Making fine hair and skin care products - not very different from making a fine wine!
I often get asked how I put the formulations together for CREO products. I am a consulting winemaker and I have been blending wines since I was a teenager. When I started with the shampoo I approached it like trying to put together the best red wine blend possible. In a winery this entails picking from more than 50 components such as different varieties, vineyards, fermentations, clones, barrel types etc. The end result is a wine that exemplifies the best red wine possible to make in a particular vintage. "Best" is defined by concentration of flavor, structure, texture, color, aroma, entry, finish; any organoleptic quality one may think of and would also be a "big" wine with ageability.
I take a somewhat similar approach to shampoo formulation. First the ingredients have to be the safest, gentlest,healthiest available. I start with the surfactants, or cleansers. They have to clean without stripping the hair or scalp. Most shampoos without any ingredients other than the detergents make the hair feel like steel wool, but If you removed everything but the cleanser from CREO's shampoo the hair would still feel soft. Comb through might be a little harder but the hair would not feel stripped.
In the beginning, I put together a number of blends of cleansers with varying concentrations and surfactant types. I presented these to a salon with 14 stylists who used it on themselves and clients. I gathered their feedback, tweaked the formulas and tried again. I repeated this process until the stylists told me that they really liked the cleansing action, the texture and feel of the lather and especially how the hair looked and felt afterwards. Foam and texture may not affect performance but it was important to me that it felt rich and enjoyable during the washing as well.
Once I reached satisfying results from the cleansing process, I worked on comb through. I experimented with many components and variations and came up with a solution that adds conditioning, gaining two positive effects from one ingredient. Then I worked on hair repairing effects using high quality proteins. Just as with the cleansing component, I continued to tweak the formula and the stylists continued to evaluate the “blending” until all the pieces of the puzzle where in place. Finally, we all felt we had created the best product possible.