skin care

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 […]

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 […]

Moose Head Anti Blackhead Face Scrub

As you will know if you read my previous post- are you a man or a moosehead – I like this range and I like it for the main reason that it makes me chuckle – product enjoyment is very important!

But is there more to the Moose than just a fun name and funky packet?  Let’s see.

Moose Head Anti Blackhead normal skin face scrub makes a couple of promised.  It will reduce breakouts, unclog pores and control oil.  I wanted to understand how and in order to do that I had to have a little read of the ingredients label.


Rather than go through each ingredient in order I thought I’d look at this product through the eyes of the claims made to see if the paper claims would be likely to stack up in real life.


As this is the largest claim I thought we would start here. This data would also hold up for the ‘unclogs pores’ claim.

Well blackheads are congested pores containing oxidised sebum and so in order to be ‘anti’ blackhead this product has to be able to attack and remove them – something that it could do through its scrubbing action.  The physical exfoliant or scrubbing agent present here is Walnut Shell Powder and as it is fairly high up the ingredients list I would expect the product to be quite gritty which it is:


The pack copy also suggests that Charcoal absorbs and draws out excess dirt and oil which would also help with the black head issue but is there any evidence of this?   Having spent the last 20 minutes with my head into ‘google scholar’ and ‘google patent’ nothing directly jumps out at me so I’ll have to […]

By |December 30th, 2012|Products|1 Comment|

Ode To Phenoxyethanol

After a spate of questions about  the pro’s and con’s of Phenoxyethanol I decided that rather than write a normal response I’d turn my answer into a rap.   Here it is!
People been talking ‘bout me, saying bad things on google TV
They think that I’m not fair
That I damage skin and hair
That I give you cancer, that I’ll make you scared
Well stop. Listen up y’all cause this is my rap
I don’t want to make you sick just wanna make contact
With the microbes that cause you stress
But I guess you couldn’t care less
‘Cause my parents are from nasty sorts – benzene, petroleum and that bad co-hort
But don’t be judging where I’m coming from
‘Cause my dirty past doesn’t make my future wrong.
I’m clean and pure and I ain’t a lot of dollars
I’ll  blast the bugs that’ll make you holla
And while I work you won’t feel a thing
‘cause your dermatologist says that I’m OK on your skin (as long as you follow the instructions)
So forget your google scholars and your haters who keep on hating
And get with the clean crew whose hard work you’ll be celebrating.
And that’s the word.

How many actives can the skin take at once?

Hello people,

I do hope that you are well and enjoying this lovely month of October!  I have been really busy of late and have struggled to update the blog as often as I’d like but hopefully the archives are keeping you happy.  Anyway, the business that I have been busy with will turn into blog posts soon as I am learning new things all of the time especially now that I have my lab and office at home. Check out the hubbies handy work:

Today I wanted to post some thoughts on a question that keeps cropping up in my consulting circles:  Just how many actives can the skin take at once?  OR  How many actives should I put into my skin care?

Good questions and worthy of much research which I will assemble over the coming weeks.  For now I will share my thoughts with you and open up for comment.

So, what do we know about skingestion (not that there is such a word but I thought it sounded good and apt)?

There are several groups of people who would be able to answer this question and I’m not one of them.  I’d be tracking down a few dermatologists, pharmacists, product test houses and beauty therapists in the first instance but before that I’d have a bit of a think…..

One of the main functions of the skin is to keep stuff out. However, we all know that not everything that we put onto the skin stays on the surface and if you believe much of cosmetic marketing you would believe that pretty much everything gets through meaning that the skin does a lousy job.  The truth (of which there isn’t just one) is far more complex […]

Aloe Barbadensis

Aloe Vera or Aloe Barbadensis extract is often the first thing that you see listed on the label of an organic cosmetic.  This can be for many reasons, not least because this is one very skin-friendly botanical with a long history of skin success.

This species of succulent isn’t native to Australia (where I am writing), in fact it was only brought into the country in the late 1970’s according to my google searchings (by a lady called Jennifer McDougall from here: It  soon started to thrive in the water rich soil of Queensland and  production in that region continues to this day.

As far as my daily work is concerned I am most often requested to use  Aloe as a soothing agent in leave-on skin products such as moisturisers, serums and balms although I have never really looked into the evidence to support this claim and so I thought that it was time that I did!

A quick look at the structure and chemistry of Aloe shows us why this plant is such a good moisturising agent – it’s the polysaccharides or sugars that predominate. These sugars are hygroscopic (water-loving) and paired with the fact that these sugars form a strong meshed structure they are both substantive and moisturising to the skin.   Folk law attributes many more healing properties to these polysaccharides but I can’t find much to substantiate this.  I reckon that the sugar matrix may be responsible for what I’ll call ‘the raincoat effect’  i.e:  You put on a raincoat in a storm and you stay warm and dry, a warm and dry body is less likely to catch a cold and so you stay well.  The raincoat isn’t anti-viral or anti-bacterial, it […]

No BOoZe Skin Care

A  common belief amongst skin care junkies is that alcohol is drying and bad for the skin and as such many try to avoid it.  Now, while there is some truth in that statement it isn’t the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  So, let’s take a look at whats what.

