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Cosmetic Chemistry

August 25, 2023

by Gabi Baki, Director Of BSPS Cosmetic Science And Formulation Design Program
Associate Professor Of Pharmaceutics - University of Toledo

Science has always had a special place in my heart since I was a young girl. Without knowing it was science, I wanted to know why flowers turned towards the sunlight or why my grandma’s pastries would rise in the oven. Because of this eager curiosity from a young age, I decided to study science and today, I teach a special area of science, cosmetic science. Cosmetic science is the science behind beauty and personal care products, like your lip balm, hand soap, and toothpaste. Cosmetic science is a fascinating and unique field, where we design, create, and test products that people use every day. Beyond making you smell good and look pretty, these products directly impact health and well-being. For example, sunscreen can prevent skin cancer, one of the leading cancers worldwide; hand soap can prevent the spread of infections, such as the flu and COVID-19; and products for body odor make people feel better about themselves and are an essential part of self-care.

While one may think these are just toiletries in their bathroom, many different sciences go into a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of sunscreen. If we take toothpaste as an example, scientists had to design a product that not only cleans teeth and removes debris, but tastes good, smells good, looks shiny, freshens our breath, and foams – this is not a simple task. Cosmetic scientists work hard every day to create products that are safe, work well, and stay functional for a long time.

My favorite part of teaching cosmetic science is being in the lab and crafting products from scratch. It is like baking, and how my grandma would bake her pastries when I was a young girl - we follow a recipe and mix ingredients in a specific order. While you may think we already have enough cosmetic and personal care products on the market; there is still so much work to be done. Products need to be more inclusive for people of color, tailored for those with unique concerns and needs, and more sustainable options need to be achieved. Science is for anyone and everyone; start asking questions today! I am proud to be a woman in STEM and inspire the next generation of scientists.