Behind The Scenes With Go-To’s Formulation Chemist
Between us, 2022 is the biggest and most exciting year Go-To has ever had. The bottleneck of products that our brilliant formulations team have been chipping away at has finally burst open and we’re primed to launch a heap of products we know you have been waiting for.
So far, we’ve launched a hydrating serum, a barrier repair mask, and a range of permanent minis, and we’re not even halfway done yet. While you wait for the rest of the launches (and between us, you won’t be waiting very long) we sat down with Go-To Formulations Chemist, Ingrid Vogels, to give you an inside look at what goes on before all your favourite products before they shimmy onto shelves.
Hi! My name is Ingrid and I’m a Formulation Chemist for Go-To. I’ve been working at Go-To for almost two years now within the New Product Team.
How did you become a formulation chemist?
I’ve always been interested in formulation and have really fond memories making lip balms, tinctures, and even natural toothpaste with my mom in the kitchen at home as an enthusiastic primary school-aged chemist. I did a Bachelor of Science at Uni and got my majors in Chemistry (as well as Geology and Geophysics). From there, I’ve worked in a few different kinds of settings from a pharmaceutical packaging facility, to being an analytical chemist, to overseeing a materials R&D laboratory… until I landed my dream job at Go-To! So you could say my path here has been a bit winding, but that’s something that I truly treasure as it has given me rich and diverse experiences as a Chemist. I’ve also commenced a Diploma of Personal Care Formulation to supplement my formulating know-how.
Talk us through the New Product Development (NPD) process at Go-To?
New Product Development (NPD) is the process of conceiving a new Go-To product. It’s super fun, here’s a run-down of what it typically involves:
Initially, there’s a briefing stage which is a little back-and-forth between the technical and marketing leads, lead chemist (sometimes that’s me!) and Go-To founder Zoë. In this stage, we discuss elements like the type of product and its functionality, as well as more specific attributes like what this product needs to feel and smell like.
Next, we begin the conceptualisation and prototyping. Basically that just means we begin bringing the brief to life; we create batches that meet the brief and that pass preliminary stability, and get started with packaging compatibility, preservative efficacy, and sensitivity testing.
After a prototype is approved we begin the more formal stability studies such as HRIPT (Human Repeat Insult Patch Test) and panel testing. After passing through these phases we head out to manufacture. This is where we observe the scale-up from our lab-sized batches to one tonne (or sometimes even larger!) batches.
After all that the product is then ready for the warehouse and soon, it heads onto shelf too!
From brief to shelf the whole process can happen in as little as 14 months but typically it’s closer to 18 months.
What does a normal day in the life look like for you at Go-To?
A typical day will involve checking on the stability of development work (making sure everything is still smelling, feeling and looking good) and making batches of new products, testing out new ingredients and formulas and optimising how they feel, smell, and look, as well as the way they’re made to ensure a shelf-stable product. Then I’ll keep up-to-date with everything that's going on via emails and research new ingredients to ensure that they’re effective and appropriate for use in our new products (this bit is like a fun window-shopping spree!).
What's your favourite part of your job?
There are so many great elements. My favourite part though is when I hear from people how much they adore a product. I’m just so proud to be a part of bringing that sense of joy (!), and for many people, relief (!!) when it comes to their own personal care.
What's the trickiest part of your job?
Finding the sweet spot between a product that has great stability AND sensory (where a product feels amazing).
What's your top Go-To product?
Fancy Face! My face just doesn’t feel clean without it in my routine. I use it everyday to remove my SPF and makeup at the end of the day. The mini is so great to take when you travel too. I even use it when I’m camping (which I try to do often; I love recharging in nature).
Do you have a favourite ingredient to formulate with?
I couldn’t choose just one! But if I had to narrow down a type of ingredient it would be anything that is going to calm and soothe skin, so think niacinamide, panthenol, and actives targeted at reducing redness.
Give us a hint of any exciting things coming up.
It’s already been a busy year at Go-To and from my view in the lab it doesn look like it’s going to slow down any time soon. Go-To founder Zoë recently spilled the beans on exactly what to expect for the rest of the year, if you missed it, the full run-down is up in our Facebook group (here!).