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?

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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!

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I wonder where they buy their gloves from? The green ones are so swanky!!!

 

 

 

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MsBarb, The Scrub Me Down Kitchen

Sepimax ZEN vs Aristoflex AVC: Part III

Welcome back to the comparison post!

In this corner we have Sepimax ZEN! An emulsifying stabilizer! Gel like! Electrolyte happy! Skin happy! Pre-neutralized polymer! And it also goes by the name, “Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6”!

And in this corner we have Aristoflex ACV! An oil-in-water emulsifier! Maker of emulsifier-free cream gels! Maker of body milks! A pre-neutralized synthetic polymer! And it also goes by the name of, “Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer”!

In the Scrub Me Down Kitchen, we’ve been playing with AVC for quite a while now and ZEN for maybe four? five? months now. During our ingredient testing phase, we’ve developed some recipes we are very happy with and cannot wait to share them with you all if they continue to dazzle us with their performances. They both have a few more rounds of various testing to go through, one pair of them is currently sitting on my window sill drinking tea and watching the construction. And will continue to sit there for the rest of summer watching the buildings go up across the street. Another pair of them spent their time in various pots and pump bottles. Yup, I sat there watching Doctor Who one day just pump, pump, pump the AVC and the ZEN bottle. It was weird.

We are almost at an end to our ZEN and AVC comparison, there is at least one more post that won’t be published for a few more months until we’ve finalised everything. So, what have we learnt?

Container size does matter when making the ZEN: 

Test 1: I bought some awesome little silver bowls to test out new recipes in. They are six inches in diameter. I made four tests the first try months ago. Two aloe gels (one at 2% and one at 3%) and two with my face serum base oils+10% aloe juice+ recipe again at 2% and 3% ZEN. They all turned out beautifully! Very smooth textured, no lumps or anything. The aloe gels turned out to be clear (I’ll be making more aloe gels with a higher percentage of aloe in the future with some cucumber extract and peppermint hydrosol for an after sun care BOOYAH! edit: two months later? This Summer Sun Gel is the bomb!!!!). All were a success. No lumps, clumps, very smooth and creamy texture in the oil based, and very store bought quality in just the aloe gel.

Test 2: my maid seems to enjoy playing hide and seek with me and hid my new test bowls on me. So I used my 250mL beakers to make this batch as Susan used beakers on her blog so figured they should work. Made up two batches to test out green tea extract and coffee essential oil. This experiment was an epic failure. Gross and lumpy. No amount of blending got rid of those globs. It looked unappealing, and if I wouldn’t use it… well you get my drift. The rubbish bin got some hydration action.

Test 3: finally found my bowls (she put them on the storage shelf for some reason. I mean they are stainless steel. Wouldn’t you think they would belong with the countless other stainless steel bowls under the stove?) Tried the same ingredients as in Test 2 but into the stainless steel six inch diameter bowls. Put it to bed, and just beat it up with the electric whisk. Perfection! Well, perfection in the sense that there are no lumps, smooth textured and looks pretty good in the bowl. Perfect texture!

Test 4: With some tweak to Test 3, I tried again. 2% ZEN in a bowl and in a beaker just to make sure about bowl size mattering. The ZEN in the bowl mixed up in less than a minute with no problems or worry. The ZEN in the beaker, I moved to another silver bowl and took my electric whisk to it. After about three minutes of beating, it finally was less lumpy, so I let it sit. Over time, it reduced its lumps some more, so I beat it. I beat it good. The lumps were still there, but not as pronounced as before.

Conclusion: make sure that your bowl/jar has a wide mouth. I noticed while taking pictures of Test 2 that the gel only really was on top and not all the way through like it was in Test 1. Try again, but use a wide mouth container to put it to bed. I also used an electric whisk to beat mine up (god I love this phrase!!!). I made two test batches yesterday and decided to try covering one and not covering the other while the ZEN slept. I didn’t notice a difference.

Many months in, which do we prefer:

AVC. Hands down. Just the way the AVC makes the face feel, plush, cushiony, velvety and fresh. There is no feeling of heaviness or tightness on the cheekbones or forehead. There is no shiny residue on the skin, and this can be worn under your cream/lotion but above the toner. It is a great way to boost the hydration of the skin without an oily residue or heavy feeling. The ZEN is great, but it just cannot compare to the AVC in terms of the way the skin feels.

ZEN. Well my lovely little minx, you put up a good fight, and you can take my silks and aloe and extracts like a champ. You make my skin feel somewhat toned, and you provide a ton of hydration too. You might loose the battle over a face hydration booster, but by golly, you win the eye trophy! And you look like brains! How neat is that!

Over the next while, we will continue to play with the AVC and ZEN working and tweaking the recipes to get the best recipe we can. I’ve been using a new AVC recipe on my face and a new ZEN recipe around my eyes for about a week and I’m not itching to tweak them for any reason. And that is usually my clue that it is pretty gosh darn good!

If you are looking for advice, which should you buy?

Golly, this is a hard one. If you don’t mind the way aloe vera gel from the chemist makes your skin feel, I think I would suggest Sepimax as it is more versatile. We made a cucumber-minty-aloe after sun gel loaded with vitamins and proteins and that with the AVC it would be impossible to do. But, if you want that plush feeling, I would say the AVC. I know! This was no help! Ultimately, I would suggest getting two little baggies of white powder and playing with them. They are both unique, provide a cushiony feel, hydrate lots and lots… for me personally, I would go with the AVC simply because it makes me skin feel plush. But the ZEN feels like it tightens. So just get two little baggies and go play. Then tell me about it!

Have you played with ZEN or AVC before? Which do you prefer?