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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.
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C&T: Explain the difference between R&D for a contract vs. retail goods manufacturer.
When you are working for a retail goods manufacturer, in addition to technical people, you spend time dealing with other people such as marketing, legal, regulatory affairs, etc., to make sure what you are doing in the lab coincides with their direction. In contract manufacturing, you spend more time with outside customers.
C&T: What is one the greatest lessons you have learned?
You learn by experience. In scale-up, sometimes things do not work out. We had a customer who wanted to develop an analgesic balm, which we did without the final packaging, so we had nothing to test. They finally selected a certain tube that we had no experience testing. In scale-up, the tubes started to putty because the active, methyl salicylate, softened the plastic in the tube. I learned you should not produce something until you have done preliminary testing.
C&T: What technology has changed the cosmetics industry?
Volatile silicone cyclomethicone, which is used as a primary carrier in antiperspirant sticks, skin care, etc. We use a lot of it here (at Raani Corp.) to make products of that nature. Things like this did not exist 15–20 years ago.
C&T: What advice do you have for novice formulators?
Learn from the bench up. Work on the bench as much as you can the first couple of years to understand the nuances of cosmetic science. It is a combination of science and alchemy; it is like cooking. You can only learn so much from a book; the rest is from experience. Work under people who have experience and can guide you. Learn how to make some of the basic product types and practice making simple formulas. Also, work with your suppliers, who are a great source of technical information.
C&T: What do you see on the horizon for personal care?
Skin care companies are using micro-particles for sustained release, an offshoot of the pharmaceutical industry. Some cosmetic companies also are trying to market skin care products using stem cell concepts.