Foxy

About Amanda Foxon-Hill

I am the Director of Realize Beauty and have been working in the cosmetics industry since 1998. I am a chemist with global sales and marketing experience. My consultancy specialises in formulating, writing, presenting and teaching. I hope you enjoy the blog and look forward to helping you reach your cosmetic brand goals.

The secret hairstory of hair removal – the swinging 60’s

9pm on a Saturday night in autumn and  I  find myself (a writer/ other stuff) seated next to a gynaecologist, a midwife and a book publisher for my friends 60’s inspired birthday party dinner!  After remarking on the fact that if we pooled our resources we could probably launch our own magazine ‘Women’s monthlies’,  red cover, extra absorbent paper etc we turned our attention to other, more serious business……

“Hair maketh the woman”,  “behind every good woman is her hairdresser’  and so on and so forth!

Yes the 1960’s was renown for its boufants, hair-spray and quaffed locks…….

…..but we weren’t talking about that end of town, we were interested in what was going on down there (between the legs).

Being a woman in the 1960’s must have been quite a challenge because we started off all prim and proper (Mad men Betty style), objectified, pigeon holed and clipped before undergoing a complete transformation by the end of the decade into free-loving, free-thinking hippies. That, paired with the highly political Vietnam war effort would have been enough to get anyones bullet bra’s burning!   However, one thing that the 1960’s woman didn’t have to consider was whether to trim her lady garden.  THAT burden ended up being reserved for us naughties girls!

By the time the 1960’s dropped by women had been shaving their legs for a while given the fashion for short skirts and shear stockings. However the growing affluence of the 60’s meant a growing investment in the hair removal category and before long us women were being marketed wax strips and even laser therapy to rid us of our excess fur (that was until laser got such a bad reputation for leaving burns – the technology […]

Branding Watch – Empire Building Skin Care from Heyland and Whittle

When travelling I like nothing better than nosing around in chemists, drug stores, beauty parlours and supermarkets to see what the locals are slapping on (in the name of beauty).  During my recent trip to Europe I spotted a number of eye-catching brands that I will share with you over a number of posts.

First up is this rather stately looking brand from the UK called Heyland and Whittle.

Being English (yes still, even though I’m now an honorary Australian mate)  this brand immediately stood out as a ‘British and proud’ brand that looked good enough for any budding member of the aristocracy.  The one thing that middle class Brits like more than  a nice cup of tea is a spot of one-upmanship as they try to politely win the battle over who is the most ‘POSH’.   There would be no doubting that you are posh if you had this little beauty in your lavatory!

Heyland and Whittle have a lot ‘right’ with this brand in my humble opinion. They have a coat of arms which relates to their family (and that is impressive),  they make their products ‘locally’  at their property in Uber posh commuter belt (for London) Surrey and they even have a double barreled name (just like me hahaha).  Their colour scheme is beautiful and very English country home and garden with their dusty berry pinks, heather purple, woodland green and fresh-pressed white and what’s more it is a great fit with their botanical brand positioning.

Notice the fine detail with this brand – the cork  stopper, ribbon, font, border and clean layout – exactly what your good old house keeper would like to see – ship shape, respectable and not too over the […]

Skin Pickings -We are animal.

Bare with me, this is about skin 🙂

As so often happens the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned about life, the universe and everything came bundled up in an unexpected parcel of un-planned, un-expected and often inconvenient parcels of truth.  I like that about life, it reminds me that I are not just autonomous control-bot computing and rationalizing my way through life.  I am not alone, my actions cause re-actions and vice versa.  I both contribute and feed off the chaos and it is good.

So, it is usually whilst  in this un-planned state of mind that I sit watching my tribe of Guinea Pigs go about their daily business.  We currently have four boys and four girls, a status-quo that changed as a result of a heat-wave induced Guinea Pig cull back in January that wiped out 6 of our beautiful girls and 2 boys leaving us bereft and having to re-think our piggie policy.  With respect to our Guinea Pig friends we try to split them into friendship groups based on sex, age and personality to make their lives with us as happy and peaceful as possible.  Having got this spot on before said hot day things were going well but afterwards we were left with a problem.  We ended up with three boys plus two girls to re-jig.  The girls having been living together before were fine and carried on eating grass, drinking water and pooping merrily as if nothing had happened.  However, the boys were more of an issue.

Two of the three remaining boys are young brothers that had, up until hot day been living in perfect harmony with their older male mentor Ned.  Ned was a lovely boy, about a […]

Chlorophyll Toothpaste – What’s that all about?

