We talk a lot about the Botnia Atelier, and you may have wondered, “What’s an atelier anyway?”
An atelier is defined as a workshop or studio, especially one used by an artist or designer for the purpose of creating and studying art (or in our case, skincare!).
The Botnia Atelier is our treatment room workshop in the heart of Sausalito, CA: a place to create healing skincare for all. Because the place to create skincare isn’t just in a laboratory, it’s in a facial treatment room, too. What makes Botnia different from other skincare companies is that we test our products on real skin before we launch them to the public, making sure the formulations create the results we’re looking for. Interested in hearing more about the behind-the-scenes R&D in our atelier? Let’s get into it!
What the Botnia Atelier is not…
It’s not a traditional spa!
While our little workshop above the water would make a great healing space, our atelier has limited public access and is not open during regular business hours like other spas. To visit, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with our in-house Master Estheticians on the limited days they’re available.
It’s also not a store!
While we do have retail products available for our guests to purchase, unfortunately we can’t accommodate selling our products and being open to the public from the atelier. (A dream for one day!)
Formulation disconnect in the skincare industry
So why did we create this one-of-a-kind space?
In the skincare world, we noticed a huge disconnect with larger skincare brands that are constantly formulating products based on trends or specific ingredients. Popular ingredients on the market in 2023 like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and even well-known food ingredients like mushrooms, kombucha, other probiotics, and seaweed have been incorporated into skincare this year.
Those companies will likely have a chemistry department with cosmetic chemists on the team who formulate skincare from a perspective of selling products and ingredients and making the formula work - not looking at results and/or if these products truly work on the skin in the real world.
What you may not know is that large skincare companies will only reformulate a product if they receive enough complaints from customers, which results in “new and improved” formulas you see in your beauty aisle at the store. How crazy is that?
So what IS the Botnia Atelier and how do we achieve results-driven skincare?
An atelier or workshop isn't typical for most skincare companies, but having direct findings from our guests' skin is an essential part of knowing what's working and where there might be room for improvement. Our atelier is a research and development (R&D) space where we offer case studies for specific skin conditions, test new products and ingredients, and get real-time feedback from our friends and guests to inform our skincare if any changes need to be made. Having an R&D space isn’t typical for most skincare companies.
How Botnia formulates and reformulates
The key to Botnia’s atelier is the esthetician, a foundational part of our brand. The atelier is the place where our master estheticians test and draw scientific conclusions and check them against our notes. We also receive 360-degree feedback from our guests and estheticians in our community with real-time results. This is what informs our skincare at Botnia, not trends and the way that people are swayed by promoted and marketed skincare ingredients you’ll see in the beauty industry.
New Botnia products are created when we see a missing piece in our product line or back bar and don’t have a product that can currently solve a specific skin condition or issue. In our lab, we work with our cosmetic chemist and herbalist to think of the most effective botanicals and ingredients that can get us the result we’re looking for. Then we create the product, and those batches are taken to the atelier for testing purposes. Once we try it on real skin, we take notes and bring those notes back to our lab to improve the formula until the product is finalized for retail and back bar use.
Take for example, a Botnia facial favorite: goat milk yogurt. For many years, we’ve recommended our estheticians use goat milk yogurt as a mask base in treatment to mix in with our powdered compounds for its lactic acid content. But this product isn’t always available everywhere around the country and can easily spoil if not used quickly. That’s how our Essential Digest (a professional back bar product) and Essential Enzymes were born. We decided to formulate a product to mimic the same functions of goat milk yogurt in a shelf-stable formula that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or purchased at the grocery store! Our estheticians no longer have to worry about coming into the treatment room to find that the yogurt they saved in the fridge has gone moldy.
Another example is our sunscreen. While we’re still in the process of working with the FDA to get our formula approved (hopefully by 2024!), one of the biggest hurdles we faced in formulation was getting the main active ingredient zinc to work for all skin colors. Having our atelier to test the texture, scent, and color of the product was a major factor in helping us get the perfect formulation before sending it to the FDA for efficacy and approval. Through this process, we’ve learned so much about the chemistry of ingredients and we’re getting so much closer to an SPF we deem effective to work on all skin types and colors. Once we get a perfected formulation, we’ll send out test batches to our spa partners to make sure we get a larger test group who can make sure our product gives us the results we want.
Booking at the Botnia Atelier
The Botnia Atelier is the perfect destination to indulge in a luxurious facial experience and to enjoy a one-of-a-kind Botnia treatment in our very own workshop. Our master estheticians in residence are renowned for their exceptional skills and unwavering commitment to providing you with a rejuvenating and refreshing experience. Don't miss out on the opportunity to experience the magic of the Atelier firsthand if you're in the Bay Area! Book your appointment directly through each resident esthetician.