Realize Beauty Services

Realizing My Beauty

There is a very good reason why my blog and business are called Realize Beauty and it is that despite the progress that western society has been made in terms of its acceptance (and in some cases celebration) of racial, gender and religious freedom we are still being pushed one vision of feminine beauty. I am not a fan of that vision even though, as a member of the cosmetics industry it could be argued that I am (by default) part of the problem.

And this one-dimensional vision doesn’t just cover what you see, it permeates through to the very essence of who we are  and I really don’t like where that is heading.

Let me explain.

The visual.

You know the drill:

Feet – Pedicured and smooth
Legs – The longer the better
Between the legs – Landscaped.
Waist and hips – Waspish or boyish (depending on the trend. As if you can do that…..)
Boobs – Yes please. Preferably pert and available.
Skin – Flawless (which means poreless, colourless, hairless (practically everywhere except eyebrows – no eyebrows is tres weird apparently) and expressionless (thanks botox)
Lips – Kissable (as if that’s all that matters)
Eyes – Seductive (again, please……)
Hair – on trend (dyed, preened, primped, teased, up-do’ed, down do-ed, shiny, silky etc.  Anything BUT grey – unless you died it grey of course).

The subliminal.

Looking at that tick list of ‘to be a perfect girl’ I feel sick, mostly because it is doing just that, describing an idealised girl of maybe 16-18 years of age. Innocent, playful, physically at her attractive peak,  alluring, sexy, naive, unquestioning, shallow.

It would be bad enough if it were just 16-18 year old girls who were trying to live up to this ideal with the benefits of youth, coming-of-age excitement […]

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 […]

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 […]

Small batch manufacturing and Realize Beauty

I have quite a menagerie of customers here at Realize Beauty ranging from the big and bold to small and beautiful and everything in between and as such one has to be flexible about business.  Thankfully this isn’t a drama as I like nothing better than to switch my brain from one challenge to the next – it keeps my mind fresh and puts a spring in my step. Sometimes.  At other times its just a bit crazy but there you go.

Anyway, one thing that I do is help companies with their small batch manufacturing.  This has to be the most challenging and un-profitable side of my business and a part that I regularly think about giving up on.  But then something always stops me and that something is faith, hope and charity.

I have faith that the little fish I help today will become big fish tomorrow and no, that’s not so that I can cash in, that’s so trashy!  It is so that I say hand-on-heart that I did all I could to help them on their journey, that I believed and had faith in them.  That my small part made a difference.

I hope that the challenge will teach me more about cosmetic life than anything I could learn while keeping my hands clean or passing up on the hard stuff.  I hope that the experience will allow me to grow both in skills and in understanding of what it takes to make it in this business both for customers and my sake (and sanity).

And charity because I believe that while we are in business to make money (it’s true, we all are as my mortgage and school fees don’t accept love and […]

Like it or lump it target demographic matters.

When I’m talking to a brand owner I always add the following into the conversation:

Do you know who buys your products in terms of sex, age, location etc?
Paint me a picture of your absolute target customer.
Can you sum up in one sentence what makes your brand special?

and I often get the look of ‘oh my gawdness’ in return.

and that’s OK because for three years I had the absolute inability to sum up what Realize Beauty was.  I could tell everyone what it was not,  could dribble on about what I wanted it to be but could not answer the above questions with any authority.  Oh and when asked about my target audience I would say something like “well anyone really, anyone who wants to know a little bit more about cosmetic science but in a fun way”  The consequence – blog tumbleweed, bank account drought, personal angst, public nothingness and that’s rather wearing on ones sanity after months and months of effort and hard currency.

So, what happened to change all that for me?

As with any overnight success it wasn’t an overnight success and is still what I’d call a ‘work in progress’.  I just kept plugging away at my blog with a blind passion and enthusiasm only found in the young and ‘businessly’ naive and you know what, people started to like it.   Of course people started to like it, when you do what you love with passion and keep doing it you (usually) get better,  stronger, more confident and that energy and buzz attracts others some like-minded some not.

Sorting out the ‘this is just great, I’ll support and enjoy it’ from the  ‘this is great I want to ‘buy’ a piece of […]

Do your products perish from hotness?

Oh My God it has been hot this week here in Australialand.   If I could have  fitted my backside into the freezer I would have but of course with all the food that one has over the Christmas period that was just not happening and I had to just sweat it out.

While I sat here roasting I was reminded of a product that I’d left out on the table to defrost after a couple of freeze/ thaw rounds earlier in the year (2012 that is, not 2013 as being only the 2nd that would be quite a silly thing to say).   Let’s just say that it’s not only people who perish from hotness……..

The product that I mentioned in the above mindless ramblings was a water-in-oil cosmaceutical cream.  I had decanted it into a black pot and left it out on my back yard table for the day while I headed off to a meeting.  Not being my usual practice I forgot all about it until I got home some 6 hours later and that was when I noticed.  The pack  was almost melting it was so hot and inside the pack was what could only be described as a sloppy mess.  The formula had failed!!!!

Unaccustomed as I am to product failure (in my dreams)  I nearly cried when I saw this baby as I was sure that I’d created what could only be described as Gods gift to water-in-oil cosmaceuticals and so I put together a product revival SOS plan and waited.