Alcohol as alcohol.

There are lots of different types of alcohol but the one that us humans are most familiar with is the drinkable stuff – ethanol.  In Australia most of our ethanol starts off life as sugar but ethanol can have many origins (a fact that anyone who has ever tried home brewing can attest to).  Anyway, in skin care ethanol is commonly used  as a solvent in perfumery, in hair gels (so that the resin dries quickly) and in hand sanitizing gels.   I find it hard to think of this type of alcohol as a ‘nasty’ as in all of the above applications it is performing a useful and somewhat essential job. It is also highly probable that using alcohol as a quick-dry agent in hair gels is more Eco friendly than using alternatives (cyclomethicone is one).

 It is true that alcoholic hand wash products can be quite drying but even there the alcohol is not really nasty, in fact it is the alcohol that is killing the germs that we have become so paranoid of. However,  I guess that as we are one big ball of Germiness any germ active ingredient could start to kill us too and that’s where the dry skin feeling comes from, the  alcohol can damage our skin barrier.  The issue here is not so much about the ingredient, it is more to do with the dose and […]

The sun and our immune system.

The skin of a 70Kg adult male would weigh just over 11Kg (16%).  With such a big potential for damage, it makes sense that our immune system is turned down (dimmed)  when we step out in the sun.

If like me, you get cold sores as a memento from your day on the beach you would tend to agree that the sun is definitely putting your immune system under stress but is it?  When it comes to the sun and our skin a bit of immunosuppression is actually a good thing.

If our bodies didn’t turn down our immune reaction when out in the sun, small sunburn could turn into an anaphylactic shock rather than just a prickly rash –  I know what I would rather have!  So, rather than thinking that the sun is putting our immune system under stress we should look at it as our immune system giving us a second chance – like it already knows that we are going to over do it!

And the cold sores? Well, for those who harbor this virus in the body, the immunosuppression action of the sun leaves the gate open just enough for the cold sore virus to kick in. Unfortunately, that is the pay off.

So, rather than trying to fight our natural responses we should assist the body by using sunscreen, boosting our general health (so that we deal with stresses more efficiently) and getting enough rest (strung out bodies tend to over-react.  I know from personal experience!).

Enjoy the sun safely and if you want to read up on cold sores some more then check this out. 

ASAP – Winter Skin Tips

I often get press releases about new product launches and the like and while I feel that I should share them all with you I often don’t.  That’s mainly (but not always) because most press releases aren’t that interesting to be quite honest and I’m pretty sure that most of my readers come here for commentary, insights and info rather than the ‘what’s new’ as there are many other blogs that do that better than me.  Anyway,   today is a little different as I have just received this from ASAP and thought that it would be quite interesting to look at and think through.  So,  here we go.

Winter Radiance With ASAP.

Winter can really challenge the health of our skin, often resulting in dryness and damage. Cold winter air lacks humidity and dries up natural oils in your skin, causing it to lose its moisture. Winter wind chills can also cause chapping and windburn. This leads to rough, cracked skin that can feel tight and uncomfortable. The obvious solution might be to stay inside, but indoor heating also dries out the air. This makes it especially important to use the right skin care products.

Rest assured that ASAP can assist in planning a simple and effective winter skin care regime that will provide the necessary defence to keep the skin looking and feeling its best.

Moisturise & Exfoliate

In the cooler months it is important to layer the skin care just as we layer our clothes. This is particularly relevant to moisturising and increasing hydration levels in the skin. Every morning after cleansing, step up the hydration with an extra rich cream; this should be applied alongside a regular SPF daily moisturiser. Try ASAP advanced hydrating moisturiser, […]

Smooth Like Silk (but what is it doing in my skin cream?)

Have you ever wondered why us cosmetic chemist types insist on putting silk and stuff into your skin creams and hair products?  I’m sure that the thought has crossed your mind once or twice but for most of us the association between silk and silky smooth soft skin/ hair says it all but is that really all there is to it?

Of course not so let’s have a look!

Silk’s wound healing properties.

Testing on non-human animals isn’t something that I condone but I just had to share this as it makes the point beautifully.  In this study mutant silk from a spiders web improved the healing times of traumatised rat skin so well that it is being looked at as an option for human burns victims.  Now while that sounds like something from a horror show it does demonstrate one of the key properties of silk.  Silk is a natural protein fibre and protein is made from amino acids. Our skin is rich in amino acids and so adding the right type of silk to the right type of product can help to strengthen and re-build the skin or hairs structure.  It’s a bit like that spray on hair or skin only a little more rudimentary.

Silk as a moisturiser.

Silk proteins and their individual amino acids are great molecular sponges that will soak up and deliver moisture into the skin.  As our skin is over 70% water adequate hydration is just so important for its healthy functioning and so adding silk to a product is like giving your skin or hair a super charged drink.

Silk as a re-builder.

By the time you get down to smaller silk peptides or amino acids the molecules are small enough to be […]