After graduating in 2005 with a degree in chemistry from Cumhuriyet University, in Sivas, Turkey, Hakan Sevinc is continuing his post-graduate work in cosmetology and pharmacy under professor Yasemin Uzuner, Ph.D., at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul.
In 2006, he started his career at the FMCG company Hayat Kimya, a soap manufacturer. He worked for two years as a production engineer in the manufacture of powder detergent, which he says was a great experience for him. There, he learned about soap production, pharmaceuticals and technical-quality glycerin production. While at the company, Sevinc also worked on atomization, tower dust and premix parts.
In 2008, he moved to B’iota Laboratories, where he started as a packaging and raw material quality control specialist. After about six months, he advanced in his role to become the systems, applications and products (SAP) key user, followed by roles as an R&D project specialist, department chief and finally, in 2016, as R&D manager, where he is today.
His first formulation project in the R&D department was to develop sunscreens for cosmetics. He notes this was a difficult start. He also eventually worked with hair products, as he has for many years throughout his roles, and has been trained to work with essences.
Further, now that B’iota Laboratories has been approved by the Ministry of Industry in Turkey, he has been given projects to support state programs. Here, he describes the evolution of his success with Cosmetics & Toiletries, along with his vision for the future success of the cosmetics industry.
Cosmetics & Toiletries: Who are your mentors/teachers?
Hakan Sevinc: While I’ve had several great mentors, perhaps my most influential ones were my boss, Cihat Dündar, general manager; and my director, Murat Türkoğlu, Ph.D. Throughout my B’iota career, I’ve worked in different administrative positions under the direction of [Türkoğlu].
Between lectures at school and responsibilities at the company, both would always take the time to advise me and allow me to ask them interesting questions about cosmetics. I truly learned a lot from them and they inspired me to become a cosmetic formulator.
I started my master’s program with emotional support from [Türkoğlu] and with the financial support of [Dündar]. I believe my mentors are valuable because they have been around the block and have already tackled the issues I am facing. They can tell me what to avoid as much as guide me on what I could do.
I also [cannot forget to mention Uzuner, who has provided] absolute top-level industrial experience [for me, both in and out of] academia. It really makes me feel lucky to work with these people.
C&T: What interests do you have, or current work are you conducting, that relates to cosmetics?
HS: I am working on all the formulation designs for skin and hair care as a manager in the formulation department. However, hair products have always attracted more of my interest. Not only do I formulate them, but I also always wonder about their sensory [characteristics] after use.
C&T: What do you like most about your work? What do you like least?
HS: While working with my formulator friends in R&D is favorable, the success of the products we make remains forever in the cosmetic world, which is one aspect I enjoy about my work. The basic motivation to learn about new trends, actives, odors and production techniques is what keeps me moving forward in R&D. In Turkey, we can create trends in many product categories, which is what I enjoy most about my work. I least enjoy recreating something that already exists, as I like to be unique in my development process.
C&T: What do you find most challenging about your work?
HS: I think the most challenging aspect of the role is probably time management. I am in contact with consumers and consultants, and responding to marketing department requests regularly. [In addition], supplier meetings [are part of the company’s business development strategy, and I sometimes must travel far for them]. However, I have a job based on observation, so I must keep the energy up all the time.
C&T: Give an example of an observation or a problem you solved that you think could advance product development.
HS: There's a big problem with thickeners in shampoos. I sometimes use hydrophilic thickeners because they are easy to apply in shampoo formulas. But when you export shampoos, [differences in temperatures between countries can create issues]. We therefore have learned to work within our system of hydrophobic thickeners, dispensed by different methods and using specific polymers with them, [to address this issue].
C&T: What about the cosmetics and personal care industry excites you? How would you like your role in the industry to evolve?
HS: Initially, raw material companies worked well to develop innovative raw materials and products using the latest technologies. Nowadays, at cosmetic events, in magazines and in other articles, I [am excited to] find impressive raw materials that provide natural solutions. I hope this pharmaceutical approach becomes more of a standard in the cosmetics sector.
Also, sometimes our formulations are followed by big companies on the local market. It is my wish to create formulations that [continue to be] followed by them. I want to stay on this development side and create innovative products.
C&T: How is industry or technology improving product evolution?
HS: If you look at the R&D process, the first step is know-how. The most important thing in R&D is to protect this information so it is available again for each project. We have tried numerous methods [to record this aspect of] formulation development, including different reporting techniques, documentation and so forth. Now, we can keep our R&D formulations and our knowledge well within our own software. The information technology industry has thus accelerated us considerably in formulations, costs and stability processes.
C&T: What areas or technologies do you think are untapped for cosmetics R&D?
HS: Current methods of in vivo and in vitro testing are expensive and slow processes to observe for cosmetic product development. However, computer modeling of structures having similar functions to mimic human skin can be used instead [to assess] toxicity, allergic reactions, interactions and performance. Similarly, the pharmaceutical industry is working on computer models on chips.
C&T: How do you envision the cosmetics/personal care industry of the future?
HS: These days, we see niche products that focus more on consumers than conventional product [types], which we can link to some channel of social media pumping to the market. There are quick-wired products that are consumed quickly, instead of [addressing] real needs. In reality, basic consumer needs hardly change.
On the other hand, environmental conditions have become compelling in many regions. Pollution and the sun’s effects on individuals have increased considerably, which ensures the daily use of products to protect the skin likely will progress.
We also can’t go on ignoring the development of wearable and ingestible cosmetic products. [Ultimately], everything is based on the comfort of people who are looking ahead to the future for products that are easy to use, have quick and instant effects, and show good results.