Fear – The Emotion of Choice for the Cosmetics Industry

A long conversation yesterday reminded me of why this blog exists and it is this, a thought for Friday:

The most powerful emotion used by the Cosmetics Industry is FEAR. Fear of growing older, fear of ingredients, fear for your health, fear of big business corruption, fear of not being enough.

But if you turn and face your fears, un-peel
them layer by layer by layer, get to know your triggers, understand where it first laid root you can begin on a journey towards freedom.

‘There is nothing to fear but fear its self’…..

That is what Realize Beauty is all about.

Don’t be fooled, this is not the same as saying ‘there are no problems’, ‘everything is good’,  ‘don’t question, don’t seek’, ‘trust us’.

This is the very opposite of that.   Yes there are problems, hurdles, challenges and yes we could make products safer, better, less environmentally impactful and more equitable.  Yes we could invest more in building rather than crushing self-esteem, yes we could admit more freely that you are enough, that you don’t need us but also that to want us (as an industry) is also fine.  It is what it is – fun, a game, self-expression, dressing-up.

Fear is paralyzing.  It is the very opposite of what we need right now and it is the exact same force that is keeping many of us from standing up and saying ‘But I don’t feel like that, I don’t understand what you are saying and I want more information and clarity’.  Fear is keeping us quiet, turning us into sheep and locking us further into isolation.


Pore Perfection from Benefit

I was lucky enough to receive a pack of this new product the other week and thought that it was about time I gave you the low-down on it.  Benefit, the brand that  is world-famous for its cheeky and fun attitude to beauty have gone all grown-up with this highly sophisticated and luxurious formulation.  This is definitely something for the top shelf!

Large, open pores are the bane of many of our beauty lives and they are difficult to hide.  They are actually hair follicles although the hair may be very fine to non-existent and their job is to deliver oil and sweat to the surface of the skin. Oil is produced and released to keep the skin moist and sweating helps to keep us cool so these little eye-sores (if you see them as such) are actually pretty important.

Problems can start to arise with pores when you reach puberty and hormonal disruptions start to wreak their havoc.  Pores that have become blocked due to too much oil or dirt can become infected and enlarged leaving behind an uneven surface which is hard to cover-up.  However, pore size is not all due to acne and hormones some of it is genetic – if you parents have enlarged pores you will probably follow suit (and yes, acne is also genetic in part but you don’t have to have acne to get enlarged pores and some people with acne don’t end up with enlarged pores, weird).

So, is there anything that you can do to minimise your chance of developing enlarged pores?

As the skin is the first line of defence, the environment always plays some part in how you end up looking. Too much sun, bad habits such as smoking and eating […]

World Environment Day and Shark Tales

Squalane has long been a staple ingredient for the cosmetic chemist for its emollient and moisturising properties. It is 100% natural, found in human sebum (and therefore highly skin-compatable) and pretty inert or non-reactive meaning that it is unlikely to form any unwanted bi-products.  However, it’s often shark-based origin is not stacking up well with many ‘natural’ cosmetic lovers.

So what is it?

Squalane is a chemically modified (hydrogenated) version of Squalene which are both pretty chunky hydrocarbons (chemicals that consist of carbon and hydrogen only) other examples of chemicals fitting into this family would be things like beeswax, paraffin and caranuba wax and approx 1% of what makes up lanolin.   Both Squalane and Squalene  exist naturally but  it is mostly squalene that is farmed from sharks and then reacted by chemical manufacturers to form the more chemically stable cosmetic ingredient.  This squalene can be sourced from heaps of other non-animal sources including Olive’s, Rice Bran and Wheat Germ however, it has not always been easy for chemists and brand owners to be confident as to the origin of their ingredient. That is about to change.

Chemical manufacturer Croda just launched a fully traceable Squalane for cosmetics that uses a tracing method to insure that all of their squalane is animal free. We think that the sharks will be smiling about that one and hope that you will too!  This innovation will most probably remain fairly quiet for a while yet as many people would not even be aware that sharks ARE lurking in their bathroom cabinets but I wouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t become quite a selling point in sometime over the coming year.

