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.

What are Bushflower Essences

OMG I’m writing a post about something that I know nothing about!  Hang on, isn’t that how every good piece of scientific enquiry starts out…….


While browsing my friendly organic goods online shop I spotted this and just had to try it.

After all it says ‘calm & clear’  which is soooooo not me (I can’t see anything clearly unless I have my glasses on and I’ve seen calmer bull + red flag combos) and it also says “Body Love” which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  But they are just elements of this skin care brand and while I can attest to this product being very nice, beautifully aromatic and ‘quality’ in terms of presentation and in-use experience that isn’t the part I wanted to focus on.

What really got me interested was this thing about Australian Bush Flowers and their essences.

What are they?

Well according to the website founder and science bloke  Ian White says ‘The Bush Essences are a system of healing that anyone can use for themselves or prescribe for others. Although Flower Remedies have been used by many cultures for thousands of years, the Australian Bush Flower Essences meet the great need for remedies that help people address the issues of the 21st century – sexuality, communication skills and spirituality to name but a few”

I would summarise that by saying they have the power to make you shout out  ‘Oh My God yes please’ during moments of cardinal pleasure’.  Do I really want that on my face?

Ok so thousands of years of evolution and bush craft is worth more than that so I had a bit more of a dig around.

Everyone knows that modern medicine originated in nature by combining different […]

This old skin of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!

Well maybe not ‘shine’ in the literal sense but well, you know what I mean…..

Whether we like it or not growing younger is the stuff of fantasies and while we can turn back the clock somewhat with our arsenal of modern interventions there is some truth to this idea:

At 25 we have the skin we were born with.

At 45 our skin reflects our lifestyle.

At 70 we wear the skin we have earned.

So what does that mean?

Well firstly I want to re-frame what I am talking about as our ‘skin’ being a dynamic and ever-renewing thing is never really that old, shedding fully every 28 days or so.  What I am talking about is our skin producing cells, their health and their vigour.

Unless we have an illness, trauma or genetic condition our skin functions like a well tuned sports car throughout our younger years.  Wounds heal,  environmental damage is mopped up and repaired, the barrier (our outer defence) is strong and ready and its appearance is smooth, taught and vibrant.  This flush of youth generally sees us into our early or even late twenties despite relentless wear, tear, abuse and mis-management but by the time the clock ticks over to 30 things are starting to change.

I remember turning 30, looking in the mirror and going ‘yay for me’ as by that time my acne had finally started to calm and my skin was yet to show any outer signs of ageing despite my aforementioned spottiness plus my pallor (the sun and me aren’t good friends), eczema and general itchiness.  Little did I know that my smugness would be limited and that the winds of change were just around the corner.

Now at nearly 40 (38 actually) […]

OK then who’s up for some cola flavoured toothpaste?

I did wonder if the world has gone mad when I saw this:

No, not the apple flavour – we all know that apples are good for your teeth (well kind of), I mean the cola flavoured toothpaste.  I tried it, it is really, really sweet and kind of sparkly which may be my jet lagged eyes but may also mean that this leaves your teeth with a shining disco glimmer.  Just what the dentist ordered.

For me this one small every-day item epitomizes the ‘Rise of the Dragon’ (if you are into economics then I can recommend this eye opener of a book).

I find it ironic that many of the parents of the kids that this product targets would have been born in ‘Red’ China (Mao was in power until 1976) and there was no way they would have been brushing, drinking or even dreaming about cola in their childhoods and that’s saying nothing of the irony of linking cola to clean teeth:

I guess it takes all sorts and if this helps one little girl or boy to start a life-long healthy habit of teeth cleaning then all may be forgiven but I’d be making sure I hid the tube just in case the kiddie winks took a shine to that cola-in-a-tube delight and sucked it dry because this little baby certainly aint for eating.

Whatever next…….

Can you really add Vitamin D to your sunscreen and expect it to get to work?

In short I’m not sure that anyone knows really as while we do understand a fair amount about where this vitamin comes from and goes to I feel we are far from having all of the answers. But as usual, that doesn’t stop skin care brands taking a punt and why shouldn’t they……

Anyway, I recently purchased this:

Vitamin D3 is the stuff that the skin makes upon UV irradiation.  I didn’t know this until May 2012 when I researched it a whole lot for a talk I gave at a Malaysian University gathering.  Part of that research is available here.

