This is my experience of doing the final project of my Diploma of Organic Skincare Formulation with Formula Botanica. It’s a two year course, but you can do it in one year if you can spend more time on studying than I did. I dedicated one full day to practicing formulating and some more time during the week and weekends for studying. In case you missed the first part, you can find it here.
And here it is. The final formula that I handed in and got… wait for it…. FULL MARKS! Omg, I couldn’t believe it. I got 100% for my final project. I’m not boasting, I’m just unbelievably shocked and so happy at the same time! It was a lot of work, I have to admit. As you saw in the last 6 parts, I spent months on this project and I did so much research and testing for it. But at the same time, I learned so much and I feel really confident now formulating. Not only do I know how the formulations of different products are made up, but it’s rare now for me to mess up badly, or when something does go wrong, I usually know why or it’s because I’m testing something out.
I’m so glad I did take that step and invested the money into this course. Yes, I agree it’s not cheap. But then again, this isn’t just a little craft or hobby course. It’s a two-year Diploma course, which is recognised and accredited in the UK. If you look at tech courses, hospitality and the like, you will easily spend $5000 upwards a year. So, I don’t think it’s expensive, but it does cost.
What did I get for all that money? The Diploma of Organic Skin Care Formulation is made up of 8 modules, each containing lessons with workbooks, notes, video lessons, self-study material and lots of practical work. It starts of with the science of skin and cosmetic formulating, and then takes you through facial skin care, body skin care, & spa products, before finishing with aromatology and essential oil safety, marketing and branding, and finally labelling and compliance. Formula Botanica is a UK school, but has a global focus. Especially compliance and labelling, it covers EU, US, Canada, ASEAN (Asia and South East Asia) and NZ and Australia. The course will teach you how to formulate, but will also help you launch your own products and brands the correct, legal way, so no nasty surprises suddenly down the road. But even if you aren’t planning on starting your own business, and are just formulating for yourself (like me), it’ll teach you valuable skills, so that you don’t end up browsing the internet for hours trying to find a recipe for something, only for it to fail and then you’ll have wasted not only your time, but also valuable ingredients. With this course, you can create your own formulations and you’ll feel confident doing it yourself.
I know this sounds so much like promoting and marketing the school, but before I started I looked at many different schools. Some where very obvious money greedy, charging money for every little download and recipe, and not really teaching you anything. Another school was actually really good, and you finish as a cosmetic chemist, but it’s focus was too much on the chemistry, and less on natural skin care and skin care formulation. I do agree that science and understanding the processes is important, anyone who did my classes will remember how much I put a focus on the science of soap making, but at the same time, I want to be able to formulate with ingredients that are not only natural, but also available to me. Sourcing ingredients is not easy, especially when you’re in a country like New Zealand. We have few suppliers here and the last thing you want to do is buy huge quantities of some ingredient that you will only use a few times in tiny amounts. Formula Botanica ticked all the boxes for me. It has the science (and more science in the Advanced Diploma). It uses only natural ingredients. And the ingredients are easy to source, and they give you alternatives. Plus the way they teach, you aren’t restricted to specific ingredients. You learn to formulate using ingredients that are available to you in your country. So that’s why I ended up with Formula Botanica. But before I enrolled, I did the free Masterclass as well, which gave me a bit of an insight of how they teach and what the course involves. They’re doing another FREE Masterclass again. So if you don’t know if formulating is for you, or if you just want to have a sneak peek into the school and course, why not register and check it out yourself. You can sign up here.
Enough talking, you’re here for the final formulation of my Soapmakers Hand Cream.
Soapmakers Hand Cream – my final project
A beautiful rich hand cream created especially for soap makers that will condition and moisturise dry hands without leaving a greasy after-feel.
Requirements: Must quickly absorb into the skin of the palms of the hands without leaving an oily or greasy residue, yet also needs to be very conditioning and moisurising.
Target customers: Soap makers. When you make soap, your hands get really dry. This is despite wearing gloves, because if we’re honest, we don’t always wear gloves. Fresh soap is quite harsh, because it is still quite lye-heavy. Our skin gets very dry from coming in contact with fresh soap, from the constant washing of hands, and the tidying up and washing the equipment and tools used in soap making afterwards. Often soap makers also test a lot of soap by washing their hands with their not-quite-cured soap. I know I do and a lot of my soap makers friends do too. All this results in very dry hands, particularly the palms of our hands.
(INCI names in italics in brackets)
Distilled water (Aqua) – hydrating
Chamomile hydrosol (Matricaria Recutita Flower Water) – soothing, calming, anti-inflammatory
Glycerine (Glycerol) – humectant, hydrating
Xanthan gum (clear) (Xanthan Gum) – increases emulsion stability and viscosity, prevents water loss
Meadowfoam oil (Limnanthes Alba Seed Oil) – conditioning oil, quick absorbing, non-greasy
Hazelnut oil (Corylus Avellana Seed Oil) – conditioning oil, quick absorbing, non-greasy
Shea butter (Butyrospermum Parkii Butter) – conditioning butter, softens skin
Emulgade PL68/50 (Cetearyl Glucoside & Cetearyl Alcohol) – plant based emulsifier, very stable, well-tolerated by all skin types. Nice, non-greasy feel
Cetyl alcohol (Cetyl Alcohol) – functional ingredient, gives conditioning and silky feel
Colloidal oatmeal (Avena Sativa Kernel Flour) – anti-inflammatory, soothing
Hydrolysed oat protein (Hydrolized Oat Protein) – helps retain moisture, imparts soft, cushiony feel and velvety texture on skin
Marshmallow root extract (Althaea Officinalis Leaf/Root Extract) – contains mucilage rich in asparagine, pectin, starch, polysaccharides, betaine, tannins, galacturonic acid, galactose, mineral salts and vitamins A, C, E and B complex; soothing, anti-irritant, moisturising
White flowers natural fragrance (fragrance) – fragrance
Pro-vitamin B5 (Panthenol) – turns into panthothenic acid, which is water binding. Hydrates skin
Vitamin E (Tocopherols) – antioxidant
Microcare DB (Dehydroacetic acid and benzyl alcohol) – natural preservative for O/W systems
Formulation (makes 100 grams)
23.3 grams distilled water
20 grams chamomile hydrosol
3 grams glycerine
0.2 grams xanthan gum (clear)
10 grams meadowfoam oil
7 grams hazelnut oil
3 grams shea butter
5 grams Emulgade PL68/50
3 grams cetyl alcohol
Add after combining water and oil phases
10 grams distilled water
4 grams colloidal oatmeal
Cool down phase
3 grams hydrolysed oat protein
4 grams marshmallow root extract
1 grams White Flowers natural fragrance
2 grams pro-vitamin B5
0.5 grams vitamin E
1 grams Microcare DB (preservative)
Preparing the water phase
- Combine the glycerine and the xanthan gum (clear) to a slurry in a small beaker.
- In another beaker, weigh out and add the distilled water and chamomile hydrosol.
- Slowly add the glycerine/gum mixture to the water, while continuously mixing. Don’t make the mistake of adding the water to the gum, because that will just leave lumps of gum in the water. It took me a while to figure this one one and not end up with lumpy water.
Preparing the oil phase
- Weigh and add all the ingredients of the Oil Phase in another beaker.
- Then place both beakers (oil phase and water phase) in a bain marie set up. I’m using an electric water bath that I set to 80ºC
- Heat until the oil phase has completely melted and if you are using a temperature, both are about 75ºC
While you’re waiting….
- Weigh and add the distilled water and colloidal oatmeal in a beaker.
- Stir until the colloidal oatmeal has dissolved aka there are no more lumps. The water should look milky – like oat milk
Combining the oil and water phases
- Once the oil phase has melted and both beakers are at approximately 75-80ºC, slowly add the oils to the waters, while continuously stirring. I use the little mixer and mix for about one minute
- Once the oils and waters have combined and emulsified, add the oat-water to it, and mix again for another minute
- Place in fridge for 5 minutes
Adding the heat-sensitive ingredients (cool down phase)
- After 5 minutes, the cream should have cooled down to about 45ºC
- Add the remaining ingredients, one by one, and stirring thoroughly between each ingredient.
- Pour into a cosmetic jar or pot, and leave it to cool down completely before closing the lid.
Why you need to add preservative to the cream (NOT OPTIONAL)
The cream contains both water and oil ingredients. Together they make for the ideal environment for unwanted nasties to grow. Preserving your emulsions is not optional. It’s necessary if you don’t want mould, yeast and bacteria growing in your cream. That’s the kind of stuff you don’t want to be putting on your skin!
The preservative I’m using here is called Microcare DB, but it might be under a different brand name in your country. This is where the INCI names are handy. Check for a preservative with the same INCI. The INCI of Microcare DB is Dehydroacetic acid and benzyl alcohol. Benzyl alcohol acts as a broad spectrum bactericide, while dehydroacetic acid suppresses the growth of yeast and moulds. Both are considered natural and are approved under organic certification, such as COSMOS.
So here you have it. My Soapmakers Hand Cream. It does have a lot of ingredients, but then again, I did need to make a fancy cream for my final project. Most of these ingredients, like the glycerine, gum, emulsifier, preservative, vitamin E, panthenol are used in many other formulations. Others, like the colloidal oatmeal, hydrolysed oats and marshmallow extract, are very specific, and are considered the ‘star ingredients’ in this formulation.
When you are starting out in skin care formulation, try and stick to the main ingredients that you can use in many formulations, and don’t start buying many of the more specialised ingredients. One other thing I learned is that you can do a lot with just your basic ingredients. And research before buying special additives, like botanical extracts. Now that I’ve finished my diploma (and yes, I will be doing my advanced diploma as well), but I will have time to finally put some of my better formulations here on the website. For example, my green coffee and vitamin C day cream, which I have been using daily, and is nearly used up. Or my delicious Mango Shower Scrub, which I had to make again, because it’s become my favourite scrub ever! I’ve made others, but I keep going back to that one. So these are just two formulations to look forward to.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Formula Botanica journey. And if you make this cream, please do leave a comment and let me know how you find it. It’s not just for soapmakers, despite the name, but anyone with dry hands or itchy, irritated skin will probably benefit from it.