Meet our team of cosmetic scientists and industry professionals, passionate about helping you create beautiful skincare and haircare products

We are a team of experts dedicated to providing world-class educational resources and experiences


Our Course Tutors
Our Course Tutors

Gail Després (née Francombe)

Founding Director

Gail founded the School of Natural Skincare at the start of 2010. She is an award-winning entrepreneur and 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.

Gail created, formulated and sold her own brand of 100% natural skincare products before moving her attention to teaching others. Gail (with co-Director Gareth) ran hugely popular, live, in-person classes for many years before turning their workshops into comprehensive online courses, in order to allow students, worldwide, to benefit from studying with them.

Gail is responsible for course design and development, working closely with the School’s team of cosmetic scientists and formulators. She also oversees the Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club, into which new and exciting formulations and classes are added each month.

Gail is a member of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists and manages the School’s accreditation with the CPD Association.

You can read Gail’s story from corporate life in London, via a life-changing adventure in New Zealand, to founding the School of Natural Skincare International, here: Gail’s leap of faith: how the School of Natural Skincare began.

You’ll often see Gail sharing updates on the School’s social channels: Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Gareth Després

Director and Aromatherapist

Gareth joined the School of Natural Skincare in 2011 after a successful career in management consultancy.

Gareth is an award-winning entrepreneur, 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.

Gareth co-taught the School’s hands-on classes in the early days and also ran his own aromatherapy and perfumery classes. Now he designs course curriculums and contributes his specialist knowledge of essential oils to the School’s online courses, in addition to overseeing the School’s Marketing, Finance, HR and Operations departments.

Gareth has written a number of helpful blog posts on essential oils, which you can read here. Gareth loves sharing his passion for essential oils and the natural world over on the School’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

Our Course Tutors

Cosmetic Scientists, Course Tutors and Consultants

Our course tutors are qualified and professional cosmetic scientists. They create our course materials and classes for the Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club, and provide first-class student support. Our cosmetic scientists all hold degrees in chemistry or cosmetic science and have substantial, professional experience formulating in the beauty industry.

Our Course Tutors

Tina Svetek, BSc Chemistry and MSc Biomedicine

Cosmetic Scientist and Course Tutor

Tina is a scientist by background and completed her postgraduate study in Biomedicine. Tina has been formulating natural cosmetics since 2011. She worked as Head of Cosmetics Department for a company in Slovenia where she developed a natural cosmetics line from starting idea to launch and she is also a formulator for a zero-waste personal care brand, also in Slovenia. Tina also teaches live, skincare-making classes in her native country. She is a contributor to the book A-Z of Natural Cosmetic Formulation, and works as a safety assessor and formulation consultant.

Tina is responsible for providing cosmetics expertise, creating formulations, conducting formulation experiments and writing course materials, most notably for our Advanced Certificate in High-Performance Serum Formulation and our Diploma in Natural Haircare Formulation.

Tina supports students during their studies, by answering questions posted in our regular Tutor Q&A sessions and marking course assignments.

Dr Nicole Vorster, PhD Chemistry

Cosmetic Chemist and Course Tutor

Nicole gained her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University), South Africa and has taught chemistry and formulation science at universities in South Africa since 1995.

She coordinates the BSc Honours programme in Formulation Science at Nelson Mandela University and supervises students at masters and doctoral level, most of whom are completing projects on cosmetic product development. Nicole also teaches cosmetic chemistry to students on the Advanced Diploma in Cosmetic Formulation Science at the University of Cape Town, teaching students to formulate a number of skin- and haircare products using scientific principles.

Nicole works as a cosmetic formulation consultant assisting entrepreneurs and small businesses with the formulation of skincare and haircare products from a product brief to finished product including stability testing. She enjoys attending cosmetic formulation conferences globally to stay up to date with industry developments. 

At the School of Natural Skincare, Nicole provides chemistry and cosmetic formulation expertise, creating formulations and classes for our Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club and supporting our course development.

Nicole supports School of Natural Skincare students during their studies, by answering questions posted in our regular Tutor Q&A sessions and marking course assignments.

Our Course Tutors
Our Course Tutors

Emily, BSc Cosmetic Science

Cosmetic Scientist and Course Tutor

Emily works full time in our in-house laboratory and is responsible for providing cosmetics expertise, creating formulations, carrying out stability testing, sending samples for Preservative Efficacy Testing and writing course materials.

