Having a feel for it.
More and more people coming to me seem to be in a catatonic state after reading too much and experimenting too little in regards to cosmetic chemistry and formulating. There is a problem here people and it is about time we addressed it!
Before I go on and explain what I mean with regards to cosmetic chemistry I’ll give you an example of a related problem that I have.
I like writing so much that I honestly dream in blog posts, phrases, paragraphs and memes which keeps me amused for hours. Simple thing that I am. However, I am absolutely terrible at Grammar (as some of you who have persisted with my blog have no doubt figured out). Now I am educated, I read a lot, am interested in language and even bought myself this handy ‘visual’ guide but alas, I have no FEEL for the subject. I’m basically wired up in a completely un-helpful way.
Now I understand that the brain is a plastic ‘thing’ and that as such I could re-mould it if I put in a fair bit of concentrated time and effort to do so. I accept that just buying the above book and reading it, then re-reading it, then looking up a few things every now and then will improve my current position but unless something BIG happens I am not going to become a grammar master.
There is a saying that it takes 10,000 hours to master something new. Say I dedicated my evenings to grammar (sounds divine) and that I could manage 2 hours per night before my Facebook account distracted me. It would take a commitment of nearly two years (assuming I ‘got it’) to achieve my goal.
The likelihood of me achieving my mastery of grammar certificate based on me just reading the above book would be close to zero as while it is likely that I’d be able to tell you what an interjection was and give a couple of examples it is only when we CREATE or FORM our own unique prose that we really test ourselves and experience the process in its natural flow.
Another example of this is may be quite familiar to you. We have all bought a phrase book so that when we go away on holiday we can say a few words in the native tongue. We may well have even memorised a phrase such as ‘can I have two beers please’ or ‘where is the toilet’ only to find ourselves in a complete mess when after ushering those words the native speaker says something that we didn’t expect and can’t understand in return OR looks at us like we are complete idiots because we got the pronunciation all messed up……..
So back we go to cosmetic chemistry.
You can read and read and read and read and still have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO when you get into your lab space and try to put a recipe together.
Yes it is important to read and do some research but so many times I have people come to me who have spent months if not years ‘researching’ and working out that they don’t want this, that or the other in their formulations before they even really know what these things that they are discounting do. Also I’ve had people ask me to review formulations that they haven’t even made yet (which is actually OK but really why wouldn’t you just give it a go anyway) because they are too scared about what might happen.
When you are trying to learn something you need to experience that thing from as many different angles and perspectives as possible. Look at the materials, try mixing two or three things together and watch to see what they do. Heat stuff up, cool it down, mix it fast vs slow. See where things go when you mix them – do they float, sink or disappear. Doing these things, playing with it is what will get you a FEEL for the subject as long as you are mentally and physically equip able to achieve that and not everyone is. I have a slightly dyslexic mind that makes some simple, linear tasks quite challenging.
Every now and then I meet people who, try as they might have no natural FEEL for cosmetic chemistry. Either because they actually don’t like the making bit or don’t have time/ space/ equipment/ money for ingredients or because they just can’t imagine things they can’t see or recipes that don’t yet exist or just because it’s actually not quite what they thought it would be. Not everyone ‘gets it’ and that’s OK because there are people out there who do get it and can help, just like I can get someone in to look over my grammar and tidy it up for me, even make some great suggestions of how to make what I am writing sound even better! Awesome.
Having a feel for a subject is different to knowing a lot of theory about something. The only way to get a feel for a subject is to be passionate, open minded and fascinated by it and give it a go. To live and breathe it and to stand in your lab space surrounded by your ingredients as you play, experiment and take notes for hours and hours and hours.
10,000 hours of my time is worth nearly $2 million so in real terms I’ve invested $2 million into my consulting business to enable me to charge $2000 and up for a simple formula that saves you time while generating your income.
I may not have a ‘feel’ for grammar but I do have a feel for Cosmetic Chemistry and long may that continue.