Home Cosmetic Science Talk Cosmetic Industry Career How did you become a cosmetic chemist?

  • vitalys

    January 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Perry, your story is captivating and encouraging! :)
    I remember my early years when I loved to spend my time dealing with plants and animals like you. Later during the school years, my favorite subjects were Biology and Chemistry and I knew from the start I would like to be a medical Doctor. Consequently, I entered the Medical University and became a Physician with a practice in a hospital at the intensive care unit. Later I became interested in Dermatology and changed my specialization with the Medicine.
    Once, I had been invited to attend the Beauty show where I realized the Cosmetology is more interesting to me as it seemed more creative field than the classic clinical medicine. Trying to intertwine my clinical experience with practical and product demands of Beauty and Cosmetic Industry, I quickly found myself initially as a consultant and later as a formulator for some special product projects related to “therapeutic” cosmetics used by dermatologists and professional cosmetologists. Those products became popular and I was invited by very famous Company well known for their professional and salon cosmetics to create the entire line from the scratch. The process was creative and interesting. It required all my experience both in Medicine and in Chemistry. My first line was launched in summer of 2007. The base line of those first products were formulations created on keratolytics and keratolytic effects of several components. Since that time, the keratolytics along with NMF have become the subjects of my scientific interest. I also began collaboration as an author with professional cosmetic magazines and journals in Europe as well as I started my educational career within the Industry. The results of my scientific researches lead me to the area of professional hand and foot care where I was simply happy to keep in touch with such prominent industry figures as Doug Schoon and Dr. Frederick Slack, Vicki Peters and Charles Martins and many others.
    Currently I run my own cosmetic line and I am consulting and formulating for other projects as well. I love to share my knowledge and experience with others.
    Nowadays I am happy to be a part of this community and proud to be a member of professional societies and associations, exchanging ideas and sharing the experience. Again, thank you Perry for all your significant efforts in educating and your bright information projects along with your publications and lectures within the Industry.

  • MarkBroussard

    January 20, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    This is a fun get to know you post!  Nice touch, Perry!

    Similar story … always loved science and ever since I was a child I was experimenting with biology and chemistry.  Got an undergraduate degree in Biology/Microbiology with an emphasis in Immunology and then went on to get a Masters in Organic Chemistry (synthetic organic).  Once completed, I did not want to work as a chemist as I had a close call with a lab accident and transitioned over to get an MBA.  Worked in Corporate Development and Venture Capital with an emphasis on healthcare, biotechnology and environmental industries.
    Opened a day spa and began working on adults who suffered from acne using lasers, LED lights and various topical treatments.  This piqued my curiosity about the “state of the art” in topical acne treatments.  In conducting reseach, I came across many clinical studies wherein natural plant extracts were showing great results in the treatment of acne and I noted that there weren’t any products on the market that combined these ingredients.  I began tinkering with formulations and am about to launch a line of acne OTC topicals and therapeutic cosmetics with a total of 12 products (and 4 more in development).
    Cosmetic chemistry is the field that brings together all of my various technical training.  What I really, really love about it is the creativity … and, nothing explodes! 
  • braveheart

    January 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Your story is quite interesting, Perry, and even Vitalys’ and MarkBroussard’s. When I got to the middle of your story, I sent the link to a journalist who just started working with me recently and she was inspired. She Skyped me straightaway and asked if she could go for some courses on cosmetics. I recommended your online course to her, but she’s very afraid of chemicals.

    Well, my story is not too dissimilar from yours, but I am not a graduate chemist. I was born into a family business of pharmaceuticals and growing up in the midst of paracetamols, liver salts, iron tonics, baby foods, etc, there was no way I could escape the chemical world. From a tender age of five, I soon had my very own self-made first-aid kit in a disused black box of Antepar, a type of worm elizir. Soon, I was nicknamed “doctor”, which I took seriously. Naturally, I grew to like science, especially Chemistry, from which I had a distinction upon leaving high school. I aimed at studying pharmacy. But I had an accident - long story - and was discouraged from pharmacy. I went on to study Geology at college and soon got a fascination with Geochemistry, especially the science of shale, sedimentation, gold and other earth metals.

