Why did you choose a career in the Cosmetics Industry?
I usually say the Cosmetics Industry chose me. I started my career at the University of Lisbon, working in R&D of topical medicines. With a newfound passion for formulation science for topical application, I started integrating projects focused on cosmetics; this is when I realised how important cosmetic products were in the management of skin health, disorders and diseases. And the rest is history. What are the main responsibilities in your role?
My role is split into three main responsibilities: teaching (I specialised in formulation science), managing and continuously developing the MSc Cosmetic Science course and its students, and research. What has been the most important learning from your work at London College of Fashion?
Investing in specialised education is probably one of the most important factors that will affect the cosmetic industry in the future. I have realised how important education in cosmetic science is, especially considering critical aspects of the cosmetic industry, such as diversity; sustainability; innovation; and formulation expertise. What are the three biggest challenges for a Cosmetic Scientist?
1. Finding innovation and efficacious solutions for the consumer of the future;
2. Educating the consumer, especially in regard to the widespread and very unscientific information published by the media and by misinformed consumers on social media;
3. To formulate according to a brief and being able to accommodate all demands and actually obtain a product that the customer idealised. How is this academic path improving your career as a scientist?
Working with the students has helped me becoming a more creative scientist and understand consumers better - it's very interesting to see the students applying their knowledge in the creation of interesting products and their approach to making products for specific consumers. Do you see a major difference between Pharmaceutical Sciences to Cosmetic Sciences?
The science behind both is quite similar. In Pharmacy people are working around drugs and diseases, whilst in Cosmetic Science people work around consumer demands, needs and trends. I think the pharmaceutical industry has a lot to learn about innovation applied to the consumer experience. On the other hand, the cosmetic industry could learn the importance of educating consumers and consumer-facing professionals on the actual benefits of using cosmetic products and the reality behind many ingredients - instead of feeding consumer misconceptions with e.g. 'free-from' claims, misleading pseudo-science and 'green-washing'. Do you see differences in the Industry across UK and Portugal? And through Europe?
In Portugal cosmetics are generally more expensive, therefore the use of cosmetic products is seen, to some degree, as a form of luxury; this is actually a challenge for companies, as it's much harder to convince consumers to buy products - or worse, to buy a new product. Portuguese consumers also seem to care less about exotic active ingredients (there is a trend for using local ingredients) and, in general, they don't use nearly as much makeup as British consumers. What key innovations or trends do you see as having the largest impact in the Cosmetics Industry in 2019? And in long-term?
Understanding the skin microbiota and its role in skin health is probably going to be a great opportunity for the industry to meet the demands of many consumers. It will be interesting to see how the industry will use this growing knowledge; not only in terms of using new active ingredients and creating new claims, but also how the industry will encourage consumers to change habits that may be affecting their microbiota - since some of them are e.g. related to using cosmetics products exaggeratedly.
Sustainability, in all its aspects, simply cannot be ignored. It will be a challenge for the industry to adapt all its processes and to ensure the entire supply chain complies with sustainability principles.
2019 has seen a great trend in the use of hemp derivatives in cosmetic products, and i'm interested to see if this trend will hold. It's true that some compounds have very interesting pharmacological effects, but its use in cosmetics is still uncertain; and we cannot assume there are only benefits.
It has been shown that a great part of the environment impact of cosmetic products is related to their use by consumers. In the long term, companies will need to think about how they can change the behaviour of consumers in order to reduce the environmental impact of their products. Do you think that there is a gap of knowledge and skills in the Cosmetics Industry?
Yes, there seems to be a lack of solid formulation skills/understanding. What are your thoughts on software adapted to the Cosmetics Industry?
If it is used with the aim of making product safer and more efficacious, it's very welcome. I would hope it wouldn't be used only to drive and increase in consumption.