Throughout history, herbalists have been blending topical ointments, creams, lotions and poultices for medicinal purposes.
Jacqui joins us today on FX Medicine to share her entrepreneurial journey and how she came to create a healthy, natural skincare range that now graces shelves alongside brands like Aesop and Napoleon Perdis.
Jacqui shares the triumphs and obstacles of navigating the regulatory hurdles in the world of skincare as well as insights into sourcing safe, therapeutic raw materials. You can expect some preservative myth-busting, as well as a scientific explanation for why sugar causes skin problems. Jacqui's message is simple; beauty occurs from the inside, out.
Covered in this episode:
[00:30] Introducing Jacqui Evans
[01:51] Jacqui's Career Journey
[08:11] Following a passion for creating skin care
[12:23] The catalyst for launching Jacqueline Evans Skincare
[13:52] Raw materials: quality and supply
[17:15] Serendipitous sourcing: Argan Oil
[19:29] Heavy metals in make up and skin care
[22:24] Ingredients to avoid vs. ingredients to include?
[31:33] "Beauty occurs from the inside, out"
[34:15] Inflammation and glycation ages skin
[37:43] Natural skincare: can it aid with aging?
[42:05] Does being a herbalist help with formulating skincare?
[44:20] Sodium laurel sulphates et al.
[46:07] Advice for budding skincare creators
Andrew: This is FX Medicine, I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining me on the line today is Jacqui Evans.
When Jacqui Evans learned to take her love of herbal medicine and apply it to the art of concocting natural beauty products, she quickly realised there was no turning back. Ten years and tens of thousands of bright bottles later, Jacqui's skin care range is stocked throughout the world and her unique botanical formulations are disrupting the beauty industry one product at of time, which I've got to say, I love.
It was through learning about the effects that traditional skin care chemicals can have on the skin and body that forever changed the direction of Jacqui's career, and she became determined to show people there was a safer alternative.
Today, her range, Jacqueline Evan’s Skin Care has 100 stockists in Australia, is featured in the bathrooms of some of Australia's most acclaimed restaurants and was named one of Australia's top 100 beauty brands by style and beauty bible, Vogue Australia. It has been sold alongside the likes of beauty giants, Kiehl’s and Napoleon Perdis. Did I say that right Jacqui?
Jacqui: You did say that right. Well done.
Andrew: And Jacqueline is only getting started. So please join me in welcoming Jacqui Evans. Jacqui, hi.
Jacqui: Hi. Thanks Andrew. Thanks for the nice introduction.
Andrew: You have an incredible career. So can you please take our listeners through this? You are a true entrepreneur.
Jacqui: Thank you, thank you, that's nice to hear that.
Look, my journey began many years going. I've been in the natural medicine industry for a very long time. It all started back in high school when I was chosen to study Chinese and I carried on and learned Chinese at university, and it was there… so as part of learning Chinese language we had to learn about Chinese philosophy and eastern philosophy and eastern medicine, and I really became interested in that style of medicine.
And so I quickly changed direction and enrolled in naturopathy. And after I finished studying back in 1999? I packed my bags and headed over to England, and was young at the time, but found myself in a really fortunate position where I worked for a pharmacy over there as a naturopath. And this pharmacy was pretty ground breaking at the time. You know, this is 20 years ago, and it was ground breaking because we had no drugs on site despite being a registered pharmacy.
Jacqui: If someone came in with a headache or a cold, we would just go out the back and create a specific herbal formula or prescribe a vitamin or supplement for them. So there was no drugs on site.
But a big part of what they did within this pharmacy was manufacturing skin care, and I really...my mind was blown. You know, I spent all those years learning about what we put in our bodies but had never considered what we put on our bodies. And I completely fell in love with the science and the alchemy of creating formulations.
So I spent two years working under this pharmacist and developing the skills to create skin care and body products. And then I returned to Australia and I just knew I didn't want to work in a clinic setting. I knew that I needed to understand a lot more about science and biochemistry, and wanted to really work behind the scenes, understanding the research and the science that goes into our industry.
