Faces of Science

The CTPA education portal | Free educational resources for Schools and Colleges
Faces of Science
Meet the Faces

Meet the Faces

Photo ofCarmel Lally



You qualified quite recently as a Cosmetic Scientist – what job(s) have you had since leaving college?

I was really fortunate with my first job, working for a medium sized cosmetics company in Middlesex, as I was able to work with lots of different colleagues in really interesting departments. On a daily basis I worked in production as a member of the quality assurance team. I also developed products for the marketing team. This involved working with raw material suppliers (to get the right ‘ingredients’), a safety assessor (to check the formulation for safety and potential to cause allergies in susceptible people) and a person who checked that the product and its labels were suitable for international retail.

"I've always loved playing with cosmetics."

Did you receive any special training to get this job?

I was lucky to be offered an industrial placement at the above mentioned cosmetics company as part of my ‘sandwich’ degree. This led to me working there after I finished the degree.

What were the most exciting aspects of what you did?

Learning about new raw materials, or newly discovered benefits of existing raw materials, and of course seeing a product that I’ve developed on a supermarket shelf.

"I knew I would be involved with something creative, which drew me towards make-up. I didn't envisage how important my sciences would be at the time."

Was there anything you didn’t really enjoy in your day-to-day work?

When an exciting new product failed stability testing it was disappointing, as the tweaked version may not have been as good as the failed formulation.

What area of science (if any) did you use in this job?

Chemistry, in particular organic chemistry, is the science central to my work. Biology (of the skin, hair, teeth and nails) is also relevant when developing products. A knowledge of microbiology is useful.

Were there any specific skills that were essential to the role?

With product formulation work, experience is the key thing that helps to develop the skills needed.

Could someone come into a job like this straight from school? What skills/qualifications would they need?

All the research and development jobs that are advertised specify a degree qualification in either cosmetic science, chemistry or a related area. I gained my BSc in Cosmetic Science at the London College of Fashion. A lot of job adverts also mention that experience would be an advantage.

You are about to start a new career working at the London College of Fashion. What experience and qualifications did you need to change career path?

I did a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, which means I’m qualified to teach people aged fourteen and older. I also had work experience as part of my teacher training later on. The practical experience during teacher training was really useful for putting theory into practice.

Chemistry will be part of my teaching job, in particular organic chemistry. It was also an important part of my work in industry. All my teaching colleagues are specialists in their areas, and there are technicians who are also very knowledgeable.

In terms of necessary skills, strong communication skills are most important when teaching.

What compelled you to choose this job?

I’ve always loved playing with cosmetics, so that’s what initially drew me towards the cosmetics industry.

While on the cosmetic degree course I was impressed by the quality of teaching and thought it would be a worthwhile career to pursue, with good job satisfaction.

"It's far, far easier to continue education straight after finishing school."

Is there anything you wished you had studied or done differently when you were younger?

If the cosmetic science course had been available when I was younger I would have done it then. It’s far, far easier to continue education straight after finishing school.

At school what did you think you would do for a living? For instance, did you envisage your sciences being used in the cosmetics industry?

I knew I would be involved with something creative, which drew me towards make-up. I didn’t envisage how important my sciences would be at the time.

What subjects are you glad you studied? Were there any that were not immediately obvious as useful to your career but now are proving helpful, e.g. languages?

I’m glad I studied science and art. French has been helpful, as English and French seem to be most common languages used in the European cosmetic industry. However I only speak ‘un peu’ French nowadays!

With your skills and qualifications, what do you hope to achieve in your new job as a teacher?

I’d like to help lots of people develop their potential in cosmetic science, and hopefully they will develop bestselling products!

Click here to find out more about following a career in this industry