We are often asked how we develop our range of products, so we thought it was about time we summarised exactly what goes into the process.
Whilst Lucy Bee was originally known for our coconut oil, Lucy’s background has been beauty, both retail and as a therapist, so it was very natural for us to start to develop the Lucy Bee beauty range of ethical, organic products.
We create all of the Lucy Bee products from scratch, they are our own formulations, to our standards. In cosmetics you can purchase ‘white label’ formulations which is one that’s already made and where you simply put your own label on to it, and perhaps add some fragrance, this is not something we do or will ever do.
It all starts with a brainstorm in the office, we think about which products we love and would use ourselves, and more importantly, what you guys ask for – we love hearing your suggestions!
We then create a brief for our manufacturers. Finding manufacturers who can work to our standards is not easy and we have unfortunately had bad experiences in the past. We require the highest standards and of course they need to be:
- Certified organic
- Prepared to work with us to ensure that everything we create is palm oil free. You would be surprised how many compounds are derived from palm oil and the lack of awareness in the cosmetic industry. It’s also VERY hard to find a manufacturer who is willing to help create palm free products – it’s not an easy task and a lot of people are lazy when it comes to this area.
- Committed to vegan and cruelty free products
- Creating products which are formulated without certain ingredients (see appendix 1)
Once we found our manufacturer, we work up a brief based on all sorts of things such as:
- What is the main purpose of the product? How do we want it to perform on the skin? What is the benefit of it? Who is our target audience? Skin type? How do we want the product to feel – when applying to the skin and the after-effects on the skin?
- What do we want to achieve in the sense of certifications?
- Fragrances we like, or will it be fragrance-free?
- A lot of manufacturers will want to know how much money you want to spend so that they know what they can work towards. For us, we focus on the importance of the certifications, and we create products we want to achieve. We have a strict brief, so we work on that and then discuss cost once the product is formulated.
Our brief will always be to create a product which is ethical but effective:
- We don’t allow the use of palm oil or any of its derivatives
- Cruelty Free
- Using natural ingredients
- We also try to achieve organic status too, although this isn’t always possible when restricting the use of palm oil or if we are wanting to achieve a performance-driven product which contains ingredients which are not certified organic. This doesn’t mean they are bad; they are still natural but won’t be organic or a high enough percentage to pass
- It should not contain any nasties
- We aim to be suitable for all skin types – but this does vary depending on the type of product we are creating
- We want to use the most sustainable packaging possible – this sometimes means some formulations are just not possible. We have to work on packaging early on to see what is viable and then work around the formulations. We always use the best and most environmentally friendly options available at the time after lots of research
Once we have finalised the brief, we then work closely with the chemists at our manufacturers to create the products. This is where it gets very scientific, and we reply on their expertise to get their creative head on. There is a lot of testing and trialling that goes on behind the scenes to make sure the product is fit for purpose – performance-wise and making sure that it is stable – using the correct (natural) preservatives to make sure there are not any unwanted surprises like mould or stability issues in the future.
Once we are happy with the product, we will trial and test them over several months. The Lucy Bee team will try the samples and so will our friends and family. We try to test on a mixture of skin types and ages so that we can get a lot of different feedback. Most of the time we are happy with the outcome, but occasionally products will need tweaking. Sometimes we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and pull everything apart and decide if it is the ingredient, texture, fragrance, or if it just isn’t working, most of the time it’s just a simple tweak to make the product perfect.
Once we have signed off a formulation, it goes onto stability testing, and we start looking at suitable packaging options with our account manager. We’ll always look for glass or aluminium packaging to make our products as sustainable as possible. For products where we must use plastic, we will always look to source PCR plastic (post-consumer recycled), this simply means that we don’t produce any new plastic, we will look to use plastic that is already in the world. For us at Lucy Bee, even as a small company, it is important that we make a difference with what we do. We want to be a positive impact on the planet.
Packaging is sourced and then put onto compatibility testing for a number of weeks. This ensures that the formulation doesn’t react with the glass or aluminium. In the meantime, we will try the product in its packaging to make sure it functions properly and is suitable for use.
Next up, certifications. Certifications are so important to us as they prove the quality of our products. We always want to be transparent, honest and open with our customers. We would never mislead or make false claims, so we’ll spend the time whilst the product is on stability testing, collecting all the information needed to ensure that we are 100% compliant with the relevant certification bodies.
We work closely with the Soil Association, Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International (Leaping Bunny). The processes that you have to go through with these certification bodies are extremely thorough and strict, and so this can be a very lengthy process and there is inevitably a lot of back forth to get the information together that they need. It can mean delays, so it is something we have to be patient with and take into consideration when planning the launch.
It’s not just certifications we gain, we also carry out testing on certain products, for example testing for suitability for babies, effectiveness of sunscreens, sensitive skin tests, etc. These are all carried out by independent specialist companies and require patch testing groups of people and analysing the results so that we can make honest and true claims on our packaging and website.
The process of designing the packaging is also so important. We will create a vision board of what we imagine the product will look like, whether that’s colours, fonts, etc. We will look at the market to see what other people are doing and try to see how we can stand out. Once we’ve created a vision board, we will start to pull together all of the text that needs to go onto the packaging.
There are the obvious parts and not-so-obvious parts that are a legal requirement, things like the fill (the volume or weight) written in the correct way, the ‘period after opening’ logo, our postal address as well as the barcode and batch code. These requirements change from country to country so again, it’s never straightforward. Our graphic designer will start to pull together some ideas, and then as a team we will review it and make changes until it’s absolutely perfect.
As soon as we’re happy with it we will send off the design to the printers to get a real-life sample made up. That takes a few weeks or sometimes months to produce so we sit and wait (very!) patiently…
As soon as we’ve got that and approved it, everything is out of our hands production-wise, and the products start being produced. We will visit the factory to watch the production. When we see the products going down the line for the first time, it is always a surreal feeling, seeing all of the hours of hard work become a reality, it makes it all worth it and so real – a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of!
In the lead up to the product launch, we will organise a photoshoot and a video day to get all the content needed for the launch day. We also write up the product page for the website, update the homepage, write up relevant blogs, fully stock the warehouse, work on new delivery boxes, alert our courier company and create all of the new graphics and content needed.
Then it’s launch day and we can finally share our excitement and new product with you!
We try to avoid any nasties when creating our products – here is a list of some but not all of the ingredients we avoid. If you have a question about a specific ingredient then please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Artificial dyes
- Artificial fragrances
- Mineral oils
- Palm oil (including derivatives)
- Petroleum jelly
About Lucy Bee
Lucy Bee is a lifestyle brand selling food, skincare and soap products all completely free from palm oil and with minimal use of plastic. Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, organic, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and empowering people to make informed choices and select quality, natural products for their food and their skin.
Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. We always recommend referring your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.