DIY Beginners, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Winter's Kiss Body Shine

Good morning from a very chilly Panjin! Here is another beginner type recipe for you to enjoy. The possibilities of scents you can play with are endless! This came together in less than 7 minutes. And that included gathering all the ingredients, weighing, pouring, mixing, and clean up. These would make fantastic Valentines Day gifts for your kids friends scented in chocolate or strawberry, or a high end lux gift for your best friend scented in their favourite fragrances. They are super easy and wicked cheap to make too!

It’s no secret I like things that shimmer. Most of the body stuff I make for myself has some sort of shimmer in it. So we be making something that you spray on, rub around and leaves you scented, hydrated AND shimmery!

IMG_3739This Body Spray came to me while reading up on various things about glycerine no less. Go figure. Glycerine is actually a by-product of soaping believe it or not! Your glycerine is either derived from plants and/or animals, or synthetic. One of the whackiest things about glycerine in products is that it actually has the ability to carry ingredients like aloe into the skin. Glycerine has been known to accelerate the healing process, it helps to prevent dull flaky skin, helps to soften and lubricate the skin, and hydrates.

But above all, we know that glycerine is a fantastic humectant. It attracts moisture and locks it into the skin. And that’s why we add it to so many things!

IMG_3740Usually, when making a product you’d only add no more than 5% of glycerine to your product to prevent you from feeling tacky and gross. In this product, we want more. So we are going to up this. A lot. Massively a lot. Like, I need to buy another bottle a lot. When we spray ourselves down with this, we want to shine. Like a beacon. Perfect for a date night!

Be sure to mix those fragrance oils and polysorbate together very well! Otherwise your product will separate and you’ll have a layer of oils on top of your product within 24 hours. 

I’m going to use distilled water, but if you wanted to use a hydrosol, it will give you a faint scent and provide some botanical properties to your formula. So something like lavender would be calming, relaxing. Orange blossom hydrosol would help to balance the skin, and helps with redness, rose hydrosol would help to rejuvenate dull and tired skin. Each hydrosol can offer different types of skin properties. OH! Peppermint hydrosol would provide you with some cooling relief after a sunburn, and with the glycerine could help speed up healing. You’ll still have to suffer through the sunburn though. Sorry can’t help you there!


So what’s left? Scent it and preserve it! Right!

So to scent this bottle of shiny stuff, since I’m going to be using this when I go out in the evenings while in Ireland. I want the scent to be exotic, unique and very much Barb. So I’m going to be using a combination of vanilla, benzoin and tangerine. Oh yeah. Honestly, give it a try! I love this scent combo! The tangerine is the fleeting scent for you to personally enjoy, but fades slightly to a warm unique slightly fruity vanilla. I include the benzoin to many of my personal recipes as the middle note where I want the citrus scent to kick around a wee bit longer and it seems to encourage the blending of the top and bottom note a little.

And if you don’t have fragrance oils, don’t worry, you can always use essential oils. Be sure to be aware of any phototoxicity and/or skin sensitizers if you choose to use essential oils.

IMG_3760Mix these oil with some Polysorbate 20 and you’ll have your fragrance oils equally dispersed in your spray without worry of a concentrated spritz of vanilla and then the worry of is that too much fragrance oil on my arm? Is that going to burn me?? ARGH!

When you use Polysorbate in your product, unfortunately, you are going to end up with a white or milky looking liquid rather than a transparent liquid. Which honestly doesn’t matter much unless you have a transparent bottle. If you use a blue spray bottle this doesn’t matter much! I decided to include some silver mica to my spray to give me some added oomph in the shine department and because this bottle of spray would be a milky colour, why not put that milky colour to good use and add in some mica sheen to give the bottle a wintery blizzard type effect? You can add in a bronze or a gold, or some iridescent mica for a really neat look!

Lastly, because this product contains water, you do need to add a broad spectrum  preservative. Today we are using Iscaguard PE from The Soap Kitchen (UK).

You can see the shimmer of the mica before its rubbed into the skin. DO NOT add more mica, you do not want to be looking like a disco ball in a 70’s club!

Once your product is set up, you just spray on top of your lotion or body butter, and rub in. You can re-apply for an added oomph of scent or shimmer throughout the night! Be sure to spritz your shoulders, décolleté, and arms.

A 50mL spray bottle is small enough to travel on the airplane with you, and small enough to just toss in your purse. This product is not intended to be sprayed near the face, so don’t. Spray directly on your skin and NOT on clothes. You can rub this spray into your skin and enjoy the shine left behind!

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Prepare your work space by wiping everything down with a 10% Bleach solution. Wipe all your equipment, tools, beakers down with isopropyl alcohol. Don’t forget  your scales! I like to use beakers when I make stuff, makes me feel all sciency! If you don’t have beakers, use some Pyrex or heat resistant glass cups.

  1. In a small Beaker or in a shot glass, mix your your fragrance oils or essential oils together. Add in the Polysorbate 20 and mix well. I mean very well. Set aside.
  2. In your 50mL spray bottle, add in your glycerine and water (or hydrosol).
  3. Pour the contents of your Beaker or shot glass into the liquids in your spray bottle.
  4. Cap and shake.
  5. Add your mica to the shot glass and decant a wee bit of your spray and stir. Return to your spray bottle.
  6. Cap and shake.
  7. Add in your preservative, cap and shake and spray away!
This stuff really does pack a punch in the colour and scent department! Layer it up for added oomph in the bronzing department for that, “Oh look at me! I just spent the day in Spain” kind of look. Unfortunately, even with the countless selfies I took trying to show off some Kiss in use, just wasn’t working. So thought of this to show just how much colour you can get with five spritzes.
The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Basic Body Butter Bars or BBBB's

Good morning!

