the art of formulating

I love my mornings....quiet that is.  I'm not really a morning person, but if I'm left alone then it makes a good start to my day.  My dad used to tease me growing up and try to talk to me in the mornings.  Boy, did that make me crabby!  So here I am now, heading towards 40 years old, and I still have to make a conscious effort not to be crabby before I've had my breakfast and time to collect my thoughts.  I'd be lying if I didn't say it has started an argument or two with my husband.  He loves to chat and read the news (mostly bad, but is it ever good?) to me in the morning.  That is not the ideal way to start my day.  Now I'll say "only good news or no news".  It's all in good fun.

So what makes a good morning to me?  A yummy breakfast, a small cup of coffee, time at my computer to formulate recipes, plan my day, decide what to make for dinner, think about goals for my future, and maybe even put my thoughts on my blog (rare).  I'm a light sleeper, due to an active brain, so I think it's important for me to have this time to relax.

The best part of my morning is formulating.  I'm obsessed with making the perfect this or that.  This week I've been working on my body scrubs and lip balms.  Last week it was soap without a butter in it (but still feel like it has a butter in it).  Sometimes I go to bed with an idea and when I wake up it has finished taking form.  Those are my best ideas.  I think it's because my head is clear.  I used to solve some of my homework like that in college.  I'd actually dream of the solution in my sleep.  I've heard that you still learn in your sleep and I think it's true.

I have lots of notebooks to keep my ideas in.  I don't buy the same notebook each time.  I like to buy whatever strikes my fancy.  The most recent one was one made with recycled paper and it had references to Sasquatch in it (hubby was pleased).  Another one was a kid's notebook.  One had puppies on it.  One had flowers on it.  Anyway, they are a mess.  I'm not the type of formulator that takes perfect notes.  My handwriting is horrible and my thoughts are erratic.  I've never been one to be obviously organized.  But I don't want to be like that, it would ruin my creativity (what little I have) and my thought processes.

It's always fun to go back and read about all of my trials.  It's not as much fun to see me trying the same thing twice and realizing both times that it's a failure.  That's the problem with being scatterbrained!  Oh well, it's fun.  I have a bunch of recipes that have a star by them that say "Final!  This is it!"  Others say "Yuck!".  I have to remember to put my thoughts down on how it felt when I used it otherwise the recipe is useless to me later on.  Sometimes I'll just remember, but I know I won't remember later.

Sometimes I'll have a theme to my formulating.  This week I decided my sugar scrubs were all failures so I decided to concentrate on my sea salt scrubs.  I love how sea salt feels on my skin and how it makes my skin shiny.  I just have to make sure I don't use it on freshly shaved legs!  Ouch!  Anyway, the theme was to make a scrub with ingredients from one of my suppliers.  The idea was to save on shipping and keep it simple.  It was a great idea and fun.  It turned out to be my best one yet.  Today I plan on making another batch, scenting it with an ocean scent, coloring it light blue, and adding a little jojoba meal to represent sand in the ocean.  It's also very creamy looking and I love it because I feel calm when I look at it, smell it, and use it.

I think it's important to me to have a theme or final feel to all of my products.  Something to tie everything together like "creamy and dreamy".  So with every product I make, the ultimate goal is to make it "creamy and dreamy".

My newest soap recipe probably doesn't look very impressive on soapcalc.  It's not very hard and some of the numbers are out of "range", but that's okay.  I developed this one based on my favorite oils.  Each oil that I use has a purpose.  I have some for silkiness, some for bubbles, some for creamy bubbles, some for cleansing, etc.  Then I have my additives to make my soap harder or creamier.  Everything has a purpose, nothing is a "filler".  Now I just need to make more of it and hope I still love it!

Another theme I used this week was to use an ingredient I don't use in my soap anymore.  I have to say it was a breakthrough for me.  It was the missing link to my lip balm and my salt scrub.  How I missed this over the years was beyond me, but so glad I discovered it.  I went to bed thinking about a problem and woke up with the solution.  I feel a sense of accomplishment.  That is truly the art formulating.

looks like ice cream soap!  


  1. What a perfect example of the mind of a soaper and formulator. It really does become an obsession and outlet. That soap is gorgeous too, Patti. Where's my freaking spoon?! Awesome post!

    1. Thank you! It is an obsession and outlet! One that will probably stay with me forever.

  2. *Yes (that's my note on the post in case you want to add it to your notebook :P)

    I totally agree, this is a great insight into the mind of a B&B formulator! And I love that you have different notebooks too - I should really start doing that because mine are all the same, and trying to find a particular recipe or info I KNOW is in one of them is a nightmare lol ..

    1. Thank you Clear! Note recorded! :) Now don't go thinking I can actually find a recipe! LOL!

  3. Milla, i love your soaps!
    Best wishes from Vienna Claudia

  4. You already know I LOVE your ice cream

    I often go to bed thinking of recipes or tweaks and then dream about soap. When I wake up it is either entirely gone(!) or completely written out in my brain as if on paper. I used to agonise about the ones that disappeared from my brain but now I feel they were just not meant to be and my sub-concious mind knew to let them go.

    My notebooks are the same as each other but in different colours. It also helps that I write on them what is in them. I keep one for soap, one for lotions and another for everything else :)

    I love that you have themes for your products and wish I was that organised. I also love that every ingredient has a purpose. You rock!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts