Cosmetic Science at London College of Fashion

Few people know that London College of Fashion has science courses in its portfolio. Crowds waiting at the famous Oxford Circus crossing do not suspect that they are often being watched from the fifth floor cosmetic laboratory by students working at the bench next to the window. When visitors are told that LCF has a well-equipped beauty salons and cosmetic science laboratories, they are normally surprised. Yet, everybody accepts that the use of cosmetics is an important component of our ‘fashion sense’, i.e. the way we choose to present ourselves to the world. To us at LCF, this means that beauty and cosmetic courses make an integral part of the extensive portfolio of courses that we offer.

In fact, there is a 40-year long tradition of beauty therapy courses at LCF. Their scope, level and delivery have changed over the decades, following the developments in both education practice and the beauty industry itself. Now the course team has gained the experience and confidence to make a new step – the development of a forward-looking BSc Advanced Beauty Technology. This will be a unique beauty-oriented honours degree curse in the UK, integrating strong underlying science and technology with practical salon skills and management in the beauty industry.

In comparison to beauty therapy, cosmetic science delivery has a short, but already strong tradition. This outcome was not always certain. When a new BSc Cosmetic Science started in year 2000, it faced many challenges. It was the first university course of its kind in the UK and the only BSc course at the University of the Arts London (UAL) – almost an educational experiment. Due to a combination of exceptional dedication by staff, very generous industry support and continuous support by the college management, the experiment was deemed successful. This year, the tenth cohort of graduates will leave LCF and start their professional careers (see some of them featured in the industry press here…) In fact, the success was deemed solid enough to pave the way for the first post-graduate offer in cosmetic science in the UK – the integrated MSc Cosmetic Science (www.fashion.arts.ac.uk/courses/integrated-masters/msc-cosmetic-science/). The MSc course, which started in 2012, will have its first graduates in 2016.

The academic staff within the Science Programme, led by Professor Danka Tamburic, is often asked to explain how science courses fit within the UAL creative universe. Professor Tamburic, in her recent inaugural talk has offered an argument based on the definition of creativity by Sir Ken Robinson:

“Creativity is a process of having original ideas that have value”.

She has argued that the essence of being a scientist (as well as being a designer, for example) is to have original ideas that have value, from which it is clear that all sciences are creative disciplines. The fact that LCF science courses take place within the environment constantly buzzing with creative energy is their huge advantage!

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