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Choosing a good cosmetic education course.

March 20, 2021

Sometimes I don’t like being me.

Mostly it is because when it comes to things that bother me I have no poker face.

If you annoy me, be that by something you say, are doing or a vibe you are giving off I will struggle to hide that from my face, body language and actions. I can come across as in a bad mood, aggressive or touchy but I’m rarely any of those things. That’s not often what’s going on inside of me. Instead it’s a mix of frustration and sadness, nothing personal (against you or as a judgement of you) just a world-weary ‘not again’ that’s going on inside of me. Layering the misunderstanding of how I present to the world is just the cherry on the top of an already tiresome exchange but I understand that’s my problem not yours.

This, my friends, is what happens when I’m asked ‘my opinion on’ certain educational providers or courses in this space – this a space in which I also teach so yes, I do see how another layer of misunderstanding might fester – that of jealousy, envy (are they the same thing?), spite etc. I can assure you those are not emotions I am familiar with and while I am familiar with and enjoy another emotion and that’s competitiveness, I’m not a ‘win-at-all-costs’ kind of human either. The race I run is a race of one. I’m not interested in other people that way other than considering if maybe I need to break out of my comfort zone and push myself on further. That’s it.

So yes, I do get asked about different courses all the time and yes I do promote or suggest a few that I do feel are good (and I generally explain why I feel they are good, and, if relevant, what I think may be their weaknesses from my perspective). I believe this is called ‘being honest’ and it is, but there’s more to it than that. I answer in a way that I’d like people to answer me when I ask questions like that, enquiry questions that are seeking information and insight. Rather than say ‘these are good, these are bad’ I prefer to delve deeper, getting the questioner to think about what they want from a course and teacher. After all, what is good and bad? It’s surely more subjective than analytical.

Different prospective students have different needs.

The way I see it there are different things that motivate people to study cosmetic science – not all of them a love of science (and especially not chemical sciences, most people I talk to hate the idea of using chemicals in their products). An aside – when people say that my ‘that’s-not-how-a-scientist-would-think’ inner voice starts shouting in my ear and I have to distract it with a biscuit or sip of tea!

So if you are thinking of studying, are studying but are not sure it’s reaching all the right spots in your brain or have studied and are still feeling emptier than an Australian water tank in the outback then maybe stop for a minute and consider what type of student you are or might be:

Types of students.

  1. Complete newbie who wants to start playing, who knows what will come next!
  2. Crafter who may want to scale up and tighten up on skills but stay crafty
  3. Crafter who prefers the term artisan and wants to be taken more seriously/ feel their brand has more integrity
  4. Crafter who wants to become more scientific and maybe grow a business/ bigger business
  5. Complete newbie who wants to start a brand and is detail focused but identifies as more strategic/ scientific than crafty.
  6. Hands-on investigator who wants to join the dots but no current science background.
  7. Science background hands-on investigator looking for professional development opportunities, refreshers etc.
  8. Internet researcher who wants to make sure they are right about everything they are reading and re-posting.
  9. Internet researcher who wants to understand what they read to a different level.
  10. Industry professional looking to fill gaps in their knowledge for a variety of reasons.

Lots of options, none of which need the same thing (and I may have missed some)

Then we have the different types of teachers or schools, I’ll just refer to both as educators.

a) Educators who are crafters who love doing craft with others.

b) Educators who are crafters who love teaching.

c) Educators who are crafters who love themselves.

d) Educators who are scientists who love science.

e) Educators who are scientists who love teaching

f) Educators who are scientists who love themselves.

g) Educators who are business people who love business.

h) Educators who are business people who love teaching.

i) Educators who are business people who love themselves.

i) Educators who are Industry Professionals who love talking about the industry with others

j) Educators who are Industry Professionals who love themselves.

f) Educators who are Industry Professionals that love teaching about the industry/ field in general.

Again, there may be more.

There is a lot of potential for bad outcomes when you think about it like this but it is also fair to say there’s lots of good also. Further, it’s clear there won’t ever be just one ‘best’ option for learning in this space.

For me, I’m naturally bias towards science in general and chemistry in particular. Secondary to that but also of importance is the application of that science – cosmetic business. As a consequence, I personally favour educational options that are scientifically robust, industry focused and both up to date with and supportive of the way the industry operates and wishes to progress.

When it comes to my judgement of others, I’m comfortable with educators who take a less science-based approach and will promote these if and when it makes sense to do so. What I can’t tolerate and won’t promote or support are educators who pass themselves off as something they are not. This seems very exploitative given that potential students, especially industry newcomers lack the tool kit and experience-led insight to make this judgement prior to signing up. Further, it wouldn’t be unusual for a newbie student to struggle to classify themselves and their needs without some help given that what is said about the industry and what the industry actually is and does are poles apart.

The reflective pause.

So how do you choose a good cosmetic education course? You first think about who you are and what you want from it.

What I’ve learned today is that instead of screwing my face up and feeling terrible about the fact I really want to scream out ‘no, that course is such a waste of money’ I will try instead to to this. I’ll turn the question back and ask ‘what you want to get out of the course and what skills are you taking into it?’ That’s the best way for me to overcome my bias and give the advice that’s best suited to the situation at hand.

Life, if one isn’t learning, one isn’t fully living.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Melissa permalink
    March 20, 2021 4:00 pm

    I am currently undertaking a cosmetic chemistry course and there’s so much I could say about that experience:

    a) like all study I’ve undertaken in the past one of the biggest outcomes of the course will be an understanding that there’s so more much to know and I will never be ‘finished’.

    b) even when (if) I finish my course (I’m 2/3rds through) I would still choose to consult with an experienced cosmetic chemist to develop unique formulations. I consider the knowledge gained to provide a better basis for advanced collaboration.

    c) I’ve completed ‘courses’ that involved multi choice answers at the end of each module with multiple chances to resubmit (‘a’ wasn’t right – try ‘b’) through to my current course that really makes me work hard to provide coherent answers. There are times that I wish for those multiple choice questions but as an educator myself, I respect the level of difficulty in my current course. Nothing is handed to me and I must research thoroughly for every answer. I agonise, I sweat, I curse but I also value this learning experience (except maybe the bit about aerosols, propellants and VOC limits).

    d) I wish to heck I could go back and tell my younger self (I’ve been a business owner over ten years) that the course that seemed very expensive when I first considered it years ago would pay for itself many times over, not because I will ever be putting up a ‘cosmetic chemist’ shingle over my door, but because I would understand:

    1) Which products are high risk and which are low risk in my particular lab setup and to concentrate on the things that are low risk and outsource those that are high risk.
    2) Legal and safety considerations that could have the potential to derail (destroy) my business if not adequately understood.
    3) Coming to grips with cost of production and scale and understanding where my time is best spent.
    4) How to evaluate (competitor/inspo) products – the function of ingredients, the alternatives, the shortcomings, the opportunities for innovation.

    I’m not sure where I would put myself in the leaner category or the institution I’m studying with in the teacher category, but I’m grateful for the learning opportunity and glad of the humility to understand that it’s only the beginning.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      March 20, 2021 4:28 pm

      That sounds like it a great option for you. Also I agree with the extended team approach for product and business development too. I work on projects with other people and outsource things – even formulating things so it’s a bit ridiculous when people take up with the idea that they can learn everything and live in a bubble of one and get everything done well without consulting others. Hope you do complete the course and that it helps you reach your business goals.

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