Text: The Vulgar Philologist
Since last autumn, I dreamed of visiting the production of intimate cosmetics: to see with my own eyes how what we smear on mucous membranes is cooked, how it is poured into packages, checked in laboratories – in short, the entire technological process. And, of course, ask tricky questions about controversial components in the composition, certification, why osmolality is not measured (the most important safety marker for water lubrication️), and the like.
In addition to the composition of lubricants, I am also interested in the issue of pricing. Everyone knows that a price tag is not always an indicator of quality. You can buy a small bottle for 1,500 rubles and be disappointed, and someone will take a liter bottle of ultrasound gel for a couple of hundred and will convince you that this is the best of the best.
In short, everything related to cost is always a good subjectivity. On the other hand, there must be some criteria that distinguish a conditionally “expensive” product fr om a “cheap” one. Better, safer ingredients? More rigorous testing? Marketing? The seller's grabbing hands?
The topic is very extensive, you can dig into it for a long time, and I decided to talk with someone who knows firsthand how lubricants are created. Because she has her own, and very, very worthy. Elena Zakharova, co-founder of the Purpur brand, answers questions about how lubricants are produced.
Wh ere does the desire to create your own lubricant come from?
We have not seen a good product with a good positioning on the Russian market. We married super quality with supermarketing and design, added social projects, and we got Purpur.
When developing the formula, did you rely on existing formulations? What was important to you?
Of course, they relied on already existing formulas. Then we bought 10 funds and tested-test-test... What we were guided by: we excluded all the controversial components. For example, glycerin.
What factors contribute to the cost of a lubricant?
The price can be conditionally divided into three factors: packaging, the cost of the liquid itself and the work of pouring it into the packaging.
What is the fundamental difference between an expensive and a cheap product?
Savings on packaging and composition.
If we talk about packaging, then it just may not be so aesthetically pleasing (yes, beautiful packaging is expensive, sometimes even more than the filling itself). Plus, substandard lids / dispensers that break quickly or are just uncomfortable.
The composition is more complicated. Good raw materials, of course, are more expensive. Take body oil. A cheap product will contain a lot of cheap mineral oil (a refined product), while a more expensive product will most likely contain natural oils.
Of course, not all cheap ingredients are bad and harmful. The same mineral oil gives good gliding and forms a film on the body, but it is not as pleasant and moisturizing as, for example, coconut oil.
And if we talk specifically about the components of an intimate lubricant?
Here is our composition: Water, Biosaccharide gum-1, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid), Dipotassium glycyrrhizinate, L-lactic acid, Sodium phytate.
For example, Biosaccharide gum-1 is needed to keep the product slippery. You can take glycerin, it will be cheaper, but it dries faster, gives stickiness and sometimes provokes thrush.
Or Hydroxyethylcellulose, which serves as a stabilizer, that is, it is responsible for the viscosity of the product. You can save money and put any PEGs, but they are more likely to cause allergic reactions.
It's the same with preservatives. The cheapest and most effective option is parabens. Their safety history is controversial, so we chose Euxil K940 (a compound that combines phenoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol and ethylhexylglycerin), which is more expensive, but with perfect safety tests.
From the author: I'll put in my five cents about parabens. Chemists have completely rehabilitated methylparaben and ethylparaben – they are not dangerous for the mucous membrane, but due to their tarnished reputation, many manufacturers try to avoid them.
Speaking of safety. One of the important indicators of intimate lubrication is osmolality. In Russia, no one measures it, because according to the law it is not necessary. Have you ever thought to conduct such testing and become pioneers in the domestic market?
Honestly, I'm tired of looking for a laboratory that would conduct this study. We turned to about 15 laboratories –and everyone threw up our hands.
Is testing / obtaining certificates included in the final price tag?
Of course. You cannot release a product to the market without certification, and you cannot get certification without tests. We even made two tests, the test results are freely available on our website.
From the author: in Russia, certification of intimate cosmetics is carried out in the form of SGR (certificate of state registration) based on the requirements of Technical Regulations 009/2011 “On the safety of perfumery and cosmetic products”. To obtain this certificate, the product must undergo a series of laboratory tests. What is checked:
– pH value (the norm for intimate cosmetics is 3.0-9.0);
– microbiological indicators;
– content of toxic elements;
– toxicological and clinical indicators.
If desired, the manufacturer can undergo additional certification, for example, to confirm the natural or organic status of his products in an accredited organization. Of course, these are additional costs that will affect the final cost of the lubricant.
What is most expensive in the production of a lubricant?
Human resource. As with any cosmetics, the larger the batch, the cheaper the cost. I cannot single out something particularly expensive.
The market is full of greases with a similar, almost identical, composition. For example, what is the advantage of your product?
We definitely do not pretend to be unique in the composition. I am completely against it when someone says that. It's simple: make a good formula, eliminate potentially dangerous ingredients, make sure that the product is not sticky, slippery and does not dry out for a long time – you are done, you have a great lubricant. And then – marketing and design. We have great packaging, great positioning, great media.
In my opinion, Purpur is the best lineup in the best design and with the best marketing on the Russian market. But at the same time, we definitely have competitors with good rosters, I would argue about marketing.
Why is your marketing better?
We position ourselves as a shop and media about sex. Our main value is communication between partners.
I conventionally divide the media part into two parts. The first is an expert one, the purpose of which is to debunk myths and close the gaps in sex education. The second one is the stories of real people: they show how different we are all, that there is no single norm and universal “correct”.
It is important for us to go beyond sex and the “techniques” of sex. We will rather write about how to offer a partner anal sex, and not what kind of lubricant to choose for him. All aspects of relationships are important for us: love and sex, pregnancy and contraception, emotional background, and so on.
Rays of kindness and a huge gratitude to you for the answers. You and your team are doing a cool and necessary job, I wish you every success!