Spelman College Launches Online Cosmetic Science Certificate Program

The program kicked off in April 2023 and each course runs for eight weeks.
The program kicked off in April 2023 and each course runs for eight weeks.

As part of its online education platform eSpelman, Atlanta’s Spelman College, a leading historically Black college for women, has introduced a cosmetic science certification program, conceptualized by chemistry and biochemistry professor Leyte Winfield. The certificate is separate from the traditional curriculum and is available to students outside of Spelman. Eventually, Winfield aims to move the certificate toward a bachelor’s degree level. 

In addition to a group of colleagues at Spelman, Winfield worked with individuals from the Society of Cosmetic Chemists who provided insight on different resources to create the curriculum. To achieve certification, students are required to take five courses on subject matters such as toxicology, regulation and the psychology of beauty.

See related: How to Help Marketing Teams Understand Cosmetic Science (and Vice Versa)

The program kicked off in April 2023 and each course runs for eight weeks. Notably, participants do not need a chemistry background or do not need to be pursuing a chemistry degree in order to participate.

In an interview, Winfield explained the first course covers fundamentals such as:

  • concepts of beauty;
  • beauty practices and how they translate to cosmetics;
  • basic chemistry of ingredients;
  • safety of ingredients;
  • understanding toxicity;
  • label requirements and regulatory bodies in the U.S.; and
  • an overview of formulations for skin, hair, color and fragrance

Students then move into biochemistry, covering biological processes that could be impacted by active cosmetics or cosmeceuticals; a laboratory course that delves into basic formulations for skin and hair; a natural products course; a course on how to formulate products for film and stage, including fundamentals of silicones; and a toxicology course include regulatory bodies, and understanding toxicity, exposure levels and safety.

The goal of the program, according to Winfield, is to ensure that students: are literate in the terminology around chemistry related to cosmetics, understand the toxicity of compounds, understand the renewability of certain natural products, and feel comfortable knowing that, as a creator or consumer of these products, they understand exactly what they are using and/or providing to the public.

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