Duplicating Products: Step three – Figure out what’s really important

In the earlier post, we looked at the ingredient lists and what each ingredient might bring to the product. Today, we’ll take a look to see what’s really important to make the product work.


1. Get the complete ingredient list.

2. Look at what each ingredient brings to the product.

3. Figure out what’s really important and what’s there for label appeal.

4. Figure out how much of each ingredient to use.

5. Create a starting recipe in percentages.

6. Make the recipe, then tweak it to get the skin feel and viscosity you want.

STEP THREE: Figure out what’s important and what’s there for label appeal.

Start by thinking about what kind of product this could be: At this point, I think it’s safe for me to say that this is a lotion using stearic acid and triethanolamine or calcium hydroxide to create a soap that behaves as an emulsifier. Because of this, I know it will have a higher pH because at lower pH levels, this emulsifier falls apart. I know it contains a carbomer that will be neutralized by either TEA or calcium hydroxide to give it a slightly softer or gelled feeling. It could be an oil-in-water lotion or a water-in-oil recipe, but I’m leaning oil-in-water because that’s the more common type of lotion.

Knowing this information, we can figure out what’s important in the recipe and what we can leave out. We want to think about the skin feel, the viscosity, and what skin benefits each ingredient brings to the mix. Consider what’s in there just for label appeal and what’s really benefitting your skin or hair. Infusions of extracts might be there to sound pretty, or they could offer a benefit. If that’s the case, we can figure out what benefits they offer and see if there’s something else we could use.

Let’s look at that Noxzema Classic Clean ingredient list again:

Water, Stearic Acid, Glycine Soja Oil (Soybean), Propylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed)Oil (Linseed), Fragrance, Triethanolamine, Camphor, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Eugenol, Carbomer, Linalool, Calcium Hydroxide, Menthol, Gelatin, Limonene, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamal

Water is the solvent and a hydrator.

Stearic acid is part of the emulsifier and an emollient.

Soybean oil is an emollient. Do we need to use soy bean oil? No, it could be another oil, preferably a greasy one.

Propylene glycol is a humectant and keeps the product from freezing in transit. Do we have to use it? Yes, as it’s part of the product’s skin feel. But we could choose another ingredient, like glycerin, although that would be very sticky, or another glycol, like butylene or hexylene glycol.

Cetyl alcohol is a thickener and emollient. We could use another fatty alcohol here, like cetearyl or behenyl alcohol. Cetearyl would make it feel waxy, which isn’t really what this product is about. Behenyl might be a good choice as it offers a drier skin feel.

Linseed oil is an emollient. As I have no idea where to find this, I can choose another dry feeling oil, like macadamia nut or hazelnut oil.

Fragrance is used to make it smell nice. (Optional)

Triethanolamine (TEA) is part of the emulsifier. If it’s gone, no emulsification!

Camphor, eucalyptus, eugenol, linalool, menthol, limonene, geraniol, benzyl benzoate, and cinnamal are fragrance components. (Optional)

Carbomer gels the product and the calcium hydroxide is used to neutralize it. This isn’t essential in a lotion, but it gives it a nice skin feel. Is this optional? It could be. I think we’ll have to make a version with it and one without and see what we think.

Calcium hydroxide neutralizes the carbomer, so it’s essential to this product if we’re using the carbomer. There are some other things that would neutralize a carbomer, like TEA or sodium hydroxide (18% solution in water).

Gelatin will offer some moisturizing and gellified skin feel. Is this essential? I’m really not sure, honestly. I think it offers a skin feel like the carbomer, so it might be that increasing one can bump the other off the necessary list.

So as you can see, we need most of what we see here. The camphor and other fragrances make Noxzema what it is, so I do think we need to include the menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor to make it smell like the proper cleaner.

In the end, there are a few small ingredients we might leave out, like the other fragrance components, but everything’s there for a reason. I may include some limonene as that’s a great de-greaser, but it’ll only be a small amount.

Join me tomorrow as we work out a starting recipe!