Our Formulation Journey

It all started a year ago…

It’s hard to believe that this time last year I hadn’t had the idea for my natural, plant based haircare brand.  Sure, my love of our natural world has always been there but it’s been heightened and I have been on a learning journey not experienced since I did my education degree (too many years ago to remember!) and it’s been a steep climb.  Boy, I have learnt so much – marketing, formulations, legalities, financing … the list goes on.  Even though I am a partner in our building company with prior business experience nothing can have prepared me for the life of an indie beautypreneur.  Ordinarily I don’t like rollercoasters but this one has been a blast.  Read on for my journey …

The formulas

Haircare formulation

Formula Botanica logo
I’m studying for a diploma with the renowned Formula Botanica in Organic Haircare Formulation but have started to work independently with a natural cosmetic chemist to  devise a signature range of natural haircare products that will launch later this year.

Whilst I have picked up loads of great tips and knowledge from my course I wanted to have the formulas absolutely watertight using ingredients that employ the latest technology, along with being as sustainable as possible. My cosmetic chemist has years of experience and also lectures all over the world on her subject so I am safe in the knowledge that not only does she have vast experience, she is also at the cutting edge in her field.

Shampoo bottle

The Scent

We have spent a large chunk of our time perfecting the scent of our products.  We are trying to recreate that ozonic smell – salt spray, fresh, citrussy – not easy with natural essential oils.  But, we have cracked it.  Or should I say the French scent house my cosmetic chemist has a trusted relationship with has.  I absolutely love it and can’t wait to share it with everyone.

woman smelling flower

The Shampoo

Of all the formulations the shampoo has proved the most tricky.  We are trying to formulate without sulfates – these can be irritating to our scalp and therefore we are trying to get the right surfactant (foamer) that is both gentle and works!  Using ingredients that are very new to the cosmetic field  we are currently on formulation number 9 and still going – hopefully we will crack it some time soon 🙏🏻.

The Conditioner

We went through several formulations before we arrived at the fact that we actually needed products for two different hair types.  One for fine/untreated hair and another for coloured/damaged.  We were hoping to get a ‘one size fits all’  but came to realise that what works for oily hair certainly won’t for dry and treated.  The ingredients for the coloured/damaged obviously need to be far more nourishing – we have used some lovely UK sourced oils here.  My lovely friends have helped with the testing so that we get things just right.  These are good to go.

Lady spraying conditioner

The Leave-In Conditioner

For those of you that follow us on Instagram we ran a Stories feature whilst we tested the leave-ins after a dunk in the chilly British sea to see (sorry!) how the products stood up to saltwater.   It’s important to us that we appeal to those of you with a passion for the wellbeing of our planet, especially the sea.  We appreciate that you do not have to live near the sea to share this passion, but at the same time we would like to appeal to those of you who are frequently active at/on  the sea – surfers, sailors, swimmers, walkers.  We want our products to function at and in the sea.

From our saltwater testing we had mixed results – my hair is natural with no colour and my friend’s is coloured.  We are currently deciding which product will satisfy most hair types, providing nourishment from the elements. For those with dry/treated hair it will mean more product being applied and for those with  finer and oilier hair it will mean less.

Alongside the saltwater testing last week I had several visits to my local swimming pool (in the absence of a tropical holiday offer 😌) to put the leave-ins through their paces against chlorine.  Mixed results again, but we are very nearly there on deciding which one we choose.  The picture below shows me after letting my hair dry naturally with one of the leave-ins applied (this is probably going to be the one) – no washing after it was  exposed to the chlorine at the pool.  Pretty impressed as it hasn’t been blow dried.

Leave in hair conditioner
Not bad for leaving to dry naturally – a huge frizz ball would have occurred with no spray!!

beach blue sky cheerful clouds

How to treat your hair by the beach, in the sea and around the pool

Our leave-in conditioners will help to keep that rough and dry feel at bay by following these simple ideas:

To maximise the effectiveness of our leave-ins make sure you spray your hair before you enter the water.  In this way you create a barrier against the drying effects of salt and chlorinated water.  Remember, more for dry and treated – less for fine and untreated.  You can be quite liberal with dry and treated hair.  Don’t forget to comb through so all of the hair is coated
For most of us at the beach we won’t have access to a shower so pack a bottle of water (a re-usable one, no single-use plastic please) to use to rinse your hair as soon as you get out of the water.  This will lessen the effects of the salt drawing moisture out of your hair.
Re-apply the leave-in conditioner – quantity according to your hair type. Making sure you comb through the length.   Leave to dry naturally.

We let our hair dry naturally without rinsing with water during our trials. The pic of me above shows.  Because sometimes when you’re enjoying the beach and the pool you don’t have access to a shower and the ability to blow dry your hair.  We can’t promise you will have salon perfect hair after using our products at the beach and pool but what we can say is that your hair will be protected and re-nourished.

What’s next for us?

We’re hoping to get ourselves sorted on the formulations in the next couple of weeks so that we can move on to the next phase – stability and safety testing.  Just a little more testing of the leave-ins to see how they fare with blow drying after shampooing.

So, in the meantime we are perfecting our brand image, examining our trademarking options, looking into our website design and development, along with taking a deeper dive into our packaging, postal possibilities and legal aspects (insurances, gdpr and policies) amongst other things – all of course with an eye on sustainability and ethics😉.

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