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.

Travel and Become

I travel quite a lot for business, teaching, meeting clients and soaking up the vibe of a place as part of my ongoing research into the psychology of beauty.  But with so much compromise, personal disruption and discomfort associated with my travels I was left pondering why I love it so……..

I love to travel but have often found it hard to put my finger on exactly why, especially when I’m a real home-bod outside of these trips.  More often than not I’d rather entertain, work, sleep and eat at home in my daily life. I find it relaxing to be around places and people that I know and that know me well.  I enjoy the freedom and brain space that familiarity affords me and while yes, from time to time as the mother of a busy and active family I bemoan the chores that come with my many hatted life but realise that too is OK. It reminds me that I have people, pets and stuff in my life to care about and nurture. 

So what happens when I travel then and why is it so appealing if I clearly don’t ever feel the need to run, run away?

I am a wild soul at heart and have always longed for the feeling of the wind in my hair and the taste of adventure in my mouth. I need to explore and to run but I realise how that I don’t wish to run from something, it is more a running towards that grips me!  Towards new ideas, experiences, people and places that resonate with my soul, re-energize and inspire me, challenge and test me and that is why I keep on doing it.

In my […]

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in skin care

Part of my job as a consultant chemist to the cosmetics industry is to evaluate existing research using a sort of SWOT analysis before suggesting a course action stemming from that.

Past examples have been as follows:

What is the issue with palm oil and how best to tackle that?
Can zinc oxide nanoparticles penetrate the skin and if so what damage could they do?
Shea butter lip balms tend to develop grains on standing.  How big a problem is this and can it be prevented?
What is a Halal cosmetic and what (if any) problems would they solve/ benefits would they bring to the market both as a whole and for the Muslim community.

Anyway, this week my topic is Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and more specifically their alleged toxicity.  

One of my clients has become concerned over information published about the toxicity of seed oils. More specifically this research focuses on the  large percentage of unsaturated fatty acids in oils such as Sunflower and almond.   The concern is that the oxidation of these oils on the face (which is exposed to both UV light, oxygen and moisture) would cause a degradation of the oils leading to cell damage, inflammation and the like brought on by the breakdown of these unstable fatty components.

When I initially got the call to look into this I thought ‘aha, yet another thing for us all to become paranoid about – as if there isn’t enough rope out there already’  but then I started to un-pick the question a bit further.

As with many simple propositions, the devil is in the detail and there is so much detail in here you would probably die of boredom or confusion before I got to […]

Knowledge – Theoretical and Applied and the hobby cosmetic chef.

Hello lovely people,

It has come to my attention through my consulting that there is a trap in life  and it is tripping a few of you up.  It is the ‘I think therefore I know’ trap.

Let me explain.

These days there is so much information available to the average web surfer that you can sit at home, research your little heart out and feel like you are an expert in whatever takes your fancy.  Technically you may well be but practically  I am not so sure, especially when it comes to something as crazy as chemistry.

That is because there is a very big difference in thinking you know something and actually being able to apply it.  We sometimes call this ‘the devil in the detail’ but I like to call it what it is – understanding then practice.

Chemistry (even cosmetic chemistry which is actually more physics than chemistry but anyway) is complex in terms of what might react with what, where these mixtures might sit in a formula, what they are attracted to and what repels them,  what might hasten their demise, prevent them from finding their ‘true self’, make them less irritating or more cost-effective.   However, because we can google ingredients, recipes, technical help and expert testimonial we think it should be as easy as baking a cake.

Which begs the question have you ever tried baking a cake…… Let’s think about that shall we?

How many times do you bake a cake from recipe/ memory or whim and they turn out A1 perfect first, second or even third time?

And when it goes wrong (or not as right as you wanted) do you know why?

Was it the oven, the eggs, the flour,  the milk – […]

What does a technical Director do exactly?

I launched my consulting business just over five years ago now and have seen it grow, shrink, grow and then morph in a few different directions over that time.  This shifting and shuffling is all par for the course for a young start-up business and especially one with the core skills of technical Directorship as we all know that it is dangerous to run before you can walk and as such I have had to tread the boards before I got to sit on one (other than my own of course).

Anyway, I find myself now in a position where technical Direction is EVERYTHING that I do.  Whether clients come to me for a quick and easy formulation, a bit of writing,  training, stability testing or trouble shooting I end up doing a lot of listening,  thinking and planning before giggling that all up in my brain soup and dishing it up as a fully formed plan.  That plan is in fact your brand direction, your ticket to successfully joining the dots and flying high in the world of cosmetic brand ownership.

