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The trouble with cheat sheets and rules of thumb

August 1, 2015

IS that they don’t always work out.

Which begs the question ‘why bother making them or reading them them?’

Especially given that I’ve just finished a sort of cheat sheet on clays today and have spent the last two weeks putting together a review on  cosmetic thickeners including how to use and choose them for different applications.

Am I to conclude that I am in fact an idiot?

No, of course not.

Cheat sheets and rules of thumb are useful starting points, not least because they give the uninitiated a bit of a feel for what might happen ‘when’ or ‘if’.  They boost peoples confidence just enough to get started and can, in some cases at least be pretty much spot on and save a lot of time, money and energy.  It isn’t that the information contained in any of my cheat sheets is wrong, more that once you’ve been into a lab or two and tried a few ‘rules of thumb’ and cheat sheets you do learn to see them for what can and can’t do.  In short you realise there isn’t  a piece of paper (or computer program) large enough to put all of the cheats and nuances of formulating with natural ingredients (or indeed ANY ingredients) to meet a clients brief on.  Well, I’m sure that computers could get part of the way but I’m not sure they could handle the ‘it doesn’t quite feel right’  problems that come with this applied science.  But then again that’s the beauty and chaos of cosmetic chemistry.

Ingredients don’t ALWAYS follow the rules.

Things might work synergistically together.

But then again they might just kill each other.

Or cancel each other out.

Ingredients might make an environment too harsh for others.

Or too cozy and warm and damp and fungusy……

The exact right amount of ingredient on paper might have no effect in reality

Or be unsuitable for the skin type specified.

Or be just too hard to source.

Or go together perfectly but feel like sticky glue.

You get the picture.

I love creating ‘cheat sheets’ and information bulletins to help get people started but I feel the need to remind people this isn’t a bomb disposal operation where pulling the blue wire before green with see you blasted off into space,  no it isn’t.  This is cosmetic chemistry and if you don’t like the sound of the information coming at you or feel that you can make that ingredient work then I urge you to just try it.

You might just be a rebel and goodness knows we need more of those.

breaking the rules

‘Creativity without discipline is like a river without banks’.  Erik Wahl. 

Amanda x


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