The best thing about travelling on business is seeking out different cosmetic products to blog about so when I found this while in Paris this week (oh la la)  I just had to share:

That, young ladies and gentlemen is Chlorophyll toothpaste.  Yes chlorophyll, that green pigment that plants use to convert sunlight into energy.  So my question is WHAT ON EARTH has that got to do with my gnashers?
Now forgive me for pointing out the obvious but green teeth are not all the rage around here (or anywhere outside of a Shrek swamp) and so why on earth a green pigment would be top of the toothpaste formulators ‘to use’ list seems baffling to me.
But then it occurred to me that I might just be judging this solar energy maker a little harshly, surely the giant toothy brains of Colgate have some facts to back up this rather unorthodox choice of key active.  And they did.
Next I found this from 1953!!!

Now I’m always the first to admit that I don’t know everything but how did this escape my attention?  Apparently chlorophyll has been helping de-bug oral cavities of the masses for over 60 years!    Indeed if natural health magazines and scientific research papers of the 1920’s-1960’s are to be believed this is exactly what your mouth needs.
But I wasn’t convinced.
Chlorophyll toothpaste does seem to me to be somewhat of a fashionable add-on as far as main stream dentistry goes.  Yes chlorophyll has been found to kill some bacteria but laboratory tests returned mixed results.  It didn’t reduce amounts of all types of oral bacteria and in some cases it was found to promote bacterial growth.  Further, you really can’t get over the colour issue. Chlorophyll is very green with only […]

How do you see yourself – Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Advertisements don’t usually suck me in but this one has. I think that it is simply beautiful.

I say simply beautiful because when I saw it for the first time I didn’t pick it to pieces, dwell on the words, the politics, the product placement. I just took it based on how it made me and the women who took part in this advert feel (well, how they appeared to feel based on this film) and sometimes I think that is best.

After watching for the first time I googled it to try to find the original in order to pop it on here. It was then that I started to read the commentary surrounding it, the critics were as critics are, divided.

For a moment I did sit back to re-evaluate my feelings towards this clip. Was I naive? Foolish? Captivated by the music? Just feeling a bit sentimental? Vulnerable maybe? No, not really. What I felt after my self-critique was that to me this is what I saw it as, a simple  truth that means whatever we choose it to mean, is worth whatever we choose it to be worth and has whatever power we give it . For that I am truly grateful.

One tiny European issue- nano or not.

Europe we have a problem, you see you know that new law that your Europollies passed about compulsory labelling of nanoparticles that comes into effect pretty much NOW?  Well, that law is lacking in practical detail and when I say lacking what I mean is the measurement tools that one needs to use to work out if a particle is nano or not are very hard to come by – totally impractical – exist only in crusty old research institutions – under lock and rusty key. Oh and even if you do have a suitable measuring device little are many different ways in which to use it resulting in many different results.  What is nano one way is massive another. Hmmmm.

And this is a problem because the confusion filters down from ingredient manufacturer to ingredient distributor and on to ingredient user/ formulator. That’s me, right there, the last stop on the R&D food chain and the hand that reaches out of the lab and touches the brand owner.  It is us who get asked ‘does my product contain nanoparticles?’ and it is us who have to make sense of the technical info and relay it to an over-enthusiastic marketing team who feint at the slightest whiff of controversy before spending every last inch of energy trying to think up ways of making whatever ‘problem’ exists go away.

Clear as mud.

And that marketing issue leads to this which is why I’m worried.

My dear Europeland, you really really don’t like it when brands market themselves using ‘free from’ claims but then you go and play right into their hands  by calling out nano particles on the ingredients label.  Now I know that just adding the word ‘nano’ after an ingredient shouldn’t spell doom […]

Communicating Product Shelf Life

Helping companies to either establish or validate their products expiry dates is something that I do as part of my Realize Beauty consulting work.  Generally speaking once a new product has been signed off ready for manufacturing we make a pilot batch under factory conditions (50-100Kg usually) and use some of this to run stability tests.  These stability tests involve placing samples of the new product under different environmental conditions – 4C, 22C and 40C are pretty normal.  The product remains in these test conditions for 12-24 weeks during which time they are monitored and tested to ensure that things like pH, appearance, smell, viscosity (thickness), rheology (flow) and weight don’t change outside of usable limits.  We also carry out freeze/ thaw stability and whizz our products around in a centrifuge if they contain particles or are an emulsion as this simulates the forces that a product endures during export transportation.  It’s all quite interesting and can yield unexpected results and most importantly results in either a pass or fail for the product plus a projected shelf life.   A 12 week protocol allows us to predict a 1 year stability and 24 weeks a 2 year.