So I found myself getting a job for ARL Pathology, which has been bought-out a few times since then. But they were the leaders in functional pathology at the time. So functional pathology is, of course, the science of providing pathology to practitioners, to both GPs and naturopaths. But it's testing to look at the function of how the body is working rather than just excluding or diagnosing disease. So you're really trying to understand how organs and systems are actually functioning. And this is so important for practitioners to remove any guess work. It's really important for patient compliance as well. But also it's excellent just for getting a base line of being able to monitor treatment efficacy as well for patients.
So I spent 10 years working for the lab. I started off in a technical support role where I would speak with GPs and naturopaths once they got a pathology report back, and they needed assistance in interpreting the results, I would go through what the result means based on the patient’s presentation. And then we would discuss treatment strategies from there.
Eventually, I worked my way up and ended up managing the functional pathology department, so was technical manager. And it was here that I really got my hands dirty in the science and education for practitioners. I was fortunate to spend a lot of the time traveling Australia, and the world, attending medical conferences to understand what was the next thing in medicine that we needed to know about, and then I would bring that back to the lab, sit down with the scientists and the pathologists and see if we could work up an assay to be able to test some of these new markers that were emerging in medicine.
So I did some really cool things like working in a field of nutrigenomics, I bought the MTHFR test to life. Which is now so widely used for autism and infertility and various other conditions. We looked at Leptin for appetite control. We were able to open the doors for naturopaths to access general pathology as well, which is incredible for practitioners to have that available in clinic.
So it was a pretty exciting role. It was a really fast-paced environment working in the laboratory. Doctors and practitioners need results straight away. It's a very accurate setting, everything has to be completely accurate and handled very well. The laboratory is amazing because all of the functional pathology testing is performed by the same scientists that are performing all the general pathology testing. And it's all done within a credited laboratory setting as well.
Andrew: Yeah, I think that's important.
Jacqui: It's so important. It's just...pathology testing is just such an important thing for practitioners to incorporate into their clinic practice. It just gives them that as an important tool. So yeah, I spent 10 years there. I wrote the functional pathology textbook, which has seen three editions now, which is a great resource for practitioners to get all the clinical information and interpretations of pathology testing.
So burning away inside me though, it was always this constant need to manufacture skin care. The whole time I was working full-time in the lab. I would come home at night and I was mixing up formulations and blending up formulations in the kitchen and in the garage and wherever I could in the house. And I was giving creams and moisturisers to friends and family and the demand quickly grew. And I sort of couldn't hide from it anymore. I knew that I had to do more with this side of me that just loved the science of making creams. And then I kind of drew this link that sort of led me to go, "I can take this leap, I can manufacture skin care full time."
In the time at the lab, I really focused and developed a big appreciation for female health conditions, and was constantly alarmed at the amount of hormonal profiles I was seeing, that showed hormonal disruption in females. You know, we were seeing PCOS and endometriosis and infertility, even chronic fatigue. This constant swell of hormonal conditions.
And then I sort of drew this link where I remember that there was a class of preservatives, the parabens, which are known hormonal disruptors. And I kind of hang on to that and went well, that's a tiny bit of the puzzle that might be causing some of this hormonal disruption in females. You know, it's a tiny bit of the puzzle, but it's when you put the whole puzzle together, it's a piece of the puzzle. So that was what I clung on to and thought, "Right, I'm going to launch a skin care brand that's going to be entirely safe, entirely natural, and something that women can use, and particularly if they've got any hormonal conditions."
So I resigned from my job in the lab and went full-time into manufacturing skin care.
Andrew: That is a massive leap of faith, Jacqui.
Andrew: Most people... I'm trying to follow what you must have been feeling, and most people would cringe and would cower and go, "That's too much of a thing.” You know, “I need a million dollars plus to start a skin care range with all of the procurement, the ingredients, the bottles, the advertising, the marketing." Most people would not do it.
What was it inside you where you went, "Hang this, I'm doing it." What's different about you?
Jacqui: Yeah, sure, look, it certainly wasn't a whole lot of money behind me. It was completely self-funded. Do you know what? It was just the feedback I was getting from the people that were using the skincare. That they loved it. They loved the products and I actually really love creating them. It actually, is still my favorite thing to do when I sit down, I call it my little lab here. When I sit down in the lab and I get out all the ingredients and I blend the oils and the water. And what you start with, you know, 10, 15 ingredients and you end up with this incredible cream. It's incredibly satisfying.
