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CTPA caught up with Cosmetic Science MSc graduate and award-winner, Yuanbei Lim, to get her reflections for those considering a similar course - and find out where she goes next.
"There are more roles in the beauty industry than I’d ever imagined....." Yuanbei Lim
What was it that attracted you to studying Cosmetic Science?
From a really young age I’ve always wondered how the industry’s products were made and who are the people behind them. It was a whole new field I’ve never been exposed to, so I was really intrigued by it. I enjoyed Chemistry at A-Level and I love cosmetic products but also knew I didn’t want to be a make-up artist, so studying Cosmetic Science seemed like a great way to combine all my interests.
A few years into the course I realised there were way more roles in the beauty industry than I’d ever imagined, and I’m really excited to try my hand at a range of new skills.
What did you like most about the course at the London College of Fashion?
The biggest appeal was the fact that they teach such a wide range of modules - science-based and non-science based. I had expected chemistry, biology and formulation to be involved, but there was also legislation - covering the UK and EU Cosmetics Regulation, understanding how REACH applies to regulation of raw materials further up the supply chain - and even Strategic Marketing.
There was also Product Evaluation, which teaches you how to conduct clinical trials on volunteers and substantiate claims you want to make. Then in the final year we had a project to launch a product which is essentially a similar process as what you would do in a New Product Development role. All these experiences have opened up different career possibilities. Plus, there is also a chance to do a placement year within a company for hands-on experience, which is what I did.
What did your placement year involve?
I was very fortunate to secure a placement at Merck in Germany because they are well-known in the industry and I was also already aware of their pigments from the Colour Cosmetics module of the course. My role was to provide technical support for their portfolio, meaning I generated data using their pigments which cosmetic manufacturers would be able to use to substantiate their claims.
It was really satisfying after collecting all the data to be able to analyse and contextualise them to enable the claims. It was very challenging intellectually and definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I was also really lucky to be able to keep working in their labs during the COVID-19 lockdowns, thanks to the rules around that in Germany.
After such a variety of experiences, how did you decide which career path to follow?
I received a presentation award from CTPA – an association which has continuously supported the MSc Cosmetic Science course at London College of Fashion – and as a result was approached on LinkedIn by the founder of a company called FRUU Cosmetics. He offered me the job of a Founder’s Associate, which means I get to do pretty much everything working closely with the founders. I started out by assisting in production, representing the company and networking at industry events, then a couple of months ago moved into sales while also exploring crowdfunding opportunities.
I’ve had the chance to represent FRUU Cosmetics at Cosmoprof, and a raw material supplier, Zambezi Naturals, at in-cosmetics (2023), both of which involved speaking to manufacturers and distributors based outside of the UK. Hence, I got to experience the process of securing international B2B sales from a cosmetic brand’s and a raw material supplier’s perspective, which has been very fascinating and enriching. Again, I see all of these diverse experiences as a brilliant way to build out my career.
So where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Well firstly, I am graduating from my Master’s degree with Distinction in July. After that, in the short term I would love to secure a role in technical sales as I love meeting new people and have really enjoyed that aspect of my work over the last few months. But in the long-run I’d really like to start something of my own, so building my skills through a role in new product development would also be really helpful.
What advice would you give to someone considering a Cosmetic Science course?
I would highly recommend it to anyone, but you should definitely have an interest in chemistry or biology, or you might find it quite challenging because the course is quite science heavy. I would also say that going on a placement can really help you to decide which aspects of the industry you are interested in, and which you are not, so do think about that. Lastly, do you like the idea of a constant challenge? If, like me, you do, then this is the sector for you. There are always new things to find out and new trends to respond to. It’s an innovative industry that never sits still.