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Whilst growing up in Kent, Zahra Jeraj developed a love for cosmetics. After discovering the BSc Cosmetic Science course at London College of Fashion, she moved to London and graduated in 2013. With an internship under her belt, she went onto work in product development at a variety of companies, but has now focused her attention on skincare as Director of New Product Development at MZ Skin, a start-up founded in 2016. She tells us more about her time at London College of Fashion, and what it’s like working in the cosmetics industry.
What have you been working on since finishing your course?
Since my internship whilst studying at LCF, I have worked in product development. I have worked for a variety of companies: Sleek MakeUP; Sudocrem; Sarah Chapman, and now, MZ Skin. They have all been interesting in their own way, but working in skin care is my personal favourite.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in Cosmetic Science?
I always had an interest in Science and the beauty industry fascinated me. Like lots of teenagers, I spent many a Saturday in the beauty aisles at my local shopping centre.
I was always following the latest launches, and getting new products when they came on the market. When I found the Cosmetic Science degree, I knew this was what I wanted to learn about.
Which part of Cosmetic Science do you find the most interesting?
I loved learning about how the different chemicals interact with the skin in order to make a physiological change. When I started working, it gave me a great advantage when developing new products, and it was amazing to be able to understand how the ingredients in the products worked to give the benefits that the end user was looking for.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Testing new formulas, researching new ideas and seeing them come to life.
I love the moment the product you have spent months or even years working on comes to life and people love and buy the product, plus all those Instagram likes!
What are your plans for the next few years? Where would you like to see yourself professionally?
Every day is a new challenge. In the world of product development, no two days are the same. There is always something you have not seen before; new ingredients, products and new skin care trends. I hope to continue learning and developing my skills further to produce even more exciting product launches.
Why did you choose to study at London College of Fashion? What attracted you to this university?
LCF is an inspiring place to study and has an outstanding reputation globally. I wanted to get my degree at LCF because of its notable alumni and popular courses. At the time, LCF was the only university offering the Cosmetic Science degree, so it was an easy choice.
What did you enjoy most about your course?
My favourite part of the course was the lab formulating. It was so much fun to see how a cream or lipstick was made. I also loved writing my dissertation, I was very excited to be completing my degree and could not wait for the next part of my career.
The community associated with the Cosmetic Science course is incredible. From guest lecturers, prestigious companies, to the alumni who have been so successful in their careers after graduating. I felt really lucky to be connected to a group of people who would one day be my colleagues within the industry.
Did you have the opportunity to do any work placements or have industry experience during the course?
Yes, I took on a work placement at Sleek MakeUP. I was lucky enough to be offered a permanent role there after graduating. Looking for a placement seemed like the most daunting task but it was worth it for the experience and it set me up with high ambitions when entering into my final year.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received during your time at London College of Fashion?
Always make notes and ask lots of questions.
What piece of advice would you give someone looking to pursue a career in the cosmetic industry?
Do your research and go for it. You need a lot of passion for what you are working on, so make sure to fully immerse yourself into the industry and that will take you far. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people on LinkedIn for advice. I happily go back to anyone who has sent me a message and will answer any questions.