And, you know, back then as well natural and organic, it's still incredibly overused, those words. But natural and organic back then had a certain look about them and I just thought, "Why isn't there natural and organic products that look really good and can sit alongside all of the mainstream products in mainstream shelves? Why does natural and organic have to scream, "I'm natural and organic, and I'm using..." you know?
Jacqui: Like they all have that certain look. Yeah, hippy, hippy! And I really wanted to disrupt that and create something that was natural and organic inside. But didn't scream it and still looked good along all the mainstream things.
So, it did also help that I was approached by a television network at the time and they said, "We want to feature your product on a morning show tomorrow morning."
Andrew: How did they find out about you?
Jacqui: That was really sort of through word of… a friend of a friend of a friend and they'd heard about it, and they contacted me and said, "They want to showcase your products tomorrow morning on one of the morning shows." I didn't have a website. I'd had the branding done, but I seriously did not have a website. So literally overnight, I created a website with a friend who helped me with the design and, it launched.
So that was kind of the thing that pushed me. And I sat back and waited for all these orders to roll in. And you know, we were in the morning show against Aesop and Jurlique and all the big brands. And nothing really happened. But that didn't matter. That didn't matter. That was the thing that forced me to do it. So it started and there was no turning back for me from that point on. And nine years on, it's still going and the challenges are different. As the business grows, it's always different challenges but I just can't look back now.
Andrew: Can I ask you, Jacqui? You mentioned a couple of brands there which are known for their ‘clean formulations’, their quality, raw materials, things like that. How did you, right, little ol' Jacqui, how did you start to look at things like...well, indeed, you had already started, but how did you jump over those hurdles of things like quality, herbal, procurement, quality issues, stability issues and repeatability? You get it from one place and then you can't get it again. How did you approach these hurdles in business?
Jacqui: Look, this is a really interesting topic in skin care. The market is becoming really saturated at the moment with natural skin care brands. And a lot of people that are sort of ‘home cooks’, for want of a better word, that are manufacturing in the kitchen. And the industry is still largely unregulated. I was, as I said, really tired of big companies misleading consumers with the words like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’...
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. And that's still happening today.
Jacqui: ...which is a bit of marketing. Absolutely, it's still happening today. And look, skin care doesn't have to be registered with the TGA as long as we're not making therapeutic claims. However, they are absolutely mandatory labeling requirements for the labeling of all of cosmetic products manufactured or imported into Australia. And so all labeling and manufacturing has to comply with information standard which is enforced by the ACCC. So I got help. I got help with how do you write a label to ensure that it complies with standards.
Andrew: Right, yeah, yeah.
Jacqui: And then in terms of choosing ingredients, I always work with suppliers that do good quality control testing. You know, as the business grows and as I'm working with bigger wholesalers… you know, I've just started importing into Urban Outfitters in the States. So their requirements from me are quite large. I have to provide them with material safety data sheets because of and certificate of analysis. And so when you're working with good suppliers, you know that you're getting that information. And nature can be pretty inconsistent, so you need to instill...
Andrew: That's nature.
Jacqui: Yeah, that's nature, absolutely. And I've seen that many times where ingredients can change a lot depending on what's happened with the seasonal variations.
And like with anything, there's huge variation in quality. An example of that is I use argan oil, which is this incredible oil that comes from Morocco. And I love it for a couple of reasons. One, it's incredibly sustainable and supports employment of a huge percentage of women across southwest Morocco. They use it in cosmetics and food and cleaning products over there, and it's become very widely popular for haircare worldwide. We were one of the first brands to use it in skin care. It's incredibly high in vitamin E and does amazing things for skin cells.
Andrew: How did you find out about argan oil ahead of a market? I guess where I'm going here is, you know, here is you, how did you approach the procurement? Where did you go to find where to and even import oils, let alone good ones?
Jacqui: I know. I know. It's amazing how things come about, and I've got this incredible distributor out of Morocco. Just researching and sourcing, and you begin to know. You know, like I get argan oil samples which are rich and thick and intense in color. And I know I'm working with a good one, and then I'll see other ones that I really light and thin and watery and don't have the same color and the smell. I mean, by sight and feel, you get to know the quality of ingredients.
