Spelman College Will Become The First HBCU To Offer A Cosmetic Chemistry Concentration For Students In STEM

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Spelman College is expanding its STEM programming to include a concentration in cosmetic chemistry for chemistry majors and a minor in cosmetic science for students studying other subjects.

According to a press release by the college, this initiative is the first program of its kind at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and is scheduled to be offered starting in the Fall 2024 semester. 

The program’s goal is to “promote careers in the beauty industry, enhance the technical knowledge of students seeking to work in the industry or pursue advanced studies in cosmetics, as well as ensure a gendered and racial perspective in product formulation and development,”the release said. 

The college emphasizes the need for greater representation in the beauty industry, noting that Black women spent over $7.4 billion on cosmetics and personal care products in 2022, while Black beauty brands make up only 2.5% of the market. By ensuring that beauty products are developed with people of color in mind, the Atlanta-based HBCU hopes to change that trajectory.

“The program will be far-reaching and will support our students and faculty in making a difference in a field that caters to Black women as consumers, fueled by the scientific expertise in this area,” said Spelman Provost Dr. Pamela Scott-Johnson. “We are thrilled to continue this evolution of creating new academic offerings that address industry demands.”

The cosmetic chemistry program’s curriculum focuses on molecular sciences in relation to product formulation and development. Undergraduate students’ interest in cosmetic sciences has led to the program’s expansion to include a concentration and a minor. Now in its fourth term, the program has grown from 150 to 750 applications since it was launched in January 2023 as an online certificate program.

“I am excited that we now offer a course of study that connects students’ Spelman experience to the beauty and personal care industry. The new major concentration and minor will ensure our students’ competitiveness for advanced study and careers in the field,” said Dr. Leyte Winfield, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and division chair for the Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

 “I am equally excited that this endeavor positions us to offer a culturally relevant perspective that is needed in the conversation on black hair and skin care and the development of cosmetics,” said Dr.Winfield, according to the school press release.

In addition to its academic offerings, Spelman College will also offer a one-week Cosmetic Science Summer Law intensive  from June 2-8. Seminars and panels will focus on fundamental cosmetic formulations and bring together Black female product developers, formulators and researchers.

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