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The Googlesphere.

January 12, 2018

Somedays I sit here wondering why I can’t achieve the same level of certainty from a google search as my clients can. Why it is that they find answers while I just find more questions………

I am a cosmetic chemist and not a psychologist but I can understand why some people happily devour articles from Mercola, David Avocado Wolf, Gwyneth Goopy Paltro, Young Living and others besides.  These online spaces look safe, inviting, professional and compelling. They are super popular (so they must be right, right?)  and  they write like they have our best interest at heart and I’m sure that they all do in a way (well, I’m not entirely sure but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt).

But I can’t get no satisfaction from any of the above.

I remember reading a book called ‘Thinking Fast and Slow”  by Daniel Kahneman.

Thinking fast and slow

The book explains why and gives examples of how the brain prefers to make decisions quickly and take on information that already confirms existing beliefs rather than challenging its self.  That makes so much sense really when you think about it, that we are really quite conservative creatures.  You only have to watch the popular kids show ‘Horrible Histories’ and seek out the segment they call ‘Stupid Deaths’ to be reminded of all the many and varied ways we can meet our demise while going about our daily business.  Life is fragile and there is so much to be uncertain about so better take care where we can!

The chemical industry of which I am a part is prime ground for triggering our fear receptors. Not many people understand or care for chemistry in its pure form. It’s difficult to learn, lots of chemicals can hurt you even if you do nothing to them, some chemicals can make us feel and act funny and others can kill us slowly and silently as they fester away invisibly in the environment or in our bodies where they slowly mutate our cells.  It’s all rather nasty business to the uninitiated and there is no denying the dangers that chemicals and the chemical industry can and do present.

But in spite of that I still can’t leave it alone. I have a passion for chemistry and generally find chemicals quite fascinating. So what is going on with me?

I think I summed it up best in the  second sentence of this blog post.  I just keep finding more questions where others find answers.  I want to understand why, how, where, when, what and who.  I get my comfort from the journeys that the questions I ask take me on rather than from the fast destination that those other sites deliver me to. To me those sites feel fake, like a trap almost or certainly like a veneer has been painted over everything so that it all looks manageable.  Maybe I don’t like manageable?

I don’t feel good or smug about thinking like this, in fact it is pretty exhausting and often unsatisfying to sit down thinking that I know something for sure only to find that after a few hours of research I now feel that I know less than I did before.  However, when something finally clicks it changes me right to the heart, as if I’ve grown taller or deeper….Probably deeper.  Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the hard work and discomfort does eventually seem to pay off, thank goodness!

So why tell you this?

Well it’s that time of year, being January and all, where we might be thinking of starting something new, being bigger better people, challenging ourselves or whatever and I need as much encouragement as the next person so I’m sharing this to remind me of how I think and what I get out of it.  I’m also putting it out there in case you too want to challenge yourself to think differently about things too.   By the way, thinking differently does not necessarily lead to thinking different things or to put it another way coming to different conclusions.  Rather it gives you the opportunity to examine your thoughts in a more complete way, from different angles and, if you like, to test them.  In short, it takes you from thinking like a layman to thinking like a scientist.

So if your new year resolution is to think slower and deeper, to challenge yourself and develop your ideas further then please do drop me a line as I’ll always be happy to entertain you and your ideas.

Amanda x

Farc out Palm In. What lies ahead for Columbia.

January 10, 2018

I remember watching a documentary about the women of the revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, better known as ‘The FARC’ some time ago.  Over its latter years of operation women made up around 40% of the rebel force and watching these women take the lead in battle, living in the forest and taking on their government felt conflicting and unleashed a torrent of different emotions within me. I was both awe inspired and saddened that for these women, guerrilla warfare was a better, safer option offering greater life opportunities than their regular life.  How coddled and lucky I felt sitting at home in my comfortable home with my university education and my independent income.

