Article by: Perry Romanowski

On today’s program we have an interview with Ron Robinson of Beautystat.com. He has created one of the largest portals for beauty information on the web and he stated his career out as a cosmetic chemist. We’re also going to talk about a couple of science stories in the news and answer some of the most common career questions.

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Ron Robinson Interview begins at 13:00

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Cosmetic Science news

Animal testing is in the news.

According to an article in Cosmetics Design-Europe, the European Commission who reports to the European Parliament has said that it will not be possible to meet the impending 2013 deadline for the banning of all animal testing.

In light of this fact, they are still looking at alternative scenarios which means there might be a delay in the outright ban of animal testing of cosmetic products. The final decision will be announced at the end of this year.

Currently, there are alternative methods for a variety of things that are normally determined with animal testing. These include, tests for the identification of corrosive substances, skin irritants, severe eye irratants, skin phototoxicty and skin penetration.

The EC says these alternatives are validated enough for ensuring the safety of cosmetic products. There are just a few more gaps that need to be filled in before a complete ban on the marketing of any cosmetic product that uses ingredients that have been animal tested after March 2009.

This is definitely a thing that a cosmetic chemist needs to keep an eye on. You will not be able to sell your products in Europe if you use any ingredient that has been animal tested since 2009. So much for all those new raw materials that have been launched in the last 2 years.

I really don’t know what cosmetic raw material suppliers are going to do. Until animal testing alternatives can completely replace current tests, there will be no new raw materials used in cosmetics in Europe.

I wonder if anyone will notice.
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Sunscreen from a pill?

Scientists from Kings College London are testing a new type of sunscreen that requires you to swallow it to get the benefits.

They found a coral-derived compound that is an efficient screen against UV rays. According to the team, the research could eventually lead to the development of a pill that you eat to get long lasting sun protection.

Eventually, they will have to figure out the molecular structure of the compounds and also a way to make them in the laboratory if the product is ever to be launched on a large scale.

The reason they believe it could work in pill form is because fish that live around the coral reefs where they discovered the compound, also benefit from the UV sun protection.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, cosmetic chemists may now (or in the future) be competing with food chemists for the development of sunscreens. I could see people just taking this pill rather than putting on lotions and sprays when they want to go out in the sun.

Second, the future of cosmetic chemistry may be moving towards food supplements. There are not a lot of advances that can be made in the standard topical applications and testing for new materials is becoming more and more difficult. In the future, you may have to be able to develop food supplements as well as topical treatments if you want to compete as a cosmetic formulator. This would be a whole new area of chemistry that you will have to learn about. Perhaps now is a good time to start.

Cosmetic Science Career Questions

One of the goals of Chemists Corner is to help people who are curious about the cosmetic industry learn how they could start a career in cosmetics. That naturally attracts a number of questions which we have usually responded to via email. However, other people likely have similar questions so we’re going to edit and publish those questions and answers about cosmetic science careers here.

Question: What kind of degree should I get?

I really enjoy Chemistry but I’m not sure I would like to do it for a living for the rest of my life. What I
really am interested in is going into cosmetic sales. Would a Chemistry degree be a good way to get into Cosmetic Sales? Or do most sales employees you know start with a business degree?

Answer: If sales is what you really want to do, you’d probably be best served by getting a business degree first with a minor in Chemistry. However, lots of cosmetic industry sales people start out in the lab (with chemistry degrees), then get an MBA and switch to sales.

Question: What should my area of concentration be?

I have decided to major in Polymer and Color Chemistry, the only thing is I do not know what concentration I should chose. There is ACS certified, Science and Operations, and Medical. I would like to concentrate in Science and Operations and attend grad school for Cosmetic Science. My question is, are my chances still good for getting into grad school with regular physics and calculus courses versus more advanced?

Answer: I think that you would be fine following the Science and Operations route. If you really want to be a cosmetic chemist, you will not need to know as much of the math behind things. It is more important to know the characteristics of the chemicals that you are mixing together.

Question: What can you expect when starting a cosmetic science career?

Hi i’m going to study Chemistry at University in the UK , at the end of this year and have a lot of questions. What is the average salary? (although money isn’t my only target it is significant)Do you
get a chance to meet people like you would if you were working as a pharmacist? What is the most important factor for loving your job? Do you ever get the feeling that you could do more with your skills? How hard is it to get a job with a big company e.g. Estee Lauder?

Answers:
A. In the US, the average salary for a starting cosmetic chemist is ~$35,000 per year. I don’t know what that would be in pounds but you get the idea.

B. You don’t get much interaction with the general public but you certainly get to meet people who work in the cosmetic industry.

C. Loving my job involves doing something I’m interested in, feeling like I can make a difference, and making people happy. Cosmetic chemistry satisfies all those.

D. I certainly did think I could do more with my skills. That’s why I started my own business and it’s what I currently do.

E. If a company like Estee Lauder is hiring, it’s not too hard to get a job (if you have a good resume, degree, and interview).

Question: Where are all the cosmetic science jobs?
Answer: LA, New Jersey & NY are the best places to go for cosmetics jobs. Jobs in Utah are looking good as are those in Ohio (Cincinnati).

Interview

Ron Robinson is a seasoned product development expert with over 20 years of experience creating innovative products.  He has worked at companies like Avon, Revlon, Lancome and Estee Lauder.  He is currently the founder and CEO of BeautyStat.com, one of the leading beauty communities on the web.

Ron’s Website: Beautystat.com

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Chemists Corner is a podcast about cosmetic science and is broadcast to help educate, entertain, and inspire current and future cosmetic scientists. The information and opinions discussed on Chemists Corner are those of the hosts and the guests alone. They do not necessarily reflect those of any past, present or future employers.

5 comments

  1. Eliza

    LOL Perry, I’m flattered *blush* I’m afraid I’m not near that ready nor experienced, ask me again in a year or 2? I would love to hear someone from Europe (Duncan???), sometimes I feel that European cosmetic chemists have to struggle with legislation more. That can incapacitate creativity, imho…

    1. Perry

      I’ve got an interview with Duncan recorded. It’s going up next week.

      1. Eliza

        Ow looking very much forward to that!

  2. Eliza

    Another lovely pod, Perry, thank you! I really enjoyed the information the interview, as I wasn’t aware of Beautystat.com. But the importance of consumers is growing indeed, talking with consumers can be so exhilarating.
    Also great to hear about your own business, for a business owner to be it is very inspirational.
    Have a good time at the upcoming meetings!

    1. Perry

      Thanks Eliza! I’ll have to get you on the show soon. Any interest in being interviewed?

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