A little about me, SwiftCraftyMonkey!

I realized I don’t have a page about who I am and what I do, so here’s a little bit about me, SwiftCraftyMonkey! 

Hello, I’m Susan Barclay Nichols, perhaps better known as SwiftCraftyMonkey, writer, instructor, and formulator for this site, Point of Interest.

I started creating bath, body, and hair care products in 2006 after a search for “why did my bath bombs fail” led me to the Soap Dish Forum, an amazing place where thousands of people shared their thoughts, ideas, and formulas for everything I could possibly want to make. I fell in love with cosmetic chemistry when I discovered I could make a really lovely shampoo for my oily hair, and have been obsessed pretty much since.

I created my first formula from scratch in October 2006 – a liquid hair conditioner that’s the base for most of my formulas to this day – and have spent every day since learning, formulating, and obsessing about creating the safest, most stable, effective formulas for everything from shampoos and conditioners to all kinds of emulsions to anhydrous products, like lotion bars or lip balms, with a few detours into colour cosmetics and bath products.

There are only a few products I don’t make (soap, deodorant, mascara, sunscreen, and insect repellent).

I started my blog in late February 2009 to share my love of formulating with whoever wanted to stop by and chat, and moved to this site in late 2017.

We set up the shop here on the site in late 2017 with a few books, and now we’re up to 72 as of August 2022!

We decided in mid-2018 to make this a subscription site rather than taking advertising, offering sponsored content, sharing affiliate links, using pop ups, and all those other things like tracking you as you surf that comes along with that really annoying stuff. (Good websites are surprisingly expensive to run, and I’m so grateful that Raymond can do almost all of the work to keep it running.)

When we’re not in the middle of an apocalypse, I’ve offered workshops at Voyageur Soap & Candle (Surrey, B.C.) and Windy Point Soap Making Supplies (Calgary, Alberta), and have offered presentations at a few different conferences.

Raymond and I have been running a completely free weekly youth program created by my husband and I called Rated T for Teen in my hometown since 2005. All the proceeds from the big five e-books go to provide supplies and other things necessary to run the programs, no matter where you buy them.

As we aren’t running the program at this time due to the aforementioned apocalypse, the proceeds are being donated to programs in my community and province.

I also created the extremely popular Learn Cosmetic Formulation course with Jane Barber of Making Skincare and Perry Romanowski of Chemists’ Corner, a free introductory cosmetic chemistry course that’s had over 36,000 students enrol to learn everything you need to know to get creating your own awesome products.

My education!

As it’d been a while since I attended school – I graduated in 1992 from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of General Studies in English and Canadian studies with the goal of being a teacher – I had to start at the very beginning, taking grade 11 and 12 chemistry before upgrading my math, biology, and physics courses, then taking university level courses at the University of the Fraser Valley.

I’m an affiliate member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC), and have been taking courses through this organization and the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), like…

  • Fundamentals of Surfactants, Emulsions, and Polymers in Cosmetic Formulations (April 2021)
  • Lipids in Personal Care and Cosmetics (May 2021)
  • Design of Lamellar Gel Emulsions for Personal Care and Cosmetics Application (January 2022)
  • Curly Hair – Structure Properties and Care (July 2022)
  • Fundamentals of Microbiome for the Cosmetics Industry (September 2022)
  • Antimicrobial protection for cosmetics (November 2022)
  • Cosmetic claims substantiation (November 2022)
  • Beyond triglycerides (November 2022)

…with plans to take so many more, as many as I can!

I was very fortunate to attend workshops and labs at In Cosmetics (Paris) in 2019, learning everything from making natural emulsions to creating creams for the “glass skin” look. (I hope to attend In Cosmetics Barcelona in 2023 to learn more!)

When I’m not attending classes, I’m reading various materials to learn more about the ingredients and formulas I share with you. You can find some of my favourites in this post!

If you’d like to get in touch with me to ask quick questions formulating, ingredients, workshops, and anything else related to creating bath, body, and hair care products, please click here to find the contact me page!

If you’d like me to take a look at a formula or offer troubleshooting or ask any questions and have me offer more detailed information, check out the monthly Q&A as those receive first priority and often end up as huge posts or even series!

Thanks for joining me here on the site!