This is a guest post by cosmetic chemist Cindy Yu.
Passion. It’s one of the driving forces in my life and emphasized through my four years of membership with the Midwest Society of Cosmetic Chemists (MWSCC). The MWSCC fosters an environment that promotes the use of my science degree while fulfilling my artistic endeavors. This unique exposure to understanding the balance of science and artistry became an unexpected passion. This is my personal account of my journey with the Midwest Society of Cosmetic Chemists and how they have greatly influenced and mentored me through my professional career by reinforcing the idea that passion can be your most powerful source for inspiration.
Reflecting back, there were a series of lessons that were beyond just professional, they were more like life lessons, which the MWSCC taught me both directly and indirectly. First, I began my journey with my serendipitous encounter with the personal care industry. My knowledge of this industry was completely nonexistent during my years at the University of Illinois. It was only when I landed an internship with a surfactant company inside their Personal Care R&D department that sparked my exposure to this dynamic field.
That summer, learning about the chemical “workhorses” that make up the majority of personal care products was really only scratching the surface, and it ignited my interest in this area. After graduation, I was fortunate enough to begin my professional career working as an Application Specialist in the Personal Care segment of an ingredient supplier company. Not even weeks into my first job, the words “Society of Cosmetic Chemists” and of joining the Midwest Chapter were encouraged. That was my introduction to the organization.
Joining the SCC
The Midwest Chapter has been my backbone and source of motivation throughout my four years of working in this industry. Not only is the MWSCC encouraging in their overarching dedication to the advancement of this field, but my admiration is largely due to the relationship development and warmth of the individuals that make the society what it is today. Memories of walking through the doors of my first MWSCC meeting takes me back to that feeling of nervousness that surged through my mind, and just as quickly, those feelings vanished when my eyes greeted the friendly, welcoming smiles of its members. It is true that first impressions make an impact but more importantly, the continued positive interactions and conversations with the people were engaging enough to make myself a devoted member. Heart and soul embodies the Midwest and with that said, it is a fitting description of those individuals I had the privilege of crossing paths with.
Through the years, the support of the chapter paved a foundation that has shaped me into the scientist and professional that I am today. The SCC as a whole has encouraged my curiosity and has challenged my approach to conventional problem solving. Organized by members, there have been numerous educational opportunities striving to provide a broader understanding of different topics and areas which can be leveraged and applied in my area of formulation development.
Entering this industry with limited exposure to formulation work, I found myself seeking external resources and friendly consultation from other formulators and scientists to better understand some of my challenges while finding similarities in their past challenges to see how it can be applied in my own work. Often, I find that I can learn from other individual’s past experiences. Members of the MWSCC come from diverse levels of experience providing a wealthy caliber of knowledge and advice. In many instances, the members have shared their experiences and how they overcame certain challenges and in many ways acted as a mentor which not many young professionals have access to.
Beyond cosmetic science
Even though the advancement of cosmetic science is the main mission, what makes the MWSCC unique is their dedication to the members and their individual growth. They set an excellent example of how other industries should encourage their members to always strive to improve their craft and take other learning opportunities with an open mind. Cosmetic science is not just one field of study, it really is an overlap of so many disciplines that we as formulators must depend on the understanding of many fields and leverage those technologies and concepts.
In general, having an open mind is necessary for growth as an individual as well as a professional. Indirectly, the MWSCC has broadened my view of the world and made me curious as to the lifestyles of people from different regions. During some of the society meetings, professionals would present marketing data from a global perspective and that sparked an interest to see firsthand the regional unmet needs of individuals from around the world. Prior to entering this industry and even the society, I never considered myself to be a world traveling enthusiast. However, the exposure to different global viewpoints only fueled my desire to see how people lived in other parts of the world. As a result, my curiosity has taken me to regions of South America, Europe, China, and India. Fortunately, these experiences have contributed overall to the understanding of different regional unmet needs and insight to global consumer perspectives.
As a devoted member of this organization, I have had many great opportunities simply through the networking functions. Before sharing my personal account, I must say that the idea of writing and publishing my own work use to prompt feelings of apprehension because it was outside the range of my comfort level. By chance during one of the MWSCC meetings, I met a woman very distinguished in the skin care segment of personal care and I remember always admiring her determination in sharing her knowledge and studies with all of us. I remember thinking that I hope one day to be like her, making presentations and being an expert in this field. A year or so later during one of my customer visits with my manager, I found myself sitting in front of the same woman who I heard speak at the MWSCC dinner. During this meeting, she shared with us that she was editing a book related to skin care and asked if I would be interested in writing a chapter. Immersed simultaneously with excitement and apprehension, I decided to put my fears aside and agreed to contribute a chapter.
This was my opportunity to share my knowledge and experience of what I learned from my four years. It was an opportunity I never expected but being inspired by so many excellent speakers and experts, I thought this would be my next big challenge and made a personal decision to accomplish it. After countless months of effort, my unexpected dreams of being published as a contributor will soon be fulfilled in this upcoming year. For me, this was unbelievable because I previously contemplated the idea of going back to graduate school to study cosmetic science but instead I will now be contributing a chapter to a textbook which will be used in one of those graduate courses. That was beyond what I could have ever anticipated.
In essence, this society has taught me that sometimes you just have to go ahead and create your own opportunities and more often than not, that means going outside of your own comfort zone pushing beyond the limitations you set for yourself.
All things considered, the Midwest Society of Cosmetic Chemists has provided many great opportunities and lessons that have shaped my current path. Being surrounded by so many experts and passionate individuals, it is difficult not to be inspired. For this reason, this is why I will continue to support the society because they have been so devoted to my personal growth. Passion is hard to fake and I am thankful to have found such a supportive organization that fosters and preserves such development of its members.
Do you have a story about how you became a cosmetic chemist to share? Let us know through the Contact Us page.