I didn’t know much about the FARC then and still don’t really but what I do know is that since 1964 the rural areas and jungles of Columbia have been FARC territory and as such big business and government has been locked out.  But all of that changed in 2016 with the signing of a truce and now, 18 months on, the forests are open for business which begs the question, ‘will it be a case of FARC out, palm in’ I wonder……

Columbia has a the right climate for palm, well, at least much of it does, and as such it is already the largest Palm Producer in South America and is currently the fourth largest supplier globally behind Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.   According to this article on Mongo Bay there is currently 466,000 hectares of palm plantations in operation, some of which have been there for fifty or more years.  However, now with the FARC gone the is thought to be as much as 16 million hectares of land suitable for palm!  If that’s true the current palm production of Columbia is less than 3% of total capacity so what’s being grown there now and how will this change things?

This article here acknowledges that land-clearing slowed in Columbia since the 1960’s, most likely because of the FARC influence I’m guessing but I’m sure there were other issues too.  While land clearing slowed under The FARC, it didn’t stop. Now this isn’t entirely surprising as while the FARC had some influence and control they didn’t cover all of the land but even some of the land they did cover was cleared and it is probably this land that is most likely to be evaluated for palm first.

The Coca Habit.

This report here suggests that  Coca production grew by 18% between 2015 and 2016 to 188,000 hectares.  Now this is still tiny when you consider how much land is said to be suitable for palm but if turned over to palm it would increase the palm production of the country by 34% which is huge really.

Coca crop was favoured by the FARC as a means to fund their activities.  Coca can be turned into Cocaine and sold on for ready cash and other goods via what you could call an ‘alternative’  or ‘unofficial’ economy typical of such guerrilla groups.  While there is no doubt more cash to be made in Cocaine versus Palm oil it is unlikely that the farmers on the ground saw much of that and that’s something the Columbian government is now using to its advantage as it seeks to bring this farmland under its control.   While I support a move away from Coca (and certainly cocaine) to Palm or at least another legal crop it has to be mentioned that this crop swap will not be without impact.   An unofficial Coca plantation that you are largely trying to keep ‘invisible’ is a very different beast to that of an organised palm plantation where you want the crop to move and be processed quickly and cost-effectively.  I’m thinking less fly-in-fly-out as we saw in the film American Made and more super-highway-through-the-forest plus oil processing factory and effluent.   So, it is likely that this 34% increase in the Palm production capacity of Columbia may well represent a much bigger deforestation footprint than one might first imagine.


Columbia’s more official ‘cash cow’ was indeed a cow and as such much of the non-urban deforestation of the country was to make room for massive cattle ranches. Not just because of our global (and growing) appetite for beef but also for the leather and other bi-products.   Here is a PDF file outlining the environmental impacts of cattle ranching in South America.  It is likely that, just like our cattle running ground here in Australia, the land turned over to cow raising is significantly degraded versus that still under forest or other crop and as such it may not be as high yielding as other land if turned over to palm.  Additionally, land used for ranching may be less well suited for palm anyway depending on its location, climate and soil type.  This may well end up to be a double whammy for Columbia now that the FARC influence over the countryside has gone.  If the country becomes richer it is likely the demand for meat will increase and so more land will be needed for cattle and with it more clearing.   If the land is changed from cattle to palm and it is degraded, it is likely that more land will be needed to produce the same yield as could be got in more pristine soil.  This will also lead to more clearing.  Maybe going veggie and sticking to the Cocoa would be more environmentally friendly if not a little erratic.

Population Growth.

I don’t know what the political changes of Columbia will do the its population but if the country does become safer and better funded (through official channels) it seems reasonable that its population will start to climb or at least thrive.   It doesn’t take much imagination to work out that increasing the population increases demands on the land and could easily lead to greater levels of deforestation both directly and indirectly but that’s pretty much what’s been happening everywhere I guess.

So what will  become of Columbia?

I really don’t know, of course I don’t know. I have never been there and have only fleetingly met citizens of that nation through work so I can’t really comment.  But what I can say is that it is likely that Palm Oil will play an increasing role in the country’s future, just as it has played a minor role in the countries present and past.  How that grows and the price we all pay because of it is yet to be fully realised but one thing is for sure, we have to wake up to the value of this and all natural crops as good soil quality and suitable land does not come without consequences and while I wouldn’t exactly say that the FARC can add ‘forest saviours’ on their resumes, it is probable that they did play a part, however unintentional in keeping the wild jungles of Columbia just that.  Now if only we could put our heads together and find a better, more peaceful way I’d be happy.


