It's Called a Formula

This is not a rant. It's a question of semantics and you might even find it a bit nit-picky.

You might even be right.

I hear this term used constantly by home-crafters and DIY enthusiasts (which is understandable) but also occasionally from colleagues (which confuses me a bit).

Every time someone uses the word 'recipe' when they are talking about a formula, it tugs on a cringe-muscle.

Just a little teensy bit.

The Process

When a person sits down to figure out how to combine ingredients in such a manner as to create a skincare, haircare or other personal care product, the process is described as formulating.

The formulating process results in a formula.

Formulating is precision process. Everything – even single drops of essential oil – is calculated in percentages and measured by weight – and sometimes the percentages have several numbers after the decimal point.


The correct term is formula, not recipe.

I mean, we aren't making cookies here. A pinch of this and a dash of that might be okay with grandma's favorite strawberry-glazed somethings, but this kind of measuring just doesn't cut it with a skincare product.

Because skincare products are made by following a formula, not a recipe.

End of semantic lecture.

And thank you for not calling me nit-picky – even if you think I am.


LisaLise said…
Ah thank you María!
Pepper7 said…
I agree with you 💯 %. I usually call it a formulation, but I never say recipe !
LisaLise said…
Formulation works for me, Margi ☺
Anamaria said…
You are right Lise, but I must recognize I didn't see how different it was, thank you for enlightening me today
Signe said…
Lise, you might be right in this - but I still think you are quite nitpicking now. I agree that when it comes to the professionals, they should use correct terms. But many bloggers are (like me) DIY home crafters, and there might be several reasons to use term "recipe", when you think they (and I) should use term "formula". I'll write about that soon... ;)
LisaLise said…
Signe I love that you are not afraid to disagree! It could be a pet peeve of mine, but so far, you are the only one to speak the opposite. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the matter on your blog. :)
LisaLise said…
@Anamaria - Thanks for your input! I am merely stating my view here, and as you can see from Signes comment, not everyone agrees. :)
soakandlather said…
I do believe that is the right term (formula). Some people call it recipe, perhaps they know they are not in the professional level of a chemist. I too, would say recipe, as I want to feel like a chef in a Mary Berry's kitchen. ��
LisaLise said…
HI Soakandlather - Thanks for your input. It can feel a little like being a chef for me when blending essential oils. :)
Unknown said…
Dear Lise

I would like to disagree. I think the beauty industry has been fooling their customers for way too long (your company excluded of course), by adding too many unproven ingredients, making the list way too long just to justify the price so that their customers think that a lot of formulating research went into it and the price worth it.

So women buy skincare products instead of making their own at home. Even I, that roam university research papers for work, had doubts initially and approached this exercise with caution.

However, thanks to the dear Marie Rayma I have been proven just how easy it is to make your own skincare products. I see nothing wrong with her or others calling it "recipes" and emphasising just how easy one can diy.

Jamie Oliver taught the world how to cook, and we need more "Jamies" to teach women to make food for their skin, all natural or not. Because the results are so satisfying!

And thank you for sharing your insights that make way for others to follow :)
LisaLise said…
HI Natasha - Thanks for sharing your viewpoint! You make a good case for people doing their own skincare, and I agree, the world needs more Jamie Oliver's to show people that it is possible to make your own healthy alternatives.

My main objection to using the word recipe is that people will tend to mentally slot making a skincare product into the same category as making a dish of food. One is consumed immediately, the other is applied to the skin (maybe also children) and will be standing on a shelf for months on end. If people get a skincare 'recipe' wrong it can be health hazardous – far more serious than getting a cake recipe wrong.

As much as I agree with you it about the advantages of making ones own skincare products, I feel it is necessary to differentiate cooking from formulating.