Ensuring safety of beauty products
Vivey Phasha has come a long way from being a chemistry intern to a product development technician at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Phasha, of Tembisa on the East Rand, has her parents to thank for ensuring she reached greater heights in her career.
"My father was a boilermaker and my mother was a hawker. I remember how she would wake up very early in the morning to sell magwinya to support us," she said.
Phasha, 32, has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Johannesburg, a total quality management certificate from University of SA and a post-graduate diploma in cosmetic product formulation from North West University.
She is currently completing her honours degree in formulation science at the Nelson Mandela University.
Her impressive expertise has led her to research the safety of ingredients that go into cosmetic products such as lotions and soaps.
Over the past five years she has, through her work at the CSIR, helped many companies such as black-owned pharmaceutical company Yivani to develop safe products.
"A cosmetic chemist must first and foremost ensure the safety of products that will be applied directly to a consumer's hair or skin," said Phasha.
The mother of two has developed a foot cream that has been proven to heal cracked heels and is planning to commercialise it.
"I love to come up with new products and innovative solutions," said Phasha.
She said South Africa was facing a crisis with illegal products that are damaging the skin of consumers.
Phasha said there were regulations that needed to be upheld when formulating products.
"There are products being sold illegally that burn skin because they use ingredients that damage skin," she said.
Phasha's work entails putting together different chemical ingredients to see if they are compatible and bring out the desired outcome.
"The bulk of my work is done at the bench... mixing and experimenting. It actually feels very similar to cooking or baking.
"Think of cosmetic chemists as the chefs of the beauty industry," she said.
Phasha said women in the science field faced the challenge of proving their capabilities in order to be respected.
She said she has had to prove that she can juggle her work in science as well as motherhood and marriage.
"This type of work needs you to up your game. You need to continuously be studying to empower yourself," she said.
"You need passion and dedication to succeed in this field."