Beginner’s Guide to Setting up a Home Formulation Lab

When you are new to cosmetic formulation, it can be daunting to know what equipment and starter ingredients you will need and how much it will all cost. Then, there is the issue of finding a suitable, distraction-free space for your home formulation lab and how to keep it rigorously clean and organised.  Worry not, as you are in good company.

Members of our Formula Botanica Education Team have started out where you are now; as new formulators on a tight budget creating their first, trial formulations on kitchen tables and perhaps also with family and pets too close for comfort.

Behind the scenes in a home formulation lab

It is perfectly possible to start making artisan cosmetics at home without much investment. In this video, three Formula Botanica tutors share their tips on how they started out and give you a glimpse into their own formulation lab spaces today.

While they have expanded their stock and equipment and now have dedicated home formulation labs as they formulate professionally, they all started out with very little. Even today, our formulation tutors have very different set ups.  There is no single, ‘right way’ to set up a home lab. Common sense, working within a budget and adhering to good manufacturing practice (GMP) are the most important skills for any artisan formulator.

Of course, once you realise that artisan cosmetic formulation is going to be a longer-term hobby or even develop into a business at some stage, you need to start thinking about working from a more dedicated space that can be easily maintained to GMP standards.

Even if you formulate products for family and friends only, you need to work to GMP as no one would wish to gift a contaminated cosmetic product. GMP is there to ensure you create safe cosmetic products and while it may sound onerous to comply with, GMP is mostly common sense and intended to help you protect you legally. Our Diploma in Beauty Brand Business Management covers GMP in detail and provides you with industry-standard checklist to adhere to.

Behind the scenes video with @FormulaBotanica tutors on how to set up a home formulation lab on a budget. #naturalformulation #cosmeticscience #skincarebusiness Click To Tweet

How to set up a home formulation lab

In this video on setting up a home formulation lab, you will:

  • Discover that even a small space such as a clear table top that can be disinfected to GMP standards is enough to get started on.
  • Learn about what to sanitise your workspace with and about the PPE you need.
  • Find out about the eight, cost-effective pieces of simple equipment the new formulator needs.
  • Realise you can set up a home formulation lab very fast and on a small budget.
  • Learn that there is no one-size-fits-all home artisan lab.
  • Discover that everyone can be a formulator. Just adhere to the KISS principle keeping your formulations and ingredients simple while you learn. Begin on a budget and you will work out what you really need to invest in later
  • Realise that by applying common sense, being organised and maintaining formulation records – plus practising as much as you can – your hard work will pay off in quality, safe natural formulations.

Finally, you will find a warm welcome at Formula Botanic from fellow new formulators and our school team, many of whom have been where you are at the start of their journeys into cosmetic formulation.

A last word on your Home Formulation Lab and GMP

It is never too early to have GMP in your sights when you set up your home formulation lab. The sooner you drill yourself to work with a professional cosmetic formulator’s mindset and with attention to detail, the easier it will be to comply later if you sell your skincare products.

Be aware that some countries do not permit the commercial sale of skincare products made at home or may have specific national laws governing cosmetics’ manufacture at home.  Our post ‘Do you need a licence to sell skincare products?’ covers many of these issues.

We hope this video post has given you the confidence to start your journey into cosmetic formulation and given you insights into the simple, but effective practices, procedures and equipment needed to make artisan cosmetics in a clean, safe manner.

Other posts on making cosmetics at home that you might be interested in include:

How to Start a Cosmetics Business at Home
Do you Need a Licence to Sell Skincare Products?
8 Points You Must Know Before Making Homemade Skincare

Resources on GMP

EU/UK: The Cosmetics Europe, Personal Care Association website has useful resources
US: See the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Guidelines/Inspection Checklist for Cosmetics

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Liz Ayling | Formula Botanica

Liz was Formula Botanica’s Content Coordinator from 2017-2019 and rejoined our team in August 2020. Liz worked as a professional blogger, journalist and site developer for many years and was also part of the Formula Botanica student community. Read more about the Formula Botanica Team.

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