I found myself queuing up outside Queensborough Community Centre on a cold Sunday morning, my body still adjusting to being back on the cold, British soil. On my left, a little playground on an estate, and on my right, not much. In front of me, a group of eager but recently awoken women chattering about the workshop that we had all signed up for.
A late night search on Google for natural DIY Beauty workshop yielded some very expensive results. I was losing hope, when I stumbled upon a 3 hour course for £29 in which we would make 5 products! I was delighted, and immediately signed up.
I wasn’t sure what to expect – or maybe I was – I envisioned a gentle lady and approximately 5 other people with goggles and lab coats standing around metal worktops conducting a very scientific composition of beauty products – precisely measuring and weighing ingredients we would find in our kitchen pantries. The reality, however, was a very down to earth community hall with about 7 or 8 newspaper lined tables, with 6 chairs around each one .
Upon arrival, we queued up outside, before the co-ordinator, Naz, ticked off our names on the register. Then, we were guided to a room, took off our coats, and took our seats. On my table were two German-speaking friends, a mother and daughter from Hungary, myself, and another lady (whose name evades me, sorry!). We started chatting, and she said this was her Midas Touch second workshop – her previous one was all about making hair products. I regret not taking more photos (!), but on our table were some ingredients in plastic containers, and then a few more plastic containers and bottles inside another plastic container. I was hoping we would use glass jars, but I know that would drive the cost of the course up, so fair enough!
Our very enthusiastic and chirpy co-ordinator, Naz gave us an introduction as to how she got started with natural beauty. She accredited her energy to copious amounts of coffee. It was nice to be greeted with such passion, and she definitely knew how to captivate her audience. She also said it was a not for profit organisation – with money being donated to cancer research (her friends/family getting diagnosed with cancer led her to start Midas Touch Crafts up).
Naz talked us through some ingredients for our first project – a lip plumping lip balm. Her instructions were thorough. We had a little plastic spoon (smaller than the ones you get when you buy ice-cream) and she directed us as to how to mix the ingredients. There were 5 volunteer helpers present who then carefully poured hot wax into our lip balm jars so they could set. It was pretty straightforward and easy.
The next 4 projects (a lip scrub, a leave in hair conditioner spray, a cellulite body scrub, and finally, a body moisturiser) did not have such thorough instructions. On our table, some ladies had different spoon sizes, so being told add a spoon or two was confusing. During the body scrub, Naz forgot to mention the need to add coffee until after we had completed the process, but we got through and made our products. The helpers were around if we had questions. My suggestion would be to have a set of clear laminated instructions, which could then be re-used for future workshops, on the table. Once or twice, we forgot the measurements or the instructions, and pretty much just winged it!
The product making processes were peppered with talks and tips from Naz – how to whiten your teeth naturally with activated charcoal, how her dad healed his arthritis with arnica oil, and the benefits of essential oils. I was familiar with some of her ideas through my readings on the internet, but other participants were intrigued, curious, or dubious about some of the claims. On our way to the station, a couple of girls said they were amazed at the idea of using everyday ingredients to make your own products. Another said that while it was a fun weekend session, she would stick to commercial products, and that she thought claiming arnica oil was a cure for arthritis was a little far fetched for her. It made me realise that like our opinions, our skins and bodies vary – what works for one may not work for another.
Overall, the session was a fun, relaxed, and casual gathering of women who wanted to learn something new. I like the products I made, but not necessarily the consistency – I feel that using a teeny tiny plastic spoon to stir the products may have been the cause of the gritty texture of my body butter and lip balm – but I definitely took away ideas and basics. We were told we would be emailed the recipes we used on the day, and some other recipe e-books too, so I am excited to see what I can make in my kitchen.
For more information, check out http://midastouchcrafts.com