At some point in your life you were like, hey, why don't I make my own homemade skincare?
You made your first facial oil, lip balm, salve, soap then you got totally addicted and you wanted to learn more. You were reading blogs, searching for Pinterest inspiration, getting to know the people who really know their stuff, and learn from them. You really wanted to get serious about it. You took a course, webinar, or enrolled in a skincare school. Then you got even more amazing ideas and found new websites where you search for ideas, recipes, tricks, and vital info. You've found all of the knowledge that got you excited even more.
Free skincare training? Sign me up! Free skincare recipes? Download now! Basics of aromatherapy? Why not! Herbalism course freebie? Nice! It got you hooked (and I can totally relate).
You started to read scientific research on skincare ingredients and methods because that's what experts do. You've learned all these new things and you have all of the knowledge, stored, downloaded, or written down – SOMEWHERE. Maybe your passion went even that far that you now own your beauty business (bravo!). But here comes my question:
Where do you store all of that vital info, researches, literature, and skincare knowledge if I may ask? In your mind? I don't think so.
Nowadays our brains are being oversaturated with all of the data we receive on a daily basis (scrolling much?). Let's just say if you would store all that stuff in your brains, you would go half crazy sooner or later (+ forget most of it). Don't be too hard on yourself if you have to check in which Ph range is your preservative active every single time while you formulate or check what is the dermal limit of cinnamon bark essential oil (it's 0.07% by the way based on IFRA recommendations). I do that all the time. I double-check the info just to be sure I don't make any mistakes in my final product. That's a good habit that leaves no room for inadmissible errors.
The problem seems to appear when we're searching for specific info that we've already worked with and we have no idea where we wrote it, where we read it or where we stored it. We're losing time and nerves with our literature mess.
There is a way, to make all of that a lot easier for you and me and not let any of that cosmetic info and skincare education that we've worked so hard to get just slip away, get forgotten, or misplaced.
How? Organizing. Again? Yes, again.
So annoying. So we better get straight to it.
ACCESSIBLE SKINCARE KNOWLEDGE
In this (first - OMG) blog post I'll share my best practices, tricks, and methods on organizing my cosmetic literature with you so that searching for the data that you need when formulating will be easy, fast, and efficient. It would be such a shame to lose or misplace all the precious knowledge that you invested so much time in it. So let's get started, read the tips below, and kick-ass your formulation organization. Once you'll get the hang of it and implement all of the theory into practice you will get easily accessible skincare knowledge that includes:
Your personal skincare library (with books, scripts, studies, and folder of ingredients)
Clutter-free computer desktop (with organized skincare files and folders)
Organized formulation process (with a formulator's diary and a brainstorming file)
STEP 1: GATHERING, DECLUTTERING, AND SECTIONING
So first things first, you have to gather up all of the stuff related to skincare you have lying around literally everywhere (your home, your lab, your computer, your phone - everywhere) and section it into 2 groups:
Physical data/literature (examples: all your notes, scripts, books, magazines, recipes, formulations, notebooks, spreadsheets, print outs, ingredients notes, course notes, researches - everything that you ever wrote down, printed out, and got or bought in a physical form.)
Digital data/literature (examples: all the other skincare related stuff that is gathered on your mobile phone, tablet, and computer. Pictures, screenshots, blogs, links, apps, e-courses, e-guides, e-books, excel spreadsheets, pdf researches, material safety data sheets (MSDS) - everything that is covering that gorgeous desktop wallpaper and stocking up your phone memory (by the way could you tell me what's on your desktop wallpaper without peaking?).
Once you have a pretty clear overview of all skincare related knowledge you own, get to the organizing.
STEP 2: ORGANIZING PHYSICAL DATA
This is a great and fun way to clean up your drawers, your shelves, your room, and your apartment!