But like everything I’ve ever tried to do communicating this in an ‘elevator’ pitch to people who feel that it should be easy and who ‘hadn’t thought of that’ or ‘didn’t know there were any laws’  or ‘thought that all I had to do was set up a Facebook page and they would come’ is tricky.

So, I thought I’d go through it long hand with you now in a bid to solve my own problem and magic-up a pitch by the end of this blog post.

Here goes – my three-step program.

Step 1)  Understand the difference between Directorship and Management.

So this might be obvious to […]

The Politics of Feedstock Part 2: Is it time to ditch the veggies?

I have been banging on about Palm oil for a while now, in fact for pretty much all of my blogging career on-and-off and for good reason.  Sustainability matters to my customers and I and I believe that I owe it not only to myself but also to my readers and paid clients to at least give them the opportunity to utilize the most environmentally friendly ingredients out there, after all, I make it my job to know about these things (because I’m interested).

The cosmetic industry lives in a world that has pretty much given up on animal fats (which I can understand), said NO to petroleum (again, totally understandable given its poor renewability stats) and feels uneasy about Palm (deforestation, displacement, corruption and more besides).  However, on weighing up the chemistry palm has always seemed to be the only sensible option to me (high productivity, low pesticide requirements, high quality oil etc.) so what is it that I am missing in my analysis?

The time had come to go and nut this out with someone who, when it comes to the environment and beauty, knows their stuff.   Cue Grace, owner and founder of Pure and Green Organic Personal Care.

It was Grace that suggested that maybe the issue shouldn’t be about palm after all given that there is so much waste land and material around from which to create feedstock.   I began to think that maybe the time has come to ditch the veggies altogether…

As a non-cosmetic brand owner I don’t have to worry about selling ideas like this to the public.  My focus is directed at the nuts and bolts of the cosmetics industry – the chemical ingredient manufacturers.  A place where all ingredients […]

The Truth About The Business of Beauty

Tomorrow sees the start of the 2013 Sydney Beauty Expo. An exhibition that will showcase 274 companies, many of them local (Australian) cosmetic or personal care brands developed by men and women with a dream to be the next Body Shop, Estee Laudee, L’Oreal or A.N Other.  Many of them will fail. Spectacularly.

The trouble with the cosmetics industry, at least here in Australia is that is has become very easy to enter and while I’m all for low-barriers to entrepreneur ship there is always a danger that when things are made too simple……

Let me explain using this list of 10 things that the Australian Cosmetics Industry is free from!

Free from having to know how to formulate to create your own cosmetics brand. Google has a few freebies and so do blogs such as mine (occasionally) and sometimes people just make them up!
Free from having to understand  what the ingredients you want to use DO to set up a cosmetics brand.  Just read off the label of a competitor product, copy and voila!
Free from the need to invest much in terms of packaging, labelling and design to create a cosmetics brand.
Free from the requirement to pass any exams or be audited against any particular standard to sell a cosmetics brand.
Free from the need to commit to large volumes when manufacturing a cosmetics brand.
Free from the need to be patient. You can go  from idea to cosmetics brand in less than 2 months if you go with off-the-shelf options.
Free from pesky regulations. It is easy to assume that because the cosmetics industry isn’t regulated you don’t need to comply to any laws when developing and then retailing your cosmetics brand.
Free from the need to deal with […]

And another Palm Free Emulsion for those who like that kind of thing.

OK so you guys should know by now that I am not ‘for’ boycotting palm per se but I am worried about how Palm fits into the whole sustainability thing.  The reason I am sharing these formulations with you (that I could earn up to $5000 a piece for developing once they are finalised) is because I don’t feel comfortable making money out of something that I am not convinced will do what it is setting out to do.  By that I mean that I am not convinced that palm free products will help move the planet to a healthier place.  This is why.

When doing my research on palm free alternatives I found that there are a couple and that these alternatives are usually derived from another robust feedstock such as coconut or rapeseed.  Now I’m giving coconut a miss right now as that grows under pretty much the same conditions as oil palm and as such is potentially another ‘palm’ issue waiting to happen.  Instead I’m turning my attention to what I will now call the ‘westernised solution’.  That is, ingredients made in the west using feedstock that grows in a temperate climate (rather than rain forest).  Us ‘Westerners’ have forgotten that our backyard, school yard, hospitals, housing estates and motorways used to be forests, forgot that we used to only eat meat and veggies that we have grown or butchered or purchased from the local market (NOT the sanitized supermarket).  We have forgotten what it feels like to be a kid in a  sweet shop oblivious to the ‘poisoned sugar’, the diabetes, glaucoma, obesity etc.  We have had lots of good times and are now suffering from affluenza.  It simply isn’t cool any […]

The politics of feed stock – in search of a palm free cosmetic.

