Formula Botanica is committed to help each student start on their journey to becoming a formulator in the easiest possible way. We provide all students with an Orientation course which is readily available from the first time you log in. The course is designed to take you through all the important aspects of starting, moving through and completing our courses.
In addition, each of our student intake periods are followed by Orientation events, which are part of our Education Support Calendar, where we conduct multiple live support sessions monthly. These are extra-curricular and complimentary to the orientation course. During orientation and in the events that follow, we hold you by the hand to support and guide you on how to get started and progress on your journey.
The Formula Botanica team has compiled the most relevant topics and the frequent asked questions we receive from new students during orientation to create this very helpful guide. You will find a list of questions surrounding sourcing and replacing ingredients, buying equipment, as well as additional topics to prepare you to start formulating.
- I am having issues sourcing some of the ingredients, what should I do?
Sometimes students in certain countries may encounter some difficulties obtaining certain ingredients. If this is the case, we would recommend the following:
Search using the INCI name
When searching to buy your ingredients ensure that you are using the INCI name for the product. Manufacturers can have different names for what is essentially the same ingredient. This can sometimes cause confusion and make it harder to find a particular ingredient. Searching using the INCI name may help to bypass this confusion.
Importing your ingredients
Some ingredients may need to be imported from another country. This can be experienced by all students, but in particular those in South America, parts of Africa and certain parts of Asia. Having to import certain ingredients is very common.
Connect with other students
If you are experiencing this issue then we would recommend connecting with other students who live in the same part of the world as they may be able to provide hints and tips for buying those ingredients that are proving hard to get hold of. This can be done through the Online Classroom or our Regional Facebook Groups.
- Why do you recommend Preservative Eco to all beginner formulators taking the Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation?
There are a few factors as to why we use preservative Eco throughout of course materials in our Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation. It is because this preservative is very easy to get ahold of across most of the world, it can be found under a few different Trade names depending on the seller which is why we recommend searching by the INCI name (Benzyl Alcohol & Salicylic Acid & Glycerin & Sorbic Acid). There is no true “one size fits all” preservative system but Preservative Eco is as close as we have found as it is broad spectrum and does not require a booster as well as being suitable for use in toners, emulsions and scrubs. While not ideal for use in toners due to the presence of Benzyl Alcohol which is oil soluble, preservative Eco will disburse within water and offer adequate preservative for the blend. When it comes to oil-based scrubs, we recommend including Preservative Eco to preserve the water phase that is introduced by moisture from damp hands or humidity. So while it is not the perfect preservative for every formula, it is ideal for beginners who do not want to invest in too many ingredients at the beginning of their formulation journey. In our Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science and our Certificate in Natural Cosmetic Preservation, we explore a wider range of preservatives with different attributes but this is more suited to advanced students who have already completed our Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation.
- Is it okay to substitute ingredients in the sample formulations - which ingredients in which ingredients categories can be substituted and which can't?
Mostly, yes. But it depends on the ingredient and what its functions are in the formulation.
For example, you can substitute vegetable oils and butters with other options in the same category. Keep in mind that these changes can alter the viscosity, skin feel and stability of your formulation. You can also substitute essential oils, but you need to make sure you are within the dermal limits for each essential oil.
Functional ingredients such as emulsifiers, preservatives, and antioxidants, for example, might be challenging to substitute keeping the same proportions. You need to study each raw material and see if the formulation would need to be adjusted.
- Can I use both refined and unrefined versions of ingredients?
Yes, you can, but it depends on what you are looking for.
Cold-pressed and unrefined oils and butters keep their unsaponifiable fraction intact. This fraction contains antioxidants and other interesting actives. However, unrefined oils have a higher content of free fatty acids, which are more prone to oxidation.
Refined oils have their free fatty acid and unsaponifiables removed. This means they are more stable, but also that they lose some of their beneficial properties.
- Are extracts the same as essential oils?
No, they are not the same. Extracts are made using a solvent to extract the active compounds of a given plant. For the production of essential oils, the volatile compounds of the plant are vaporized and condensed through a distillation process.
You can find more information about active botanicals on page 61 of the Ingredients Directory and essential oils on page 131. The Ingredients Directory can be found in the Student Library under Key Study Resources.
We have a Preservation Guide in the Key Study Resources section of the Student Library which gives an overview of what a preservative is, the microorganisms that can grow in a product which isn’t correctly preserved and the steps to preserving your products. We also outline some options for natural preservatives and the difference between a preservative and an antioxidant.
- Is it okay to dry equipment after using spray for disinfecting?
It is best to let them dry over the counter, but make sure you won’t have any dirt particles falling over your clean equipment. Putting your glassware and tools to heat in the oven or drying with paper towels might accelerate the drying process but reduce the disinfectants’ effects.
- Recommendations for hot plates versus cooking stove tops (gas or electric)
We have some recommendations in our Amazon Storefront. If you check out the Useful Links section of the Student Library, you’ll find the links to the storefront there. We also have some information on this equipment in this blog post. However you choose to heat your ingredients, the more you can control the temperature and the more even the heat is, the better.