A lot of customers have been asking for simpler DIY recipes where they can try their hand at making a DIY project. But without all the “crazy” ingredients I like to use.

Now, I don’t have a problem posting recipes like this, but I do need to be clear. I am not a fan of them. I find balms and balm bars to be way too heavy. I prefer my water based butters and lotions and my preservatives! Now that that is out of the way… let’s begin!

IMG_3583This recipe has only a few ingredients, and if you have been trying your own DIY recipes, you probably already have them all. Cocoa butter, shea butter (can sub for mango butter or coconut oil), sweet almond oil, vitamin E and some fragrance oil or essential oils. You melt everything down, stir a lot, then pour. Wait a couple hours and YAY! You’re done!

Cocoa butter and shea butter have a lot of skin benefits, and I love cocoa butter over shea butter. It has a dry touch finish, so the skin absorbs it quickly leaving your skin feeling non-greasy. Shea leaves behind a greasy feel. Some prefer cocoa over shea and other prefer shea over cocoa. It is a personal preference really. And it smells of chocolate. On cocoa butter….

It is noteworthy that is has been shown that cocoa has great potential not only for the treatments of skin diseases, but also for their prevention. In particular, antioxidants found in cocoa protect the skin from the inside by neutralizing oxidative stress, a major factor of dermal structure deterioration and premature skin aging.

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Many say, “use cocoa butter for stretch marks”, but there have been some studies that say it’s not all it is cracked up to be. But it is well documented that both cocoa butter and shea butter are good for dry and itchy skin!

Can you tell I am VERY biased when it comes to cocoa butter vs shea butter? Don’t get me wrong, shea is nice and suits my limited needs just fine, but I’m a cocoa butter lover at heart. Have I mentioned cocoa butter just smells like chocolate!!!

An experiment I did testing 50% carrier oil and 50% shea butter, all heated to the same temperature for the same amount of time. To harden them up; one was shocked in the fridge, the other left at room temperature, and the final was whisked every five minutes for about thirty minutes till it hit a light trace then left to solidify.

We are using cocoa butter in this recipe because it is a hard and brittle fat. Shea butter is softer and will melt too easily on contact with the skin so we are using cocoa butter to prevent the bar from becoming a glob of melted goo in your hand. I’ve also decided to use sweet almond oil as I’ve a jug of it in the back room that needs to be used. If I were making this bar for me, I’d use something like camellia oil, apricot oil or macadamia nut oil as they sink in faster and leave a dry touch finish which I prefer. Feel free to substitute any liquid carrier oil though.


I’ve decided to use Vitamin E in this recipe to help prevent extend the shelf life of the bar. It is a personal choice to use essential oils or fragrance oils or a possible combination of both.

On the back of my hand, the whisked one felt more lush and even. The one from the fridge, was granular and unpleasant for a body butter. I want the grains in my cleansing oils. Not in a lotion bar!


  1. This is an ANHYDROUS product. A no water product. This means you can ONLY use oil soluble ingredients. Think of your essential oils. You try adding them to a spray bottle filled with water right? They float to the top. In this type of recipe, adding in water soluble ingredients results in the same type of situation. A gross blob of mess. Glycerine is a water soluble ingredient. So adding glycerine to this type of recipe won’t work.
  2. If you heat your butter too hot, it can result in crystals forming in your final product in a few weeks.
  3. Using unrefined shea butter can result in a gross smokey smelling product.
  4. If you flash cool your final product, it can result in crystallization occurring.
  5. If you leave your product to cool in room temperature conditions, it can result in crystallization occurring.
  6. This is best used the moment you turn off your shower or step out of the bath before toweling dry. This will help lock in the water already on your skin.
  7. Be sure to allow it to properly air dry between uses.
  8. If making a large amount, this can be stored in a Ziplock bag until one of your fats you used expires (say your almond oil expires in four months, this product would expire in four months even if the rest of the fats have another year on their best before dates).

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  1. Place your cocoa butter and shea butter into a heat proof Pyrex measuring cup or a Beaker.
  2. Place your Beaker into a double boiler and make sure your water is at a barely there simmer.
  3. Allow your butters to melt. Once everything is melted, immediately remove from the double boiler and place on a hot pad on your countertop.
  4. Stir. Continue to stir every five minutes until the butters turn slightly opaque (this can take a while!).
  5. Add in your Vitamin E and essential oils or fragrance oil.
  6. Stir well, and continue stirring until the butters thicken up slightly.
  7. Pour into your mold and allow to cool over night.
  8. Unmould and enjoy!

This recipe makes 50g, which is the size of a small silicone muffin mould. Mine smells delightfully of chocolate oranges! I even brought it to work to share with one of my coworkers!


DIY Advanced, Lotions & Butters, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Better than Lingerie body butter

Let me tell you the happiest part about this butter. When you feel yourself up after putting it on? All I can say is, you’re welcome! Your skin will feel just… I don’t even know if there is an adjective adequately describe how this feels on my skin . And yup. I am so going to try to make this butter better in future attempts!

‘Tis that time of year where all this dry weather, heating systems are causing your skin to look like a pair of gross, old, worn out yoga pants. Oh yes. I so went there. Where regular body butter is still awesome and works wonders, but you’re a DIY junkie and can’t use the same body product for more than a few days in a row because you’re itching to make something new. And try out all those new ingredients! So you use crazy dry weather as an excuse to yourself to create something new.

img_2925.jpgAnd trying out new ingredients I did! Silk Amino Acids! Hydrolized wheat protein! A new panthenol that is more like an actual liquid not a clear sticky sticky mess that brings to mind molasses in January on crack! And, I had to try Olivem 1000 in a body butter with cetyl alcohol as it’s back up singer (for additional stability). Everyone talks about how awesome it is, I needed to try it out. I mean for a while there I was dead set against it because of the cost factor.