Andrew: Yep. The organoleptic testing.
Jacqui: Absolutely. But also can they provide me with the quality control tests and the safety data sheets? So you get to know your supplier and the quality of what they're providing you.
But it was my sister, my sister actually traveled to Morocco and came across argan oil there and spoke to some of the women and she brought me back home a sample, and then I researched it and looked at its ingredient profile and the constituents in it. And, I mean, it's a pretty remarkable oil in what it does for the skin. So it's... Yeah, I use it across two of our products.
Andrew: You're saying something that's really interesting me, Jacqui, and that is ‘women’. So in such a male-dominated society like Morocco, how is it that the women are finding or gaining benefit from farming/ supplying the argan oil? What's happening there?
Jacqui: Yeah. The women are the ones collecting it and producing it essentially. So the women are the ones working with it. And it's the argan nut, but it's the females that are working with it and producing it and turning it into an oil that's ready for export.
Andrew: Great. So I've also got to ask, when you're talking about, like we've mentioned probably countless times throughout FX Medicine podcasts about the issues of normal makeup, chemicals in normal makeup. That women put on their eyes and their skin day in, day out. Indeed, heavy metals.
Andrew: There's no law to make manufacturers disclose heavy metal testing or anything like that. And yet we know that there's issues with certain ingredients. A) How did you become aware of this sort of thing? How do you get around it? How did you make sure that your ingredients don't contain those?
Jacqui: It all comes back to the supplier and the information they provide me. So it all comes back to their quality control testing that they've done and their certificate and the product specifications. Yeah. It really all comes back to that and just doing the research with suppliers and ensuring that they're not contaminated by heavy metals, that they are safe to use. Yeah and there's a handful of suppliers I work with now and so I know when I'm choosing ingredients from them that they're going to be safe. And that's taken a lot of time...
Jacqui: ...to build that up and get to know who to work with. Yeah, that all that research was done sort of all initially and now it's pretty safe. And that's why I think a lot of our customers choose our brand. They almost now, you talk about, "Read the label, read the label, read the label. Don't put anything on your skin that you can't pronounce or you wouldn't eat." And all that sort of thing. But you get to a point, I think, that people trust your brand and know that there's not going to be anything in there that's not safe.
Andrew: Forgive me for giggling, but I'm just...when you say, "Don't put anything on or in you that you wouldn't be able to pronounce." Hang on, chemilarius lutium….
Jacqui: I know. You know what? Absolutely.
Andrew: Like, botanical names, you got to be kidding me!
Jacqui: I know, absolutely. And that's something.. Do you know what? I often, when people say that, I often disagree and say, "Well, that's not even true."
Because ingredients, the realm of ingredients, that are available under the natural banner now is just rapidly improving. I mean, chemists that are manufacturing skin care, there's so much more available. People are wanting more natural things. So even in terms of preservatives, some of the preservatives, they sound like chemicals, you know. Potassium sorbate and glycerol caprylate. They're natural preservatives that we can use and they're safe. So I completely agree with you that it's not always about not pronouncing the label.
Andrew: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi.
Jacqui: Yes. That's right.
Andrew: I love the binomial nomenclature pronunciations and the tongue twisters that you can get into with that. But I do want to cover a couple of topics here and that is; the chemicals that you want to avoid versus the ingredients that are safe and that you want to include.
Jacqui: Yes, yes.
Andrew: Can we go through that a little bit because I find... I think our listeners would like to know which ones because I'm sure that they will be confused.
Jacqui: Yeah, absolutely. And I do want to start off this conversation by saying, we don't like to scare our customers do you know? I think people can make this topic sound really frightening by going, "Oh, you're using that. That causes cancer, and this can do that." And it's never been our approach to scaremonger people into, or frighten them into using natural skin care. We like to talk about the benefits of natural skin care. We do like to educate on why we don't use certain ingredients, but it's certainly never our approach to frighten people into using natural skin care.
