After Wednesday night’s The Chemistry Behind Cosmetics panel discussion, put on by The Fab Network, I have a new appreciation for cosmetics and the field of chemistry! Now, you may be wondering why I decided to write about this event here instead of The Runway Times, so let me tell you why. First of all, the creator of The Fab Network, Jessica Styles, has created such an amazing network that brings people together for the purposes of learning, networking, and growth.
She is so passionate about education and bringing professionals together with young people interested in the arts, so they can see firsthand how these industries operate from the inside out. Every single one of her events that I’ve attended has been informative, encouraging, and empowering. In addition to Jessica’s outstanding work, the women on this panel were representing for chemistry and beauty, with passion and purpose! These chemists literally make many of the cosmetic products we use everyday, and I HAD to give them a loud shout for repping for the science field and for thoroughly informing us of what an important role they play in the process. These women are beautiful, extremely intelligent, and very passionate and serious about what they do. With the exception of Beauty Stat’s Ron Robinson, the fab event panel was full of dynamic women, who are all college educated with a degree in chemistry, specifically.
Let me just note, chemistry was actually one of my least favorite subjects in high school and I’m glad I didn’t have to ever see it after that, but that’s because at that point I never thought of how it could tie into beauty! Why didn’t anyone tell me this?! Any who, I digress. From left, the panel included:
Balanda Atis, trained chemist and Group Leader for Women of Color Initiative at L’Oreal USA. She is the mastermind behind L’Oreal’s True Match brand, and literally traveled around the world to take over 27,000 skin tone measurements for women from 57 countries of origin. Major.
Barbara Joi Mitchell, a graduate of Howard University and currently Senior Chemist 2 at L’Oreal USA reasearch and Innovation- Skincare. She is in charge of the development team for the Active Cosmetics Division, which includes brands such as Skinceuticals, La Roche Posay, and Dermablend. She gave us true insight into the various steps our products go through before we even know they exist, it’s so deep.
Ni’Kita Wilson, a chemist and founder and CEO of Skinects.com, a beauty matchmaking site designed to help people care for their skin. She is an expert in skin and hair care formulations, and it a go-to source for beauty editors looking for an expert opinion. And hilarious, seriously.
Althea Nichols, a chemist for a polymer manufacturer (they manufacture absorbent material that go into products in the hygiene industry; products like diapers, etc.). She is also a beauty blogger and founder of MsTrueHappiness.com and talked candidly about wanting to transfer into the cosmetics chemistry industry.
Ron Robinson, an independent cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat.com, the online beauty community that serves more than 20 million consumers. He is a product development executive that has worked for leading brands such as Estee Lauder Companies, L’Oreal, Avon Products, and Revlon products. Ron talked about his role of helping brands and consumers understand cosmetics from all aspects.
The panel spoke openly about each of their respective positions, the chain of command as it relates to other essential parts of the production of a cosmetics product, and how all of the pieces fit together. They spoke of the various regulations, legalities, and nuances of the chemistry behind cosmetics, as well as safety precautions, the length of testing time, and how awesome they feel when they see a product they made hit the shelves. It was a great experience to learn about the cosmetics industry from a totally new perspective, and I truly didn’t realize the amount of work that goes into product development from start to finish. They are working and developing our products over a year before we even know of their existence.
It was hilarious to hear Balanda talk about the bias consumers have when rating products because they want to make the company happy, how the marketing department hounds Barbara Joi and her team to produce almost humanly impossible products with benefits that are out of this world, how Nikita juggles her work-life balance and the fro with a chunk missing because she didn’t wear a hair net into the lab once, how Althea uses her lunch breaks away from making absorbent polymers for diapers to immerse herself in all things beauty, and how Ron just fell into cosmetic chemistry and totally reps for the guys. It was a FAB event, indeed! I’m so looking forward to the next one!
To join The Fab Network to gain access to a great network of goal driven individuals, learn about future events, and other resources, visit TheFabNetwork.com.
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