A team of experts passionate about
helping you create beautiful products
and thriving businesses
Meet our team of Cosmetic Chemists & Formulators,
Aromatherapists, Beauty Business and
and Niche Beauty Brand owners
dedicated to your success.
Gail Després (née Francombe), Founder and Director
Gareth Despres, Director and Aromatherapist
Chandni Patel, Cosmetic Scientist
Hilary Crisp, Beauty Business Expert
Tina Svetek, Cosmetic Formulator and Formulation Tutor
Geraldine Quinlan, Cosmetic Formulator and Formulation Tutor
Anja Steiner, Cosmetic Formulator and Formulation Tutor
Meet our instructors and tutors
Gail Després (née Francombe)
Founding Director, Cosmetic Formulator and Member of Society for Cosmetic Scientists
Gail founded the School of Natural Skincare at the start of 2010 after a life-changing career break in New Zealand.
Gail’s passion for the natural world and organic living was awakened in New Zealand, where back in 2009 she completed a Sustainable Living Internship and Permaculture Design Certificate. Planting carrots, harvesting beans and creating calendula balms was a far cry from her hectic, corporate London life and she loved every second.
Returning to the UK she apprenticed with beauty brand owners and skincare manufacturers, studied with experienced herbalists and conducted vast amounts of study and experiments. Goodness & Wonder, her own brand of 100% natural skincare products, was born.
Whilst attending farmers markets and artisan craft fairs, customers were delighted and intrigued by her story. How do you make such gorgeous products? What ingredients do they contain? Drawing on her background in teaching and event management, Gail offered to teach hands-on classes, which were a total hit. Students travelled far and wide to attend (as far as 7,000 miles!). Gail also taught classes at prestigious colleges, large corporations and on behalf of media brands.
Very soon, to meet the surge in demand for education in natural cosmetic formulation, other industry professionals joined the School of Natural Skincare including a Cosmetic Scientist, Cosmetic Formulators, Aromatherapist (her partner Gareth!), Safety Assessor and Beauty Business Expert.
The original hands-on class became the online Certificate in Making Natural Skincare Products, soon followed by a wide-ranging portfolio of online courses including the acclaimed Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation.
To date the School of Natural Skincare has trained thousands of students from all around the world to make their own natural and organic skincare products and launch successful businesses.
Gail is the author of the international bestselling book A-Z of Natural Cosmetic Formulation: The definitive beginners’ guide to the essential terminology, theories and ingredient types needed to formulate professional cosmetic products.
Gareth Després, Director
Director and Aromatherapist
Gareth joined the School of Natural Skincare in 2011 after a successful corporate career in management consultancy.
Gareth is an Aromatic Specialist and IEB-certified Aromatherapist, having completed his studies at the Bristol School of Holistic Therapies in 2010. Gareth is passionate about the use of essential oils for health, happiness and wellbeing and uses them every day at home and in the office.
You can read his guide to Getting the most from your essential oil burner or diffuser and The best essential oils for skin (and for each skin type).
Gareth co-taught the School’s hands-on classes in the early days and also ran his own aromatherapy and perfumery classes. Now he contributes his specialist knowledge of essential oils to the School’s online courses. He also manages the School’s Finance and Operations Departments.
Chandni Patel is our consultant Cosmetic Scientist. She has a BSc in Cosmetic Science from the London College of Fashion plus many years’ experience working in the cosmetics industry.
Chandni has formulated every type of cosmetic, including skincare, haircare and nail varnish, for brands such as The Body Shop, Tisserand, REN: Clean Skincare and many more.
In addition to her formulating experience, Chandni works in a regulatory role ensuring cosmetic products meet global regulatory requirements.
Marketing and New Business Development
Hils Crisp is an expert in the business and marketing arena of beauty and skincare, having worked as a marketer for premium beauty brands for more than 15 years. Her expertise includes: developing, launching and marketing brands, collections and products; increasing profit; and pricing and distribution.