Anyway, all of that is done to give the brand owner some evidence to back up their shelf life claim and to give you, the public a relevant and proven figure to work off.  Different countries have different laws on how this information should be relayed to the public but I generally work to EU regulations as Australia tends to lean that way and many of my customer’s end up exporting to the EU so in the long run it makes sense.  Therefore my info below is related […]

Is it worth spending $680 on a skin cream?

 

Every now and again someone will ask me if ‘that cream from La Prairie’ is worth the $680 price tag.   Why they ask me I don’t know because as I am sure regular readers will be aware,  I will not be gift wrapping up an easy answer to ANY question any time soon.  Leave that to the other guys…..

La Prairie is probably one of the best known ‘out of my price bracket’ brands because it’s products are ridiculously expensive.  I actually had no idea what this product contained until now but could have rattled off the price tag without a second thought. La Prairie costs an arm and a leg, everybody knows that and that is  all part of its allure, for some and you know what?  I’m cool with that.

I feel it is important to remember that beneath the fancy packaging and branding is a cosmetic  and as such it can’t do much more than deliver a few good ingredients to the skin in a bid to make it look ‘better’.  However, put this cosmetic cream together with some fancy tactile packaging, slick advertising, persuasive writing and exclusive positioning and you now have a drug on your hands.  A drug called success.

I haven’t tried this cream so can’t comment on how it feels, looks, smells or performs but I’d want it to be blooming marvellous for that price tag, I mean I can get botox for less….

Ingredients wise it contains this little lot of natural and synthetic chemicals to delight and “perfect” you:

Water, Butylene Glycol, C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Squalane, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Myristyl Myristate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Mica, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Caprylyl Glycol, Tribehenin, Carbomer, […]

Identity Crisis – Goodbye Itchy Girl

For those of you who have read ‘and then I got sick’ you will know that I’m currently working through a number of allergy/ eczema/ health issues and have embarked upon a journey to wellness with the help of a naturopath, a hypnotherapist, a change in diet and my own iron will-power and determination.

Just to remind you that I’m journaling this (in between my normal articles once I get a little more on top of things) because it is a) about the skin and therefore relevant to the blog and b) because by writing I learn stuff.  Thanks for reading along.

So, this is how the first trip to the hypnotherapist went.

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‘Just call me itchy girl’ I said.  ‘I have been itching since I was a baby, got diagnosed with eczema pretty early on and spent a lot of time during my childhood and up to now really talking about my, treating and trying to manage my condition’.

I’ve been to this clinic before when suffering from the stresses of getting a business up and running and everything else I’d clenched my teeth to pieces and thought that hypno would be a good way to rid myself of the habit.  Needless to say that journey was a longer and more winding than I had anticipated but as it had a happy ending I thought why not drag itchy girl out of the closet and see what she can do for her.

‘Let me ask you a question’ she started.  ‘Do you think that your eczema can ever get better?  Can it be cured?”……….

Therapists have a knack of putting you on the spot. Of saying in one sentence what you have been struggling to say or feel for […]

And then I got sick.

Business is booming, life is sweet and weekends are mostly free and easy so why do I feel like death warmed up?

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Regular readers of this blog may recall me talking about my eczema and my disappointment at not being able to stop it despite me being a cosmetic chemist and having access to all the right ingredients and knowledge.   Well, I think I just got a little closer to understanding my problem and I wanted to share that with you, mainly because my most frequent health issue is my skin so it makes sense to talk about it on this beauty/ cosmetic science blog but also because I use my writing to learn and explore so while this may just help you it will certainly help me out heaps!

But first of all history (or her story if you like).

I was born allergic according to my parents and I have to agree with them.  Some of my earliest memories involve me taking off all of my clothes because they were too hot and itchy (it wasn’t my clothes it was my skin), of tummy aches and of feeling uncomfortable.  That’s not to say that I spent all of my time in that state but eczema and allergies did feature heavily in my growing up.  That said I had friends who had it worse and my allergies never got so bad that I needed hospitalization or extra-special care.  Just a large dose of calamine lotion, some cortisone and a few cool showers usually kept me on track.

As I got older my eczema changed and I stopped getting it on my body so much. Instead it crept onto my hands mainly because I spent a good […]