Sure enough after a tense 24 hours of pretty much just leaving said product on my side board while I got on with other things I re-opened the pack only to find that it […]

Stability Testing of Face Scrubs

Have you ever bought yourself a face scrub and wondered how long those lovely scrubby bits and pieces will stay suspended in their gel or cream home?   Maybe you are a wannabe or actual scrub maker wanting to know how long your particular brand of loveliness will remain nice and tidy on the shelf?  Maybe you just don’t give a damn but have nothing better to do for the next 5 minutes of your life.

Well you guys are in luck as I’m going to let you into my secret world of stability testing starting with method validation.

Facial scrubs can come in all different shapes and sizes but are most commonly either in a cream or a gel base.  Cream scrubs start off life as a normalish moisturiser to which something bubbly and then something scrubby are added.

Gels start off life-like a typical hair gel and also get pimped with a little something bubbly then scrubby.

Both can be just as rough or mild with creams winning out for ultra-dry skin due to their inbuilt oil phase.

As many a cosmetic chemist will tell you the problem with facial scrubs is keeping the scrubby bits suspended – fighting gravity.  This can be achieved in a number of ways including matching the density of the scrub particle with the base (pretend that the two are weight lifters, they need to both be the same grade),  making the continuous phase (usually water) thicker and harder to ‘move through’ (try to visualise your scrub particles running through water, then custard, then thick toffee….).  Finally and most importantly are suspending agents which act like spiders webs by structuring the continuous phase (water) like a net, preventing your scrubby stuff from falling straight through it.

Get […]

Great things come to those who wait.

Without fail I am asked to work at 100 miles per hour by clients who have one or another deadline to meet.  That isn’t surprising as the cosmetics industry is fashion orientated and therefore seasonally affected (isn’t that a mental disorder????) and fast – Depeche Mode was always a favourite of mine…….

Anyway, the net effect of saying ‘can you please do all that you can to make me a new hair gel by Tuesday week because I have already booked in the packaging crate to take it to Uzbeckistan where I have a contract that is worth several million’  is that nothing will go right.

Here is Uzbeckistan:

And here’s where I like to be just after receiving a new project brief

Thinking, thinking, thinking.

People come to me for help turning their ideas into reality and for help in shaping their ideas into something that can be used, something structured and organised.  For a framework.  To enable me to create that I first need to find some time and space to forget everything that I have done before – you don’t want Betty’s face wash or Billy’s acne brand you want what you want and that takes some time.  Next I have to start thinking like the brand that you told me about in the brief.  Who would use that, what would they expect, what would surprise them, what would get them to come back for more?  This also takes time.  Finally I have to build a framework from which I can work, this is my equivalent of the scaffolding that goes around a building.  I need that scaffolding to help me build your formula or branding piece.  That also takes time.

Finally I have to test my […]

What happens when you work with a formulator

Work at Realize Beauty is quite diverse and one of the things that we get involved in is the  formulating of products.  We don’t have and won’t ever have our own cosmetic brand and so, just like that old car advert (or Queen song) everything we do, we do for you!

So, how does that process work and what are you paying for?

In a nutshell you are paying for a few things:

The time it takes to develop and test your ideas
Our expertise in the given area
The samples, packaging and post required to do the job.
The final experimental  recipe including ingredients listing and supplier information.

The important thing to note here is that it is you, the customer that sets the challenge and we use our judgement to gauge our ability to meet that and while we may have made other shampoos,  creams or potions before we have never made yours.  As such all work is ‘experimental’ and results are not guaranteed.

Now before you go ‘hold on, that’s a bit rubbish that you can’t promise that you will meet my brief’  let’s have a think for a minute……

Formulating cosmetics is a tricky business made even trickier by the fact that everyone wants something different, unique even.  Many customers want products that are highly active, that contain cutting edge ingredients or that are bigger and better than anything seen before.   For us the fun part is in working towards achieving that as it gives us a really good chance to test out our skills and even learn new things.  But the bad part is that things don’t always work out as planned and that’s why we split our development payments and avoid making too many promises straight […]

Product Specifications and C of A’s – A New Service for Realize Beauty

Good morning everyone!   As we have a diverse pool of readers this is a warning that the following post will be boring for some of you.  However, if you are a product manufacturer, brand owner or someone wanting to get started then read on.

Have a great day.

Amanda (fresh from nerdsville :))
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As of June 2912 we are now able to produce Product Specifications and Certificates of Analysis for cosmetic clients requiring this paperwork for their product portfolios.

Product Specifications and Certificates of Analysis are essential for brands seeking entry into most overseas markets and are often requested as part of the product information pack.  A specification should outline the main physical characteristics of your product so that importers and stockists can ensure that what they receive matches your standard.  A Certificate Of Analysis demonstrates to your overseas client that you are operating a quality control system and have analytical standards in place.

What we need from customers:

3 x 300g of each product that requires a spec.   Each of the three samples should be from different batches if possible.  You can get your samples and packaging back after the testing if you wish.

NB:  We can produce specifications with less material but may not be able to measure all aspects of the product.  In addition with less product we may have to err on the side of caution and make the range figures larger.  This is not idea but should be adequate for most cosmetic products. 

The costs:

Our price structure depends on how many products you wish to test but prices start from as little as $100 a product.

The Time Frame:

Our usual turn-around time is 1-2 weeks depending on how many products you have to test.

 What type of Products […]