As you would have noticed if you flicked to the link, our skin doesn’t have a vitamin D3 reservoir, instead it makes 7-Dehydrocholesterol in the basal layer which, when irradiated forms Vitamin D3 which then goes into the bloodstream and does its stuff.

That is one reason why I have my doubts about topically applied Vitamin D3. Maybe the conversion is significant and it is the conversion that kick starts the biological conveyor belt rather than assuming the presence of the ‘key’ which in this case would be Vitamin D3 produces the ‘door’ or transport mechanism?  At this point in time I have no idea how significant or not that subtle detail is.

Another of my reservations centres on the fact that vitamin D3 has a short half-life and therefore must may hay while the sun shines so to speak! Transdermal delivery can take time.

A third centres on the fact that I haven’t been able to find any scientific paper as yet showing that topically applied Vitamin D3 will increase circulating Vitamin D levels and while that doesn’t mean that none exist it does add to my doubtful […]

Why does my fat butt burn?

It is not often that I go ‘sun baking’ due to the fact that my transparent whiteness is actually quite scary when nearly naked and even more scary (and painful) when burned.  But having kids and being someone who wants to at least TRY to enjoy summer type activities I do, on occasions get my kit off and last week was no exception as you see here:

Sensing that a moment of almost nakedness creeping up on me I whip out my invisible shield of factor highest-I-can-get-my-hands-on and rub it in. Yes I make sure that I rub it in lightly to get the maximum SPF coverage and yes I also wait the required 20 minutes to give it time to get working….

Then I go outside and play.

Sometime later (not too long as being a nerdy calculator type of person I know that my great whiteness has an absolute max of 4 hours total sun time a day with factor 50 and more sensibly 2 ‘good hours’ of beach time before I start to burn)  I go inside to assess the damage and…….. low and behold my fat butt burned.

As much as I love sharing all of my embarrassing life with you I will not be posting a picture of that. Instead I will describe my little issue in words and let you draw the mental picture if you so wish.

I always, always burn in a half moon-ish shape following the line of my swimming bottoms on the fleshiest (and fattest) part of my thigh – I think they call them ‘saddle bags’ but being allergic to horses I prefer to think of them as ‘side impact bags’.   The burning isn’t severe but it […]

Coconut Oil made the traditional way

If you are wondering why I have been writing so much about coconuts recently there are two, no three reasons:

Natural Curiosity. I realised how little I knew about this king of oils when I started hearing from many people who were using it as a cure-all,  protect-all and general hero and didn’t really know why. To me coconut oil has always just been a soap thing.  I wanted to find out more. 
SPF. Being summer over here (and a hot one to boot) we are all drenching ourselves in sunscreen. The fact that some of my ‘natural alternative’ friends use coconut oil as a sunscreen initially worried me as I have always thought that oils onto the skin would be akin to a human basting.  This ‘fact’ needed some serious testing.
I love coconuts – the smell, the colour, the versatility of this crop, the taste and the robustness of the crop.

OK, so far I have looked at the basic chemistry of coconut oil and I have had some SPF tests run on the best organic product I could get my hands on (and it was no good at all to be honest).  I have attempted to answer the question ‘is coconut oil sunscreen right for me’ in a philosophical way and I have uncovered a previously unknown to me fact about coconut oil that could be a game changer (for me anyway, it seems that other people already knew this stuff….)

This game changing fact-to-be-tested is:

The method of extraction of your coconut oil matters.  Being ‘organic’ is not enough, the oil has to come from the cold pressing of the fresh fruit, the old-fashioned way. 

So,  I packed up my bags, pulled on my walking shoes and […]

You would think that being a cosmetic chemist I could stop this.

Hello, this is me:

and this is a close up of my problem:

Yes, that is a close up of a heat rash on my poor old eczema prone skin.

You would think that being a cosmetic chemist I could stop this wouldn’t you?  No.  No for a number of reasons which I will attempt to list below:

I am a lazy product user – I forget, give up, can’t be bothered to re-apply etc, etc.
I am a stress head – working on this one dear people but not quite there yet.
It is extremely hot here at the mo – several weeks of temps see-sawing from mid 20C – mid 40C and dry, oh so dry.
I love swimming – and there’s nothing more drying to the skin than water.  Go figure…..
I have a habit of itching myself and can’t quite work out if I scratch because I itch or if I itch because I scratch…..
I probably don’t drink enough water (no idea why that matters but it usually does).

I am sure that I have made, been given or purchased many great eczema products and yes, at times I do use them all but unfortunately in my case I think I’ve gone beyond a simple cream solution and need serious anti-itch therapy.

