Should I take a course?

You may have heard this saying before: “Cheap, fast, good: pick two.” That’s pretty relevant if you are considering taking a course vs. teaching yourself. There’s a ton to learn in the amazing world of DIY skin care and cosmetics, and I often get emails from people impatient to know it all. You’ll never know it all (there’s always new ingredients to experiment with, new projects to try, new failures to understand!), but you can certainly learn a lot—and much can be learned without taking a course. However… assuming “good” is an important part of your desired outcome, here’s your options:

Cheap & Good

Teach yourself. Be meticulous. Follow recipes, learn from others, take tons of notes. Research everything, ask critical questions, make observations, and test, test test. Learn from your mistakes, follow your curiosity, and obsess over everything. This won’t be free as you’ll definitely need ingredients, and you’ll likely end up buying some books/textbooks/access to databases as well, but it’s cheaper than a course—assuming you don’t have a deadline of any kind. This will take years. They are fun years, to be sure, but it’s going to take you a really long time, and the hardest part about teaching yourself is figuring out what you don’t know so you can go learn it.

Fast & Good

Take a course, like the ones offered by Formula Botanica. Taking a high quality course will help you skip over a lot of the mistakes you’ll likely make as a new DIYer, and will quickly and accurately teach you what you need to know. This definitely isn’t free, though. It also won’t teach you everything as experience is invaluable, but it’s definitely a great kick-start to help you avoid common pitfalls and start with a really solid foundation.

I have completed Formula Botanica’s Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation and it really is a great place to start. You will learn how to formulate a wide variety of products, how to preserve them safely, and how to comply with regulations to create safe, effective products. They typically say the course can be completed in six months with one day of study per week, but if you’ve already been making things for a few years you could likely wrap it up faster than that.

Cheap & Fast

This is where you lose the “good”; where you try to learn everything yourself quickly (and here I’m thinking a year or less—notice that the “fast and good” course offering still has a starter time period of six months!). There is a lot to learn in the great wide world of skin care, and a big part of learning is knowing what you don’t know, and setting out to fill in those blanks; that’s hard to do when you’re new to something, because you’re usually so new that you don’t know what you don’t know. I think many people feel like they know quite a lot after a year or so, but after a few more years of learning, they look back and realize they knew pretty much nothing (that was definitely me!).

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