Just as the annual Christmas shopping frenzy really kicks in, with many fragranced gifts likely to be exchanged, students at the University of Sunderland have received a glimpse into the science behind the vast perfumed goods market from an industry expert.

The first year students, who began studying the only science based Cosmetic Science BSc (Hons) degree programme in the UK in September, met Anne Connet – a fragrance industry expert from CPL Aromas, an international fragrance house with its headquarters in the UK.

In her introduction Anne spelled out some of the numbers relating to the global fragrance industry:

$14 billion     – value of the fragrance industry per year

35,000            – number of employees directly employed in the fragrance sector

8million          – jobs in the supply chain

$500 billion   – gross value of products containing fragrance

3,000              – the choice of raw materials available to perfumers to select from, though potentially only a tiny amount may be used in a final fragranced product.

 

Anne gave a fascinating lecture on fragrance, with topics including an explanation of global trade association IFRA, whose code of conduct is adhered to by 90% of manufacturers. It’s thanks to IFRA that ingredients in fragrances and fragranced products are safe and appropriate for use by consumers around the world.

There are 12 full-time students on the three-year Cosmetic Science programme, which began in September 2016, and already the undergraduates have met with several industry experts as part of the course.

Dr Kalliopi Dodou, Reader in Pharmaceutics at the University of Sunderland and Course Leader for the Cosmetic Science degree, said: “We designed the first year of this new programme to introduce relevant aspects of chemistry, physiology and dermatology as well as the regulatory marketing and business framework for cosmetics. To keep this exciting and work relevant we’re delighted to be able to bring in industry experts to explain the science and safety aspects of cosmetics, fragrances and much more.”

Those choosing to study Cosmetic Science can expect to gain a career edge in the cosmetics industry – worth £17 billion in the UK along – by gaining expertise in the formulation, manufacture, regulation and quality control of cosmetic, fragrance and personal care products. 

Shona Bisset, Cosmetics Science BSc (Hons) undergraduate, commented: “Having external industry experts coming in every couple of weeks is useful as we get to hear about the different industries they are involved with. We’ve had someone talk to us on sensory and emotional testing and others from different companies and industries; there’s also the marketing side of it, business, and statistics so it’s a good mix.

“The industry experts help us to see what jobs are available and what different people do. There are loads of ways that you can enter this industry, including through our labwork – there’s a whole Chemistry module so we’ve started to be tested on that.

“I’m interested in working in the cosmetic science industry and feel I’ll be more prepared for that by doing this programme than I would have been if I’d done a straightforward chemistry degree. There’s still plenty of time to decide what I want to do once I graduate, but there are a lot of different ways you can go into this industry and there are a lot more and varied jobs than I thought, it’s not just lab work.

“I think it would have been harder to go into this industry if I’d done a normal chemistry degree; whereas this giving me an understanding of the kinds of jobs there are…I prefer this.”