Build a solid foundation in science, formulation and product development—find out more!
Most Popular in:
Lab Lessons—Wise Words From the Bench with Gene Frank
By: Katie Anderson, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: January 4, 2013, from the January 2013 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Frank receives the Stanley Allured Lifetime Service Award from Janet Ludwig, Allured’s daughter and president of Allured Business Media, publisher of Cosmetics & Toiletries, as his family surrounds him in support.
Although the number of cosmetic chemistry graduate programs around the world is growing, formulators and scientists often specialize in related fields and end up in cosmetics. Eugene “Gene” Frank, PhD, is one of them; his beginnings were in pharmaceutical chemistry, which gave him a head start in navigating cosmetic formulations. However, Frank’s experiences in this industry have taught him that not every novice formulator is as lucky, and he has served several years as chair of the scholarship program for the Midwest chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (MWSCC), spreading the word about this industry and awarding scholarships to educate students with cosmetic aspirations.
On Nov. 13, 2012, Frank was awarded the Stanley Allured Lifetime Achievement Award by the MWSCC for his dedication to the chapter and the education of its future members. Frank serves as a role model for those navigating the murky waters of cosmetic science, and his experience in R&D, for both contract and retail cosmetic manufacturing, provides a unique view for those just starting out.
C&T: What were your first impressions of the industry?
My first job was as a product development chemist for Kolar Laboratories in 1971. I had an undergraduate degree in pharmacy, so working with chemicals and formulation was not completely alien to me. I learned from the ground floor up how to make hair care, depilatories and skin care products. I had an advantage over those with just a chemistry degree, which provides a good theoretical background but usually no pure formulation classes. Cosmetics is really an extension of pharmacy, where you learn to compound and formulate.
C&T: What was the most difficult product type to formulate?
The company had certain specialty niches like depilatories, which involve chemistry using salts of thioglycolate acid. Those were difficult to do right and to make effective for the consumer.
C&T: Who were your mentors?
The first mentor was my pharmaceutical professor and advisor Fred Siegel, PhD, but the people who taught me the most once I was in the industry were George Kolar and Aaron Miller. Kolar was the owner of Kolar Labs and one of the founding members of the MWSCC, while Aaron Miller was technical director for the company. They taught me not only about the nuances of daily formulation work, but also how to relate to people and do things that are not technical. Being a technical person is one thing, but you have to be able to talk to people [your customers] to find out what they want.