We were gifted spaces on this Boo Cottage Botanicals workshop for the purposes of this review
When I was little, I used to make my own perfume.
I say ‘make my own perfume’ – what I actually used to do was collect up scattered rose petals that had fallen off the flowers, (or pick them off if I thought no one was looking), and put them in an old jam jar of water. The petals smelt so beautiful, I was sure if I could just gather enough that I would be able to turn my jam jar water into rose scented perfume.
As anyone who has tried this, (and I’m imagining it’s a lot of you), will know, it doesn’t work. You just get rank old petals in a jar of water. Still, it’s fun to try when you’re eight years old or so.
It was with with kind of ‘anything is possible if you have enough rose petals’ attitude that we rocked up one Sunday morning a few weeks ago for a workshop with Boo Cottage Botanicals. We were doing the ‘natural skincare workshop: balms, bombs and body butters‘ and it promised that we would leave with a whole range of skincare products that we’d made ourselves from scratch.
I’d taken Belle along with me because she loves skincare and is always mashing avocados late at night to smear on her face. She told me she only does that out of poverty (not sure where she thinks the avocados come from) but regardless she DID enjoy it. She has a certain way of being when she gets really engrossed in an activity – a serious, efficient look on her face and a nice straight back – and she had this throughout the morning.
We both REALLY enjoyed it actually, and it turned into one of the nicest days we’ve had in a long time. You know when you potter around the house doing things you’ve meant to do for ages, like top up the water in the windscreen washers, and by the end of it you feel all relaxed and nicely tired, but like you’ve achieved things? It was one of those days.
Anyway, that’s by the by because this post is about the workshop.
It was billed as being two and a half hours, and I was torn between thinking ‘blimey, are we actually going to be able to make anything in just a couple of hours?’ and ‘Gawd, what’s if it’s boring and everyone’s slow and tedious?’ Fortunately I didn’t have to worry on either count. We managed to make three products each, from scratch, and somehow even though there were seven of us in the class it never felt like we were either being rushed or waiting for someone to catch up.
I’ve been part of similar sized workshops in the past and been disappointed at the level to which things have been spoon fed – cookery workshops for instance where everything is already weighed out in bowls and all you have to do is mix it together in a pan. While I see the logic in this from a time saving point of view, it isn’t actually that much fun, as it takes away a crucial part of the process.
Boo Cottage Botanicals do NOT do this. Everything is out on the tables for you, but there is so much flexibility in the recipes in terms of the butters and essential oils you use, that it wouldn’t really be feasible to weigh out anything beforehand. I was really impressed in fact with just how much scope for personalisation there was. I don’t think anyone in the group ended up with exactly the same products.
The ingredients are absolutely key with Boo Cottage Botanicals. Their products are about simplicity and purity, unlike mass produced skincare where you often have a list of dozens of ingredients, most of which you’ve never even heard of. Our skin in our biggest organ, so it makes sense that we should pay attention to what we put on it and what it absorbs into our bodies.
Everything we made consisted of just a handful of key ingredients and then for each product you could choose your own blend of essential oils, natural colourings and extras like dried flowers.
The workshop flew by in a series of fragrant wafts of essential oil and cocoa butter and before we knew it we had all created our own treasures to take home. I made a body butter bar, a body scrub and some bath truffles and Belle made four lip balms, a whipped body cream and bath melts.
Boo Cottage Botanicals is run from the Quantock Hills in Somerset by Nichola and Ben, who started the business five years ago on what Nichola admits was a bit of a whim, just because she loves crafting and fancied having a go at making her own soap. The business has gone from strength to strength, winning multiple awards and they now sell a large range of skincare, bath and beauty products, all made by hand in their West Bagborough workshop, as well and attending events and running workshops. It’s certainly grown from soap making!
Nichola and Ben were hosting the workshop together and are clearly very well-informed and passionate about what they do. Their style was relaxed and informative and they were more than happy to answer questions about the ingredients and provide suggestions for combinations of butters, oils, and fragrances. They were spot on with the refreshments too – tea, fresh coffee and excellent biscuits.
There was enough guidance that you never felt lost, but you still felt like you were doing everything yourself rather than having your hand held. By the time you’d finished creating something, you had a real sense of achievement.
The finished products of course were lovely, and I’ve been using them regularly ever since. We had time too at the end to package them up and decorate them – a lovely touch if you were making them as gifts for someone.
Not only did we have a brilliant time on the day, but it has definitely made me think more carefully about what I put on my skin generally, and how I can strip back my skincare and start to use more natural and environmentally friendly products. I’ve already been looking on the Boo Cottage Botanicals website at the other workshops they run, and would definitely go again or give a workshop voucher as a gift.
If you’re interested in what you put on your skin or like having a go at new things, I would absolutely recommend a workshop with Boo Cottage Botanicals.
Find out more about them and shop online for natural skincare and bath products on their website here.