What is a Cosmetic Scientist?

What is a Cosmetic Scientist?

I will never forget the day I nervously walked into my career officer’s office to discuss what I would like to do after my A Levels. Even at the age of 15 I knew there was more to cosmetics than just retail. There had to be. I just knew I wanted to be part of whatever it was that happened in the background; whatever it was that led to a product being placed on the shop floor ready to be claimed by an eager customer.

“Sacha!” She says in an upbeat, stern voice. “So where do you see  yourself going after college?” With that nervousness for authority I had instilled in me due my short stint in African education, I sheepishly said, “I would like to MAKE cosmetics, or be part of the development process in some way.” She lifted her eyes from the document she was reading, and let out a little giggle. “Sacha, I don't think there is such a course, degree or apprenticeship. Surely you could consider cosmetics retail instead.” 

Instantly as if a shot of courage struck me, I responded, “There may not be a course now, but I will find it and it would be great if you could help.” “No! You won’t find anything like that. And frankly I do not have the time to help. Especially for something that does not exist,” she ended.

Fast forward 2 years later and I am at the London College of Fashion (LCF) receiving a bursary from the CTPA (Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumery Association), or the CTFA ( Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Association) as it is known in the USA,  for being the best student in the first year of a BSc (Hons) Cosmetic Science degree. I was lucky enough to find the degree and was in the second cohort of students. Today there are quite a few BSc degrees in Cosmetics science provided by various universities. However, in the United Kingdom, the LCF part of the University of the Arts carries out the MSc equivalent of the course. Now what is a Cosmetic Scientist you may ask.

Sacha, our Head of New Product Development at Unhidden Beauty

Simply put, it is an individual that has the necessary training to have a career in the cosmetics and personal care industries. You get the chance to have a career throughout the cosmetics industry in roles within research and development (R&D), product manufacturing, marketing, technical sales, product testing, quality assurance, logistics and most importantly, regulation. In the United States, the University of Toledo in Ohio is the only university in the country to offer an undergraduate program in Cosmetic Science and formulation design.

The degree allows majors to study art, science as well as the business of cosmetics. Just like in the UK, students also get to study regulations, product safety and quality control, and even take on an internship, something I am a great supporter of. It helps you decide which department best suits you once you complete your degree. And let’s be honest it also helps add a bit of bulk to that resume of yours...Product development is the route I have taken, and my word it is full of so many aspects rolled into one. From trend research, brainstorming new products, supplier sourcing,  stock management and logistics. My day is never dull, I am constantly kept on my toes, wear different hats from one day to the next; and I would not have it  any other way.

Sacha and Kiemu in Italy at the Cosmoprof Beauty Trade Show

A typical day at Unhidden Beauty starts off with an overview of the tasks of the day ahead. This could include reviewing packaging, formulations or artwork, and communicating findings back to our labs. Keeping an eye on stock levels, placing orders, trend research as well as daily communication with our factories and labs. I like to get my emails out of the way as early in the morning as possible. Tasks are not only limited to product - oh no! I communicate daily with our social team for any feedback needed for the development of products, or to simply aid in content creation - it's a fun part of my role! I also attend trade shows to source new technologies, suppliers and trends, which is another part of my role I love! All I can say is I work with the best team and have the best role one could ask for.