Before I tell you about us, I should mention about my hair. Wow! I had such dry and uniquely curly hair, I’ve never seen ordinary in South Korea where I grew up. From my early teens, I used to go to salons to have my so called ‘very unique’ hair straightened and later I became very good that I developed my own way of DIY hair straightening.
I have worked at the headquarter of a company which managed one of leading dermatology and cosmetic surgery hospitals. I had an opportunity to be a part of developing the hospital’s own brand skin care products. It was interesting to see how the various products were being developed and launched. I thought to myself ‘I could make hundreds of different kinds of skincare products by modifying the active ingredients to match the marketing claims.’ For me, it was a big awakening to discover there’s no notable difference between luxurious and cost-effective products.
After I got married, I migrated to Australia. The biggest challenge in my daily life was to think about what product to buy for my very dry skin and unique curly hair. Australia's weather is beautiful but it made mmy skin dry and sensitive, and made more spots on my face. Oh god! I lost a lot of my hair, which became very brittle due to misuses of permanent hair straightening cream. My biggest concern was... what if my hair doesn’t grow back again after it fell out.
I was desperate to find suitable products to save my dry skin and brittle hair. I searched and tried many products according to people’s testimonials, but the products didn’t work for me like the testimonials claimed. The endless searching and trying out of new products always left me with the same result - ‘Guilt and frustration.' I felt terrible whenever I had to chuck away the leftover products or even the unused products due to their expiration date. Ah~ all that time and effort I have wasted and the environment pollution I have caused... I made up my mind to study a proper diploma on personal care formulation to make my very own personal care products that perfectly suit my skin and damaged hair.
While I was studying for a diploma in personal care formulation, sometimes I felt lost when the cosmetic ingredients I searched for were found on the website of construction parts suppliers, although the ingredients were claimed as ‘natural’. It made me more discouraged when I realised the added amount of active ingredients that cosmetic companies loudly advertised was actually such a small quantity.
As the research went on, it became clearer to me that I should cut down the toxic chemicals. I decided not to go for ‘instant hair growth’ or ‘10 years younger looking in 2 weeks’ kind of products that are full of nasty chemicals. Instead, I researched more on 100% organic ingredients with medicinal and therapeutic effects to replace the commercial chemical personal care products. Plus, I completely quit permanent hair straightening even though the wet weather is still tempting me sometimes.
Though I took the long long way around, it was worth it, as I gained knowledge through tremendous amount of research, studies, and countless trials and errors. Eventually, I was able to build up my minimal and holistic personal care regime! Of course, my hair's still curly (oh dear, I couldn’t change my DNA) but it is manageable and had volume and naturally shine. It never got split ends or breakage. I chucked away my prescribed steroid ointments and coldsore cream thanks to my multi balm.
With all these positive results, I got confident and started to share my skincare products to my friends. They wanted to keep using my organic skincare products and asked me to sell them. I started small group workshops to teach people about how to make homemade, spa quality, multi-purpose and organic skincare products. People who attended my workshops were surprised in a realisation that they could create their own skincare products using all natural and organic raw ingredients. I received lots of positive feedback from them, the most frequent request was asking me to sell the raw ingredients that were used in the workshops in small batches. Because the raw ingredients were usually sold in a huge amount of bulk, which made the ingredients impossible to be consumed by the individual users.
The Brown Bottle online shop was launched to offer this experience to more people outside the initial time and space constraints of the workshops. I summarised my best formula recipes based on the workshop students’ feedback and transformed them into ‘Bespoke’ programs that can guide people who never had any experience of making DIY personal care products before. Now, you can choose raw ingredients and make personalised products following the guide programs. You don’t need to buy the raw ingredients in bulk and worry about the expiry dates to make DIY products. And we don’t need to produce unnecessary products that would be hugely discounted or be wasted. Win-win for the environment too!
Co-founder & Cosmetic Formulator