without the fragrance and packaging. Besides, if you like them and are happy with them then why not!

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Photographsandsand · 20/12/2020 00:30

Profit depends Arboria, newer and more innovative brands spend more on research and development and advertising. This is a generalisation but a £30 moisturiser costs around £1 to develop, produce, package and sell.

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Yohoheaveho · 20/12/2020 00:35

Thank you for the thread Photographs
I'm a cheapskate when it comes to beauty products, my favourite moisturiser is one part Nivea to one part avocado oil😁
I imagine that, had I your skills and knowledge I would want to make my own stuff from scratch.... but you don't so I'm guessing that's not an attractive proposition to someone with your skills and knowledge?

Photographsandsand · 20/12/2020 00:42

Grin shhh...I do make some of my own products. I intentionally didn't offer this because posters will ask me for the recipes. I'm reluctant to do that because it offers posters no recourse if they have a bad reaction to them.

OP posts:
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