Well ladies and gents, I finished. And I passed. And I got some lovely badges to go along with finishing my diploma program. And so here are my final thoughts on the Diploma of Organic Skincare Formulation from Formula Botanica.
For part one of my review, take a gander at my initial impressions post. I’ve come a long way since then in terms of how I see the program, and let’s just say, I think I might have been a wee bit overly hasty.
Whilst I might have issues with the modules and their lack of information (please remember, Formula Botanica is a “self study” type of program where they give you a topic/word/ingredient and it’s up to you to go find all the information but at the end of the day, I am/was a teacher and a little more direction wouldn’t be amiss in my opnion), their last few modules did make me ridiculously happy that I took this course.
Let’s deal with what I feel is the con first. The internet is filled with some very ridiculous people who are a lot of, “Well I heard that this is the way to do it, so I’m going to do it this way.” or “A Facebook group or this person on Facebook said this is what he/she did so it must be right because they have a million plus followers” and then the extreme, “my chiropractor/health guru says that I should rub cinnamon all over my face and this lady I follow from a Pinterest says that rubbing day old chicken on my armpits can help with BO.” This is kind of where my issue with Formula Botanica providing us students with almost no course/textbook style of information truly bothered me. With all the crazy information out there, how are you to weed through the crazy wellness babe’s and super quacks out there? They are prolific!
Please don’t get me wrong, I love gathering information. And I adore the aspect of self studying! It just would be nice to know I am on the right track a little sooner.
edit: When I first wrote this post up in February 2018 I think it was, there wasn’t a solid textbook or a resource guide for ingredients, only a description and an area for you to put your notes including feeling them up. Since then, Formula Botanica has listened to the students and have given us a new textbook to devour! A 160 page textbook that is bloody brilliant! It lists the various profiles of ingredients, melting points (HUZZAH!), best uses, where they are from… it is a huge step up from the previous book! It also has more information on things like thickening agents, surfactants and how to use them, some of the more common aromaceuticals and sooooo much more. I’m very impressed and wish I had access to this textbook when I first began my studies. It is helping me out in the Advanced Diploma Program though.
Otherwise, I thought this Diploma program was fantastic! It really sharpened my skills where I needed them to be sharpened. Refined my craft if you will. I originally began creating products at home here in China, with a lot of guesswork and my memory. My memory for doing things is surprisingly very good, but this program instilled a lot of good note taking habits. I developed a rule based on learnings from Formula Botanica, if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen. So with me being me, and me being somewhat anal retentive, I created this chart for every time I make an emulsified product. Granted, it’s much easier to use when you make large amounts! It doesn’t quite work with 100g batches as things change temperature much too quickly. But it works wonderfully for large batches!
The last few modules are the reason why I took the Formula Botanic Diploma in Organic Skincare program to begin with. As a Canadian moving to the EU who has lived in China for countless years… well, finding all the information first hand about proper labelling, selling toiletries in the EU, regulations, all these things about the mythical “Portal” (let me tell you, it is not so mythical!), some branding and advertising concepts. It really helped to simplify the process! These last few modules also cover branding, advertising, and some other business related topics. Ones that will help you if you are keen to start your own small at home cosmetics company.
THEN there is the whole Product Information File. I mean I did do a lot of research on how to create one, but every time I thought I knew what I was doing, the carpet slipped from beneath me and had to start from the bottom again. It got so bad that it seemed like I was never going to be able to create this very important file accurately with all the information required on it. And then the batch information too. I mean it all seems so simple now looking back on it, but trying to figure it out on my own with no help was really difficult and confusing. Formula Botanica truly helped me to understand the whole process and make it less confusing and stressful.
I’m still stressed about it all, but it is not that, help me! I feel as if I am drowning and my hands and feet are tied to a cement block I was feeling before I began. How could one not be stressed by the idea of moving to a new country to open your own business? Exactly! My stomach has been a giant acid ball since February.
When it comes to product formulating, Formula Botanica is spot on. They encourage you to perform trail and error products and have you watch the end results so you can make observations. The hardest part was knowing that various ingredients were being scooped into the rubbish bin because they were for observation! In the past, I spent weeks researching ingredients and how they may interact with other ingredients so I would know how they would interact before making something. Formula Botanica made me realise, that it is ok to waste product in the name of experimentation. So it’s been crazy exciting to try out new stir methods, new ingredients and knowing it is ok! Before chucking everything for The Move, I had countless containers in various parts of my apartment undergoing observation.
Formula Botanica also has many “common sense” techniques in their methods of manufacturing. I mean, everyone and their left knees have talked about tempering various butters to prevent crystallisation, or forced cooling by tossing your anhydrous butter rich product into the freezer or fridge as soon as you decant it. But what struck me as odd, people make whipped body butters (with no emulsifier) often and don’t seem to have the problem of crystals. But no one out there seemed to stop and think, hey, mayyyybe? Which was a huge light bulb moment for me.
They really know what they are talking about.
Formula Botanica was also one of the largest inspiration for a post titled, “Question: How to formulate a recipe” which will be out in the summer of 2018. And, they were also the ones who inspired me to go back to the drawing board with some of my tried tested and true recipes and begin again with them. Which has made them even better than they were before. Even my soap recipes. Which was on the weird side as Formula Botanica doesn’t cover anything soap related.
And finally, ph. I have struggled with figuring out how to understand the ph and how to test the ph of products. I’m an avid reader of Point of Interest, and I’m an avid learner. But figuring out the ph and how to adjust it… I have to give Formula Botanica amazing kudos! They made learning all about the ph quite easy. They discussed how to read and adjust the ph, when to test it, how often to test it. Tools of the trade and so much more!
So at the end of the day, is the Diploma of Organic Skincare Forumlations program for you? Well, yes. Now that it is done, and I’ve had time to think about it all, I would actually say yes. This is a program that could help anyone from newbies to advanced self-taught formulators. It does help to hone your skills, sharpen you in areas where you didn’t realise you may need it, and if you plan on selling into the EU/UK market and don’t know how to go about and begin getting legalised? This course is well worth it’s weight in gold!
Update: I have now been in Ireland for over a month making products for the blog and for a September opening, and I’m really able to put what I learnt to the test. I can’t speak highly enough of how this course has helped me to create my business and get a semi-solid footing in the EU in ways I didn’t even realise. The tools they have provided have truly helped me get that one leg up over others. It’s given me the peace of mind I didn’t think I would achieve. So yes. I do think this program is for anyone who is keen to be taught the right way from the very start. It is an expensive program, but it is truly worth it.