You know, look, it’s said that by the time a woman’s got ready in the morning and before she's walked out the door, probably or male as well, we've exposed ourselves between 15 and 50 chemicals. A deodorant alone might contain up to 30 chemicals. If you see the word ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’ on a body product or skincare. That alone could have 3,000 toxic chemicals inside of it and they can just call it fragrance. So we do need to be aware of labeling, absolutely.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah.
Jacqui: We know that the skin is a permeable membrane. You know, we only need to think of a nicotine patch and how that's applied onto the skin. And the nicotine reaches the blood stream to curb the tobacco craving. So we know that via the skin is absolutely a way to penetrate the blood stream.
So when you're applying a serum or a lotion or a cream, it encounters the upper-most layer of the skin, which is called our stratum corneum. And depending on the size and the chemical property of the ingredients, three different things can happen.
The first thing is, it can be absorbed by skin cells and this is if the ingredient is very small and permeable, they'll be up-taken by the skin cells and processed. And after a period of time, this does enter the circulation. And this is true for the case of ingredients like vitamin C and vitamin E and even retinol or vitamin A.
Another possibility is that they can go between skin cells. So this is if an ingredient is too large to be up taken by skin cells, they move between the cells for a period of time and at such point they enter the circulation to be excreted.
The third possibility is if the ingredient is large and non-permeable on the skin. And at this point it can be absorbed into glands. And in this process we get what we call a reservoir effect, and this is where they can be stored in the glands for absorption for a period of time before they're released in the blood stream. So this includes things like aluminum which is the reason why there's controversy surrounding aluminum-containing deodorant.
Jacqui: So we absolutely know that the skin’s alive and it needs other alive ingredients to play with. Synthetic ingredients can't really give life to the skin. So, you know, I talk to people about thinking of their beauty products as food for the skin rather than just as cosmetics. Because we are really feeding the skin.
So to answer your question, what should we be avoiding? Parabens is an absolutely big one to avoid. I mentioned that at the beginning of the conversation. Parabens are essentially synthetic preservatives and they're hugely abundant in skincare deodorants. They act as a preservative to improve shelf life. But they mimic estrogen in the body. So they're known hormonal disruptors. So absolutely, for anyone with any hormonal issues, they need to be avoiding parabens. They can also reek a bit of havoc on our nervous system and immune system. And there have been links through to paraben levels and birth defects. So we absolutely should be avoiding parabens where possible.
Another one is the synthetic fragrances, which I mentioned earlier, again, these are endocrine disruptors, they mimic hormones in the body.
Andrew: And boy, you can smell the difference. I've smelled them, I used to work in a pharmacy, and whenever we’d get in these cheap, horrible fragrances, they were disgusting. Evidently. Like to me, obviously.
Andrew: It wasn't just me being snobby, there's this the real horribleness about them.
Jacqui: Yeah. You can tell straight away, can't you?
Andrew: Oh yeah.
Jacqui: You can just tell straight away when you're using a synthetic fragrance. And you know, that's true for perfumes as well. Yeah, really not good hormonal disruptors.
And it's just… there's so many incredible essential oils available in our tool kit that we can blend up and create amazing scents with, that it seems absurd almost that we're using synthetic ones when we can be using good quality, pure essential oils that then have a function. And that's what I talk about that ingredients need to have a really good function on the body.
So you can use essential oils not only to make a product smell good, and we know that people are driven by a nice smells. But it goes deeper than that, because then it has an action and a function on the skin as well. So yeah, it's... To me, you get more bang for your buck. When you're using a really good quality product, you'll get action out of it.
Andrew: So two questions that have just peaked in my mind there. Firstly, you say, bang for buck, so we've got to cover cost versus the cost of the normal skin care ranges. The other one, though, is, when you say they have a function, are you then getting into a claim and therefore you run into issues with the TGA? Like, where's the line of having a function and making a claim?
Jacqui: Yeah, sure. Look, and it's a tiny bit of a grey area. You can't make direct claims, but you can talk about actions.
Jacqui: You might be able... It's all in the wording; ‘relieves’, ‘refreshing’, as opposed to ‘eliminates’ you know? So there are absolute guidelines to that by the ACCC on what you can and can't claim and say that it does. But you can certainly talk about things like cell turnover and regenerating cells and... There are ways you need to phrase it.