I mean if you're a super-organized and neath person who loves cleaning I'm sure you already have your apartment all cleaned up and your drawers super organized. But if you just hate cleaning or if you're a bit like me (hate the mental preparation of cleaning but kinda enjoys it when actually starts cleaning) I'm sure you could use some of my advice. So start emptying your drawers and shelves, and throw away any clutter or papers that you can't use anymore. Then gather all of the physical cosmetic data you have lying around and make logical groups as mentioned above – e.g. books, notes, researches, formulations/recipes, and so on.
Organize your books by alphabetic order or theme. Have a separate book shelve for your skincare books and don't mix those with other books. This way you'll know exactly which books you have and which you are still missing in your personal skincare library.
Put all scientific researches, studies, and articles that you've printed out, in a special ring folder. If you have a lot of studies and articles, theme edit appropriately: again, you can sort them by the content or alphabetical order. You can also mark every study with a serial number. This will come in handy when you are filling out an information sheet of ingredient or making notes in your formulator's diary - write down the serial number for the reference.
Notes from skincare/chemistry/cosmetic schools represent your fundamental knowledge and golden database. Again, theme-edit those folders so they will have a logical structure.
Skincare business data. If you own a skincare business keep those data away from all the others, preferably in your lab or working space. Keep separate folders for GMP statements, regulations, insurance, product information files (PIF), and so on.
Notes from courses and workshops are a great source of additional formulation knowledge that you should keep in a separate folder so you can upgrade it over time. They can also be a good reference for some base knowledge and fundamentals that you want to return to as many times as possible.
Make an ingredients folder. Information about the ingredients can come from various sources - workshops, studies, scripts, from a manufacturer, blogs, MSDSs, from your own experience, and personal notes. Gather all of that info in a separate ring folder and sort them by the ingredient name. If you have a lot of data you can also arrange them in terms of content (and then each group alphabetically): emulsifiers, thickeners, preservatives, surfactants, essential oils, etc.
Similarly organize all other data groups that you've sectioned when making an overview of your literature like magazines, tests, notebooks, etc.
Your formulations are your pride. Your hard work. Your knowledge and creativity heavenly united in those gorgeous skincare products. If you follow my content or you've read my free LAB NOTES MANUAL – The complete guide to systematic formulating, you know I'm getting quite annoying, trying to explain how important it is that you write down all of your formulating experiments in your formulator's diary (by hand if possible!).
But still, I have a point. Why? If you run a skincare business or formulating for yourself and close ones, owning a lab notebook where all the formulations are gathered in one place is an absolute must if your mission is to create quality and safe skincare products.
Regardless of whether the formulation was a success or failure - write it down in detail. We learn the most from our own products and formulations and that is what helps us prevent mistake-making in the future.
Your formulator's diary is the place where you should write down all of your formulating experiments and basic ingredients tests (yes, also those super simple, »irrelevant« tests). Every time you buy and work with a new ingredient you should do several different tests to get to know it and take notes. Usually, we're so much in a hurry for wanting to make our product that we recklessly skip those tests. Ingredient tests help you tremendously, prevent many failures, kicks in the dark and help you to understand how the ingredients work. I write my tests in my formulator's diary – but I do keep a separate one for my formulations.
Your formulator's diary is your biggest formulating wealth, as the consistent notes carry all of your skincare making knowledge.
Lastly, you can also grab a small brainstorming booklet or create a brainstorming file on your phone that will always come in handy when you'll get an awesome idea for a new product or ingredient. Write it down, even if you don't make or buy it. Months or years from now that could be your holy grail.
Congrats, you've made it till the end of this super organized post about organizing your skincare literature. Now get to work and make your skincare knowledge easily accessible ;).
If you would like to learn how to make your own formulator's diary from scratch, download our FREE LAB NOTES MANUAL – The complete guide to systematic formulating here. You will learn more about making effective, systematic, and consistent notes when creating skincare (free example form is included, you'll thank me later).
Make sure to read PART 2 of this blog post where I'm going to torture you with some more serious organization and skincare literature clearance. We'll get to the final step of organizing your cosmetic data and talk about great practices for organizing digital cosmetic files on your computer, phone, and tablet.
READ PART 2 NOW
Happy organizing ;),