Previous to joining the School of Natural Skincare, Emily completed her degree in Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science at De Montfort University for which she was awarded a first-class honours degree. Emily has worked at Acheson & Acheson, a leading British cosmetics lab and formulating facility that formulates and manufactures for global premium cosmetic brands, in both the New Product Development and Innovation teams.

Emily knew she wanted to work in cosmetic science from a young age; she completed her first work placement at Acheson & Acheson when she was just 14 years old!

Emily supports students during their studies, by answering questions posted in our regular Tutor Q&A sessions and marking course assignments.


Cosmetic Formulator and Laboratory Manager

Before her time at the School of Natural Skincare, Emilia worked in a large UK cosmetic lab as a formulator and laboratory manager. She formulated cosmetics for both small and large brands and was responsible for new product development in skincare and haircare, from inception to final production, as per clients’ product briefs. She was also responsible for organizing and conducting product testing including stability, compatibility, microbiological, user trials and patch testing. She ensured that all claims were substantiated and all other regulatory standards met.

Emilia has created many formulations for our courses, most notably our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation, organized product testing and established the in-house lab at the School of Natural Skincare HQ.

Our Course Tutors
Our Course Tutors

Nichola, MSc Cosmetic Science

Cosmetic Scientist

Previous to joining the School of Natural Skincare, Nichola had experience as a Senior Innovation Chemist and Senior Laboratory Technician for Acheson & Acheson, a leading British cosmetics lab and formulating facility that formulates and manufactures for global premium cosmetic brands. Nichola also holds a BSc in Cosmetic Science.

Nichola is the co-author of the book Discovering Cosmetic Science and has experience in successfully developing cosmetic products from concept to launch.

Nichola has created many formulations for our Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club including Biphasic Makeup Remover, Oil Control Moisturizer and Massage Candles. She has also written many popular classes for the Club including Formulating Natural Household Cleaning Products, Formulating Self-tanning Products and Formulating Emulsion-based Clay Face Masks.

Deborah Johnson​

Consultant, Co-owner SIMPLYGorgeous hair salon ​

Deborah Johnson is a PR and Brand Manager who has 15 years’ experience working with a cross section of some of the county’s most respected haircare brands.

Alongside her expertise as a brand manager, she is also the co-owner of the SIMPLYGorgeous hair salon which specialises in Afro haircare.

Her knowledge from a brand and product perspective combined with direct consumer insights, gleaned from over a decade of salon experience, give Deborah a unique and insightful position in aiding brands who want to establish themselves within the Afro hair market.

Deborah is a consultant to the School of Natural Skincare. We commissioned Deborah to deliver bespoke Caring for Afro Hair training for our team to further expand our understanding of the different types of Afro hair and the best routines, products and practices for each type.

Our Course Tutors
Our Course Tutors

Dija Ayodele

Consultant, author of Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide​

Skincare Expert and Aesthetician, Dija Ayodele is author of Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide, owner of skincare clinic West Room Aesthetics in London and founder of the multi-award winning educational platform Black Skin Directory. With over 10 years of experience in understanding and treating skin health, she has become a pivotal champion and advocate for providing the tools for people of color to be educated on their unique skincare needs, whilst pushing the beauty industry forward in its requirements to serve this sector.

Her clinic is a go-to destination, especially for Black women, seeking skin rejuvenation treatments and advice for their skincare needs. She is a GLAMOUR Magazine columnist, Trustee of the Beauty Backed Trust and an Advisory Board Member to the British Beauty Council, British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC) and Aesthetic Medicine Journal.

Dija is an experienced public speaker at both industry and consumer events and has taken the stage at the House of Commons, Stylist Live, British Association of Dermatologists, Financial Times, Cosmoprof and Refinery29. She also works with a host of respected brands within the global beauty and cosmeceutical industries such as Walgreen Boots Alliance and L’Oréal as a consultant and Key Opinion Leader.

Dija is a consultant to the School of Natural Skincare and our entire team has completed the Black Skin Directory’s Skin of Color training, to further enhance our understanding of the needs and concerns of darker skin tones.

Customer Service and Student Support

We pride ourselves on providing prompt and friendly customer support before, during and after your studies with us. Our customer service team is on hand five days a week to answer your queries and our dedicated Student Experience Manager ensures our students and members have a brilliant experience during their studies.