Andrew: Yeah. So something like saying, refreshes the skin and skin regeneration has something to do with a functionality. Whereas dry skin or dermatitis, that would be a claim.
Andrew: And so on to that other part, and that is when you're saying, one makeup house says, “because I'm worth it.” And I think it's really interesting that my wife, thrifty lady that she is, will never ever buy her make up at full price. So it's like, well, what's the value to her of that?
Whereas if something has a true nutritive value, well, there's a real difference in value to the customer, the patient, the person. How do you then get across? What’s their value?
Jacqui: Their value is... I think their value is the results that they're getting from it. To me as that's the value. And I just see skin care as so much more than just this topical application of products. There's no magic pill. There's no magical moisturiser you can put on to eliminate acne. It's so much deeper than that. And that's the value that we try and give to people, is the education. Is teaching them that the beauty begins on the inside. That the value is in the results they'll feel on their skin. So it's more about, more than just what you're applying to the skin. It's so much more than that.
Andrew: Indeed. It's been said about you, you always talk about beauty from the inside out. So how important and how important are these other areas that we need to address, particularly if there is a problem area that's being presented on the skin and you've got a skin care line, but how then do you talk to your customers about saying, listen, this isn't all that you need to do? How do you get that across in a marketing way or in information?
Jacqui: Really good question. This is something I'm hugely passionate about at the moment. And really working on how we're getting this message out. So I coined this term beauty from the inside out from both physical and physiological aspects. And I feel really excited to talk to young women about positive self-body image.
We're at a time where 70% of adolescent girls have body image dissatisfaction, eating disorders represent something like a third most common chronic illness for females. We're constantly bombarded with messages and information that you're never good enough. And we can limit the amount of magazines and TV shows that our children are watching, but it's increasingly difficult to monitor the images that are everywhere. You drive behind a bus and the back of the bus tells you that you need longer eyelashes, you need a fake tan and so on. And then there's the rise of social media showing young girls the false reality of perfection.
Andrew: Oh, my God.
Andrew: It's amazing. Like nobody is not airbrushed.
Andrew: That's really poor syntax, but it's a double negative, but...
Jacqui: I know.
Andrew: Everybody is airbrushed. Everybody is changing themselves to be something that they think is going to be better, going to... People will accept me if I'm like ‘that’.
Jacqui: Absolutely, I know. And so how are we getting this across? We're creating messages and we're talking about something deeper than just beauty. We're educating young women what is going on in their bodies. If we're talking about polycystic ovarian syndrome that might result in acne. We're educating them about well, what is polycystic ovarian syndrome? What's going on in the body that might be causing it to result in poor skin. And the fact that you need to address that inside in order to address the outside. And we're trying to teach them to love their skin and to respect their body by nurturing it with good food and a healthy mind.
So when we're considering the internal factors that affect skin, that direct connection between gut and skin is still sometimes overlooked. We're becoming more and more aware of the critical role that the inside is playing the manifestations that we see on the skin. A big thing for me is inflammation.
Jacqui: I feel like inflammation is almost the basis of aging in all systems you know, including the skin. We can have deterioration of the brain or the heart muscle, but also the skin. And a really hot topic in the skincare world right now is this idea glycation. Which is essentially the idea that when blood sugar goes up too rapidly, the sugar itself attaches it to collagen and this makes the skin quite stiff and inflexible. Which in turn, loses our elastic resilience in the skin and gives you deeper wrinkles and makes you look older.
So what's happening here, is that when we're digesting glucose from our carbs or sugars, they can attach proteins to the collagen and these things will form molecules called AGEs, which are ‘advanced glycation end products’. And these essentially degrade collagen and elastin which make them harden, they'd be like rust degrades metal.
Andrew: Yes. And that's not just evident in the skin, but in all areas of the body.
Andrew: Brain, liver…
Jacqui: Absolutely, it's in all areas. And there's only been in vitro studies done so far on the link between glycation and skin. And I think it's a really interesting question that we need to make about the connection between glycation and the skin.