    But the environment I lived in was quite influential too. My father had worked so hard to build his business, even though he wasn’t educated, he had his business acumen as sharp as any Ph.D guy from the best business schools, he had the power of foresight. Yet, almost none of the children seemed to be keen in running the family business after he retires and it weighed heavily on him. Being his favorite child, I wanted to make him happy, so I decided I was going to take it up, I could run the pharmacy as a businessman and not as a pharmacist, just like dad. But the Internet changed all that. I was fascinated by it and taught myself to use the computer and wanted to turn the pharmacy business onto an online process, yet I was limited by the technology that was available at the time, perhaps a little ahead of online marketing. But I had become fairly good with eCommerce. The pharmacy business became frustratingly difficult to run in the environment where we were stationed and my father closed it down and turned it into a water-bottling business. Then out-of-the-blues, my father was murdered; it affected a lot of things. My brother took over the family business and I went to work as an eCommerce manager for a travel company.
    At about this time, my dry skin got worse and somehow, I developed a bad eczema as well, which would flare up badly around my legs. After being prescribed steroids by a Harley Street doctor, which initially seemed to help, but as time went by, the side effects began to take over. I stopped using everything and couldn’t be bothered. Then my son came along and he had his daddy’s dry skin, he would itch with almost everything we tried on him. This drove me back to my own problem with dry skin to try everything possible so as to help my son. Then one day, I came to my senses and thought, “Why don’t you use all your scientific knowledge to make something?”

    I studied day and night, experimented with countless ingredients - well maybe around 100+ - before I started getting results. Then my son started using my formulations, too and he would swear by it that it was the best in the world - LOL! This was because he stopped itching after the application unlike the doctor-recommended ones. Then extended families and friends would ask for my “sample”. It was costing me a fortune to make these things. This made me figure out there must be a small market for my formulation, but I wasn’t sure how I would approach it and was not confident enough until recently when I came across Perry’s How to Launch Your Own Beauty Products late last year. It was the push I needed. It was like a nitro to my courage to give it a go. Now, while I don’t call myself a chemist or anything of that sort, I have a good idea of what I am doing and where I am going with this industry and even recently I met this passionate journalist who wants to stay wrinkle-free for 100 years - LOL… she now works with me to start my company.

    Thanks Perry, I appreciate what you do for ordinary people like me. Your 45-page was quite inspiring and I hope one day we’ll meet and share lunch. I am also grateful to the other contributors/experts on this forum - the most helpful I have ever attended. I am also looking forward to your next project “Open Source Formulating”, it would be interesting.

    Sorry for my long story, but Perry, you brought back a lot of memories, so I blame you for my long story.

    N.B: Lisa was asking me your age, saying you look great at more than 40. I told her that maybe you’re drinking some secret youth potion from your formulations!

  • ozgirl

    January 20, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Some great and varied stories. Thanks for sharing.

    My story isn’t all that exciting but it seems that like others I certainly never set out to be a cosmetic chemist.

    I have always had an aptitude for science and maths and really developed my love of chemistry in high school under the guidance of a couple of excellent teachers. When I was in my early teen years I received a book about homemade beauty treatments (cucumber and honey face masks and lemon juice hair lightening) and I really enjoyed making these homemade treatments but certainly didn’t think of it as cosmetic science.

    I went on to university to study chemistry along with a bit of physics, mathematics and some business. I continued on to complete a PhD in chemistry with my research focusing on novel methods for metal extraction from mineral ores. My PhD research lead me to a job working for a very large mining company in their research labs for a number of years. Unfortunately the research arm of the company was closed down and I was left applying for any job that sounded like it involved chemistry.

    I landed myself a job at a cleaning chemical manufacturer working in their research department developing new products (mostly floor polishes and eco- friendly detergents). Due to the economic crisis this job didn’t last long and I found myself unemployed again. Fortunately I found myself a development chemist role at another cleaning chemical manufacturer but this one also had a range of personal care and cosmetic products in addition to their cleaning products. I had to learn quickly about creating lotions, shampoos, conditioners and body wash products and now I am really enjoying developing these types of products.

    ……..and that’s how I became a cosmetic chemist.

  • oldperry

    January 21, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Great stories everyone!  Thanks for sharing.  I’m always amazed at how many people are in the cosmetic industry who just happened to stumble into it.

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