Is Formulating in Your Cards?

by Magdalena Tomczak

We often hear from botanical skin care formulators that they decided to formulate because of their personal skin problems and because they couldn’t find products that worked. My story is a little different.

My holistic skin care practice began many years ago working with a commercial organic skin care brand in my treatment room. At the time, working with an organic brand and with a holistic approach was already radical enough never mind formulating a micro batch botanical line.

I’ve always had a connection to plant medicine and aromatherapy because of where I grew up and because of my mom. My mom took care of our health with food, herbal preparations and she even had few essential oils. It took me many years to actually recognize how very influential my mom was in my choosing to study and work with plants in my adult life. And the scent of herbs filling the air of Polish pharmacies of my childhood is still very much alive within me.

So, I was happily working with this organic skin care brand and my clients loved it. The company was a pioneer organic brand run by a family. They were passionate, offered wonderful support and we were happily working together.

Things took a turn when the brand was sold to investors who, as we’ve learned later, were also invested in fast food chains and such. The time tested formulas were altered and never felt the same but the company kept insisting that everything was as before. Clients started having reactions and I started to ask myself how to move on from here.

As the saying goes, when the student is ready the teacher appears. One day my neighbour/friend asked if I could make a formula to help protect her skin. She is an organic grower and spends lots of time outside. At the time, I was already formulating oils for my treatment room which I used as a medium for face massage.

I had knowledge from my herbal and aromatherapy studies which I took over the years and I understood skin both in theory and from many hours of practice in the treatment room. But actual skin care formulating was still an area to explore.

Nevertheless, I decided to formulate a face balm for my organic grower friend and she loved it. I sent a sample to my sister and she loved it too. Out of nowhere clients started asking me for face massage oils to take home because they enjoyed what I formulated for their treatments. So at the same time as I was testing new commercial organic skin care brands to introduce in my treatment room, the universe was giving me little signs and encouragement to explore the world of formulating my own.

From that point, it took about two years before I actually made a clear decision to embrace the path of the formulator. Lots of research, studies and internal work happened during that time. The idea of formulating for the general public felt intimidating. Little voices inside were saying that I’ll never make it in such a competitive market. I had to reexamine my idea of what “making it in the market” means for me.

I quickly realized that since I will be the creator of this journey I can make my own rules and live up to my own ideals and need not worry about ‘the market’.

For example from the get go I had no desire to sell my products internationally. I really love working with my local community and that was going to be my focus. I value deep connections with people and nature and with myself. Purity and integrity are big for me. My formulating was going to follow the same principles. Making that distinction for myself took lots of pressure off and allowed me to create what felt right for me.

Everything unfolded very organically. Over those two years I started incorporating more of my formulas into the treatments I offered. I focused on creating a small selection of products for retail. I was so very lucky to have my clients, friends and family right there to help me test, give me invaluable feedback and to encourage me along the way. Again when the student is ready.

Today I can tell you that my decision to formulate skin care products was the best decision I have made.

Many years have passed since and this beautiful process of creating in communion with plants has enriched my life beyond expectations. It is a continuous creative learning process and I am grateful for every bit of it.

The level of support we receive when our mind and our heart are aligned amazes me every day. In reality, I never planned to formulate skin care products. I never even thought about it. I was lead to it by circumstances and by paying attention to what was taking place in my life. At some point I felt a potential arise and I chose to open myself to a new possibility. Healthy organic locally grown plants needed for my formulas appeared with ease.

Guess who is growing them for my business? My neighbour/friend whom I created my very first face balm for has been growing beautiful organic plants for my products! My products are so much better for it not only because her growing standards are impeccable but also because I know her and I appreciate her integrity as a human being. It feels very good to have her loving energy woven into my formulations. And that very first face balm that I formulated for her years back (I made small adjustments to it since) is one of my top sellers until today. Funny how life works.

I never payed for an add to promote my products. My clients told their friends and families and other small businesses in the area helped to spread the word and I keep counting my blessings. I can tell you that I‘m learning a lot about the power of community.

When you nurture something in your life and give freely it definitely nurtures you back.

I’ve developed wonderful relationships with small oil producers close to home and I have found a few essential micro-producing gems around the world. I have formulator friends/kindred spirits in all parts of the world and we sometimes help each other with solving formulating dilemmas.

I am what you could call an intuitive person and my intuition is often the guiding force behind my formulating process. Sometimes I find myself spontaneously called to sit with oils late at night. Some of my best formulas were born after midnight when everyone else was asleep.

Contributing to building a connection between people and plants, creating skin care products which are filled with local plant magic, are suitable for people who live in very specific weather conditions, and personally knowing many of the people who use them is a very special blessing in my life.

I am grateful for the knowledge which I gathered over the years which prepared me for product creation. I have met many wonderful teachers who generously shared their invaluable knowledge with me. Our beautiful Jade here at Aromatic Studies is one of those teachers. She enriched my knowledge both in aromatherapy and product formulating. Her product formulating course is wonderful, perfectly structured and beyond generous with information. It helps not only with learning how to formulate but also covers the technical and legal aspects of running small production. This part is not so much fun to learn for many of us but is absolutely essential to run successfully and efficiently.

I can only imagine how amazing the upcoming Botanical Skin Care and Product Formulation Retreat will be. We are truly lucky to have Jade!

If your heart is calling, don’t let your mind talk you out of it. Listen quietly, watch for little signs and do it the way that feels right for you.

To learn more about Magdalena and her products please visit her site