I’m off on my hols next week and am hoping that some fresh air, sea water and reduced stress will help clear this lot up but beyond that I’m going to give some hypnotherapy a try to see if I can get to the bottom of what lies beneath that itch/ scratch cycle (I’ve had bad eczema since I was a baby so probably never knew anything different).  That paired with a much stricter product regimen should (I […]

If SPF 30 filters 96.7% of the sun and SPF 50 only 1.3% more (98%) what is the point?

Back in November I wrote a little article entitled “Inconvenient Fact Of The Day:  SPF does NOT just refer to UVB” on the back of a factually confusing press release about Australia’s move to allow the marketing and sale of SPF 50 sunscreens. Well it is now time for the sequel to that article.

The move to SPF 50 has prompted some to look at their SPF 30 products and say ‘oh bugger’. Now this is not because there is anything technically wrong with SPF 30 products, it is more a case of them having been numerically demoted. That and the fact that the standard (or goal posts) have now changed to ensure that UVA and UVB protection is always balanced – before while it was crucial that a product had some UVA protection to reach SPF 30 the ratio between the UVA and UVB had less baring on the result.  That said, almost all brand owners opted for a broad-spectrum analysis anyway as when it comes to sun protection quality is as important as quantity (when talking UV spectrum filtering).

Anyway, that aside it is time to look at and test these numbers.

30 – a reasonable number.  A number that when pre-fixed with the letters “SPF” means something quite useful.  It means that the product in question, when used as directed will give you thirty times more protection than your un-protected skin can offer you.

That means that if you usually get redness appear after 5 minutes in the sun, with this product on you have ‘bought’ yourself up a maximum of 150 minutes.

150 minutes?  That’s 2 ½ hours of pure unadulterated sun baking.

Sounds like a lot but let’s look at it from the other side.

We […]

The Problem With An Opinion Is……..

There is a certain skill that is growing in relevance in this  information-overloaded universe and that’s the ability to discern information.  To sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak.  To know the difference between what we know and don’t know, can and can’t conclude,  truth vs opinion, Bull-sh@!-O-Meter if you will.

The good news is that anyone with an open mind and a flexible ego can improve their skills.  The bad news is that as soon as you think you know (or  God forbid OWN) the truth  and let your ego wear an ‘expert’ hat your magical powers wane. In short you swap your ‘discerning’ powers for opinions and we all know that opinions are like (insert crude bodily reference), everybody has got one.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having and sharing opinions but when you give an opinion a professional standing or framework it can ride dangerously close to sounding like an unquestionable truth and where there are truths there are devotees.

So where am I going with this? 

Well all I can do is tell you a little more about my journey as that is all I know.

When I started off this blog I used to send in stories to all of the top magazines, newspapers, other popular blogs and review sites hoping to become one of their ‘experts’.  I wanted my writing to be adored and my views to be shared so that A) I could feel good about myself and B) that I could possibly grow and  learn from the interactions that followed on from my articles.  However, it soon became apparent that I was barking up the wrong tree in terms of audience as time and time again I […]

Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Deep Radiance Gel Oil

When I saw this gel oil on the shelves earlier this week  I just had to get some to try for a number of reasons. Firstly it’s always great to find new ways to moisturise when you are a chronic eczema suffered – my skin gets VERY dry – and secondly I am always being asked for ways of making oils thicker.

So, on the first point this is a very convenient oil for those living in a hot climate, beach lovers or people who like to use oils to moisturise but don’t want to risk the lining of their handbag (that is a real problem BTW).  It is great for those people because unlike straight oils that tend to get runny and leak in hot weather this one holds its form while providing super long-lasting moisture locking power to boot.

Looking at the formula this absolutely isn’t something for natural product lovers.  There’s nothing wrong with it in my opinion but it is held together by a chemical ingredient that is best described as liquid plastic. The ingredient I’m referring to is Hydrogenated Styrene/ Butadiene Copolymer which, according to my literature search is a great film former, oil thickener and scalp and hair protectant.  Before you get worried about slathering plastic on your skin this ingredient is an approved cosmetic additive and as its job is to sit on top of the skin where it can lock in moisture it should be quite safe. Oh and lastly it is such a big chemical that it wouldn’t fit through the usual channels.

Another interesting ingredient in this product is also a mouthful to say – Ethylene/Propylene/ Styrene Copolymer, Butylene/Ethylene Styrene Copolymer.   This equally technically great synthetic polymer […]