Our Story

Hi, I'm Annie Holden, anthropologist and founder of Founder's Formula. Our story began with a trip to the World's biggest beauty trade show Cosmoprof in March 2018 in Bologna Italy. This was my introduction to the beauty world and I was so fascinated but also amazed, as I quickly realised that here were so many beauty products from all around the globe but no Australian Botanicals.

I am a research nerd by nature and as an anthropologist and aspiring ethnobotanist, I was really surprised at the absence of Australian Botanicals as I knew there was sound evidence that our plants, (with wonderful names like Illawarra Flame Tree and Emu Apple), contain active, potent ingredients with huge potential for effective skin care.

I returned home to Australia and spent the next few years immersing myself in the research, building a little lab and experimenting. I found an amazing cosmetic formulator to collaborate with, who is now a friend, and together we create beautiful products. I have a PhD in economic anthropology so I have a strong research background. I also had a stint teaching Australian Studies at Georgetown in Washington DC – and that really fired up my pride in being Australian and all things Australian

Dr Annie Holden Founder's Formula

Me in my Happy Place :)

I created Founder's Formula to be the best possible in uncompromising, potent, effective skin care using Australian Botanicals.

My method is that I start with an Australian Botanical with proven benefits, then I consider the most suitable application for that ingredient and with Toni, my chemist, we build a formula around it. All the formulas are strictly Clean Clinical and I use wild-harvested and organic when I can source them and I preference Indigenous suppliers. Our joint venture with the First Nations Wadeye women for wild-harvested Kakadu Plum extract is an exciting one that you will be hearing more about in the near future!

I try to keep the formulas as natural and as simple as possible and I am very careful to not add synthetic fragrance or any other potential irritant. I have super sensitive skin so I needed to create formulas that are as gentle as possible. There is already a lot going on with the potent Australian botanical actives, so I don't want to overload the formula.

I knew that the formulas we had created were perfect for my skin - I was the chief testing bunny! - but I wasn't sure how others would receive them. So I shared my products with friends and neighbours for their feedback - next thing neighbours were stopping me in the street and asking me for advice and wanting to buy my products, and girlfriends were coming to the house with cash wanting to pay for products that really I was just grateful that they liked them!

I then commissioned formal product evaluations and those results gave me the complete validation I needed. 97% of the 100 independent beauty product reviewers I commissioned loved the products and said they would buy them.

Founder’s Formula launched in March 2021 with 4 products. We now have 16 products and have won 35 international Beauty Awards across the globe, including twelve Gold and 4 Editor’s Choice: USA Global Makeup Awards, UK Green Beauty Awards, Organic Beauty Awards, Clean + Conscious Awards, Scandinavian Global Make-Up Awards and UK Beauty Shortlist Awards.

When we won our first Gold I couldn't sleep for two nights I was so excited. When within nine months we had won another 7 Gold awards - I knew we had nailed it!

Because of Australia's geographic isolation our plants are incredibly unique and exotic. Australian Botanicals not only have wonderful names and are extraordinarily beautiful (and sometimes a little weird), they also have evolved powerful adaptation mechanisms to store high quantities of potent phyto-compounds needed to survive the harsh extremes of the Australian climate. Australian Botanicals are especially high in phyto-actives that are great for hydration, anti-oxidation and calming. 

Australia is a bio-diversity hotspot and there are over 23,000 known species, although less than 1,000 have been studied to date. The opportunities for new discoveries of ancient plants with benefits for skin health is truly breath-taking. Using Australian Botanicals has allowed me to create an exciting and truly innovative range of beautiful skin care with active products that show real results.

Since I am often asked this, I will share with you my favourite product. It is actually the Macadamia Omega-7 Cleansing Oil. Macadamias are also called Maroochy Nut – they are indigenous to Maroochydore which is a beach very near to where I live. I had always taken macadamias for granted – we used to collect them from under our macadamia tree in our backyard and smash the shells and eat them when I was a kid – but now I understand how amazing they are for skin. Macadamias are very high in Omega 7 (the 'Beauty Omega') and are full of squalene (not to be confused with the synthetic squalane with an 'a') – which the skin naturally manufactures to moisturise itself – and macadamias have both in abundance! I live at the beach and slather myself in sunblock every day, so I wanted to create a rich, organic, nourishing cleansing oil that would remove every skerrick of sunblock clean away but not strip my skin. I love all my products, but that is my favourite.

So as part of the Founder's Formula story, I need to share with you the other part of the secret of our success - our amazing production team. Founder's Formula is a small batch producer. We do everything in-house and we only make enough to meet our needs. This keeps our products fresh and active. We have a small army of willing workers who feel as passionate about Founder's Formula as we do.

Our wonderful production team make Founder's Formula possible.


Annie X

Dr Annie Holden, Sunshine Coast, Australia.


Sign up to our Newsletter to stay in touch and keep up with our latest innovations.