Educate Me

Specific Gravity and your formulations

How about starting off with an equation, that’s a great way to win friends and influence people isn’t it?

If that didn’t grab you then how about a little explanation:

“Specific gravity is a number given to represent how dense (mass per unit volume)  a substance is in relation to water.  That’s why the equation is written as it is – as a ratio.

Any wiser?

Having peaked as a mathematical genius in year 6  (or primary school) I sympathise with anyone who finds this sort of thing hard as even though I now ‘get’ this, every time I have to work out Specific Gravity I still need something a little more visual at hand to help me run a sanity check over the numbers.  I don’t know why I need to do that, maybe my math brain was sucked out by zombies dogs and replaced by a picture of a unicorn frolicking in the forest or maybe I have just always been a visual thinker.

So, with that in mind I’ll show you how I make sense of this and then I’ll explain why I need to.

Here is a picture to  help explain an important concept behind specific gravity, namely density. 

These women all weigh 11 stone according to a story ran by the UK’s Daily Mail.  As you can see while they all weigh the same they are not all the same size or shape.  When we weigh things we are only interested in that one dimension which is OK if space isn’t an issue but it often is.  If you were trying to squeeze these ladies into a container you would need to know something about their shape and how much space they take up to ensure […]

A quick guide to HLB and why you might not need it just yet.

HLB is something that many of you have heard of but few can get their heads around.  I can totally understand why as it involves a few of my (not necessarily your) favourite things – Chemistry and Math.

But the thing is you might not even need to worry, well not yet anyway.

HLB = Hydrophilic, Lipophilic balance and it basically describes the ratio  between the oil loving and water-loving part of a surface-active ingredient (we often call these emulsifiers as we are usually trying to make a cream or emulsion when we think about HLB).

As you know oil and water don’t mix. This is no big secret and is easy to see for yourself by plonking some butter, olive oil or ghee into a cup of water.  You can shake it all you like but once you stop doing that two layers will form.  They don’t like each other that way (chemically of course).

So, to make them like each other we need a mediator.  The chemical equivalent of the diplomatic peace corp is the non-ionic emulsifier and it is only these types of surface-active ingredient that have a HLB.  This is also a source of confusion for some.

These non-ionic emulsifiers come in all shapes and sizes but have one thing in common, a love for both oil and water.  However, the amount of love they have for each differs and we give that difference a number – a HLB number.

The numbers range from 1-20 (typically although a quick google search may uncover HLB’s much higher, this isn’t useful 99% of the time).

I have drawn this cute (best I can do sorry) picture to demonstrate visually how a non-ionic two-handed surface-active chemical works. I hope you […]

Why is the EU still testing cosmetic ingredients on animals?

I spent a good part of yesterday reading toxicology reports investigating the safety of Nanoparticulate Titanium Dioxide and Silica. It was an EU sponsored and funded research project spanning 3 years and taking in work from a consortium of laboratories spanning many countries.

It soon became evident that part of this testing was carried out on live animals – injecting them with the particulates (in solution of course) and also passing them into the lungs.

The animals involved were rodents and the testing required sacrifice of the animals to trace the passage of the nano materials.

At that point the fact that I had come to find out about a particular nano material that I was researching fell to the back of my mind.  What grabbed me by the throat was the irony of the situation that I was now in.  I was reading a paper discussing results of animal testing on ingredients designed for the cosmetics industry. The testing had been authorised and funded in the EU at a time when the big trumpeted fan fair news was a ‘BAN ON ANIMAL TESTING’.

Isn’t that ironic?  

To say I had mixed feelings when I read this report would be an understatement. I do not want to see any animal at all put through testing,  whatever form that takes and however well-managed (and I do believe that this study was well-managed and that animal welfare was more than just a passing consideration).   However, the toxicological data that came back is, on the whole intensely useful from both a materials handling perspective, from the perspective of  someone who potentially uses these materials to make consumer goods and from the point of view of  ‘where to next’ both in […]

Help Yourself to Success

Hello everyone,

The last month has been crazy at Realize Beauty with meetings, R&D, trouble shooting, teaching and inspiration hunts taking all of our waking hours and eating into our sleep.  So it is with that in mind (plus a schedule that is still beating our door down) that I, Amanda sit and write this to you, my beauty queens, green dreams, wannabe’s and look-and-see’s.  This is about you and me.

