Curriculum: MS in Cosmetic Science

December 01, 2021
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curriculum icon Curriculum at a Glance

Course offerings are designed to provide students with the know-how to develop cosmetic and personal care products that delight consumers and improve quality of life.  These include the physiology and pharmacology of pertinent therapeutic or the benefit systems of skin and hair, as well as those associated with approved OTC drug categories.

Course offerings also cover the underlying physical, biophysical, colloidal and interfacial chemistry and formulation science of skin and hair cosmetic products, and OTC drug products. 

Additional topics addressed in course offerings include:

  • Experimental design and statistical evaluation
  • Product evaluation techniques (in vitro and clinical) including stability evaluations
  • Cosmetic microbiology
  • Consumer research
  • US FDA cosmetic and drug regulations
  • Product development approaches

A concentrated one-week hands-on laboratory formulation session at the University of Cincinnati is also an option.

For more information on required classes and electives please, review a sample of our curriculum.

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Skin Care Science

Lectures and homework assignments covering, basic skin anatomy, epidermis and dermis, dermatologicalterminology, basic biophysical methods for evaluation of skin, structure of the stratum corneum (SC) and SC barrier homeostasis, skin penetration, skin immune system, skin color, sunscreens, phototoxicity, skin moisturizers and anti-aging products and surfactant skin interactions.

Hair Care Science

This course covers the science of hair and hair care products. Topics will include hair growth, morphological and macromolecular structure of hair, physical properties of Hair, reducing agents, reactions and kinetics, permanent waving, straightening and depilation, hair coloring and bleaching, shampoos and conditioners, laboratory and consumer testing methods for evaluating hair properties, hair damage and repair, hair fixatives, dandruff.

Skin, Hair, and Oral Products

The class is designed to provide a practical overview of the formulation approaches used for cosmetic and selected OTC drug products broadly intended for use in skin care, hair care, and oral care, including stability and performance evaluations. Sufficient background information regarding the anatomy and physiology of the skin and associated appendages, the hair, and the oral cavity as well as solution and colloid (emulsion) chemistry will be provided for appropriate understanding of the contexts of the formulation approaches. In addition, an overview of pertinent FDA regulations regarding cosmetic and OTC products will be included as well as descriptions of the development processes for these products, record keeping, and intellectual property protection.

Pharmaceutical Sciences Journal Club

The course involves the reading and discussion of published or unpublished scientific research in arena relevant to the student's graduate studies. Many of the discussions will be student-led. The literature review sessions may be supplemented with scientific presentations by students, faculty visiting scientists.

Ethical Foundations for Researchers

Scientific and technological developments bring both great promise and grave peril. Contemporary researchers cannot afford to ignore the moral dimensions of their work. This is a fast-paced introduction to ethical reasoning in the context of university, industry, and clinical research, with special attention to the sciences and social sciences. Students will master the conceptual and theoretical tools for identifying and analyzing areas of moral complexity in research practices. Topics will vary and could include: research objectivity and bias; biotechnology and the meaning of life; research priorities in an era of global scarcity; energy science in the age of climate change; corporate funding and research integrity; ties between academia, industry, and the military; intellectual property; plagiarism and data fabrication; protection of human and nonhuman research subjects. Students will learn to think for themselves about the moral costs and benefits of their own research, rather than simply learning how to comply with laws and regulations. This course satisfies NSF and NIH requirements for training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).

Cosmetic Science Project I

This course is the first of two course sequence (Cosmetic Science I & II) that requires comprehensive evaluation of a contemporary issue relating to cosmetic science or OTC drug development that demonstrates competency in multidisciplinary didactic coursework and scientific regulatory and business aspects of research and development related to personal care or topical drugs under the direction of a faculty Mentor and Advisory Committee. The final result is a Capstone Paper and an open oral presentation /defense in-person at the College of Pharmacy in Cincinnati before the faculty Mentor and Advisory committee.

Cosmetic Science Project II

This course is the second of a two-course sequence (Cosmetic Project I & II) that requires comprehensive evaluation of a contemporary issue relating to cosmetic science or OTC drug development that demonstrates competency in multidisciplinary didactic coursework and scientific, regulatory and business aspects of research and development related to personal care or topical drugs under the direction of a faculty Mentor and advisory Committee. The final result is a Capstone Paper and an open oral presentation defense in person at the College of Pharmacy in Cincinnati before the faculty Mentor and Advisory committee. In Cosmetic Project II ( PCEU8091) students complete an appropriately referenced and formatted academic paper using the topic and detailed outline selected /prepared in Cosmetic Science Project I (PCEU8081) and present/defend this paper in -person at the College of Pharmacy in Cincinnati before the faculty Mentor and advisory committee.