Amanda x

PS: If you follow this link you will see that there are many outside forces with interest in the Columbian Palm industry including German company Henkel. Now that didn’t take long…..

Happy 10 year birthday to Realize Beauty

November 30, 2017

10 years……  Wow.

I can’t quite believe that I’ve been running this little old business for ten whole years, I have to say I feel quite proud of my achievements given that ten years ago I’d only been in this country for three years, had two very young children and not a dollar to spare. I was and still am the main breadwinner, something I had been determined to be since the age of around 3 when I realised that money meant power and power meant self-determination and the ability to help others. The pressure of juggling that with everything else in life has, at times been all-encompassing, it has stretched every fibre of my being and made me grow to levels that I never even knew existed.

I left my corporate job to set up this consulting business so that I could be more present for my children and pursue a more creative and freer career away from the frustrations of corporate life but I also set this up because I was brought up as a girl in a time when being a girl meant hearing that I was somewhat second-rate and not likely to amount too much. So, I guess I sort of set this up as a bit of ‘I’ll show you guys’ rebellion and like all rebellious energy it led me into some good places and some bad.  I’m proud to say that I’ve swapped my rebellious energy for a seriousness and depth that only a battle that has taken every last ounce of your energy to fight can leave behind.  I feel like the winner in a contest that was always pointless and completely disheartening but I’m a winner nonetheless and I’m proud of that and determine to use my winnings to help bring others up with me wherever I can. I’ve been lucky enough to be here for my children who are now amazing young women with their own ideas and futures planned, women who will make the world a better place.  I’ve also been blessed with the unrelenting support and level-headed steadfastness of my husband and best friend, someone who has never shirked away from me and my hair brained ideas, who didn’t flinch when I lost us close to $50,000 in a bad business venture and who was there to dance with me when things were going well.

Running a business is hard but it is wonderful and while I’m tired now from what has been a very, very tough year emotionally I just know that I’ll get up and get on with it again and again and again just like I have before.  So here’s to the next ten years of writing passionately,  formulating with curiosity and a thirst for discovery,  consulting with compassion and a steady hard-fought wisdom born from personal experience and  helping each and every one of you to grow your dreams whatever they might be.

Thank you for joining me on this journey so far.  I appreciate your support, I really do and don’t forget you can always catch me in person on a Thursday at New Directions if you want me to have a look at your problems (Chemistry only)





Sunscreens in the news: The Spray-on Banana Boat Case

November 29, 2017

Last week brought us news that a range of Banana Boat spray on sunscreens (aerosols) were being taken to court for allegedly failing to deliver the level of protection that they promised.  Apparently the aerosols in question had been re-tested by a lab here in Australia (we now only have one – Eurofins which used to be Dermatest, based in Sydney) and found to fall way short of their advertised SPF – achieving an average across the seven products of SPF 16.5 while advertising an SPF of 50 which actually requires the product to return a reading of SPF 60 in lab conditions.

                     Picture from CHOICE magazine. 

According to the article the testing was carried out on 10 samples of each product using the ISO 24444 standard and that’s where I think things start to get interesting as this test method is a new(ish) harmonised standard that reports to be equivalent to the FDA standard but based on what I understand of the FDA standard the subtle differences within it are important.

Here is a sheet from Dermatest about ISO 24444 and a presentation outlining the roll out of this standard and how it compares with others. 

A few years back I was spending a lot of time at a sunscreen testing lab, testing subjects and generally gaining a better understanding of how things worked in the SPF testing world. This was the same time that changes to the SPF testing method were being implemented with one step being a ring study. A ring study involves a number of sunscreen testing labs agreeing to test a set range of sunscreens using the proposed new method then comparing results with an aim to iron out any inconsistencies between labs.  Inconsistencies between labs were not (and are still not) uncommon as not everything in the SPF testing method is water-tight and this is where I think the lawyers might start to have a field day.

Let’s go back to one of the ring studies that was being conducted to form the basis of this ISO change. A ring study that involved APTF and Dermatest here in Australia.

The study is reported here.

