Summary: I share design notes on the Tinted Body Lotion formulation; rated ’N’ – for total beauty Nerds and product design freaks only!
I drafted the specifications for this formula over two years ago, and they filled an Excel table over two pages long. When I met with cosmetic chemists to develop my ideal formulation, I was told that my complex, over-ambitious requirements were like ‘looking for a unicorn’! I was turned away several times before I found my team members, first in the Netherlands, and subsequently taken over by my colleagues in Hong Kong and China, who agreed to take on the challenge. Several versions travelled back and forth overseas between my laboratory and I, as we refined the texture, pigments, and emollients in the formulation. The day the final formulation arrived, I knew we had finally created the unicorn! I was so relieved it could actually be made!
So what did I NOT want this lotion to be? I didn’t want just a flat, cakey foundation for the legs, as I don’t think all-over medical-grade full coverage look is what most of us want. Most of us are aiming for something that looks a bit more natural and three-dimensional. I also did not want to just duplicate one of the many body shimmers already on the market.
I didn’t want a multi-step process to create beautiful skin. I had watched makeup artists applying body makeup to catwalk models and there was always at least two steps: coverage and tone correction with a body foundation product, powder to fix, and a gloss product of some sort, usually glycerine or oil. I didn’t want a sticky, transferable, three-step process, but a one-step coverage and gloss, which wouldn’t transfer onto your clothing.
Non-transferance was essential to the formulation. It was important to me that a woman could wear this product to the beach, in the bedroom, or all day at a wedding without it sliding off. No body makeup (or face makeup product, for that matter) is perfect in non-transference. But we added ingredients that would adhere to the skin, and that could ‘set’ after the moisture ingredients had sunk in, and the same ingredients also lend a water-resistance to the formulation. Tinted Body Lotion will ‘set’ on its own after about 10 minutes, but I’ve since found that applying a light dusting of translucent powder speeds up the setting process, really fixes it to the skin, and seems to ‘bake’ the highlight. So while this adds an optional second step, it’s quick and easy and has become my favourite way to wear the lotion, and lasts until I shower it off when I set it this way.
The coverage needed to be natural and breathable. Skin needed to show through, to give a my-skin-but-better effect, but there needed to be enough coverage that veins, bruises and scars would be mostly invisible. My aim was to even-out the different colours present in pale skin, to make the overall appearance more uniform in shade. In addition, there was the need to cater for different colour undertones in a way that really represented the true pigment construction of pale skin, not the salmon-pink coloured constructions of many foundation products. I spent a lot of time analysing skin anatomy and subtypes of melanin pigment, including how light is absorbed and reflected by the skin. My chemist was able to perfect a very intuitive blend that works well with each individual’s skin. The coverage is buildable too.
The shine was a key consideration for me. Pale skin surfaces can look flat and wide at times, because the whole surface of the skin reflects light uniformly, but it’s only an optical illusion and it can be overcome by creating a highly reflective, gloss surface. I needed the finish of the gloss to be dry rather than oily, to prevent the product sliding off or staining clothes, but I wanted the same shine as oil. I also find pearlescence to be a very beautiful effect on the skin. One thing I was keen to avoid was visible sparkles, because I wanted the lotion to be wearable in daytime by the average professional woman at work if she wanted, and I felt gloss would be more acceptable over a broader range of contexts. So we blended finely-milled mica powder into the formula, each particle so small that it wouldn’t appear sparkly or glittery, but rather appear like a top coat of high gloss varnish.
One of my favourite features of Tinted Body Lotion is the skincare element. My chemist crafted a custom blend of botanical extracts used in Chinese Medicine over the centuries with claimed benefits of reducing inflammation, redness, and hyperpigmentation. The body lotion is packed with layers and layers of moisturisers, skin-conditioners and humectants, with the aim of leaving the skin in better condition even after the product is washed off.
So there it is: the insider view on the creation of a unique formulation. I’ve been so pleased how it turned out, and I hope you love it as much as I do.