Cards down? More testing is needed. This is my third recipe in making a body butter with Olivem 1000 (needed to get that consistency just right! Thick, but not too thick. Thin, but not too thin. Scoopable, but not pourable. Then had to play with some oils and and and… I think I got it. Of course I will play with more it and properly compare Olivem 1000 to my emulsifier stash I’ve got going on.

Cause a girl can never have too many emulsifiers. Am I right? And they are all in competition.

img_2933.jpgLet’s talk a little about Olivem 1000. It is a fantastic product for a wide range of skin needs. Used in anti-aging products, great for oily skin, sensitive skin, normal or combination skin. It’s perfect in an eye cream, and great for cosmetic products that have a low to medium low oil phase. Want to know something neat about Olivem 1000? It kind of has a skin-like fatty acid so it can help to strengthen the lipid barrier of the skin and provide oodles of moisturization! It’s pretty dang cool in my books and I’m quickly finding it does live up to the hype!

What I find really neat about Olivem 1000, is that once you mix your liquid phase and oil phase together, you can whisk it together and you get a thinner consistency. But mix it with an immersion blender? and you get a much thicker consistency! But, the one issue I’ve discovered with the whisking, you do need to make sure you add in an ingredient like a cetyl alcohol or xanthan gum to aid in stability, or else you run the risk of losing your emulsion (this is kind of where I find Olivem 1000 fails me). And, if you blend with a whisk or something other than an immersion blender, your lotion/butter will take a good 24 hours to get to its full viscosity. I personally prefer the immersion blender. 

img_3046.jpgI really wanted to use liquid oils and to use oils that I know my skin likes. So that had me dusting off my last bottle of avocado oil I’ll ever buy in China and checking to make sure that it was still good to use! And one of my favourite oils, wheat germ oil. Wheat germ oil is an awesome oil for dry winter skin as it is naturally packed full of Vitamin E, which is one of the biggest reasons why you don’t see me add in extra Vitamin E when I make stuff with wheat germ oil for me. It’s said that wheat germ oil can help repair damaged skin, give you a boost of collagen, helps with blood circulations and replaces the kitchen sink. Unfortunately, wheat germ oil has received a negative reputation as being a pore clogger (Comedogenic rating of 5 which means you are guaranteed to break out).

IMG_3015Yeah. That comedogenic rating belongs with the dinosaurs. Extinct. I really like to thumb my nose at the rating system and live on the wild side by using ingredients like cocoa butter and wheat germ oil with amazing results. Don’t take one rating system that has been debunked often as your bible! Try out some fun oils!

Avocado oil is a fantastic oil and much loved for its spreadability and its ability to penetrate deep into skin. Perfect for giving dull winter skin a boost! I used refined avocado oil in my recipe, but unrefined would work well too!

IMG_3008My additives I went a little crazy. I know. My hydrolized wheat protein I think is  an awesome new ingredient to play with. Yup. This stuff is mainly for hair, I wanted to check out how it works on the skin, and I have to admit, I like the results. I used it in a hair brightening mask and I noticed the results immediately after washing it out. So far I’m liking it quite a bit!

The silk I used in this recipe is silk amino acids from The Soap Kitchen. I am really loving not tasting the silk peptides every time I open the bag!

IMG_2998So, this Body Butter leaves your skin feeling amazing. I’ve brought two different tubs of it to work, and both tubs grew some legs and walked out of my classroom.

I scented this with Garden Path from Gracefruit, which imparted a very light and delicate fresh scent of Springtime outdoors. I think next time I will be using some sort of grapefruit or citrus scent or even possibly something a wee bit sultry to match that amazing silky feeling left on the skin. I also added in some white mica (1/2tsp) and some pastel blue (a drop) to give this some shimmer. Let me tell you. You might think you need more shimmer, but PLEASE don’t. Even with these small amount there is more than enough shimmer going on here!

IMG_3034I decided to try the new preservatives I bought while in Ireland. Gracefruit POG  preservative (Phenoxyethanol and Ethylhexylglycerin) and give it a test. If you do not have the same preservative, feel free to use your usual preservative system.

Did you make it? What did you think?

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Prepare your work space by wiping everything down with a 10% Bleach solution. Wipe all your equipment, tools, beakers down with isopropyl alcohol. Don’t forget your immersion blender, countertop AND your scales! I like to use beakers when I make stuff, makes me feel all sciency! If you don’t have beakers, use some Pyrex or heat resistant glass cups. Wide mouth Mason jars will work too!

  1. Into Beaker A, weigh out all your liquid phase; water, aloe and glycerin. Place into your double boiler on a barely there simmer.
  2. Into Beaker B, weigh out all your oil phase; Olivem 1000, wheat germ oil. avocado oil and cetyl alcohol. Place into your double boiler on a barely there simmer.
  3. Into Beaker C, weight out your additives; panthenol, liquid wheat, liquid silk, preservative and fragrance oil and set aside.
  4. Let Beaker A and Beaker B sit in the double boiler for about 20 to 30 minutes. Once everything is melted, remover Beaker A (liquids), wipe off the outside, and gently pour the contents in Beaker B. Stir gently with your spatula for a moment before removing Beaker B from the double boiler.
  5. Using your immersion blender, blend the contents in short bursts until you see things thicken up a wee bit. Continue the short bursts, whilst using your spatula to scrape down the splatter.
  6. Once the Body Butter has cooled to below 40C, add the contents of Beaker C and stir.
  7. Decant your butter into three 100g pots, or a 250g (you’ll have a wee little bit left over though for immediate use!), leave the cap off while they fully cool down.
  8. Label your pots with the date, and enjoy!


My 250g pot of Butter grew legs and found a new home.


