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 […]

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, […]

Oh no, we can’t use THAT! The down side of a perception led market

Want to know a little secret?  Well,  after years of science nerdery I can’t help but get a little excited when I read things like this:


Very high bio-renewable content (wow, that’s envirotastic)
Forms gels with low-polar liquids (wow, that means I can thicken oils and make amazingly awesome lip products, moisturising gels and baby oils. No need for that most precious of resources ‘water’ which means higher efficiency, lower carbon footprint, less packaging etc etc etc all good).
Water repellent agent, film former, SPF enhancer, colour dispersing ability (OH MY GOD does it get any better).

And I call the guys up to get me some.

But then I realise that good old chemical X, this eco warrior (yes the back data does stack up really, really well) has a terribly  un-green sounding name and I go:

‘You know what, forget it’

while my brain boils at the craziness of this science-based industry.  Balls to that,  this isn’t science. This is a a perception led marketing vehicle for some cashed-up chemophobic crazy nutbag of a group of nobodies who like people to think that they are ‘saving the planet’.  Bah humbug.

The chemical that I am talking about here is actually called ethylenediamine/stearyldimer dilinoleate copolymer and while that sounds like some petrochemical ticket to cancer town it isn’t.

The chemical that I am talking about is made from pine pulp in a highly efficient, no solvent or nasties,  totally waste-to-useful product way and it is taking the mass market by storm but you won’t find it in many organic or natural formulations. Why?  Because of the name.

Before you say ‘yes well this does sound particularly nasty’  I do get it.

I get the importance of brand perception.

Of marketing.

Of simplicity.

Of familiarity.

Of ‘safe’ […]

How to make a simple hair rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is a great substitute for a shop-bought hair conditioner but the smell and its water-like rheology do tend to put people off and even make it an un-economical choice (thickness and good flow are so under-rated by consumers but not by cosmetic chemists who know and appreciate how hard it is to get these things just right).   So, what can you do?  With a few simple extras you can turn your vinegar water rinse into something a little bit more robust and special.

Ingredients you will need:

Xanthan Gum

Essential Oil (for perfuming)

Vitamin B5 (optional extra but this is very good for scalp health and for helping reduce static).

Distilled Water

Preservative (I use plantaserv M from New Directions which is a pre-mixed blend of Benzyl Alcohol, Sorbic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Glycerine).

Decyl Glucoside (this is your solubiliser for the perfume/ essential oil. If you don’t use perfume/ essential oil you won’t need this).


Equipment you will need:

Measuring scale or device

2 x Plastic measuring cups enough to hold 100g

A hand mixer or equivalent

Spoons for decanting ingredients.

Packaging of your choice (suitable for bathroom use so preferably no glass).


As I took the photo of the finished product just after I had finished shaking it up to mix it it is still looking a bit bubbly.  It will eventually settle and should remain usable for long enough to get through the 100g.  I am unsure of the long-term stability of this mix as I haven’t kept any for longer than a month and so wouldn’t recommend using this exact recipe for retail.  Also keep in mind that different perfumes/ essential oils will require different amounts of solubiliser. However, a general rule-of-thumb starting point is 3 x solubiliser to 1 […]

What is bio oil

Just over a month ago we asked our Facebook friends what they thought of Bio oil. This was because during a game of hide and seek my youngest daughter stood up and got swiped across the ear by the fan.  The fan sliced her ear open and she had to go into surgery to get it repaired the next day. It was all very worrying but lucky for her it looks to be healing nicely and let’s face it, it could have been much worse!

Anyway, after the op the plastic surgeon sat me down and told me to get some Bio Oil and to massage it into the area twice a day for 6 months after to reduce the risk of scarring.  While the reduced scaring is important for self-esteem that wasn’t our biggest problem as much of the stitching was inside the ear curve, the bigger problem we would face would be the sun.  Scarred skin doesn’t fair well in the sun and ears are notorious for getting burned. Oh my goodness!

So, that’s why I asked the question and that’s why I’m now delving into Bio Oil.

Which according to their website it is this:
Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (Calendula Oil)
Lavandula Angustifolia Oil (Lavender Oil)
Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil (Rosemary Oil)
Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil (Chamomile Oil)

RB: Calendula is soothing to the skin and contains known anti-inflammatory actives as does chamomile. Rosemary and lavender are good anti-microbial oils along with other benefits.

Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A) 
Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)

RB: Vitamin A is a fantastic active for skin repair and is recommended by dermatologists to help treat a number of issues including premature ageing, acne, sun damage and scarring.  Vitamin E is also a great skin healer and the […]

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 – […]

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 […]

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…….

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 […]

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 […]