My name is Stephanie, and I started working in the conventional cosmetics industry for 8 years before joining LÉA NATURE in 2008 to develop organic makeup products.
Nowadays, I am in charge of developing skincare products for our two brands, SO BiO’ étic (makeup and skincare) and Floressance (skincare).
I work with a team of formula researchers to develop our new formulas until they are ready for industrial production, and I also coordinate our projects with various departments (marketing, packaging, sourcing) and with our sub-contractors, whom I manage for that part of our production which is externalized.
Cosmetic products are created a bit like a new recipe in a kitchen. First, we establish what ingredients we want to use on paper, and then we start working with the formula in our labs, evaluating the new product’s qualities in terms of consistency, smell and properties. After that, we test the stability of the formula over time, how well it is tolerated from a dermatological point of view, as well as its microbiological stability, or more specifically the product’s capability of dealing with the micro-organisms found on our bodies.
Usage testing during 21 to 28 days by our panel of volunteers allows us to verify actual product performance (hydration, nourishment, anti-wrinkle properties, etc.) as compared to stated product promises.
It’s the blank page we start working on at the beginning of a project. It’s all the creative phase, the research and the innovation. Creating new products is what I like best, even more if we are talking about makeup and working on shades… And of course, we get to try the products out since we serve as lab rats for our own creations!
The wide range of formulas to choose from when it comes to makeup (sticks, powders, mascaras, foundation, pencils, polishes, etc.) increases the number of challenges and issues to be dealt with.
The most delicate formulas are those we use for gloss or lipstick, since we need to achieve balance with components that are temperature-sensitive.
Organic makeup users are seeking out the same qualities and hold (color, smell, ease of application) offered by conventional cosmetics, without any of the down sides.
In order to respond to their expectations, we regularly carry out “panel match” testing, which involves comparing our organic products to conventional ones.
Sometimes, we can’t compete with some conventional products like foundation: the classical version contains silicone most of the time, which makes it easier to apply but clogs pores, preventing oxygenation. Organic formulas are based on the use of active ingredients that serve not only as makeup, but also as skincare, hydrating and nourishing the skin, and acting on wrinkles.
Just like food, when you switch from conventional to organic products, you need to learn how to handle them differently.
Long-lasting nail polish is a real challenge from a technical point of view. It is very difficult to replace nitrocellulose, a highly resistant resin that you find in all conventional nail polishes. In 2011, we developed the very first ECOCERT-certified organic nail polishes, and had the formula patented. This was a truly innovative product on the nail polish market, that required changes in their routine that consumers were not ready for. So in 2015, we went back to the drawing board and launched a new line of 6 natural nail polishes, which are 83 to 86% natural and free of parabens, formaldehyde, phtalates, toluene, xylene, synthetic camphor and colophane.
Waterproof makeup was another challenge for us, because this effect is mostly obtained through raw materials from the petrochemical industry. We are therefore focusing on natural alternatives that respond to the expectations of our organic makeup users and that will contribute to longer-lasting hold for our line of mascaras.
We are also looking to improve the staying power of our eyeshadows. In conventional makeup, pigments are coated with silicone, which ensures better hold over time. We work with intensely colored pigments, that are brighter but that show slightly lower performance when it comes to staying power.
When we launched our So’BiO étic makeup in 2010 for the skin, lips and eyes. We were given 1 year to develop 25 products, but we actually launched 52 certified organic products in the end. That was quite a challenge that we take a lot of pride in.
Our volumizing mascara!