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Amanda Rountree

Research and Development Chemist

Ecoco, Inc.

Member Since: 2016

Midwest Chapter

What made you pursue a career in the cosmetics/personal care industry?

Ever since I was young, I have always been fascinated with science and the tangible world around me. In 6th grade, I received a pH meter as a gift from my dad and I became obsessed with measuring the pH of everything around me. I took my first chemistry class, and I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In high school, we had a saponification laboratory, which really intrigued me. One of my favorite laboratory experiments was an ester experiment where I synthesized isoamyl acetate, a notable fruity, banana aroma. When I got home after that laboratory, I looked up what specific chemistry that lab entailed and found two websites: SCC and Chemist Corner. From that moment forward, I made an unwavering decision to become a cosmetic chemist.

While in college, I attended SCC meetings as a student member. I wrote an article for the Chicago section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) about bath bombs, and I volunteered for the ACS to educate and hopefully inspire future chemists from the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. I also convinced my professor to allow my laboratory partner and I to stray from the pre-planned laboratories so we could pursue a research project examining the elemental composition of hair with the ICP-OES and SEM-EDS. I immersed myself in anything and everything related to cosmetic chemistry.

On a personal note, I was inspired to become specifically a cosmetic chemist, because I know cosmetics can make people feel great about themselves. When I was 10 years old, a dog attack caused immense scarring and bruising on my face. As a kid, it was hard to deal with since it made me feel insecure. On picture day that year, I had makeup applied to my face for the first time, and I felt like a new person with a great deal of confidence. That moment made me want to contribute to the cosmetic industry so I could help people feel as confident and happy as I did.

What advice would you give your younger self who is just starting out in the industry? 
If I could give my younger self some advice, I would tell myself not to worry since the scientific community in the cosmetic industry is not as cutthroat as I was led to believe. Everyone in the SCC is welcoming and supportive. Competitors are not enemies; they’re friends. I was worried that it would be hard to become a part of this community, but I now know it was the easiest and least stressful thing. I would tell myself that so many great opportunities lie ahead of you so don’t ever stop learning. At the end of the day, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

What is the favorite part of your job?

I love making people feel good about themselves with the products I create. My ultimate goal is to highlight and enhance the existing beauty that lives both on the surface and within each individual. I really love creating special and memorable products that people enjoy incorporating into their routine. My team is very supportive, and I thrive off of the inspiration they provide me with. Naturally, I am enthusiastic about what I do; however, Ecoco has such an amazing environment that amplifies my motivation for tackling new challenges every day.

What has been your most recent professional accomplishment?

I was recently a part of launching our new line, Talyoni, at Salon Centric. Talyoni features time-honored classics with modern innovations that transcend beyond the superficial to promote overall wellness for skin, hair, and sprit. Our mission with Talyoni really embodies and aligns with my own view of cosmetics. It really makes me proud to be a part of a brand with a great legacy.

How has membership in the SCC been of value to you?

My SCC membership has been a dream come true for me. As a college student just starting out in the industry, I attended my first SCC meeting with my friend Mirachelle Anselmo, who was job seeking after graduating. I was so nervous since we had no idea what to expect. I was first greeted by Mary Milinko and Debbie Zartler. They gave Mirachelle and I such a warm welcome, and we both felt so comforted and at ease. We got to sit at the speaker’s table, which was so cool to me. I got to meet so many people and learn what they did. I brought business cards and resumes with me, hungry to get involved. I began my networking campaign and told everyone to consider hiring me in June, once I graduated.

Mirachelle was hired within two months, so I knew people really did want to help aspiring students. Everyone was so supportive of us, and if they did not have a job at their company, they asked around. Come April, I was offered a job in R&D, and I said yes without hesitation. I got my start right out of college with contract manufacturing. It was nice to get experience with everything from laundry detergent to lotion. I was grateful to have been mentored by Raquel Arellano as she taught me all the basics and essentials.

Once I gathered a great deal of experience, I was offered an amazing opportunity with Ecoco, and it is all thanks to the people I met in the SCC who lead me to this path. It is much more than a professional scientific organization to me; it is a community full of supportive individuals. I cannot thank everyone enough for being there for me.

What is a fun fact about yourself, outside of the SCC and your professional life?

Even though I only have a small amount of time to do most of the activities I love because of the Chicago weather, I really enjoy outdoor activities. I love fishing for catfish and salmon—even in winter! In the summer, I enjoy swimming, rafting, paddle boarding, and playing tennis. When it is cold outside, I enjoy staying in and playing video games. My favorite thing to do is entertain my friends and constantly keep them laughing.