Why cosmetic formulas affect beauty copywriting

The ingredients used in your cosmetic product will determine what you can write about it. Thinking about your product’s beauty copywriting – even as early as during the R&D and formulation process – can support your future marketing strategy. Here’s why it’s necessary to think about your beauty product’s copy long before you go to market it.

Select ingredients thoughtfully

When you’re working on your formula, consider how the ingredients you choose will affect your beauty copywriting. Are you using new, novel, and relatively unknown ingredients? If so, you’ll need to work out how you’ll educate the consumer about their benefits. On the other hand, if you’re using well-known and familiar ingredients, how will you make your product and its ingredients stand out from competitors? This is important to decide before you start working out your marketing strategy.

It’s also important to consider the end consumer and their expectations around ingredients. If you hedge your product’s marketing on a certain ingredient and its benefits because it sounds efficacious, consumers are going to expect the results to be noticeable.

A common marketing technique at the moment is to highlight the natural compounds within an ingredient and list the compound’s benefits. For example, you might consider basing your product marketing on a star plant-based ingredient – say, rosehip oil. As an ingredient, it might have amazing properties such as naturally containing vitamin A compounds. But it doesn’t always make sense to market the natural compounds of an ingredient. It’s treating a naturally-occurring substance as a standalone ingredient, which is stretching the truth. Vitamin A compounds within rosehip oil aren’t the same thing as vitamin A and its derivatives.

In this example, even if rosehip oil is a key part of the formula, its vitamin A compounds might not deliver the visible results typically associated with vitamin A. So marketing it as such is going to affect consumers’ expectations – they’re going to expect vitamin A-like benefits. If the actual ingredient isn’t used in a percentage that’s going to provide noticeable results, it might be worth considering if that ingredient be should highlighted at all.

Key takeaway: Think about which ingredient/s you’ll highlight and how you’ll market them competitively.

Make creative notes

Before you finalise your cosmetic formula, take some time while you’re trialling it to consider all of its sensory features. These may include colour, texture, consistency, scent, and immediate feeling upon application. Write a list of your observations, how you describe the formula, what feelings it invokes, and any associations you draw. This might help inform your product’s name, description, marketing strategy, campaign copy, and visual assets.

It’s important to make creative notes – as well as feedback for your R&D team or manufacturer) – while you’re trialling samples. If you’re relying on memory or working from an ingredient list to inspire the creative copy you write, you might be losing the all-important sensory elements.

Key takeaways: Write plenty of notes about your formula during the trialling process to build the product story.

Claim carefully

It’s a bummer, but there are lots of things you can’t say about your beauty product, no matter how miraculous or transformative it may be. It can’t be represented as a drug or medical product (unless a regulatory body approves it). You’re not allowed to say it will change, boost, reduce, or otherwise impact any bodily processes (unless a regulatory body approves it). It’s also a bad idea to mislead or misrepresent your product beyond what’s considered reasonable for a cosmetic.

What’s reasonable? Claims about the sensory elements of a product, such as texture, scent, or application process, are totally reasonable. So are claims relating to improving, enhancing, or beautifying the external look or appearance of the consumer. You can make some claims about the properties of ingredients, but these should be limited to cleansing, perfuming, changing the appearance of, taking care of, and maintaining good health of external body parts. Raw ingredient marketing sheets provide some guidance, but they can’t be completely relied upon for making compliant claims.

Key takeaways: Think about the ingredient claims you can make before committing to a formula. Don’t make claims about ingredients that are outside what’s reasonable for cosmetics.

Amy Hadley

Amy Hadley is a beauty copywriter with a background in print journalism, digital media, public relations, and eCommerce. As someone contributing to the beauty industry, she encourages her clients to use words creatively, sincerely, and responsibly. This is to promote more honest and thoughtful communication in the beauty industry, and better serve its consumers.

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