The ISO sunscreen standard contains a reliance on a particular way of accounting for UVA radiation and a thing called ‘critical wavelength’.  The higher the SPF, the more the quality of the sun protection on offer matters.  This particular ring study was looking to validate the UVA radiation evaluation method. According to this paper they summarised ‘The data demonstrate convincingly that the in vitro determination of the UVA protection of sunscreens can be performed in a very reproducible manner’ which, after reading the results and comparing that with what I knew was going on at the time in terms of concerns raised and conversations had makes no sense to me.   I have to admit that I don’t have a crystal clear way of explaining what I think is wrong with this piece of the ISO standard pie but I can tell you it is erring towards the fact that this UVA determination step does make me feel uneasy, like it isn’t quite as robust and reproducible as we are being told.  My niggling on this point comes from two places, and I’ll be honest here, Gavin Greenoak who I worked with had lots of issues with this UVA based change to the standard, so much so that he continued to tell customers something along the lines of ‘if they want to pass a sunscreen test go with the ISO but if they want to know how good their product was use the Australian standard’ (my interpretation of what he’d said to me during conversations).  We discussed the proposed changes often and while I have to admit to having only a tiny fraction of the understanding that Gavin had, I accepted and understood that using  In-Vitro data  to inform or interpret a In-Vivo result made no sense at all.

UVA isn’t actually a discrete thing and the calculation of a ‘critical wavelength’ is, at best, a compromise. Think of it like a rainbow. If you try and chop the blue out of the rainbow where do you start and finnish the chopping?  A rainbow’s colours blend into one another seamlessly and if you take one colour out you are not left with a rainbow with no blue, you are left with something that isn’t a rainbow by any definition of the word. We know from photobiological studies that if we irradiate a living thing with discrete portions of the UV spectra we change the quality of light and, in effect, transport that living thing onto another planet – life has evolved with a full spectrum of light and not chopped up bits of this or that.   This ISO 24444 first step is not a people test, it is based on a machine evaluation.  Sunscreen is placed onto a synthetic skin and measured.   You might be surprised to hear that there are options of which synthetic skin you go with.  The ISO method does specify a type of synthetic skin but the question still remains ‘is this the right one?’  Now Gavin was working on a substrate called Mimskin at the time and Mimskin was not the synthetic skin that ISO approved so I am open to their potentially being some bias against the Plexiglas that was chosen but nevertheless it does raise a few important questions.  Keeping in mind that we are about to perform a test on a skin substitute to calculate a UVA figure that will then form the pivot point for our SPF results we need the skin to be as skin like as possible. This is because a sunscreen is a filter and how that filter applies makes ALL the difference.  Human skin is full of peaks and troughs and these vary greatly between people and even between skin sites on the same person.  If the synthetic skin chosen has less peaks and troughs than typical human skin it could, theoretically, return a higher SPF in the test than it does in person. Because of that a smoother ‘fake’ skin would potentially enable higher SPF readings which might be favourable from a marketing perspective but if it can’t be replicated in person is there any point?  It seems very important for the synthetic skin to at least behave in a way relatable to human skin in terms of how it allows sunscreen to spread and where the sunscreen lies and how it covers.    I feel there is still more work to be done here with respect to whether the skin substrate is as good as it could be given that we are placing so much weight in it.  Here is a link to an interview Gavin did about his Mimskin.   and here is a link to a press release put out by Cosmetics Europe about the ISO method.

and another press release in 2013 here.

But that’s not the only issue with SPF testing…..

Inconsistencies between labs were not unusual as while the amount in grams of sunscreen per bit of skin has been a set-in-stone protocol for a long time, the actual method of application to the skin does make a difference and different operators at different labs used different methods to apply the product.  I’m talking rubbing in vs placing, how many times you pass the product over the skin etc.  I’m also talking about how the product gets from the measuring jar to the skin – via nude or coated finger? The FDA method specifies a fingercot has to be used whereas the ISO method does not, thus opening up a whole world of variability that need not exist.

Skilled operators with years of experience have their own way of keeping things consistent whereas staff with less experience may not appreciate the need for a steady, consistent application that doesn’t vary from product to product.  While none of this is directly relevant to the layperson buying and using the product (the lab technician won’t be joining you on the beach to ensure a good application) it does mean that SPF levels across different products are comparable.

