Cosmetic Chemistry Connections – Inaugural Event

Cosmetic Chemistry Shampoo

On Wednesday, was the inaugural Cosmetic Chemistry Connection event and it was a HUGE success.  Cosmetic Chemistry Connections is the brainchild of Madeka Panchoo, Managing Director of 33 Boroughs Consultancy Ltd which specialises in corporate responsibility programmes. Working with Generating Genius, a charity, that works with high achieving students from disadvantaged communities, the programme aims to encourage girls aged 16+ from the BME (black and minority ethnic) community to pursue a career in chemistry.

Cosmetic Chemistry Approximately twenty talented Chemistry A-Level students from three local schools attended the jam packed day  generously hosted at Christ the King College in Lewisham

Cosmetic Chemistry Nat Natalie Clue started the day talking about her journey from UCL studying Genetics, to working in a lab then moving to  merchandising and buying for high profile beauty companies before setting up her own marketing consultancy.

Cosmetic Chemistry Students 4

Natalie spoke about the benefits of attending a Russell Group university and striving to be the best that you can be.  A science degree does not restrict your future career options but opens them up as employers in all sectors need people who can think analytically.

Cosmetic Chemistry Misha 2 This was followed by  Misha Terrett aka ‘Miss’ who studied Cosmetic Science at the London College of Fashion.  With her experience in product development she spoke about the range of scientific disciplines that are involved in making cosmetics.

Cosmetic Chemistry Students with Tony and MishaShampoos, what they are and how they work were discussed in some detail because… after a short break, we headed to the lab to make shampoo.  Yes.  Really.

Cosmetic Chemistry Surfactants The secondary surfactant Cocamidopropyl Betaine – check your shampoo to see if this ingredient is in it.

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab Coats Safety first –  lab coats and goggles

Cosmetic Chemistry Goggles

Cosmetic Chemistry pH monitors    When I was a student, we used pH paper… now they have pH monitors…

Cosmetic Chemistry Beakers

But the beakers are the same as in my day!

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 8 Misha aka ‘Miss’ helping a student

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 3-001

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 13 Alicia with students

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 7Natalie with students

Cosmetic Chemistry Segun

Segun pretending to be a student!

Cosmetic Chemistry Shampoo 11

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 2

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 15 Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 14

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 20 Madeka with students

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 18 Cosmetic Chemisty Lab 16For me this was the most exciting part of the day.  The students were given the recipe, the ingredients were laid out and the groups set to work. In less then two hours, two different types of shampoo were made.  Theory became reality and the reality is, with the right equipment and a bit of know how, you can make shampoo.

Cosmetic Chemistry Shampoo

Surfactants and water mixing

Cosmetic Chemistry Shampoo 4 Add some fragrance

Cosmetic Chemistry Shampoo 7 And some colour

Cosmetic Chemistry Lab 17

Check the pH

Cosmetic Chemistry Shampoo 12 Et voila – shampoo!

Cosmetic Chemistry Shampoo 3

After lunch Natalie explained  how to create a marketing and PR strategy.  In their groups, the students came up with the name for their brand, and their product, defined their USP, considered their target market and age group  (apparently if you are over thirty you are middle aged?!?!?!) where the product would be sold and the price.

Cosmetic Chemistry Marketing 6

Cosmetic Chemistry Marketing 2

Cosmetic Chemistry Marketing 5 Using magazines for inspiration they created moodboards for their products

Cosmetic Chemistry Mood Board 6 Cosmetic Chemistry Mood board

Cosmetic Chemistry Mood Board 5 Cosmetic Chemistry Mood Board 4 Cosmetic Chemistry Mood Board 3 Cosmetic Chemistry Mood Board 2 Cosmetic Chemistry Mood board 1   They then presented their work to the team of judges X Factor style   The judging panel included Antonia Burrell, super facialist with an award-winning skincare brand, Foluke Akinlose creator of online magazine Precious and Connie Jackson, General Manager of Fashion Fair UK

Cosmetic Chemistry Judging Panel

Cosmetic Chemistry Presentations 10  Cosmetic Chemistry Presentations 4

Cosmetic Chemistry Presentations 11

Cosmetic Chemistry Presentations 1

The  work that was done on the day was really high quality.  These students know their chemistry and they picked up the marketing and PR elements really quickly.   Three prizes were awarded.

Cosmetic Chemistry Aroma Natural

Cosmetic Chemistry Third Place 1

Third place were Aroma Natural

Cosmetic Chemistry Presentations 13

Cosmetic Chemistry Second Place 3

Second place were Rose en Noir

Cosmetic Chemistry Presentations 7

Cosmetic Chemistry Winners 4

The only male student to attend was part of the winning team.

Cosmetic Chemistry Winners with Tony

Tony with  winners team Phoenix

It is not an overstatement to say that the day was inspirational.  After the lab session the students really understood that Cosmetic Chemistry was a real career prospect which would give them a real opportunity to make a change in the cosmetics industry and cater for their needs.

Huge thanks to Madeka and Tony for letting me be a part of the day. It was brilliant.  Thanks to the blogger camera, I became the unofficial photographer for the day.  You will  find more pictures on the Generating Genius website.

Congratulations to Natalie and Misha for creating a stimulating but fun day for the students and helping them to realise that their dreams are attainable.

Thanks to the guest judges Antonia Burrell, Connie Jackson and Foluke Akinlose

Big hug to my fellow volunteers Segun and Alicia who made the day so much fun for both me and the students – see you guys at the next one!

For more information about the initiative contact:-

Madeka: or Tony:

  • What an amazing initiative. It sounds like you not only left feeling inspired but also inspired the girls and guy who took part in this day. Well done to Madeka, Tony and everyone else involved.

    • Jo

      Hi Ronke

      The energy of the students was really infectious they were BRILLIANT. I did spend the day saying ‘I wanna be a Cosmetic Chemist’ I cant wait for the next event!




  • Thank you so much for this brilliant write up. You really captured the essence of the day! x

    • Jo

      Thank you Madeka – it was a great day!

  • This looks like such a great inspiring and engaging initiative – congrats to all involved…. I do clearly remember once thinking that 30 was unimaginably ancient!

  • Jo! Everything about this is so cool! I love science! And encouraging young girls to pursue careers in science is a worthwhile and often underlooked initiative. Especially girls from minority groups. Are you a cosmetic scientist? I wonder if I’m too old now to pursue a cosmetic chemist career… hm, anyway, I loved everything about this post!

    • Jo


      How are you doing? It was such a great day, the girls (and one boy) were just brilliant. I am not a cosmetic scientist (I did environmental biochemistry). Of course you are not too old – I think there are conversion courses that you can do. It is definitely worth investigating. We need more women in the lab and in the beauty industry making decisions about product formulations so that there are ingredients, textures and colours that are appropriate to all women. I would definitely encourage you to pursue it. Let me know if you do.




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