Just another way that the cosmetic industry are helping to save the world one shark at a time (OK, I get that they are NOT saving the world but it’s a start).  Take […]

Eye Pads

Sydney is all a buzz about a silly old thing called an iPad. The last time I saw something like that was when I was researching cuneiform script from the old testament – Maybe Moses was the inspiration!  Anyway, for those of us obsessed with everything BEAUTY I thought I would pay Homage to the ipad (which does look like fun) with a short piece on eye pads – trust me, they are not that interesting LOL!

So, the eye area is prone to sagging and bagging due to it’s  ultra-thin skin as far as bags go, girls usually get them worse than boys and the tendency to form large and dark eye bags can have a genetic component.  However, there are things that you and your cosmetic chemist can do to have things looking a little brighter and fresher under those peepers.  Here are my top 3 non product tips:

Drink lots of water and no, the water in your coffee doesn’t count.  Water is essential for your general metabolism and so you need a bit but a bit more will do wonders for your skin and eye health.  Water helps to flush out those toxins in your body nice and quickly giving you a fresh look.
Sleep is essential and we need between 5-10 hours a night on average. That is a big range so do yourself a favour and  listen to your body then take action!
Don’t strain.  iPads, game machines and laptops are ultra lovely and very addictive but straining over them will do your eyes no good.  All of that focus will leave you with wrinkles and a headache. Do your beauty self a favour and put it down every 20 minutes. Your eyes need […]

The Scientific Challenges Facing The Halal Market

On 13th and 14th April Halcos ran for the first time in Malaysia- a conference put together to discuss the opportunities for Halal cosmetics. My presentation was based on the essay below. I know that it makes for long reading but you may find it of interest.

Is the future Halal? I think so……

Cosmetic science is often seen as the poor relation – a ‘science’ that is based on triviality, a veneer, a science that feeds the indulgent and self-obsessed side of humanity.  At best it is seen as shallow and at worst corrupting. Our modern interpretation of the word ‘cosmetic’ supports this notion as we shall see below.


Adjective meaning ‘used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive or more impressive’ OR “Serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty”

It is this definition that leads us to believe that we are incomplete and in need of refinement without this ‘cosmetic’ activity or product.   How can this be when a universal, complete and therefore perfect beauty DOES exist?  Surely we don’t need this type definition of ‘cosmetic’?

However, when we look more closely at the word we find a different meaning, a meaning that may enrich and celebrate our intrinsic beauty. The word ‘cosmetic’ originates from the Greek word ‘Kosmos’ meaning ordered or arranged. Further, the adjective “Kosmetos” means adornment and arrangement – implying that beauty and perfection already exist and ‘cosmetification’ is a celebration of that natural wonder.    This celebration is neither trivial nor self-indulgent.

This ‘word play’ is all important when contemplating a future for Halal certified cosmetics and the science that it stands upon.  Therefore we find ourselves with two options on the table:

1)     Kosmetos:  To endorse a definition that empowers and supports […]

Green Chemistry – Stop Yawning, we need this!

Start talking about Chemistry and your best friend in the world will yawn, eyes will glaze over and they will slowly move away muttering something about having to wash their hair……..  That is unless I am your best friend. I love chemistry and I want you to love it too (well, just a little bit).

Green chemistry is quite literally the future and green cosmetic chemistry is making its way out of the lab and into your products NOW.

So what are we talking about?  A few little steps towards sustainability, that’s what!

Before your product gets formulated (or mixed)  ingredients have to be sourced. These ingredients are often processed in some way to make them perform well in your mixture. We have to go right back to the start of the chain when thinking ‘Green Chemistry”. Let me explain!

Check your feed-stock. By feed-stock we mean the raw materials that you react to form a useable ingredient.  This could be something as simple and natural as a lavender bush or something more chemical-sounding such as a fatty acid.  Feedstock should ideally come from renewable resources (so no petroleum) and ‘grown’ in the absence of polluting chemicals (some  pesticides or growth promoters).
Engineering for ‘Green’ success. Quite often these feedstocks have to go through one or another process in order to turn them into something usable. For this ‘chemical engineering’ to be green, sustainable resources have to be used throughout the process. Any ingredients used to speed up or improve yields of reactions should be natural, non-polluting and either  fully recoverable or used up in the reaction.  Some examples of catalysts are high pressure, elevated temperature,  Metals and metallic salts, nitrogen gas or  ethanol.   It is important for the […]

Awesomely Gross Natural Colours

Ok, so how’s this for natural?