So what does this mean for Banana Boat?

Well this is difficult to know and I guess this is what the legal proceedings will try to unpick but how they will do that without unpicking the test method is a bit of a mystery to me.  The points that Gavin made during his lifetime about how poor this new standard was were not popular to the point of being largely dismissed. I found this a shame as Gavin was one of the few true scientists and passionate enthusiasts for understanding things on a pure level that I’ve ever met and I do really miss having him around to talk about this sort of thing to.   I know that some of the opposition for Gavin’s views came from the fact that he was taking on the establishment so to speak – standing up and asking questions, asking for evidence, asking for proof among.  As we have so recently seen with the sex scandals in Hollywood and even Australia now, breaking the seal in a profession, asking the tough questions, saying it how you feel it is is not something that goes down well and can often be squashed, sometimes for years.   On the other hand maybe Gavin’s views were unpopular because he was just wrong, barking up the wrong tree, had his own axe to grind and money to make and wasn’t being positioned to capitalise…..  While I was Gavin’s friend, I was his friend because we could discuss and debate things, I wasn’t about to blow smoke up his arse when I thought he was completely wrong and now he’s dead so why shouldn’t we just have one more look into what he was trying to say? He can’t profit now (and neither can / would I).

And back to Banana Boat.

I think it will be impossible for the Banana Boat case to not evaluate the test method in order to establish what is going on.  I know that Banana Boat do test their sunscreens thoroughly and properly and can’t see why they would take the risk of labelling an SPF 16.5 product as an SPF 50 product knowingly so something has gone wrong here, something has failed but is the failure the test method, the lab, the formula or the packaging or something else?

These products were all aerosol type sunscreens so while I’ve banged on about the SPF test method it is also valid to look at the capacity of an aerosol to deliver a consistent and stable SPF 50.  The reason I haven’t banged on about how hard aerosols are to apply and the dangers of aerosol SPF products here is because of the lab based SPF results issue.  A person just getting burned after using a sunscreen could mean they didn’t apply enough or often enough or that they had a reaction to the formula or that the product was out of shelf life or some other issue.  Ridiculously low SPF results in an in-date and properly applied sunscreen is something else entirely.

The bottom line here is that we need sunscreens to work.  While it is possible for many of us to screen ourselves from incidental sun via clothing, sun avoidance behaviours and an antioxidant rich diet (yes it can help but not by much) and good hydration there are times when only a sunscreen will do.  The Banana boat case could further fuel moves by some areas of the public to shun protection altogether or worse, make their own un-tested sunscreens from internet recipes – I say this is worse as at least with no sunscreen you modify your behaviour and are under no illusions when you burn, a home-made sunscreen can lead to a false sense of security and adoption of less cautious behaviour.

I will be watching this case very carefully to see what direction it takes and keeping my fingers crossed that the case does get to the bottom of what is a very worrying situation.  I am happy to admit that I might be completely wrong to suspect that the problems start with the test method but the bottom line is that I just want sunscreens to work and for me, faith in the process starts with having faith in the test method.

Amanda x

PS: Just to finish off, if you are new to SPF or want a refresher on how sunscreens work this article is a very good place to start.


You do realise that we are not entirely rational creatures don’t you?

November 28, 2017

A funny thing happened today.

A member of a Facebook group that I’m in posted a video footage of an argument. Well, when I say it was an argument it wasn’t exactly, it was more of a super rapid fire of reasons that the other parties were wrong countered by an attempt to explain the opposing point of view. Needless to say the ‘F’ word came up, the two parties resolved nothing and both went away thinking the other party was hopelessly deranged meaning the whole process was somewhat pointless – surely arguing with another is a game of persuasion?

It doesn’t matter what the argument was about but what mattered to me was how the argument was progressing.

The angry argument instigator was trying to fire off philosophical and largely logical questions at an unprepared audience of two who could offer no concretely logical answers back because there weren’t any. Not that it made a fat lot of difference to be honest as what they were arguing was diet related and since when did anyone choose their diet purely based on logic?

Well there was one man once…..