The other pot that grew legs and the new owner has demanded a face lotion that would make her face feel the same. Challenge accepted!
It’s a shame all the sounds I made while trying this lotion for the first time didn’t come through. There were plenty of ooohs and ahhs and holy coffee pots!


For some reason, this post was originally posted without pictures. Hopefully, the situation is sorted and all is well! One day soon, this blog will be in a country that will never need to use a VPN!

MsBarb, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Initial Impressions: Formula Botanica- Diploma in Organic Skincare

Happy New Year!

It was a really difficult choice to choose what kind of post to write for New Years. I really wanted to do a five product post (product promotion BOOYAH!), or three things I learnt, or or or or… but I just did that in October for the anniversary review. Christmas was a story. I wanted something educational, informative. Something, helpful. Start the New Year off the right way. Helping people make a choice!

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For a number of years, I’ve wanted to take a Formula Botanica Course, where I could learn from the professionals how to do things. Just how do I get them the money for the course? Transferring money or buying things not in China that don’t have Alipay, or WeChat Wallet are very difficult! Almost near impossible really. Then when Sonia and I decided to go to Ireland, we were actually contacted by Formula Botanica and they helped us to make it all happen! They were amazing in helping us out!

So I got to go back to school! And I’m excited! And it has been an exciting learning process!

Have you noticed all the small changes in the way I’ve been writing up the DIY blog posts over the past few months? Have you noticed some of the recipes are back to some basics of experimenting (and there are so many more to come!)?  All these improvements are because of Formula Botanica.

This post, is a review on the Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation offered by Formula Botanica.IMG_3013

“Before we begin, it’s important to understand your ingredients and how a formulation is created. We do this so that you will become a proficient formulator and not just someone who follows recipes. This is what will mark you out as a professional rather than a hobbyist. It is our sincere mission to help you become an expert formulator in your own right. After all, following his recipe book does not make you Jamie Oliver!”

-Formula Botanica, DOSF2001-Course Notes page 2

Working in China, I get paid in Chinese currancy. Now if you look at exchange rates and all that, my money does not go all that far. Sure, things are cheap here, but when you go to buy something like a kilo of cocoa butter… holy jumping poodles! It’s about 17€ which is 132rmb (my money). Which is almost double the price what I pay with express delivery! So this gives you a little bit of an idea of what I’m about to say next. I saved hard because I knew I’d be moving soon. So paying for the program now that it was actually a possibility, was going to be a tough choice. I began to ask around, and everyone said yes, the program was good. The program was excellent. That it was a lot of hard work and and and. The folks on Facebook all agreed, I heard no bad things about the program. And that scared me a little. A whole program with nothing tiny or negative said towards it?

The view from my kitchen window last year, Panjin, Liaoning

Come on. I’ve been a teacher and a student for almost my entire life. It drives me bananas when there is nothing negative posted anywhere about a course. And after living in China where they want everything bright, shiny and lollipop landish… yeah. my spidey senses were tingling. The only negative comment I could find online about Formula Botanica was that the course materials were given to you in stages. So once you completed a module/unit, you were able to look at the material for the following module/unit.

No one really had the answers I was looking for. That I needed. I wanted to know if the whole program was going to go against my #isurvivedgreenbeauty new idea of life. You’ve read my post about my face’s adventure, there was no way I wanted to go back there. I needed to know that in trying to better myself, would I have to give up the things I had come to value because they worked. I knew Formula Botanica was a “natural” company who promoted “green” beauty, who supported “green” beauty bloggers and promoted “green” graduate companies. So their whole ethos of the term natural… did my head in when I asked. I was just told that each person has their own idea of what natural and green beauty is and I would have to define it for myself.

Not much of an answer, and more frustration on my part. But honestly, a fantastic answer in the long run.

IMG_6093.jpgAnd I like synthetics. I like things made in a lab. I like ingredients I can get my hands on. I like exotic ingredients. Sure I like natural too, and processed oils and butters, and parabens. I prefer to use fragrance oils instead of essential oils. And cetyl alcohol as my thickening agent. And my glorious selection of ewaxes instead of just sticking to one (don’t get me wrong, my face is currently having a hardcore love affair with Olivem 1000, but due to the cost of Olivem 1000, I can’t justify that on the rest of my body).

So would Formula Botanica and I be a good match?

Citrus Burst Face Line 2In the end, I decided that it really didn’t matter. I needed this program under my belt if I was really serious about taking this business abroad. If I was really serious about making my future business a success. And since I am not from the EU, I needed the regulations section of the program and the good manufacturing practices under my belt. And I needed to make sure I would be kept in the loop about regulation changes in the future. So at the end of the day, my worries about the cost and my worry about moving backwards in my way of thinking… well, practicality won out. Not to mention, I have no professional background in skincare science. What kind of a leg would I be standing on if a customer threw that in my face in the future? Sure I’ve almost a decade of self-learning under my belt, but as you saw, many of those years were spent trying to fix my own skins issues.

Formula Botanica would provide me with the piece of paper I needed to back up what I know. And in this day and age? That’s kind of important.

So, I began learning.

Everything I had learnt up until this point was self taught. How I cleaned my workspace, how I cleaned up afterwards, how I prepared my water baths, everything. Even the way I thought about how to do things was self taught. This course has taught me to be more conscientious in my note taking. I developed a better system of recording my notes than just writing them on a wall, taking a picture and recording them in my files. It was actually kind of interesting how I began to notice the little changes to the way I did things.

