I recently surveyed my email and social media community about the biggest challenges people are facing in their skin care businesses. As I went through the responses, I was not surprised to see how many responses had to do with mindset. In this Back to School, Back to Business blog and video series, we’ve already covered several of these mindset issues.

If you’ve missed them here they are:

Today in Lesson 4, we’ll cover an issue that has to do with confidence–namely the question of “are your natural skin products good enough to sell?” I think every skin care maker goes through this phase of self-doubt–I know I sure have. The good news is that it’s an issue that’s a lot simpler to overcome than I think people make it out to be.

Watch Lesson 4 about how to know if your natural skin products are as good as professional products, or the products on store shelves:

How do make sure our natural skin products are good enough to sell?

It all comes down to making sure they are safe, and that they are going to work. Let’s talk about product safety first. You may not know this, but the FDA here in the United States does not currently have a standardized requirement for how skin care makers guarantee that their natural skin products are safe. That might change, as there are multiple bills to increase FDA oversight over cosmetics floating around in legislation.

MADE SAFE supporter logo

When we talk about safety, we need to make sure the product isn’t already contaminated when it gets to the consumer, and that it does not promote microbial growth.

In the green, clean beauty world, our definition of product safety extends to matters of ingredient safety and toxicity issues. While organizations like Made Safe (I’m proud to serve on their Advisory Board) and the Environmental Working Group have programs that research and assess toxicity, the FDA and EPA’s stance on the subject is extremely outdated.

What does the FDA say about product safety?

The FDA does say that the product itself cannot be adulterated in any way, and it has to contain in the bottle what it says on the label. However testing for microbial safety is not actually not required by the FDA in the United States at this time. It kind of falls under their whole, “the manufacturer is responsible for the safety of the product,” wording, but they don’t say, “you must do these specific tests, you must have this specific paperwork,” etc.

This is why I see so many small batch herbal and artisan skin care lines on shelves at fairs, farmer’s markets, on Etsy, and even in health food stores that are improperly or inadequately preserved.

Natural skin products that contain water must have a preservative

It is a HUGE problem, and it’s one of the reasons for the widespread public misconception that natural skin products cause reactions and aren’t safe to use. While it is the maker’s responsibility to obtain the right skin care formulation education to know how to make safe products, many don’t do that. They depend on the FDA to tell them what they need to do, and since testing requirements aren’t currently in place, many makers just don’t think to do it.

The FDA does provide good manufacturing practices, and if a maker’s facility was to be inspected and it were to fail, there would be serious consequences. The FDA also reserves the right to obtain product samples and run their own tests at any time, and if they were to find contamination or adulteration, there would be consequences.

What I teach my Create Your Skincare Professional Edition students is that any of their natural skin products that contain water or living plant matter must contain a preservative–often a combination of different ones. And then that preservative system has to be tested. This is kind of a hard pill for some people to swallow who really want to keep their products as clean and green and natural and organic as possible. I teach you how to preserve your products as naturally as possible in CYS Pro. I also teach you what your best options for testing are.

Microbial testing is a MUSt for natural skin products
Good thing I ran microbial tests on these test formulations, isn’t it?

Preservation and testing are complex topics, but they are learnable. The education is available, and we have so many more ingredient choices now in terms of non-toxic preservatives and antimicrobials than we had even two years ago.

Every time I teach a new class of Create Your Skincare Professional Edition students, I find that I have to update my ingredient recommendation sheets because we have more options, which is fantastic. My students have told me how much it really helps when you have the support of an instructor, and mentors, and a class full of your peers to help guide you through it.

Let’s talk about how to know if your natural skin products are good enough in terms of efficacy.

I’m going to make it really simple for you. When you make skin care, you are making food for your skin. And just like food that you put into your body, anything you make from scratch with high quality ingredients is going to be better quality than anything you buy in a restaurant, off a shelf, in a package. It’s the difference between homemade food with real ingredients, and processed or fast food which is made with chemical food-like substances.

That’s what we’re talking about with skin care. When you buy skin care, even “professional skin care,” there is a very big chance that what is in that bottle is going to be mostly water, followed by a few functional ingredients like emulsifiers, stabilizers, solubilizers, binders, thickeners, and preservatives; and then maybe some extracts. Just like fast food.

Quality always beats quantity.

When we look at herbalists and skin care makers, or professionals who make custom products or small batch natural skin products for their clients and in their practice, we’re looking at whole food skin nutrition. We’re looking at a different type of business model than what we see with mass production. It’s more of a quality focused approach, rather than quantity.

When you lead with concentrated ingredients that are as close to the plant as when the plant was in nature–instead of an ingredient that was developed in a lab or isolated from a plant and then repackaged into some fancy delivery system, and then formulated into a mostly water-containing product– you’ll always have a higher quality product.

Concentration does equal quality in many cases. This might be shocking information to many of you, but many of the products that are sold in high-end spas that are considered “professional only” are literally no different from formulations that you get at the drug store.

All that’s different is the packaging and the marketing. Most cosmetic labs find the cheapest ingredients they can, and that’s what they’re going to formulate with unless the business owner requests (and identifies better sources themselves) differently. That’s REALLY important to understand.

When you make natural skin products with ingredients like carrier oils, herb-infused oils, herbal teas, hydrosols, powdered herbs, clays, essential oils, CO2 extracts, botanical extracts, it’s going to be a higher quality product than something mass produced.

Customized skin care is always going to be more effective.

Bio-individualized, custom skin care is a growing trend. My Create Your Skincare Professional Edition online course is different from other courses out there because I focus on not only teaching professionals, but also teaching custom formulation. I’m a licensed aesthetician, herbalist, health coach, and functional nutrition practitioner myself, so I understand what it’s like to work with clients of all ages and skin goals, hands on. That’s very different from a basic understanding of “skin types.” When you take my course, you’ll learn not one but THREE different ingredient selection methods. It’s so important to know how to choose the right ingredients–not for a skin type–but for an individual person.

Learn Skin Sequencing® exclusively in Create Your Skincare Professional Edition

We’re seeing the custom skin care trend grow both with large companies and small. When you’re a practitioner (aesthetician, health coach, herbalist, aromatherapist, nutritionist, etc), you have the opportunity to support your skin care clients in a way that skin care products as commodities off the shelf simply cannot do.

So how do you know if your product is going to work?

It depends on how well you know your ingredients, how well you know how to formulate, and how well you know your client’s skin. And that’s something that I will teach you how to do in Create Your Skincare Professional Edition. If this is something that you have been thinking about in your business, or that you’ve struggled with, please leave a comment below and let me know!

And if you’re someone who wants to learn about how to make skincare products that are safe and super effective for your clients, come on over to CYS Pro. Our next class starts soon and I hope to see you in it!

I’ll be back tomorrow with your next lesson in our Back to School, Back to Business blog and video series! Be sure to click the red bell at the bottom of your computer screen to get notified the instant it’s published. Thanks for reading!

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