I remember watching a program as a child where one man was interviewed after he had been discovered living off a diet that largely consisted of cauliflower with a few other minor nutrients in a soupy broth.  It might have been on Blue Peter but I can’t quite remember. All I do remember is that this man had dedicated his life to finding a way to sustain himself entirely sustainably and healthily for the lowest price possible – cauliflower is quite cheap in England where I grew up.  God bless that man!

Now we live in times where sustainable living is the prized goal of many of us. We want to tread lightly, be more healthy, avoid toxic chemicals (or any chemicals to be honest), be ‘green’ and yet I don’t see too many of us living off cauliflower broth.  No, instead we live in times when you can gorge yourself on wall-to-wall cooking shows, bake-offs, cooking competitions and master cheffery.  If anything we are becoming even less sustainable with our eating all the while bemoaning the fact that the big supermarkets still insist in packing our items in plastic bags that clog the oceans.

I’m sure we all know that we could be nourished perfectly, could eliminate that horrendous ‘what’s for dinner?’ conundrum AND be healthier and less bloated by eating the same, micro balanced meal day in and day out but we don’t because our dietary choices are based on lots of things and food is not fuel, it is life, culture, identity, history, custom,  love, indulgence, reward, an experience and a joy.

I’m telling you this because today I was once again reminded that we can’t win an argument about ‘what is the best diet’ by basing our argument on logic.  Of course, as a cosmetic chemist my mind then flicks to the ingredients list of my favourite cream or lip balm and I am reminded of the symmetry here.  While I don’t agree in non-science or illogical reasonings I do have to say that those who base their ingredient arguments purely on logic may well be serving up the cosmetic equivalent of that cauliflower soup.


The ‘I’ve solved my problem, now I can solve all yours’ trap

November 13, 2017

I was listening to a radio segment on the phenomena of life coaches today (Life Matters, ‘What’s driving the rise of life coaches’ with Amanda Smith) and something the doctor taking part in the discussion said reminded me of the situation we face in the cosmetic industry all.of.the.time  I’m talking about the ‘I’ve solved my problem, now I can solve all yours’ people.

I don’t think anyone goes into a brand (or into life coaching) thinking that they are doing this but from the outside it is easy to see that this is exactly what is happening and sooner or later it will come unstuck.

Some examples of where I’ve seen this situation in my realm of work are:

  • People who became healthy after giving up ‘chemicals’ and therefore go on to create a ‘chemical’ free cosmetic range to help others become healthy.
  • People who cured their eczema with one particular ingredient or formula and create a range around that ingredient.
  • People who found a cure for their own acne via a certain regimen and use their experience to ‘treat’ others.
  • People whose baby responds well to their massage oil and sleeps through the night so they package that up and sell it as a sleepy cure.

But to be honest it could be anything.

Some of the above, if not all of the above are often as good a reason as any to get into the cosmetic industry, after all what is more motivating than finding a cure for your own situation and wanting to use that to help others.  There is nothing wrong with that public referral type of selling or idea sharing but where it becomes dangerous is when personal referrals and personal experience gets dressed up as professional truth.  The line that gets crossed is the line that takes you from an individual with a compelling story to a consultant with a prescriptive solution. The problem with this leap into the prescriptive is that it is often undertaken without  supervision (qualified reflection on own processes and working through the problems that come up) or evidence – one persons success does not a trial make.  Supervision is essential for all therapists/ health care professionals as is professional development and evidence is what differentiates quackery from science (not that I’m saying all science is based on GOOD or even TRUTHFUL evidence, just that evidence is a requirement of science).

So what to do?

Listening to that short radio segment was a bit of a reminder to me that I do need to talk about this with my clients and my students. I need to challenge them to move beyond their personal ‘cure alls’ and biases so that they can work towards finding some truth in that unstructured enthusiasm as there is always a little bit of scientific truth behind these personal success stories and it is often just a matter of measuring and testing it appropriately.  The danger of not doing this early in your brand owning life is that you build a brand based on a false-hood, part-truth or wishful thought, a brand that really doesn’t live up to what you had promised.  Then again, the danger of testing your wonder cure is that it turns out to be a fluke, not that wonderful or only half the story and that can be disappointing but I’d argue that it is better to be disappointed early rather than later so you can re-group and fill in the gaps with something that has better efficacy behind it.