OK so I am the first to admit that when it comes to palm oil  I am all of the below:

Fascinated by the palm vs no palm debate.
Concerned about the environmental impact that our non-essential human purchases and whims have on the environment.
Am not an environmental scientist and have limited time/ resources/ background knowledge to research the agricultural side of this debate but….
Still slightly bias towards palm but open to the idea that there are other options out there.
Interested in the global balance of equity (fairness) and wealth (opportunity).

That is not a disclaimer, it is fact.  I am trying to work through, question, analyse and feel my way towards an action plan that ticks as many boxes as is practical without loosing focus on the main issue – once virgin forest is gone it is gone. Monoculture plantations are not animal/ bird/ bee etc friendly.

So, where next.

I sit and listen as many people come to me for ‘palm free’ products.  When I say many I mean enough to say that there is a trend but not enough to displace those looking for Organic which is generally about 10% of my customer base – on that basis I’d estimate it to be around 1-2%.  Out of the remaining 88 ish % 3/4 want all-natural and the other 1/4 are OK with most things as long as the product works and isn’t classified as toxic.

On that basis I generally write, talk and think about palm more than it is worth in terms of my $$$.  It is possible to be a cosmetic chemist, make bucket loads of money (if you are lucky OR good OR in some cases both) without scratching the surface of any of […]

Palm Free Moisturiser Concept – Crowd Sourced R&D

Happy Friday people!

As my frequent readers will know I am no stranger to the palm issue and regularly voice my opinion on the issue that is not the issue.  However, I live in this world and as such come across many people who have decided that Palm is evil and is unwelcome in their life.  They want alternatives and I’m curious to know if alternatives are an option.

So I thought stuff it, I’ll develop a palm free moisturiser in public for you guys to try.  If you are lucky you may even make some money out of it if that’s what floats your boat.

Step 1:  Develop a concept formula and try it in the lab.

This is where I am very lucky, well lucky and naturally nerdy. I have a well stocked laboratory (of course I have) and know a thing or two about emulsion formation so this part of the R&D process took me a little under 30 minutes to cobble together.  I know that because I had to fit it in before the school run!

This is what I came up with:

Step 2:  Make the thing.

OK so this was easy to.  You just hydrate the Amigel in the aloe liquid  or water if aloe is not something you want (I use hot water/ Aloe – 80C). I have a homogeniser so it didn’t take me long but it may take you a bit more effort and time with a bar mixer or (heaven forbid) a spoon!  In any case the amigel has to look nice and thick and un-lumpy before we can go on.

Next the other ingredients  from phase A were added to the water with gentle stirring.

Phase B was weighed and melted to […]

The fashion for moral outrage continues – My chemical romance.

If I had a dollar for every time I ‘googled’ a chemical and found a crazy ass story I’d be a very happy bunny.  I don’t get it, I mean,  I didn’t train to be a hairdresser and even with my knowledge of hair care ingredients wouldn’t DREAM of telling people how to give their barnets a make-over, how to chop like Edward Scissor hands or how to turn a  purple haze into strawberry fields by colour correction but that doesn’t stop people who have no background (practical as well as theoretical) in chemistry ‘teaching’ chemistry via the internet.

 Is it me or have people well and truly lost the art of knowing what they know and don’t know?

Reminds me of a Robbie Williams song that also reminds me of this:

God (of chemistry/ hairdressing or skin care) ,

give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed

Courage to change the things which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

There are many well-meaning souls out there who go off with their google goggles on in search of truth, meaning and inspiration.  And do you know what? Most of them find it.  They find it and believe that because of this they know it, only they don’t because all they have done is seen ‘it’ from one dimension (and quite often that is the dimensions of their computer screen).


Here’s an example story for you.

Mr Blobby’s spaceship lands  into my back garden one sunny day,  he makes such a racket that all the birds, bees and insects stop buzzing, chirping and clicking.

Mr Blobby looks around and finds a snail.  He doesn’t know it is a snail, he has no […]