Hils has worked with countless different niche brands across all beauty categories: skincare, color cosmetics, fragrance, home fragrance and toiletries. Notably, she has worked with The Organic Pharmacy, a truly exciting, high-quality, beautiful, ethical, and award-winning organic lifestyle brand. Other skincare brands she has worked with include Nuxe, La Prairie and Nickel; designer brands include DVF (Diane von Furstenburg) colour cosmetics and Designers Guild home fragrance; and quirky, creative brands such as Lolita Lempicka fragrance.
Cosmetic Formulator and Formulation Tutor
Tina is a scientist by background and has been formulating natural cosmetics since 2008. She has recently been Head of Cosmetics Department for a company in her native Slovenia where she developed a natural cosmetics line from starting idea to launch. She also has experience of managing an online shop and social media, having products tested in accordance with the EU regulations, and creating labels for her products.
Tina organizes and teaches hands-on classes in Slovenia, including beginners’ natural cosmetics, haircare, mineral makeup, cold process soap and mother and baby care. She also works as a Safety Assessor, producing Cosmetic Product Safety Reports in accordance with EU regulations.
Tina supports students taking our courses by answering questions posted in our regular Tutor Q&A sessions.
Cosmetic Formulator and Formulation Tutor
Anja is an experienced cosmetic formulator from Switzerland with 10 years’ experience of formulating cosmetics. She makes almost all the products she uses herself including shampoos and shower gels in addition to creams, lotions and many other skincare products. She currently works as a Formulation Consultant – her most recent project was formulating natural baby products for an upcoming new brand.
She loves creating shampoo bars, shower bars, bath bombs and decorative cosmetics such as lipsticks and compact powder. Anja loves experimenting and treats ‘failures’ as part of the essential learning process. She enjoys working with lesser known emulsifiers such as Glycerin stearate SE, Polyaquol and Emulsan II.
Anja supports students taking our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation by answering questions posted in our twice weekly Tutor Q&A session.
Cosmetic Formulator and Formulation Tutor
Geraldine is an experienced skincare formulator and teacher. Geraldine is the founder of natural beauty brand Clann Botanicals. Her brand features a range of creams, body butters and balms designed for people with sensitive skin and uses two star ingredients – seaweed and calendula. Alongside her brand she also runs hands-on natural skincare workshops and classes in Ireland.
You can read more about Geraldine’s story here: When Natural Skincare Becomes More than a Hobby.
Geraldine supports students taking our Certificate in Making Natural Skincare Products and assists in various pop-up challenges that we run throughout the year.
Customer Service and Student Liason
Liz provides first-class customer service and replies to all the enquires that the School receives. She also works as Student Liaison Officer, assisting students with assignment submissions and certificates; and Project Manager, overseeing various behind-the-scenes projects.
Liz joined the School of Natural Skincare after a successful corporate career working for large UK supermarket chains in supply chain and account management. She has many creative hobbies and can often be found baking delicious cakes or busy behind a sewing machine.
Social Media Co-ordinator
Jemima is a copywriter, photographer and social media manager with work experience both in the UK and Australia. Jemima is an enthusiast for green living and is incredibly passionate about animals and the environment. She is an advocate for natural, cruelty-free cosmetics, green household items and organic food (and has an ever expanding vegetable patch and greenhouse!). She also has a keen interest in yoga and Ayurveda.
Ria is an experienced editor and copywriter who has worked in publishing across many sectors over the past 15 years, including education, travel, and green living. Ria trained at the University of Sussex in 2004 and has been a passionate advocate for further education ever since! She edits all of our course materials, and thoroughly enjoys learning about natural and organic skin and haircare as she works. Ria’s interests include gardening, organic food, yoga nidra, and positive mental wellbeing.
Ria has a long association with the School of Natural Skincare, having met Gail on a Permaculture Design Certificate course in 2010 and attending hands-on classes in the early days.