What does working in the Cosmetic Science industry actually look like? Spreading over Cosmetics, Toiletry, and Perfumery, people in the industry are highly creative individuals looking to develop the next big trends. We spoke to students and alumni following a recent industry day to find out more about the field.
The MSc Cosmetic Science course hosted an industry day this term at our John Prince’s Street site, leading brands and companies to attend included Boots, CTPA, Oriflame, PZ Cussons, Merck and DDD Ltd. Delegates also came from Ireland, Germany and from around the UK along with students from all years (over 90 attendees). It was an occasion for students to pick the brains of alumni and industry experts, plus meet the new MSc Cosmetic Science course leader Gemma O’Connor. There was also a panel discussion to close the event with leading industry and alumni from companies such as The Body Shop, CTPA, and Arthur Edward to name a few.
The day also saw placement presentations from DiPS students. The list included Joe Basham (REN Skincare), Marjan Hemadani Nejad (LF Beauty), Juliette Chauvin (DCS Group) Bethany Reece (CPL Aromas), Tanith Bracy (AS Watson Superdrug), Jasmine Heyl (Merck) Elizaveta Luneva (CPL Aromas) and Liberty Angris (MDM Flow).
We took this opportunity to talk to Jasmine Heyl, Liberty Angris, awarded Best Presentation and Best Placement Report, and alumna Nirmita Sheth, Senior Formulator for The Body Shop about the industry and course. We asked them to tell us some facts that everyone should know about the industry that often aren’t translated into the real world. Here’s what they told us.
It isn’t just all science and no art, Liberty Angris
There are so many misconceptions about the Cosmetic Science industry. One is that it’s all science and glass beakers and no craft or art, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Creativity is a part of every single part of the industry, from the formulators creatively solving a stability issue to the packaging technologists who find an innovative way to dispense a new product. It’s there, at every step.
Cosmetic Science is about connections, Nirmita Sheth
For me the industry day is a great way to reconnect with the university and also the students, it has a very nostalgic feeling and at the same time a sense of comfort.
Cosmetic Scientists love admitting they’re wrong, Liberty Angris
Cosmetic scientists will proudly admit they don’t know something, but will follow it up with “so could you explain that?” The thirst for knowledge is constant and people within the industry are extremely welcoming when being asked for help. Yes, the industry has its protected secrets, but for the large part, the transfer of knowledge, tips and novel ideas are widely welcomed and encouraged.
It’s a smaller world than you think, Jasmine Heyl
Everybody knows each other (even across borders). This is probably one of the most striking points. I have really noticed this whilst on my placement year. People attend many events and read many papers and articles published by their peers, which makes this industry even more interesting. It involves a lot of collaboration and interaction with people who are maybe more specialised on one subject or the other.
Make sure to ask questions as the industry is a learning curve, Nirmita Sheth
I’ve been in the Cosmetics industry for just over 10 years now and it’s a beautiful industry to be a part of, it’s almost a small family and we definitely help each other out nevertheless being a small industry also has its downsides, ‘Never burn your bridges’ as my father once said to me. I have had the opportunity to work for many brands such as Molton Brown, The Body Shop (formerly part of the L’Oreal group and more recently part of Natura). I’ve also worked in contract manufacturing (LF Beauty and SLG) for brands such as M&S, Elemis and Bronnley where the roles were quite intense; almost like a high-intensity workout. I’ve been a part of some really successful launches and some projects which didn’t go so smoothly but it’s all a learning curve… that’s what science is about. My passion for the industry and a vision to deliver my best keeps me going, I truly believe this is the best industry to be a part of as there are so many opportunities to develop oneself professionally and personally.
Tip: Students, you’re not expected to know everything. Do your research, ask the question if still not sure, but do come prepared with some answers as nothing is ever given to you on a silver spoon.
Cosmetic Science loves change, Jasmine Heyl
There is always space for improvement and innovation. Consumer perception and expectation are always changing and it is important to anticipate what might be the next trend or point of interest. Studies are constantly being made and new ingredients are being introduced all the time which makes the industry always feel new.
The industry is proactive and welcomes change, Liberty Angris
Animal testing was banned and implemented. Microbeads have been banned and are in the process of being removed. The cosmetics industry in Europe welcomes improvement and changes to benefit the environment and other social issues. Although the industry is not perfect, it is proactively changing for the better and is always looking for ways to improve.
Be versatile and you’ll succeed, Nirmita Sheth
The Cosmetic industry requires ambitious, scientific minds and gracious individuals. Science and maths are really very important in a lab role but equally marketing and project management skills are also very much sought after.
Tip: be versatile and don’t be afraid to learn new skills to further develop your knowledge and/or role.
We’re much bigger than just science, Jasmine Heyl
Cosmetic Science embodies many different subjects. It is not just about the science or the marketing or the legislation. To really understand cosmetics and the industry, you need good subject knowledge of everything, to be honest. Cosmetics are a big puzzle where all the pieces/subjects are needed to form a full picture.
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