Do I need expensive equipment to formulate?

Well, unless you already know that you want to keep on formulating skin care products, you probably don’t want to go out and buy lots of expensive stuff. And you don’t need to. When I started out doing ‘real formulating’, this is what I used.

My ‘starter kit’: A minion mug, tiny bowls from Pak ‘n Save, stainless steel spoons, mini whisk, meat thermometer, some jewellery scales plus a milk frother, which I seem to have misplaced.

The only real piece of equipment that I bought were my jewellery scales. You can get them for about $15 from AliExpress, or you can buy them at NZ Soap and Candle. The other thing I bought was a milk frother (instead of the mini-homogeniser). It didn’t have the same front piece as the one they show you in the Masterclass (in case you’re following the video series), but it worked. I just had to stir it afterwards, to get rid of the bubbles.

Link to the Formula Botanica equipment on Amazon US

But no fancy beakers, glass rods or thermometers. I used stainless steel spoons, little glass bowls and and my mini-mug, and a meat thermometer. What, you say? A meat thermometer? Yep. I was going to buy a candy thermometer, but guess what? They don’t do low temperatures. And for formulating you need low temperatures. You need to have stuff below 40 deg C and stuff above 40 deg C. But if it’s 38,39 or 40, it doesn’t really have to be that accurate. So a clean, disinfected meat thermometer worked a treat!

To disinfect, I just washed the equipment and then used some strong alcohol and sprayed it on and let it air dry. Later, I used my husbands disinfecting tabs that he uses for beer brewing, and I just prepared a bucket of water, added a tab, and put the equipment in there.

A couple of cool finds

  • Little tiny whisks, as you see in my photo, I found at Stevens Home & Living. They’re the perfect size!
  • You can buy beakers at the Plastic Box, but I also saw them at Look Sharp some time before the lockdown.
  • Pure Nature has glass rods, beakers and thermometers (and I don’t recommend laser thermometers, which might seem handy, but really it only measures the surface)
  • Milk frothers you can buy from Stevens and other places, but if you want the one with the proper front attachment, the one in the link they give you to Amazon is the one I ended up buying.
  • Speaking of Amazon US – shipping costs are not as horrendous as they used to be (and it reduces with more items instead of just adding the individual shipping rates), but more surprisingly is that it gets delivered FASTER than what they actually state. I kind of order quite a lot from Amazon now.
  • AliExpress is cheap. Really cheap. But their shipping time can be months! I buy regularly from them, but they’re very unpredictable. Some items arrive after a week and some I ordered a few months ago are still ‘in transit’. Hmm…. 🤔 I did find that paying a little bit extra for shipping seems to make it arrive faster.

So those are my tips for buying equipment.

I bought some more fancy equipment this year, including pH strips!

Lastly, pH strips. I didn’t use to measure the pH of my recipes in the past. I have only recently started doing this, since my diploma course, and only because I wanted to learn how to do it properly. PH strips aren’t expensive, but if you’re still on the fence if skin formulation is your thing, I say wait before you buy them. If you’re doing the Masterclass with me, try formulating a few products first and see if you like it, and then you can still go out and buy the necessary equipment. Unless you have kids, then do buy the pH strips and go on a acid/base discovery journey with them. It’s a whole lot of fun guessing!


  1. Set to try the course, and was googling mini homogeniser, so will wait and see what is needed

    • The good news is you don’t need a mini-mixer or homogeniser. Whisking will be sufficient. The key is getting it to the right temperature. All you need is a digital scale, like a jewellery scale (0.01 gram increments), two mugs or beakers, whisks (or teaspoon if need be), and a thermometer (candy thermometer will work).

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