At the moment, yes, absolutely, like you said, we know about its involvement with heart tissue and all around the body. But I think we need to do a lot more research in the role of...in human controlled studies to show the relevance of glycation to the skin. And the same thing goes for intestinal permeability.
There's plenty of studies to show that increased permeability is an issue for patients with acne. The gut flora also influences the skin. We can talk about substance P which is the neuropeptide that we produce in the gut and the brain, but also the skin, and this plays a huge role in skin conditions.
Andrew: Aah. Now, hang on. I didn't know about this. Tell me about this. Tell us about this.
Jacqui: So altered, well, gut dysbiosis essentially promotes the release of substance P, not only in the gut but also into the skin. And that is where we're seeing the rise of acne and poor skin health. So we know that probiotics itself and improving the gut microbiome will improve the response to skin health.
Andrew: Yeah. Can I ask you, you know, given that part of the start of your business, was the results that you were seeing from your customers, your family, your friends, and those people that you were supplying way back when you were working with ARL. Part of the fire that burnt within you was because of the results that they saw.
Given that we weren't necessarily...we didn't necessarily know back then what we were seeing, now we talk about substance P and skin glycation, advanced glycation end products. Have you seen reversal of skin aging, the depth of wrinkles, for instance, on a permanent or at least semi-permanent basis. Rather than a transient basis only while you've got that product on your skin. Like with some of these skin care things that you can waft in front of you, you can waft your hand in front of them and you can see the eye? Yeah, that sort of thing.
Jacqui: Yes. We do get sent photos from our customers that show improvement quite a lot. I'm always amazed by what people tell me and what they show me. And yeah, we'll often see photos that people send in of before and after, particularly of things like acne or psoriasis.
We work a lot with women with rosacea as well who get really good results with this skin care. In terms of wrinkling and aging, no, I haven't really seen too much of that. I did want to... I've always wanted to do testing on someone pre- and post-skin care. I would love to look at antioxidant levels in the blood after using… but there’s too many variables to do something like that.
Yeah. It's really only anecdotal what we're seeing from people. I don't really delve into that word, ‘anti-aging’, too much because I think it's a natural process. It's something...
Andrew: Optimal aging.
Jacqui: Absolutely, optimal aging. I love that.
Andrew: This anti-aging thing, it's a misnomer. We cannot anti-age. There are those lucky few that have genes and look after their skin and avoid sunlight, and bad foods, and smoking, and alcohol and stress, and they're able to maintain a plush complexion. And there are some unlucky people that might have a different genetic predisposition, and they are the people that might have to work really, really hard at maintaining their skin.
Jacqui: The skin reveals everything. It really does. And you're right, it's absolutely genetics. But a huge part of it is lifestyle and environment as well.
Andrew: How you take care of...Yeah, for sure.
Jacqui: Yeah, how you take care of it. And it is really important to take care of your skin and hydrate it. We use an ingredient, green tea, camellia sinensis, which I just love working with. I remember falling in love with green tea anyway, studying herbal medicine. But… and I knew I wanted to include it in skin care and I probably included it a bit naively, and then it was only later on that I realised the incredible benefits. And there have been studies. There aren't too many studies with topical herbals and skin.
Andrew: Yes, that's right.
Jacqui: But some of them are really interesting, and there is a clinical study on green tea where women actually applied it to their forearm and they checked it at various intervals, I think it was two hours, and maybe 15 or 30 days later. And they looked at the water content and they were looking for water loss, and they were looking at skin elastic ratio, various other markers to essentially determine hydration. And it did show that it has a very long-term moisturising effect compared with the controls. So you know, there are some more studies emerging on what it can do from that aspect of hydration and moisturisation in terms of ingredients.
Andrew: Do you find with your knowledge of herbal medicine, do you now even look for possible applications that haven't been traditionally known for the use in skin care?
Jacqui: Yes, definitely, definitely. Yeah, as I go into product development and product formulation, I delve back into herbal medicine and look at the actions. And I never follow trends, I never follow what's happening and what are other people are putting in skin care. I take it right back to basics and pull out the herbal medicine books and look at the actions, and then look at any latest research and look at what potential effects it can have on the skin.
So a lot of the formulation is driven by all my original learnings in herbal medicine. And it's just an incredible tool kit of stuff. I mean, I use gotu kola and so many amazing herbals that have really profound effects on the skin.