Our Course Tutors

Geraldine Quinlan

Course Advisor and Community Coordinator

Geraldine is an experienced skincare formulator and teacher, and is the founder of natural beauty brand Clann Botanicals which she ran for six years. Her brand featured a range of creams, body butters and balms designed for people with sensitive skin using two star ingredients – seaweed and calendula. Alongside her brand, she also ran hands-on natural skincare workshops and classes in Ireland.

Geraldine is the Community Coordinator for the Certificate in Making Natural Skincare Products peer support Facebook group. She stimulates discussions in the group by posting questions and bite-sized learning from the course. Geraldine also hosts the monthly Formulators’ Forum inside the Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club.

She is also our Course Advisor, responding to emails and messages, advising on the best course of study.

You can read more about Geraldine’s story here: When Natural Skincare Becomes More Than a Hobby.

Loisa Després

Customer Service Officer

Loisa provides first-class customer service and responds to the many hundreds of enquiries that the School receives every day, via email, live chat, Facebook Messenger and on social media.

Loisa has a background in IT and customer service. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and singing karaoke.

Our Course Tutors
Our Course Tutors

Liz Shepperd

Operations Manager

Liz manages our customer service, finance and HR departments and keeps all our operations running smoothly. She also assists students with assignment submissions and certificates.

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.

Course Publications

We create first-class course documents thanks to our talented publications team. Our professional editors and our graphic designer work year-round to create beautiful textbooks for our courses and classes.

Our Course Tutors

Ria Gane

Publications Manager and Editor

Ria is an experienced publications manager, editor and copywriter who has worked in publishing across many sectors over the past 16 years, including education, travel and green living. Ria manages our Publications team, working closely with our Graphic Designer and Assistant Editor to achieve high-quality publications across the board. Ria also supports our Marketing and Video Production teams, helping each division to achieve their broader objectives.

Ria has a long association with the School of Natural Skincare, having met Gail on a Permaculture Design Certificate course in 2010 and attended hands-on classes in the School’s early days.

Ria’s interests include gardening, organic food, yoga nidra and positive mental wellbeing.

Jon Heavens

Graphic Designer

Jon is our talented graphic designer, illustrator and videographer. He manages our visual branding, creates beautiful textbooks for our courses, produces illustrations and designs graphics for social media and our website.

Jon holds a BA in Graphic Design. In his spare time, he plays guitar in a band, practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and watches documentaries, films and podcasts.

Our Course Tutors
Our Course Tutors

Katie Cartwright

Assistant Editor and Features Writer

Katie is our Assistant Editor and Features Writer, editing and proofreading our course materials, and writing our student features and articles. Katie has over 14 years’ editing experience, working alongside various organizations and individuals across a wide range of areas, including education and training, confidential company reports and non-fiction books.

In her spare time, Katie enjoys watching movies, sketching, going for walks and spending time with her young family.

Video Production and Social Media

We know how much our students love watching video demonstrations and how useful they are when studying! We have an in-house video production team who create professional video demonstrations for our courses and fun, social media content year-round.

Anna-Maria Després

Content Producer, Video Production

Anna-Maria is our Content Producer and she manages our Video Production team. Her role is to oversee the making of the School of Natural Skincare’s new video content that sits in our online courses and the Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club. She manages everything from set dressing, scripting and directing, to edit producing our videos, from start to final product.

Anna-Maria’s background is in broadcast television. Having worked on a wide range of prime-time network programs in the UK like Crimewatch and observational documentaries about intensive care, Anna-Maria has also worked on household favorites like Bargain Hunt and Come Dine with Me.

Sam Taylor

Creative Video Editor

Sam is our Creative Video Editor and joined us in early 2021, having graduated from Falmouth University the previous year with a BA Hons in Film. Sam works with both the Marketing Team and the Video Production Team, producing a range of engaging, fresh

and insightful content. Sam’s role consists mostly of taking video content and curating a range of edits, depending on the needs of the brand; but Sam also contributes greatly on set. Putting his array of skills to work, Sam is able to help the development and capturing of content, and gain insight for each project.

In his spare time, Sam loves to watch films, go to festivals and travel with friends, and he learnt to play the guitar at a young age.

Jemima Brash

Social Media Coordinator

Jemima is a copywriter, photographer and social media content creator 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 is also a yoga teacher, has a keen interest in Ayurveda and is currently completing our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation.

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