Formula Botanica’s Lorraine Dallmeier On Arriving At The Right Manufacturing Process

Lorraine Dallmeier, director of Formula Botanica, an organic cosmetic science online learning platform, and co-founder of consultancy Green Alchemy, has advised thousands of beauty entrepreneurs attempting to put their ideas into practice. Their questions often coalesce around settling on manufacturing processes, an obligatory step from product consideration to completion. “People come to us saying, ‘I want to create a skincare brand, what’s the best way of doing that? Should I learn how to make it on my own? Should I get someone else to do it? Should I go down the private-label route?’ says Dallmeier. “My preferred option will always be to make it yourself because it gives you control over formulations, but there are all these other options as well.” She walked Beauty Independent through the pros and cons of the various options to help entrepreneurs arrive at the manufacturing solution that’s right for them.


Indie skincare brand founders are a pretty committed lot. Many of them are reluctant to turn their concepts over to an outside contractor for good reason. No one else will have the same level of passion for their products. “Most of the skincare formulators I know have a real interest in formulation, and they want to create a unique product they almost emotionally bond with,” says Dallmeier. “They are not interested in having someone else produce their formulas and having someone else put their name on them. They want to stamp their own names on them.” Manufacturing your own products has several drawbacks, though. Dallmeier points out founders choosing the do-it-yourself path are responsible for research and development. They shouldn’t travel down that path if they’re anxious for speedy outcomes. “The time element is a big pitfall of this option. You have to spend time generating the idea, creating products, going through consumer testing and the regulatory checks, and doing stability tests. Here in the E.U., you have to work with a safety assessor,” says Dallmeier. “It’s not something you are going to start in January to launch a product in May.” The prominent plusses are that founders steer the ship if they manufacture themselves, own the intellectual property and can experiment with ingredients that external firms might discourage. Dallmeier underscores, “After all, it is an artistic process where you get to combine science with creativity.”

Formula Botanica manufacturing


In-house production isn’t for everyone. It might be wise for brand founders whose strengths are marketing and branding to contemplate delegating manufacturing to outside specialists. A major hurdle they’ll encounter when evaluating cosmetics labs is the cost. “You will need a budget of several thousand to hire a formulator,” estimates Dallmeier. “Some people may think that is too expensive for their business, but consider that their lab may be designing and manufacturing the hit skincare product of tomorrow if their ideas are strong and if their customers like them.” She continues that the biggest issue brand founders face with contract manufacturers is that third parties don’t often understand how to execute the products they’re envisioning. “Someone might go to the formulator and say, ‘I want to create a product that smells floral,’ and, when a product is sent to them that smells floral, they say, ‘That’s not what I had in mind,’” says Dallmeier. “When you formulate yourself, you might want to make a range of high-performance lotions, but end up with a range of high-performance oils. People change their minds all the time as they go. If you’re new to the market, how do you explain to someone else what you want if you’re not entirely sure yourself?”

Dallmeier details that skincare founders securing outside labs should be cognizant of the people that will handle their formulations, the ingredients that will constitute them, the certifications they might want to include, the parts of the body the products are for, sample requirements, turnaround times and, if they’re launching a natural brand, the definition of natural they’re following. “For some people, natural sticks to things picked from a tree, whereas other people will accept ingredients derived from nature that might have gone through a chemical process,” says Dallmeier. No matter the definition of natural, she cautions labs are frequently unwilling to manufacture for small brands and, if they are willing to, they might demand ownership of the intellectual property. Dallmeier suggests, “Make sure you quiz people, get a few quotes and be prepared to answer a lot of questions as well.”

Formula Botanica manufacturing


News flash: the beauty industry was around long before today’s skincare founders determined they had roles to play in it. Countless formulas already exist, and an untold number of them are available to entrepreneurs. Stock formulas have been through the R&D rigmarole and are tested. Founders simply have to select from white-label manufacturer’s catalog to swiftly generate products. “The third option is ideal for people who don’t want to wait to learn how to formulate or have their own formulations designed. They’re ready to go, and they want to start now, which is where white labeling can be ideal,” says Dallmeier. “More manufacturers are now catering for the natural/organic community, too, with hundreds of pre-tested formulations that can easily be white-labeled and sold under a brand’s own name while still meeting a brand’s overall ethos.”

A downside to white labeling is that the manufacturer owns the formulas, and it can be difficult to stop them from popping up in other brands’ product portfolios. The manufacturer also might stipulate high minimum order quantities of 1,000 units or more. “This is a fast route, but, in the long run, if you want to scale your brand and own your formulations, it might not be the best route,” says Dallmeier. She adds, “The stories behind the brands is what sells them. It’s much harder to sell your product if you don’t really know what went into it. The big trend I’m seeing is going the handmade route. People want to be seen as artisans.”

Formula Botanica manufacturing