IMG_6876.jpgI developed a better way of explaining my phases than before and better labeling of my containers both ingredients and finished products. I am also finding that when dealing with customers I am better able to express my words. Remember? I’ve been living in China. So talking about this part of my life, is actually something that is new for me to talk about. Instead of me constantly getting tongue tied, forgetting words, not knowing words (I buy an ingredient, and some of the ingredients I buy don’t even have a translation. For the longest time my translation software kept on telling me that the translation of peppermint essential oil was snow essential oil. So using the right words and phrases was never that important for me as it was just me making for me. And I was making for me and for gifting so it didn’t really matter I didn’t know the proper names. That white powder on the second shelf in the green Ikea bag, had to become, “Silica Microspheres.” With now it being everyone else I am making for as a potential job and DIY blogger, I need to be able to explain myself and my ingredients to you all. Most of my former suppliers became former suppliers for they had no idea what an INCI name was) And this is where Formula Botanic has helped me the most.

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Taking notes, and writing things in their phases, making things more presentable

Our team is driven by a desire to teach our students to push the boundaries of organic formulation by using innovative ingredients and techniques. We are educating the organic beauty entrepreneurs of tomorrow. 

-Lorraine Dallmeier, Director of Formula Botanica, 2017 Yearbook 

And, I love love love that Formula Botanica uses things like surfactants, gums, preservatives, emulsifiers… they do use a lot of man made ingredients (I call them man made whilst other might call them naturally derived) which are very high performing! And with you needing to create your own recipes in each module, it leaves a lot of wiggle room to bridge synthetics and naturally derived ingredients together, which suits my needs perfectly!

Fine print: You know me and my thoughts that naturally derived does not make it “natural” I mean, a cloned seed/sheep is naturally derived too! 

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How awesome is this answer? This is just the Ask the Tutor reply I was reading just as I thought about reviewing this section

Formula Botanica also has a big community of students and former students that each current and former student has access too. You can pop onto Facebook, ask a question, see what your classmates are working on, offer feedback, support, or just lurk (I lurk a lot by the way there is so much info there! ). I would have to say that one of my favourite parts is the Ask the Tutor section of the site. I really like and appreciate how patient the tutors are in answering students questions. There is a plethora of information there!

I really like how each module has a couple recipes to experiment with, AND ratios to play with. Talk about heaven! One of the best parts I think of the Formula Botanica courses, is that it forces you to dabble and create your own recipes. Try them out and go back to the drawing board to tweak them and try again. Which is awesome fun!!! And they actively encourage you to use preservatives!

Enchanted Nights Featured Image.jpgOne of the con’s I have about this course is from a more sciencey interest, is I wish they would explain more into the science side of things, like chemical structures! For example: in Module 4 (DOSF4001 Cream Cleansers), there is a cream cleanser. I made it, it’s neat! But… why? Why can I only use Olivem1000? The notes say that it has the “unique ability to create oil-free emulsions”. I get that as a student I have to do some leg work when it comes to learning, but it’d be nice to have some things like this and others backed up a little with explanations. What makes it unique? Maybe a little section in each module that explains the science in detail? Or why by leaving your clay mask for 20 minutes “activates” it? Is the clay when you buy it dormant? (I found my masks got kind of sponge like when I left them for 20 minutes) In Formula Botanica’s defence, they do have awesome blog posts where they cover some of the sciencey side of things where a lot of the information is there free to the public.

I do firmly believe that the natural/green/organic beauty industry is going to peek soon, and blogs like LabMuffinPoint of Interest , Realize Beauty, I think are the way the pendulum is going to swing. They deal with more of the science aspect of cosmetics and skincare. It’s usually where the DIY crowds go when they have have had enough of the “green bloggers”. With so many people trying to sell handcrafted sunscreen at weekend markets, selling unpreserved products, photosensitive products, when people learn that organic produce still gets sprayed, that GMO’s aren’t the devil… I think (and secretly hope) that people will wake up and realise that natural/green/organic isn’t the be all and end all. And I think government bodies will be the ones to begin enforcing this.

The Carrier Oil Handbook, doesn’t really have a lot of information on the oils they list. There is no recommended usage rate, which phase to include which oil. I understand a lot of learning should be self taught, but as a resource, a handbook on carrier oils, I was kind of hoping that this would be a resource to have a lot of information in one place that I could get bound and printed and use as a reference guide.

IMG_2474.jpgThe coursebooks. They really suck when you want to print them! You are stuck at your computer and printer for almost an hour to print each module and notes. I’d like to see an option to buy a textbook, or a way to print the whole module/unit notes with the click of a button. The way the printed coursebooks look once printed, get kind of dog eared and aren’t very presentable. So instead of proudly being able to display the books, they are going to be hidden if and when I open a shop.

IMG_8350 2.jpgMy pro’s vastly outweigh my con’s. And my con’s really are kind of silly in the grand scheme of things. Printing, doing some research, and wanting more information.  Now that I’ve done a longerish review of Formula Botanica’s Diploma in Organic Skincare, is it right for you? Should you take it?

  • 100% for sure yes to anyone just starting out looking to learn the basics of making their own skin care products. I’d also say yes to those who have some experience in making their own products, but not much more than say simple emulsions. If you’re keen to learn how ingredients work together, this course will help you.
  • 100% for sure I would suggest this course to anyone who follows the various DIY blogs (HumbleBee&Me comes to mind here), but is hesitant to create your own recipes.
  • I’d also 100% recommend it to anyone who is looking for a certificate/diploma/credentials to put in their shop or on their internet platform store to give their customers a sense of safety and security. And to provide you with a leg up over other sellers out there.

IMG_6600.jpgThese are my personal thoughts on the Diploma in Organic Skincare Program. I’m currently on Module 5 (DOSF5002) scrubs, spas and masques! I might take the Module 5 exam today. Module 5 is all about Spa Stuff! Face and Body Masques (Why yes! There will be a post about a Body Masque soon! They are awesome!) Next up is Essential Oils, but I am so very keen to get to Module 7 and 8. Branding, Marketing, Organic Certification, Labelling & Claims, Global Regulations. Then my Final Course Project. Once I am finished the Diploma in Organic Skincare Program, I’ll be back to review everything once I’ve completed the Program.

