BTS: Making the Liquid Lip Balm
In case you aren’t following us on Instagram (but you should because we’re having a lot of fun over @saiebeauty), you may have missed that we won our first award! Just two weeks after we launched, Elle awarded us their Future of Beauty Award for our Liquid Lip Balm. It was a big exciting day at Saie HQ and we definitely took a moment to celebrate. Since our Liquid Lip Balm was such a labor of love, and because it takes a lot of work, expertise, patience, and heart to develop products that perform AND wear well, we sat down with our Head of Product Development, Sarah Tallman, to learn all about how Saie’s Liquid Lip Balm came to be...
8-12 MONTHS OUT FROM LAUNCH - TEAM BRAINSTORMING & PRODUCT DIRECTION
When we were brainstorming ideas for our lip balm, we knew we wanted to create a super cushiony, hydrating formula that works as a cross between a balm and a gloss. We wanted it to embody the right texture and color that could be applied any time of day or night; it needed to look polished but not like it was trying too hard. We like to say that you can wear our liquid lip balm on an interview or a first date– it works well in either setting.
6 MONTHS OUT FROM LAUNCH - FINAL FORMULA DEVELOPMENT
We dove headfirst into developing the lip balm, and once we had our first prototype we all realized we just weren’t that excited about the end result; it was nice but not overly special (and we needed special) and it wasn’t completely clean. We were presented with a formula that wore well but it contained the very popular ingredient Hydrogentated Polyisobutene, which is in most lip glosses for its ability to give off a really effortless cushion, slip, and shine. Unfortunately, since it’s a petroleum distillate, it isn’t a clean ingredient and so we started over. From scratch. We set out to create a formula that did everything our first formula did, but with only clean, high-quality ingredients that we could stand behind.
3 MONTHS OUT FROM LAUNCH - PRODUCTION & LAST MINUTE TWEAK
At this point we were pretty crunched for time, we were launching in just a couple months, so I flew to the lab in Canada over 4th of July weekend with a mission to make the clean lip balm we’d all been dreaming up a reality. I started completely from scratch at the lab and the chemists and I began testing out ingredients like ethically sourced beeswax, murumuru butter, coconut oil, shea butter, and vitamin E to get that same cushion & shine combo we were aiming for. This process requires the lead chemist assigned to the project and I to discuss what we are aiming to achieve and what ingredients I want to use, and then they create the full formula with levels. They’ll present me with different versions and then we tweak from there. We landed on a formula we loved and we also selected a post-consumer recycled plastic tube with a soft tip applicator for the product design.
The packaging development was not without its own hurdles! We knew we wanted a squishy tip, something that combined with the formula to make applying it super addictive, but we didn’t want it to be made out of plastic (most tips like that are made with a very hard to recycle plastic). The tip we landed on is made of silicone, which we think is progress because even though it’s not biodegradable, it’s much less toxic to produce and to dispose of. The tube itself is also 100% post-consumer recycled resin - this is so rare for tubes! They’re normally anywhere from 25%-50% recycled but not entirely. Your tube might feel a little stiffer because of it, and we’re working on a non-plastic solution, but this felt like a big win to us.
ONE WEEK OUT FROM LAUNCH - A FINAL TWEAK & A FINAL PRODUCT!
Once we moved into a pre-production line trial (this is essentially the dress rehearsal before the actual production to make sure everything runs smoothly), we found that the formula was too thick and stuck to the insides of the tube, so we dropped the level of beeswax and re-balanced the formula a week before production began! It was risky, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the formula’s consistency was actually more stable, hydrating, and softening than the other one we were working with.
The successful production of our lip balm really came down to how amazing our team and partners were throughout the entire development process. We were in a race against the clock to get our lip balm out (originally we were only launching Mascara 101 but then decided to unveil the whole collection at once) and we felt and still feel so fortunate to be working with some of the best labs and experts in the industry who are nimble, dependable, and always down for a challenge.
We ended up with a totally clean lip balm that we love and rely on daily no matter the occasion. Here’s to many more Saie products that go above and beyond in performance and wear...and here’s to the next one having a slightly smoother timeline! :)