I meet, talk to and do business with a wide range of people from all over the world and that’s why I do what I do.  My personal mission is and has always been driven by an intense fascination with people, their life journeys and more specifically the part that creativity and business play out along the way.   I think that’s why I always return from my travels and meetings enthused yet confused and re-energised yet exhausted in equal proportions.  But I like that.

So along the way I learn a little about us  and what I learn most is that success is something that you help yourself to.

But this is where we have to sit back and be adults about that, not children.  The child in us would reach for the book ‘The Secret’ and devour it, make a pinterest board of everything that we want to manifest and then sit back and wait for someone to ‘show me the money’.  The adult would get a pen and paper or go for a long walk or take themselves off to a quiet corner and get to know themselves better.  The adult would know that success means knowing who you are and who you are not. What you want and what you are prepared to do […]

Formulating for your furry friends

I am pathetically allergic to most animals even though I will myself not to be as I love them so much so when the opportunity to work on a pet care brand arrises to work  I go barking mad with excitement! Luckily I get plenty of chance to practice my furry formulating skills these days and as such wanted to share a few tips and tricks with you, just in case you share my passion.

So, what are some of the things that one has to consider when formulating for a pet?

ID the animal.

Sounds obvious but……….Just like we do when we formulate for people it is important to identify your target audience and then get to know what their special features are.  For example, you may be wanting to make a dog shampoo. This is fine but think about it, there are LOTS of types of dogs with very different fur patterns, sensitivities and sizes.  Break it down some more to enable more specific research.  Reputable breeders can be a great source of info on any quirks of a breed and please make sure you talk to a vet or pet dermatologist just to get an understanding of any breed-specific sensitivities. Same goes with cats but things like horses, guinea pigs and rabbits are usually a bit more uniform (in terms of the types people have as pets).

Research your chemistry.

Ingredients used in human products may be toxic to your pet OR may just be very attractive and end up in their tummy – not always a good idea!  Again this is where a good vet or animal health professional can help, especially when it comes to herbs, essential oils, preservatives and perfumes.   Again, make sure […]

Video Tutorials – what would you like to see.

I am working on putting together a few more lab based video clips to help you budding cosmetic chemist types make more and more exciting stuff.  However,  as my brain is a bit weird and overly nerdy in the science department I do sometimes wonder if they will be interesting enough.

My natural style is a bit crazy professor meets lame mummy comedian meets chaos fairy so that’s as clear as mud and non-negotiable (I can’t afford a personality upgrade) but the content is up for grabs.
So guys, what type of Realize Beauty video tutorial would you like to see (keep it clean, this is a family show)?

Do you use video tutorials now for your R&D work?

Do you even care?

I really do appreciate your feedback and will send a signed copy of my coffee table book Amongst Sisters to the most constructive opinion offered (as chosen by my panel of 4 Realize Beauty team members). You will also see your videos made and dedicated to you and/ or your brand or service so it could really be worth your time.

Please leave your comments below – closing date 24th July so you have three weeks!

In the meantime please sit back and enjoy the work of my 9-year-old who decided that she was going to become a You Tube make-up tutorial sensation!

Gaining Perspective – tips to brand success part 2.

So, yesterday we pondered the statement ‘your brand is not you’ in a bid to make the whole process of sales and marketing more palatable and ultimately more profitable (however you choose to measure that) but that’s not the whole story.  Once you have got used to the idea that your brand is a separate entity then it is time to ‘frame’ it or define the space that it occupies.  Think of this as the mental equivalent to drawing up a house plan either for a house that you already know and love or for something new (depending on where your brand is at).   It is difficult (not impossible but extra hard) to build a house without a plan, plans can help us when we come to re-develop or extend our house as we know from the plan what space we have around us and inside of each room to move. We can also check up on legal requirements to make sure our new plans remain compliant for our environment.  Same goes for a brand.