I was reading an article in Curve magazine by an Industrial Design Lecturer friend of mind that talked about the origin of some common colours. It was just fascinating and quite gross.  Try this for size!

Indian Yellow –  A colour that was a favourite of Dutch artist Vermeer that’s made from the Urine of cows who have been fed a diet of Mango leaves!

A Bright blue – Another Urine linked colour but this time it’s human. Apparently urinating on Woad leaves after a big session helps the leaves ferment. This process brings out a blue colour which can be used in a wide range of applications.

Putred Purple – How would you like to spend your day squishing mucus out of sea snails?  Apparently you end up with a delightful purple colour. Excellent.

Carmine Red – A brilliant RED that is produced by squishing up a special type of beetle- you can read more here.

Paris Green – An extremely toxic arsenic containing pigment that doubles up as rat poison.  Before its toxicity was understood thought it was used to colour paintings, coat houses and even dye cloth.

All natural and all yucky! We all know that natural doesn’t mean safe but understanding why makes for some cool dinner party conversations.

Have fun and don’t stress too much, only one of the above is used in cosmetics….

Want Quick Answers On The Safety Of Cosmetics?

The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CPTA)  have launched a brand new online resourse that prommises to help the public better understand the language and science behind cosmetics.  The site will also contain facts about the chemicals used with information provided by groups such as the Royal Society of Chemistry, The British Association of Dermatologists, The British Fragrance Association, Sense about Science and the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association.

The site gives answers to some common questions such as “are chemical free products safer than products containing chemicals?” and “Can exposure to chemicals in cosmetics during pregnancy harm the unborn child”.

To find out what is in your cosmetics check it out here.

Come Play With Us Sydney!

Who doesn’t need a bit more “Me Time” in there life?  Well,  here’s something a little special for our Sydney readers a chance to come and play with the Realize Beauty team!

On 22nd March we will be taking over the Stevie English salon in Glebe for a fun filled day of  “Me Time” therapy.   This is your chance to meet our team and have your hair, beauty and make-up questions answered. You can also make a few indulgent bath treats to take home,  learn how to apply make-up for a more naturally polished look, discover how to create salon-fresh hair from home and enjoy a selection of fresh and wholesome food.
We can’t wait to see you there!  To book your ME TIME follow this link to our registration page.
* Learn how to make your own range of  all-natural indulgent bath treats to take home.
*  Discover the the secret to  the perfect blowdry and style with our award-winning hairdressing team.
*  Enhance your natural beauty and discover the secret to great looking every-day make-up.
Beauty is not just for the eyes to behold, it captures a place within your soul. Feel Great Being you!

Halal Cosmetics Standard On The Way

Muslim’s the world over will soon be able to buy their personal care products in confidence thanks to Standards Malaysia’s work on an all-encompassing cosmetic standard.  The standard has been developed in response to growing global demand for non-food Halal certified products. However, when I talked to our local Australian Muslim community there was little understanding of what a Halal cosmetic was begging the question “just who stands to benefit  from the introduction of this new standard?”  

Summary of the state of affairs for Halal Cosmetics.

Market Confusion: To be a Halal cosmetic involves more than just abstaining from pork and alcohol. Many Muslims who take the time to seek out non-food Halal products are already well versed with reading labels and phoning the manufacturers armed with hard-to-answer questions about the manufacture, distribution and ethics behind said product.  Let’s hope that the standard comes with some consumer education.
Cosmetic Capers. Although all cosmetics Could be certified as Halal under the new standard, there are ethical and ideological reasons why some products don’t cut it for some Muslim consumers (for some, drawing attention to ones body is prohibited and so products such as body shimmer,  colourful eye make-up and nail polish may only be suitable for home use if at all).
Washability. Praying while wearing make-up is a no-no so brand owners and cosmetic chemists may want to ensure that products can be removed easily as part of their customer care plan.
Integrity.   Just as the manufacturing companies ethics are important, so is the integrity of the company’s supply chain. What the company portrays through advertising and marketing activities speak volumes – brand owners should walk the walk!
Divine Beauty.  Cosmetic products can only do so much for ones beauty with the rest coming from the way […]