I’ve also signed up for the Advanced Diploma Program, and will review that as I go along as well! I’m told that in the Advanced Program they deal more with the sciencey stuff I’m after so I’m soooooo excited!

So there you have it! If you’ve any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Formula Botanica Course Photos 8_preview.png
I wonder where they buy their gloves from? The green ones are so swanky!!!




MsBarb, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

The DIY story of Barb's Face

Merry Christmas from China!

This post is going to be my gift to you. I’m sitting here in my classroom on December 23, 2017 and have been thinking all day of various things to write for this Christmas post.

There were many things I really wanted to post for the Christmas post of ScrubMeDown- Happy Skin. But at the end of the day, I thought that the present present I’d be able to give, is a wee story*.

Chinese White.jpgMany years ago, I went to the only department store in the city I was living in, searching for some body wash that didn’t have any whitening products in it. In fact, my very first Chinese characters I learnt to recognize was “white” on packages. This was actually how I got into reading labels! So went searching for a face and body wash that wouldn’t cause me to disappear into paper.

After a time, and a mini-fortune later of trying out products and having issues from said various products, I decided it had to be easier and cheaper to make my own things as after all, hundreds of years ago they had all these wonderful things and they didn’t even have electricity. So it really couldn’t be all that hard!

So that is what had me on the path of making my own things. I began like everyone did, making lotion bars, lip stuff, basic soaps (yeah, those first soaps were better than commercial grade beauty bars/soaps), and eventually I began playing with essential oils in my soaps and essential oils and exotic oils in various serums. It was all amazing! All that creativity was awesome! 

But for me, pure oil serums and lotion bars just didn’t work for my skin. They just didn’t provide enough hydration and moisture for me. I was living in the desert, and my skin was wicked oily, but VERY dehydrated. When I realized this fact, and found I was constantly getting acne not just because I have acne prone skin, but because my skin was dehydrated (too bad it took me years to learn this lesson! Hind sight and all that….).

IMG_0079 2But according to every single DIY site out there that I could get my hands on, all the “crunchy”, “green beauty”, “organic” and all that fun stuff, they all guaranteed it would work to heal and fix my acne. They promised.

And…… they lied.

Maybe lied is too strong a term. It just didn’t work for me.

I was so angry! I had spent a small fortune buying various ingredients for those Babe’s and Mama’s and Doctor Quack’s promised they would work. It wasn’t till I had enough that I realized that baking soda on the skin just wasn’t a good idea. That olive oil was not all it was cracked up to be. Coconut oil wasn’t a miracle. That vinegar can burn the skin! I had boxes of oils that I just couldn’t use because they were the ones causing my skin issues. And because of being isolated in China, no one to pass them off on.

I can’t remember where I got the idea around this time of making emulsified products so I can’t link you to the original recipe I used.  It might have been some blog? Website? All I know is this person also said applying a crushed tablet of Vitamin C dissolved in water and painted on the face was a good idea. So you can kind of get an idea of where I was getting my information from.

What can I say? I thought I was smart.

But… I would no longer be natural making an emulsified product or crushing a Vitamin C tablet on my face (because it was processed! ack!). I could no longer be natural. I’d be needing an emulsification system! And ewaxes… there is really nothing natural about them. They were chemicals! Ewwwwwww!!!!

A recent emulsified face lotion I made

I had spent years no longer buying things that came in packages, I stopped buying things that couldn’t go bad, I was at the point truly of the belief that if I couldn’t eat it, it would not go on my skin. For I believed that my skin absorbed anything I put on it for I had read so many blogs and these people I had come to trust. My skin was like a second stomach, so all those gross and horrible chemicals I was going to have to put on my skin, would end up in my livers.

I was using CP soap and an avc rinse in my hair and my hair looked gross. It looked like wet straw. My hair was oily, greasy, a mess. My face- remember this is how I saw myself- looked like a giant pustule of red inflamed gross stuff. I was a mess.

But natural was best. It was the only way. Somehow even living in China it seemed as if I was on the nose end of the rocket of societies extreme “green” idea.

And I had fallen, hook line and sinker. And I looked disgusting for it. While all the natural bloggers I was following looked great! I had given the natural, process free, all hand made, chemical free, green, natural beauty at this point maybe four years of my life?

Look at all those processed chemicals! Glorious preservatives, vitamins, extracts, vegetable glycerines… even water!!!! 

I couldn’t take it. I had to do something about it. I had to stop that itch. I had to stop all the scabs and acne flare ups I was getting. I had to get my nice soft and shiny hair back! I needed to look and feel good again. So I reintroduced commercial grade shampoo and conditioner.

I had to bend my rules a little. But goodness gracious! I looked a million times better! My hair was so shiny again after one try! And soft!!! And it stopped falling out and breaking so much! So… if commercial grade shampoo and conditioner made my hair feel so wonderful, how could it really be so bad?  So I bought some ewax.

And began experimenting.

I gave in and made a face lotion. But I refused to use a preservative. Because preservatives were still the devil. They were evil. They killed…. snowmen and sugar plum fairies. And I love snowmen, sugar plum fairies not so much! But still! They killed snowmen! So I went for months making face and body lotions every month, and keeping it in my fridge between uses and trying my best to only use it with clean flingers. But, I mean, contamination does happen. How often do you clean your fridge handle? Go on. Think about it. When was the last time you wiped down your fridge handle with  bleach solution? Or the door handle to your bathroom? the bridge of your glasses? The arm of your glasses? I used a hand towel that was in my bathroom. Fecal matter in the air even with closing the toilet set lid.