Andrew: Do you tend to use fluid extracts and utilize them, or do you tend to use oils or... I guess essential oils would be limiting because I've never seen a gotu kola oil, but...
Jacqui: Yeah, absolutely. It depends. So I often use... A lot of them are extracts, some of them are based in oil. So a lot of them are 3% in jojoba. It depends on the ingredient and how it's available and then how it will act on the skin as well. Yeah, so it really depends ingredient to ingredient, what's the best way of getting it into the skin is.
And that's like vitamin C, many years ago, I was really wanting to work vitamin C in skin care and there just wasn't a stable form of vitamin C available, and it's come a long way since then, and there's now better forms of vitamin C that are more bioavailable and we're able to now use them in skin care. So the whole industry is just improving so much. And so the access of what we can use is just getting better and better.
Andrew: We did cover a couple of preservatives, but I've got to ask you, things like sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Am I saying the right terms there?
Jacqui: You are, yes.
Andrew: And are there differences and are they good or bad, and what other ones that are bad?
Jacqui: Yeah, sure. So sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, it's got quite a few different names. It's essentially the detergent that gives cleansers or soaps, or shampoos, their foamability action and we're conditioned to think that for something to work and clean well, it needs to foam a lot. So we've got this internal conditioning that foamability equals good cleaning, and it's not the case.
Look, the lauryl sulfates are known toxins. They're known to cause skin irritation. Again, they mimic oestrogen activity in the body. They're used in car washes and garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. And probably about 90% of personal care products that foam, as well. Completely unnecessary. There's other things that we can use to give a light foaming action. I use an extract of coconut in our hand soap which gives a bit of lathering to the hand soap. Because people still do like that foamability action, but it's best to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate particularly if you are prone to any allergic skin or any skin sensitivities. It's just best to avoid that one.
Andrew: So just as a last question for you, Jacqui, and that is, with regards to your entrepreneurial journey in developing a highly successful business over a number of years, you've learned some very hard lessons along the way. And there's an old saying, when you lose... What is it? When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
Jacqui: Yes. You know, lots of lessons and I think for people that are interested in embarking on a journey in skin care, I think that the big message is get it right from the start. Do your research from the start in terms of labeling requirements, cosmetic claims, suppliers that... Get that right at the start because it’s becoming more and more regulated and you need to make sure that that's done really right at the start. I think one of the big myths about skin care preservatives that vitamin E and rosemary extract are sufficient preservatives.
Jacqui: And it's not really the case. They will provide some protection against rancidity, but products... If you're not using a preservative, it needs to be used in a week and needs to be put in the fridge. And just because something looks okay, doesn't necessarily mean it's not growing anything funky in it.
So choosing preservatives...and preservatives are really important whenever there's a water base to the products even if that has come in contact with water, something like a scrub when we apply that with wet fingers, a preservative is still essential for that to prevent microbial growth. So getting microbial testing done on the products is really important as well. And it's actually a legal requirement. So I think doing your research and getting it right from the beginning is really important so that you don't have to face any obstacle down the line.
Andrew: But when you do face an obstacle, don't lose...as you are bound to do. And I think this is the big thing with any entrepreneurial venture, that you are bound to encounter hurdles, and I think the lesson is how you jump over that hurdle and indeed, when you fall off that hurdle, how you get up.
Jacqui: Absolutely, absolutely. You learn from it, you gain what you can from it, and you move on, and you... I talk about pivoting, it's just a constant pivot, you just have to change direction and turn around all the time based on what comes across. And it never stops. It never stops. It's forever changing.
Andrew: Yeah, that's why it's called a pivot.
Jacqui: That's right.
Andrew: Jacqui Evans, I can't thank you enough for joining us on FX Medicine today, taking us through your career, but also the salient advice with regards to healthy skin care using natural ingredients. I really admire you for what you've done. Well done.
Jacqui: Thank you, Andrew. Thanks so much for having me.
Andrew: This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.
|Jacqueline (Jacqui) Evans|
|Jacqueline Evans Skincare|
|Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA): Cosmetic Claims Guidelines|
|ACCC: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission|