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Lauren Trahan

Senior Chemist, II; Product Development

Living Proof

Member since: 2001

New England Chapter

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

I was studying chemical engineering in the late 90s and thought that the only avenues for career paths were (a) refining oil or (b) manufacturing chemicals. Someone from Procter & Gamble’s paper plant in Mehoopany, PA gave a presentation in my process control class, which made me realize that consumer products was an avenue I’d never considered. P&G also had a great internship program (they probably still do) based in Cincinnati which included weekly breakfasts with different business groups to give you exposure to other areas of the business. I admit to becoming obsessed with earning one of their internships (which was no small feat). When I did succeed, I was placed not in Cincinnati, but at the color cosmetics division in Hunt Valley, MD (formerly Noxell). I loved my time there; I worked on a project doing method development using image analysis to help assess product performance. After college, I went back to work there. And, I haven’t left the industry since.

What advice would you give your younger self who is just starting out in the industry? 
Approach everything without preconceived notions. It’s hard, but if you can keep an open mind, you can surprise yourself with where you end up.

What is the favorite part of your job?

What I find interesting in this field is the artistry and individuality that comes with problem solving. You can give three formulators the same marketing brief: develop a new shampoo. But, each person will approach it differently, based on their experiences, their interaction with vendors, the research they do. So, at the end, you can have three very different formulas. At Living Proof, we have a small (but mighty) team of chemists. We all have different backgrounds, so we all have different thought processes. I love just talking through ideas with all of them, seeing how different their thought processes are than mine, using that to morph what I’m doing into something even better than what I initially envisioned. The same is true with my colleagues in the industry. I often pick up a phone, call a vendor to request a sample. And, over the course of our conversation, they suggest a different approach that I may not have thought of. That evolution of product development is what I love.

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

I think in today’s society, we have so much access to information in a short period of time. It’s easy to stay in your office/lab and look up research articles on the computer. But, talking to people can sometimes unearth a knowledge not captured or not published (yet). Membership in the SCC, especially attending meetings, has given me a network of resources – and friends – I wouldn’t have otherwise.

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

I joke that, as a working mom, I sometimes try and overcompensate with the hope my kids will remember the things I do more than the field trips or class parties that I miss. One of the most notable ways I do this is by making elaborate Halloween costumes (see attached photo). Each year, my kids (and now my nephew) come up with costume ideas that can’t be purchased in stores (or, can but they tell me “you can do it better”) to challenge me. I’m often drafting patterns and sewing from August to October trying to get all the costumes done in my (limited) free time. But, I love seeing them running around proudly when complete.