My Manifesto

I’m Talei. London-grown, New York-matured, now Hong Kong-settling.

I have a scientific, biochemical, background, but managed to fluke (happily) into the beauty industry. I’ve worked as a cosmetic product developer in New York and London, and now I’m director of a small brand in Hong Kong. I find myself fiendishly obsessed with cosmetics and beauty, but anxious to use only the very best, most efficacious, and exciting products.

I started this blog, basically, to communicate all the trickiness that abounds in the beauty industry these days, and also to celebrate the work, inventiveness, and beautiful design that goes into cosmetics.

To show you the ropes, from the “stage manager’s” point of view.

I know that cosmetics are not the answer to all , or even any, of life’s problems, but the beauty of an exquisitely crafted cosmetic is, to me, as intriguing as the greatest modern art. Product development, when done properly, is like conducting an orchestra of infinitesimal parts, to create a symphony or harmony.

artificialheaven (takaakik)

I have developed many many types of formulas, for many different purposes and areas of the industry, approaching them from the scientific side. And I can tell you, technical knowledge of cosmetics only gets you so far. Even though most of the cosmetic marketing out there is easy to decipher for the story-spinning it is, and even though I have frequently written the copy myself, I can still get caught up in the hype and excitement surrounding a product. It is all very well for a cream to claim that it reduces X amount of wrinkle depth in Y time. I have written and created more of those (carefully worded) statements in my career than I care to mention. Rarely do they translate to a beautiful, innovative product.

What I love are products that are simple, and that work. There is no need to buy things with 18,527 ingredients (or worse, 5 ingredients in a fancy jar), when a drugstore version would be the same, if not better. Anyway, nothing is actually better than dragooning kitchen ingredients for beauty.

Having said that, the best products are those which are expensive for a reason, either because of their ingredients, or because of the research and effort that went into making them. What I would like to do is show you some beautiful, thought-through, clever products, and thus the very real difference between proper product design, and an unloved, rushed cosmetic.

One of my favourite things to do is to examine the actual ingredients in a product, and assess every aspect of its design, concept, texture and efficacy. Once you know these things, deciding which products are right for you is just a hop, skip and a jump away.

There is a bewitching knowledge that any one of us, on our worst days, can use little jars and tubes and brushes to transform ourselves and how we feel we are presenting ourselves to the world. Not to mention the absolute necessity of a good concealer.

So while it might be stupid, and maybe I should have become a doctor instead, I feel that the complexity and thoughtfulness that is involved in each individual eyeshadow shade, or new lipstick formula, is achieving something tangible and real. Plus it’s pretty.


Banksy, the graffiti artist, once used this as his manifesto. It certainly doesn't disagree with my stance.
Banksy, the graffiti artist, once used this as his manifesto. It certainly doesn’t disagree with my stance.


Email me! theformulist(at)




  • Reply Sarah Payne (@youglowgal) January 5, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    Excited to have stumbled across your blog!! ….but seriously, excited as f.

    • Reply The Formulist January 6, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Thanks so much! You’re v sweet! x

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