I can’t tell you enough there were butterflies in my stomach that Wednesday morning. It oddly reminded me of day one at a new school. These little jitters. New environment. Meeting new faces. I kept telling myself “you’ll be fine, you’ll be alright”. One thing for sure though, I can’t wait for the class to start.
It’s worth noting that I intentionally didn’t read the Skin Dewi workshop module beforehand. I didn’t know the details of what we’re going to do in the next 3 days. All I knew that it’s going to be about organic skincare formulation. It was a deliberate and wise decision on my end because I wanted to start with a clean slate. No prejudgments. I didn’t want to fill my head with certain expectations or assumptions. Coming in with an open mind had indeed served me well throughout the course.
I am actually conflicted whether or not I should tell you what we did in the workshop. I feel like I might be giving you too many spoilers. But I’ll throw breadcrumbs here and there ;)
Dewi wasn’t kidding when she said it’s going to be an intensive 3-day workshop. I wasn’t able to juggle whatsoever LOL – I had to catch up work at night. Holding the cellphone was to simply capture any interesting information and quickly take pics or videos on the products we were creating. I’d say it’s a privilege these days not having myself glued to the phone for the majority of the day. I was completely focused during the course and my brain suddenly turned into a wet sponge absorbing all of this fascinating knowledge. I enjoyed every second of it.
Each of the participants were given a box filled with ingredients and materials that we can use to experiment during the workshop and more than enough to play around on our own at home. There are carrier oils, butters, waxes, essential oils, hydrosol to start with, some actives and extracts and there are more of technical ingredients such as emulsifiers, surfactants, solubilizer, etc. There’s also a mini digital scale for weighing purposes. The most important ones, a book about the formulator core modules and an ingredient dictionary book. This is one extensive starter kit.
There is an important fact that I love so much about the course and I need to highlight it because I agree 100% with it. I’m sure that most of you are aware about the separation/difference between mainstream and natural/organic products. When it comes to the latter, people need to realize that there isn’t a fixed regulation or a universal agreement that everyone can accept on what is natural or organic, because the process of extracting is sometimes still debatable. Even organic certification varies on different regions (Ecocert, USDA, etc). For me, once I dug deeper, I found there are a lot of confusions, different opinions and ultimately, endless arguments. Fights between themselves, so to speak.
No doubt that there are a lot of fear-mongering tactics in this green beauty world and we, as consumers, need to be well-informed before making any decision instead of just fall into the fear itself point blankly. Whether it’s about paraben or other preservatives, 100% chemical-free (hello, water is chemical), make sure we did our part which is *drum rolls* research! By then, we can decide what we want to use for ourselves, what is acceptable and not acceptable in our own standards/comfort level.
During the workshop, Dewi never once forced her opinion on us. She gave all the information that we need to know and the rest is to each our own. She also debunked some of the myths going around (e.g raspberry seed oil doesn’t provide sun-protection and she still uses mainstream SPFs). She also admitted that the natural formulation still has some disadvantages especially when it comes to preservative options. And many others. We can ask whatever question we had in mind regarding the on-going subject and she will try to answer it in the easiest way to understand it. I had to restrain myself a little bit, otherwise the class won’t move forward. I truly appreciate it because this is the kind of insights not everyone can have any access to.
Going in into the first module (there are 6 in total), I was honestly surprised that I was able to follow it easily, mainly because I’m already familiar with a lot of the ingredients. I think it’s due to all the different skincare products I’ve tried and all the research I did with the ingredient list. All of these information stuck with me overtime without me realizing the amount of knowledge I’ve gathered. Trying out so many products also means I’m exposed to a variety of different formulas and textures so it does help in determining the creation of a product. Apparently, Dewi was right, I do seem to know more than I thought I did.
Every module that we learned will always end by making a product as a representation of that particular formula. Paired with another student and we can basically create whatever we wish. From skin care, body care or hair care. What kind of oils or extracts that we want to use. Totally up to us. There’s a brainstorming session first. I find this is an important step as well because we need to be acclimatized with this process. It makes us more neat and disciplined. Making a product isn’t just about eyeballing the ingredients, one drop here and there, um, no. There’s a certain math and precision that goes with it. Being tidy and well-organized will help us greatly in the future.
Brainstorming alone can take a while, depending on the complexity of the product itself – which comes down to calculating the formula. But even before that, we need to decide what kind of product it is, the target market and skin type, aroma and the color, how it feels on the skin and the benefits/functions. Then we choose the suitable ingredients to create the desired end product. If we use essential oil(s), we must check whether the EO itself is phototoxic or not (important factor when making day time products). Then we need to count the dermal limit and allergen and make sure we didn’t go over the regulation. After securing the ingredient element, the workload now is to calculate how much we want to put inside the formula. This particular process can be quite knotty; the more intricate your ingredients are, the more time it might take; not to mention the trials and errors. Bottom line: there’s a lot of work involved in making just one product!
After settling on the formula, the next stage of fun begins. We begin to translate what we wrote on the paper into actual product. First off, we tried to practice Good Manufacturing Product (GMP) from as simple as wearing mask, gloves and apron. As I said earlier, being tidy and well-organized are key. I prepped all the intended ingredients, tools and bowls. I don’t want to rummage around and try to find stuff once I started; because some things are time or heat-sensitive. So I made sure everything are laid in front of me. Then measured the ingredients accordingly with as much precision as I can give; which meant I even had to hold my breath during the last few drops in order to achieve the correct number on the scale. Mix or heat them according to instructions. There was one time when we’re required to put on some elbow grease. Whipping body butter that is. Or intense patience when making the Something Blue Body Lotion. All in good fun. Once everything is done, place the product into the intended packaging. Last, we got to present it to the rest of the class and share the creations!
Here are the products that the whole class made and accumulated over the course of 3 days:
The excitement builds up throughout the workshop because we’re incorporating the knowledge from the day before into the next day. From oil, balms, butters. Especially when there’s water being incorporated, this was where everything become x-times more stimulating. Some of the formula we made get a little trickier at times but Dewi was always around to assist us. I got a bit hesitant on a few occasions because I wasn’t sure about certain ingredients in terms of the texture (especially waxes). But that’s what experiments are for. We’ll never know if we don’t try and fail. HA.
For me, it’s almost natural to get more ambitious on each of the project because I was equipped with the information was earned and practiced the day before and I wanted to inject that into the next product. The third day was like a full circle as we learned exactly what we’re set out to do, an organic skincare formulation. It’s the core foundation and it’s up to us to develop, adjust and create any products that we desire.
Oils, serums, cleansers.. All within the grasp of my hand. And now I know how to put them together, in my image.
To be continued…