Now before we go any further I want to point out that I’m not asking you to write a big business plan here and now.  Yes that might be useful and some of you will find that doing that ‘ticks’ this box but what I encourage people to do BEFORE (or even instead of ) that is to FEEL it.  Really feel it.  While I do meet all sorts of personalities in this field I mostly find that it is the creative, non-conformist, go-getter, energetic, expressive and crazy people who end up owning brands.  I know this because I’m one (with my Realize Beauty and Amongst Sisters) and as such […]

Your brand is not you – tips to brand success part 1.

Realize Beauty is all about helping you to build your brand but while we can help you with what goes in and around the pot, bottle or jar when it comes to connecting with customers that is predominantly up to you.  I talk to a lot of small to medium-sized brand owners in my day-to-day life and quite often ‘getting out there’ is their biggest fear. Often this fear comes from the fact that your one solo, quiet journey of discovery is about to go out into the world and be judged by and against others.  The only healthy head space to approach this from is the ‘I am not the brand’ mentality, something that sounds easy but can be surprisingly hard to achieve as we see below.Here are the most common ‘barriers’ that people feel they have to get out and selling their product:I’m not a chemist, I feel like I don’t really know if my products are good or not.I don’t feel confident that I know the laws surrounding this and don’t want to hurt anyone or get into trouble.Nobody has told me what I have to do.I just feel overwhelmed by it all.I am not a sales type of person and don’t like being pushy.I really don’t know where to start or who to talk to about getting stocked.I tried selling at a market once but people either thought that my products were too expensive or  they didn’t even seem to see them.I don’t have the time to do it as I’ve got too many other things going on.I feel like I don’t have anything ‘different’ to offer.I don’t have any more money to put into this, I feel really stuck.I […]

Why who you are matters

I do a lot of different things in my business but the thing that I like best is helping individuals (first) and brands (second) to find their ‘fit’ within the cosmetics industry.  It is a whole lot of fun but with up to 80% of new products failing to make it past two years on-shelf it can be devastatingly expensive to get wrong.

Getting it wrong is very, very easy and is usually stems from one thing – not knowing who you are and what you want.

and I don’t mean knowing who you ‘think’ you are or should be as that is mere projection.  What I’m talking about is your heart and soul.

Now I’m not a spiritual guru but then again neither was this guy and he still managed to gain a few followers and teach some really meaningful stuff – all thanks to the power of projection.  On a conscience level Vikrams ‘customers’ saw an Authentic Guru in Kumare and bought it, all of it and it made them feel good.  However, had they searched deeper those ‘customers’ would have realised that they had bought a projection of what they desired – they saw what they wanted to see rather than what was. It was still good but it wasn’t as great as it could have been and for some it was devastating.

And so it goes with brands.

The reason that Vikrams experiment was so successful stems from the fact that he knew who he was (and who he was not) and had researched and experienced that.  He understood the heart and soul of his project, the meaning behind each symbol that he employed and how to bring this to life as a product – […]

Prove it baby. How do brand owners substantiate their claims?

In the scientific community  a little bit of eye rolling, pfffffffing and muttering under the breath  ‘cosmetic science?????’ follows the admission that you are one and while us people on the inside know that there’s a lot ‘to it’ we still feel pain that our beloved craft is the scientific equivalent of the used car salesman.  Snake oil?  Magic?  Hope in a bottle Ma’am?  To quote my youngest when told she can’t stay up and watch that cop show ‘It’s just not fair’.

As the cosmetics industry spins on an emotional access (we all know that we don’t really NEED these products.  Don’t we?) there will always be room for bull ****,  false promises and misplaced optimism, not all of which can be laid at the feet of our poor, defenceless chemist.  But in a world where we are demanding bigger and better results and competition for the mighty dollar is fierce we have to offer products that do something.  So, the question of the day is how do we prove it?

Claim Substantiation.

When you buy a product that says you will get a  “40% reduction in eye wrinkles after 28 days”  it has to have been tested in a very specific way.

If you buy a product that says ‘tightens and firms to give a fresher look’  it may or may not have been tested.

and when you buy a product that says ‘melts away cellulite while you continue to eat chocolate’  you know that the only testing that has been done is a pressure test on the bank account to see how much it kerching it can hold.

So how do we test?

1)  Testing the claim that you get a 40% reduction in eye wrinkles over 28 […]