Introduction to Surface, Colloid and Membrane Science

This introductory course will focus on fundamentals underpinning cosmetic formulations including wetting, spreading, contact angle, surface excess and adsorption, interfacial and solution chemistry of surfactants, surface tension, micellization, mixed surfactant systems, silicone surfactants, basic rheology, polymers and polyelectrolytes, silicone polymers, foams, foam stability and rheology, solid-liquid interface and an intro to bilayers and stratum corneum membrane.

Advanced Surface, Colloid and Formulation Science

This course will focus on fundamentals underpinning creation, characterization and stability of complex fluids with multiphase systems. Topics covered will include the following: Phase behavior of surfactants and phase diagrams, polymer-surfactant and protein surfactant interactions, Emulsifiers and emulsification including various types of emulsions such as micro- nano- and mini-emulsions, DLVO theory of colloidal stability, Hansen solubility parameter, partitioning and release of actives in multicomponent systems.

Statistical Data Analysis I

This course introduces students to the fundamental techniques of statistical data analysis that are commonly used in the social and behavioral sciences, such as descriptive statistics and data visualization; fundamental methods of inferential statistics, such as basic hypothesis testing, t-tests, and ANOVA; and the use of statistical software to support data analysis.

BIostatistics & Research Methods

The course begins with basic statistical concepts, introduces essential descriptive and inferential statistical tests, demonstrates some data analysis tools and collection instruments, then discusses common research methodology for pharmaceutical and cosmetic sciences. Students will learn how to use statistics and research designs to evaluate scientific evidence to make individual and population-based decisions. Students will conduct some simple statistical analysis based on given data sets and interpret the results, as well review clinical research literature.

Safety Assessment of Cosmetic and Topical OTC Drug Products: Preclinical and Clinical

This course will review the principles and guidelines for pre-clinical and clinical safety evaluation of new cosmetic and OTC drug products. The course will include a review of the regulatoryrequirements for safety testing, the role of the toxicologist, the importance of exposure in safetytesting, specific types of safety studies (preclinical and clinical), and the use of the data for a risk assessment for marketing clearanceof new products. Current hot topics and practical approaches to safety program design and managementwill be covered. Course work will include workshops to design safety programs, evaluation ofthe results to confirm safe exposure limits, and postmarketing safety monitoring requirements

Pharmacology-Basics and Cosmetic & Personal Care Product Applications

This introductory course will cover core principles of pharmacology including absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of drugs. In addition, this course twill provide a fundamental understanding of pharmacodynamics and toxicodynamics, pharmacokinetics, principles of how agonists an antagonists interact with drug receptors to modulate physiologic function and the importance of the dose-response relations in drug development and therapy. Dermatological pharmacology pertaining to topical drugs and cosmetics will be reviewed with regard to major drug classes as well as " non-drug actives" and mechanisms of action. Novel models used in the evaluations of topical pharmacology and cosmetic products will also be addressed. In addition, the pharmacology of selected therapeutics relevant to OTC drugs such as respiratory, gastrointestinal and analgesia will be introduced.

Consumer Understanding for Formulators-Overview and Practice

This introductory course will cover the role of consumer understanding and consumer research in the development of a product, beginning with either a new technology or the identification of a currently unmet consumer need. We will explore the need for the use of consumer understanding to develop the core consumer concept, claims, product performance design and qualifications for market. We will also discuss and understand the role of Market data, public relations issues and success criteria in a consumer centric product ts company. Both Qualitative and Quantitative consumer research approaches will be overviews and each student will design and administer both a qualitative an quantitative research study in an area of their personal interest, with individual feedback and coaching playing a major part in their learning experience.

Cosmetic Science Laboratory

This laboratory course will teach formulation principles and give the students hands on experience in making skin and hair care products and testing their stability.