Contamination is a bitch. Bacteria and fungi are everywhere. They want to see you fail. They want to take you down. Mold grew, I just scraped it off like I would cheese. But, I began making lotions and body products every week. And sure enough? Mold still grew. So I began making batches every three days. Then every day… but because 100g is the only real amount you can play with and mix properly, I was throwing out a lot of product. And that was stupidly expensive. And I couldn’t afford to do that!

So I gave in. I finally bought a preservative. Because my skin was looking better than it had in years! But, I didn’t have the time to make new things everyday.

Good things come to those who experiment! 

I felt like such a traitor. Seriously. I went through such a dark period at that point in my life all because I couldn’t hack it as a “natural” DIY’er. My whole belief system was shaken. I was promised and I believed that if if I changed my diet and my way of life I’d have great skin. I was basically a vegetarian and I was living in the BBQ capitol of the country! I was spending almost 1Euro on a red or yellow pepper. I stopped eating all red meats, gave up salt, all oils, I was only eating raw foods and beans and all in the quest for perfect skin.

And it still eluded me. My skin was a little improved, it felt a whole lot better, but I still got all the gross spots going on.

So when I decided to buy a preservative, you can imagine my hesitation.

what it was…. 

I finally took the plunge and began using my new products with preservatives. Holy sweet mother of goodness gracious iguanas. Within a week my skin stopped feeling like lizards skin. The patch of dry skin on my cheek bones and between my eyes went away.

Within ten days, no more new acne popped up. Within two months, all the acne I had on my face had cleared up! And I was finally acne free first the first time in forever!

what it is (I am not wearing any sort of foundation or blush or powder on my face). Stay tuned for the lipstick recipe! 

Three years later, I usually have a flare up the week before my period, I’ve acne prone skin afterall, which means hormones are a pain in the backside! But once my period starts, I get my skin back! I’ve corrected the dehydrated skin by using what works, not what a group of random people on the internet say people should be using. I use what works

Sure over this time, I have played with various oils, some were successful, some not so much. I still got the occasional flare up when using something new and strange (I’m looking at you hemp oil!) in my new face creams, but for the most part, my acne was gone.

It only took how many years?

And during this time, I learnt that terms like, “natural”, “green”, “organic”, don’t really mean jack squat. I began making handcrafted, handmade, high performance, luxury skin care products using the best ingredients I could get my hands on. And because of this, I have been fortunate enough to pass my knowledge on to you and all our customers by using my skin

I do hope you have enjoyed this story into the personal history of my face.

Merry Christmas!


What about you? What is your skin journey?


* fine print:

all the idea’s in this post are purely my own opinions and experiences. 



DIY Beginners, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Cooling and DeCluttering Mask

Well lads and lassies, it’s no secret. I’ve got strange skin. I still get acne, I still get inflamed skin and no matter how hard I work at it, my skin is not perfect.

And that’s ok! Isn’t that the fun part of this dark abyss hobby? Point in fact? I am trying to purge my house, stockroom and life as I am hoping to move before the end of September- not just one city to another in the same country, but moving country! That’s right folks… sixteen years and bye bye China! So I’m trying to declutter.

Slowly, rather than last minute!

Only a few of my stash. 

The other day, one of the boxes of goodies that needed to sorted through was one of my extract boxes. There were and are many benefits to living in China, and one of them, is I can get tons of powdered extracts at a wickedly cheap price! So yeah, I had stocked up like a hoarder. And since they can’t come with me… they have to be used!

Extracts are a great way to incorporate botanicals into our products. My favourite way to use them are in soap (but sometimes you end up with decaying flesh coloured soap affectionately referred to as “Zombie Brain Soap”) and in masks. YAY! Masks! And with the decluttering I need to do, I’m finally pulling out all the ingredients I’ve always wanted to use but kept on a shelf due to how expensive they are, and how I was always saving them for something special.

Not any more!

This mask has all the great stuff! It’s got French green clay, sweet orange zest, cucumber extract, mango extract, hydrolyzed oats AND silk. Coffee! And even some more awesomeness.

IMG_1417I used French Green Clay in this mask as a binding agent. I needed some clay, and I couldn’t find the much cheaper kaolin clay, so when you make yours? Use either or.

Next up, I used one of my favourite mask ingredients; sweet orange zest. I love this stuff! Doesn’t smell much of anything though. So that kind of sucks. I love this stuff as it helps to brighten my face. And with all that Vitamin A (hopefully still) found in the peel, might provide some protection to my skin during these perfect winter days. Many think that they can help prevent breakouts, and I’m in need of that kind of help these days!

Then there is powdered cucumber extract. I am in the middle of a mad love affair with cucumber on my face. I find my skin feels so soft after using anything with cucumbers! Cucumbers on the skin help cool and soften, and rich in some awesome antioxidants, my fingers are crossed that it can help my skin look younger.

IMG_1431Lately, if I’m not using cucumber extract on my face, I’m snorting Mango Fragrance Oil from FNWL. Dear lord that stuff is heaven in a bottle! So because I’ve had mango on the brain, I decided to add in some mango extract. It’s extremely high in Vitamins A, C and Beta Carotene. I added it in because I really wanted too and liked the colour. I found out later that it could help keep my skin young looking (oh la la!).

Hydrolyzed Oats and Silk: I mean why not add them? They are amazing! Oats help provide some cushiony feel to the skin. Silk and oats on the skin work awesomely to retain moisture in the skin. HUZZAH!

IMG_1441Now to make this mask purely awesome, I took a few spoon fulls of Lavenaloe Face Bliss, added in some coffee from my cup and stirred. I got a very nice thick paste, used an old- but clean- makeup brush to apply the mask to my face, neck, shoulders and decollete. I left it on for about twenty minutes then jumped through the shower. IMG_1442

The end result? Awesome feeling skin!

