Cosmetic science 'not respected by academia'

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetic science

Cosmetic science and the accompanying journals suffer from a lack of respect within academia, according to one of the industry’s most distinguished scientists.

Cosmetic science and the accompanying journals suffer from a lack of respect within academia, according to one of the industry’s most distinguished scientists.

Consequently, dedicated cosmetic science courses in educational institutions are lacking and peer-reviewed publications relatively scarce, according to Professor Robert Lochhead.

Lack of peer reviewed publications

However, Lochhead, who is the recipient of the Maison G. DeNavarre medal, one of the highest awards in the Arts and Sciences of Cosmetics, explained that the seeming lack of peer reviewed publications is not due to a lack of rigorous science within the discipline.

Instead, it reflects the multidisciplinary nature of an industry whose innovation is driven largely by market pressures, he told CosmeticsDesign.com.

“Market pressures drive the introduction of new products and that in turn drives the emergence of new science and engineering,”​ he said.

He compared the situation to other industries such as electronics, stating that under these circumstances intellectual property must be protected and the preferred publications become patents.

In addition, he notes that the interdisciplinary nature of the industry means that such articles are published in disparate publications, and are not grouped together in one place.

“Cosmetic science is essentially multidisciplinary and the scientists who do publish tend to do so in the peer-reviewed journal of their primary discipline rather than in the cosmetics journals,”​ he said.

Industry pioneers breakthroughs

The industry is not just grounded in rigorous science but is often the pioneer behind breakthroughs that then go on to affect other disciplines.

One example could be the increasing use of nanoparticles in cosmetics products and according to Lochhead, the industry was one of the pioneers of modern nanoscience.

“The industry is underpinned by scientific knowledge of surfaces, colloids, nanoscience, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, anatomy/physiology and physics and it is often the first industry to introduce new concepts that subsequently trickle into larger industries,”​ he added.

However, it is often for these other disciplines that many of the most successful industry experts are known.

Lochhead himself is, he says, more respected by the ‘high priests of academic science’ for his work in polymer science and engineering than cosmetic science.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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