Fragrance Science

This course will focus on all aspects of fragrance as a science and as a commercial endeavor, including the sense of smell, the history of fragrance, fragrance creation and duplication, natural products and aroma chemicals used in fragrances, fragrance applications in personal care and household products, the physical chemistry of fragrance solutions, safety and regulatory requirements, the emotional and psychological effects of odors, and marketing considerations.

Color Cosmetics

Color Cosmetics is a two credit graduate course that provides a comprehensive look at the broad spectrum of color additives that are used in decorative cosmetic and personal care products, including water soluble dyes, standard organic andinorganic pigments as well as pearlescent, metallic, fluorescent and treated ones.

Clinical and Instrumental Testing of Skin

This course covers principles of skin clinical testing, including human subject protection, studydesign and testing on special populations such as infants. The principles behind the most commonly used instruments for studying skin in-vivo are covered along with their use in clinical protocols. Methods covered include skin water lossmeasurements, electrical measurements, mechanical measurements, Laser Doppler blood flow, Ultrasoundimaging, surface contour imaging, optical coherence tomography, skin color measurements, confocal microscopy, skin spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging. Protocols for testing moisturizers, cleansing products, "anti-aging" products and antiperspirants and deodorants are among those covered.

Molecular Biology of Skin

This is an advanced course focusing on the molecular biology of skin. The molecular structureof the epidermis, dermis and dermal epidermal junction will be covered in detail along with key cell signaling pathways in the skin.

Cosmetic Microbiology

The goal of this course is to teach cosmetic science and microbiology graduate students up-to-date informaton on cosmetic microbiology, product preservation, skin microflora, and regulations pertaining to cosmetic and OTC drug products. The approach is a practical one based onindustry experience with the preservation of skin care products. Topics discussed include the historical developments in cosmetic microbiology, a basic review of microbiology, product preservation, preservatives, microbiological issues in the manufacturing plant, problems with Pseudomonas spp., modulation of skin microflora with products and probiotics, and the Food, Drug &Cosmetic Act and Regulations pertaining to cosmetic and OTC drug products.

Global Regulatory and Development Strategies of Drugs and Medical Devices

This course provides graduate students with an overview on legal and regulatory aspects relevant to drug and medical device development. This includes intellectual properties protection, global legal and regulatory requirements, protection of human subjects and ethics in clinical research and essential elements of management of global projects. Case studies will be included to underline how regulatory strategiesimpact product marketing and life cycle management. Throughout the course, students will integrate knowledge using specific industry examples with the goal to identify critical decision points in the development that impact success of a new drug or medical device on the market.

Pharmaceutical Economics and Management

This course will provide students a background in project management issues in the conduct of global clinical trials, financial aspects of drug development and pharmacoeconomics of approved drug/drug products. The first module will focus on logistic and strategic issues of project management encountered in modern drug development. It includes exposure to principles of project management of complex programs involving: pharmaceutical development, operations, and regulatory affairs. In addition, the corporate challenges involved with portfolio management and optimization will be presented focusing on tools used for optimum decision making. This knowledge base will be applied towards selective case presentations with the goal to identify critical decision points in the process that dramatically impact the successful launch of a new product. The second module will emphasize the business and financial aspects of drug development, including biotechnology and other innovative small pharmaceutical companies that derive their funding primarily from venture capital funding, business strategies, outsourcing and merger and acquisitions. Valuation of the new chemical/molecule as it evolves in the drug development pipeline will be discussed.

Introduction to Cosmetic Regulations

The course will introduce the basic concepts and processes relating to regulations that impact cosmetics, their constituent chemicals, packaging, labeling and advertising. Discussion will focus on the key jurisdictions that students interact with, especially the USA (and States), Canada and the EU. Topics covered in this course will include:


The class is designed to provide a practical overview of: (1) pertinent FDA regulations regarding OTC drug products and dietary supplements; (2) the physiology of application sites with regard to drug or dietary supplement release from dosage forms and absorption; (3) product development considerations for systemically and locally acting over-the-counter (OTC) drug products; and (4) product development considerations for dietary supplements.

Introduction to Surface, Colloid and Membrane Science Lab

In this laboratory course students will learn experimental techniques to measure such properties surfaces and interfaces as surface tension, wetting, spreading, contact angle, solubilization and emulsification. Students will also learn about methods to measure size, charge and stability of colloidal dispersions. Students will carry out simple rheological measurements of model surfactant and polymer solutions. A session on skin measurements will also be included.

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