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Take out a small bowl, and measure out your ingredients. Use a small spoon or a chop stick and stir. Apply to your face, neck, shoulders and decollete. Leave on for about twenty minutes then rinse off.

This makes a lot of mask! Just so you know. If you only want to apply this to just your face, half the whole recipe. Not everyone is trying to declutter their homes!


DIY Intermediate, Hands & Feet, Lotions & Butters, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

DIY: Mangotastic Hand Butter

You know how it is. Your hands are dry, scaly so you reach for your awesome shea butter based body butter and apply it whilst sighing that your hands shall be smooth one again. You go to sleep, wake up and feel up your hands. YAY! All is good. So you go to wash up for the day, and apply more body butter to your hands, rub it in and off you go!

Look at that hunk of awesome! Mango Butter! 

Only, you begin to see greasy hand prints everywhere. Elevator doors, your door handles, your floor (I sit on the floor a lot with work), your coffee cup, steering wheel (if you drive), everywhere! But your hands are nice and soft! But your hand prints are everywhere! Let’s not begin to talk about how my phone screen or key board look these days. So how to fix this?

Shea butter is an awesome ingredient that I have been recently been enjoying playing with and adding into various products but always in small amounts. But my hands take a beating with all I do and need something with a little more oomph but less shea butter grease. But something with all that shea goodness. 

What does that leave us with? Why mango butter of course!

I think all butters and lotions once mixed look fantastic! 

Shea butter contains oodles of fatty acids which help to keep the skins elasticity and moisture. High in oleic and stearic acid, which are fantastic in keeping the skin moisturized which has an awesome side effect. Highly moisturized skin looks healthy and healthy skin looks younger. And has oodles of Vitamin E. And mango butter contains pretty much all the same awesomeness as shea butter… only not greasy! The glory that is mango butter is that mango butter is a “dry” butter. As in it sinks in pretty quickly not that it dries you out. It doesn’t. Really. It just sinks in fast leaving your skin soft and supple.


Mango Butter is three times the cost. So don’t spill any on your counter tops. D’uh!!!

But mango butter is three times the cost. So, that is something to be aware of. I’ve worked with it a lot in the past, especially in a lot of hand butters as it sinks in very quickly, and the usual usage rates for emulsified body butters is at 15%. Following the “cheatsheet” for emulsified body butter is great, but I like to toss it out the window when playing in my kitchen. I wanted something with less liquid oils, more butter and more frothy/fluffy than a creamy butter. So I upped it to 20%. But I reduced the liquid oil to 7% from 12%. But that is the fun of making your own stuff! Play with the ratios, but just make sure you know how your emulsification system works and what it can handle.

Look at that nice thick goodness and all those stiff peaks? NICE!!!

I’ve also added in sweet almond oil, Vitamin B5, Vitamin E and aloe vera juice. If you want this butter to have an even faster sink in rate, try switching out the sweet almond oil for hazelnut or apricot oil. For my ewax, I decided to use Emulsifying Wax NF. I really like how this ewax thickens up over 48 hours.  For my scents for this recipe I was torn between using mango fragrance oil or vanilla. I much prefer lighter and softer scents to the WHAMO full on powered scents. So if you prefer the WHAMO scents, check with your manufacturer’s recommended usage rates.   At the end of the day? I went with Mango Fragrance Oil from FNWL it is a really nice one! 

My new 60g glass pots. 

I decided to make 500g as then I’d be able to fill up some of my new glass pots for gifts and still have enough left over for me to play with. When you work with larger sized batches, you need to be aware that your liquid phase might evaporate! Into this size batch, it’s pretty easy to figure out.  Before pouring Beaker A into Beaker B, be sure to weigh it. You should have made notes before about the total weight, so you should be able to see quickly if the numbers work out. Into this recipe I added in 8g of water to make up for 8g of liquid that evaporated. 

This one is for my bathroom

The process for making a butter is basically the same as for making a lotion. You weigh, heat, blend, stir/mix, allow to cool, mix, add in stuff, stir, cool, decant, cap. And that’s about it! Very easy!

So let’s get cooking!

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 12.55.10 PM

Prepare your work space by wiping everything down with a 10% Bleach solution. Wipe all your equipment, tools, beakers down with isopropyl alcohol. Don’t forget your immersion blender, countertop AND your scales.

  1. Grab three beakers (or heat resistant pyrex measuring cups, I just really like my beakers), your double broiler, scale, spoons, immersion blender, ingredients, pots, and spatulas.
  2. Into Beaker A: your liquid phase. Weigh out your water, aloe juice, glycerine and silk.
  3. Into Beaker B: your oil phase. Weigh out your butter, oil and ewax.
  4. Into Beaker C: your additives. Weigh out your panthenol, Vitamin E, fragrances (if using), and preservatives.
  5. Place Beaker A and B into a double boiler on a barely there simmer until everything is melted. Give it about twenty minutes.
  6. Remove Beaker A from the double boiler, wipe off the bottom, and slowly pour the contents into Beaker B. Use your immersion blender to blend everything together.
  7. Blend again making sure that you have blended enough, then allow to cool for about twenty minutes, then blend again. Repeat as necessary until your butter has cooled to room temperature. Be aware that your butter may not be as thick as you’d like it to be at room temperature. Do not worry! Some ewax takes a few days to thicken up.
  8. Once your butter has reached room temperature, add the contents of Beaker C to your butter and blend for the final time. Ensure you have blended thoroughly.
  9. Decant into clean pots and enjoy!



The work lights I use in my kitchen are the “warm” coloured lights as they don’t hurt my eyes. So all my lotions come out looking very pretty in photos!