As you will see from this evidence triangle, case reports (personal stories), opinions (such as mine in this blog) and letters (from a doctor etc) are weak evidence. That doesn’t mean they are ZERO evidence, it just means that you need a lot of them together to have any chance of finding a commonality or pattern between the cases.  The sad thing for me with regards to the internet is that it is easier to find 10 blogs claiming that eczema can be cured with coconut oil than to find 10 that dispute or question that from an evidence based perspective.  This helps to drive the conclusion that the information is true, tested and validated when, in reality it is just a half-truth or mis-informed opinion repeated.  The bottom line with these weak forms of evidence is the credentials and process of the individuals involved. Are they trained in scientific thinking, are they displaying bias, are they profiting from an opinion and if so which outcome do they profit from and is that likely to be corruptible?  To help work out if an outcome may be corruptible one can check to see if the outcome is something they are in control of or invested in personally – for example a brand owner selling a cure is in control of the brand that gains popularity by promoting its self as a cure and also profits from the selling of that cure. There is a chance for corruption here because of the concentration of power but this doesn’t mean there will be corruption, just that we should be mindful.  On the other hand  a scientist promoting a science base testing approach may well have some control over how the science is carried out but can’t control the outcomes as the outcomes may not be controllable, especially not if the outcomes are measured by customers or test subjects such as in a panel test or questionnaire. Also even if the scientist controls the lab that publishes the initial favourable results, other labs have to repeat that for the results to be valid and no scientist owns and controls all the labs so their lies, bias or mis-directed methodology will eventually show up just so long as there is transparency and reproducibility in the methodology.

For me, the bottom line is that while we might all come into this industry for different reasons and via different pathways once we are in here we have to accept that while hype and hyperbole may be the wings that launch a brand it is evidence-based results that keep the brands heart ticking.

If you are wanting to invest for the long-term, invest wisely and it is wise to remember that just because you have solved your problem, doesn’t mean you are qualified to solve them all.

Amanda x


Trust your mamma?

November 8, 2017

As much as I love my mamma mushroom I don’t trust her 100%, after all she’s the woman that told me there were crocodiles in our tiny garden pond, that if I didn’t fall asleep my 9pm the 9 O’Clock horses would come and take me away and that if I went to bed with my nighty on back-to-front the fairies would come and twist my head around in the night!  However, after reading the interwebs for some ingredient safety information it seems that I’m all alone in doubting my mothers credibility to know everything.

I’m talking mamma bloggers.

Mamma bloggers are a big thing aren’t they?

I kind of get it, that association between mothering and safe mushy feelings of being secure and cosseted but I also don’t.  As a mother myself I would not say that the ability to grow a baby magically bestowed upon me the powers of knowing anything and everything about whatever takes my fancy so why do these ladies think they can decipher cosmetic chemistry, toxicology, environmental science and the laws of physics?  I have clearly been short changed!

I spend a good proportion of my time having to look to see what the mamma bloggers have said after a customer or reader of my blog writes in to ‘get a second opinion’.  Sometimes I really do feel that my second opinion is taken as being quite valid albeit reluctantly at times, when at other times I feel it’s a case of ‘yeh but nah’ – I get the brush off. Cognitive dissonance is a real bummer but only for as long as you entertain two ideas in your head at the same time and often it’s easier to stick with mamma than run with the wolves AKA me. HA!

That said, I don’t really know why I brought this up to be honest. I’ve long since given up trying to beat these mammas into submission – nobody likes that kind of violence – and I’m no longer as fussed if people immediately thank me for my hours of nerdy reading, cross referencing, questioning and equationing.  I have long since realised that I do what I do because I like and am qualified to do.  I feel that I’m giving this my full attention and trying to do the best job I can in bringing up my readers with the best, most well balanced information that I can serve.  I suppose, when I think about it that is all that any mother tries to do really isn’t it?  To do their best?  Maybe I’m just being a bit boring for sticking to one subject of expertise rather than spreading my wisdom around like vegemite or jam!

Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter as long as we do what we do with love and as ‘doing/ making/ packing/ wrapping with love’ is another thing mamma bloggers do well then maybe, just maybe I’m one too……

Let me just go and have a cup of tea while I process that.

Amanda x