Interview with Maria Teresa Ascioti, Pharmacist, cosmetologist, creator and head of the educational project Informatore Cosmetico Qualificato ICQ®.
Cosmetics has a central role in the project of Health and Wellness of each of us and the need for qualified professionals able to provide reliable information, timely advice and guide the consumer towards correct choices, is more than ever necessary and increasingly in demand. The answer is called Qualified Cosmetic Informer. We talk about it today with Dr. Maria Teresa Ascioti, pharmacist, cosmetologist, national responsible for the training project and coordination of ICQ® courses and vice president of the Italian Association of Qualified Cosmetic Informers (AIICQ).
GA: Dr. Ascioti, with you the ICQ® educational project for which you are still responsible. What are the motivations that pushed you to start?
MTA: Being born and working in pharmacy I had the opportunity to observe the evolution of the cosmetic sector from a privileged point of view. The idea of a didactic path dedicated to cosmetics – understood as a discipline of history and science that defines a complex, dynamic and driving territory for the global economy – took shape by noting the absence of referential figures able to inform and advise the consumer with competence. This evident professional gap corresponds to an unacceptable training gap that, today more than before, debases a sector of high cultural, social, economic and – in my opinion – also health prevention value. This has given rise to a personal and professional need – but not only – to organize a course of study that would train cosmetics professionals with a well-defined profile for the “prescription” and advice on beauty products and treatments. Today it has become my exciting work priority.
GA: Can you tell us what this is about and what are the opportunities for young people who decide to undertake this path?
MTA: The Course for Qualified Cosmetic Informant ICQ® promoted by the Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology of the University of Ferrara in collaboration with Cosmetica Italia, was born to play a central role between cosmetologist and beautician and its task is to enhance the use of cosmetic products allowing the public to approach the world of beauty with confidence, beyond any imaginary advertising promise or misleading information.
Excluding dermatologists and skin specialists, the only recognized professional figures in the field are the cosmetologist – formulator and connoisseur of cosmetic products, who has a degree in scientific disciplines and a master’s degree in cosmetology – and the beautician, who deals with the application of products on the skin and its treatments, who holds a CFP school diploma. But there is a lack of those professionals who connect these two worlds that are indispensable in the sector. The intention is to train them to communicate – in the purchase relationship – the value of cosmetics not only from a scientific point of view, but also social and human. Therefore ICQ is a competent figure with empathy and listening skills, who knows how to understand needs and is able to convey messages rich in value and spread a new culture of well-being by giving timely and appropriate answers.
GA: How is the course of study organized?
MTA: It is a dynamic course that combines frontal lessons and practical exercises. It is a heterogeneous course because it lends itself to an audience with different educational backgrounds. In fact, it welcomes young people with various school and academic backgrounds (graduates and not), united by the awareness that this new professional figure is able to make a difference in the relational process with the client.
Presenting to consumers the entire national and international cosmetic production through sales channels such as pharmacy, mass market, herbalist, parapharmacy, perfumery, e-commerce is the ultimate goal.
The ICQ® project is unique and eclectic for the breadth of topics covered. Within the course of study there are, in fact, multidisciplinary connections ranging from the study of the skin to the psyche, from history to science, from ethics to aesthetics, from perfume to the senses, from etiquette to poise, from marketing to education, from culture to life, from communication to make-up, from narration to beauty. With the endorsement of the university.
GA: What do you recommend to young people who still do not have clear ideas about their professional future?
MTA: Studying at ICQ® is not only an experience of transversal knowledge of Cosmetics, it is also a way to become one of those professionals who can “handle with care” the areas of kaleidoscopic knowledge of Cosmetology. ICQ® is in fact able to identify the communicating areas related to it – aesthetics, beauty, wellness, health – with all the underlying scientific and social implications. Being able to convey messages rich in value and spread a new culture of well-being makes the ICQ® Qualified Cosmetic Informer a professional, whose training also goes through the “simple” sale of a cosmetic that provides solid skills and multidisciplinary training.
GA: Once the educational path has been completed, where does ICQ® find employment?
MTA: The ICQ® Qualified Cosmetic Informant has a very important role in transferring the most qualified Cosmetic information possible. It serves companies to transmit their messages directly and punctually, avoiding false interpretations and the intermediation of improvised disseminators. Moreover, it is indispensable for the person who knows he can find in his trusted point of sale a figure able to guide him in the sea of available but often incorrect or artfully manipulated information.
The Cosmetic Informer finds easy employment in different areas of employment depending on the skills gained:
– within companies in the sector as Beauty consultant;
– qualified promoter or product informant – alter ego of the drug informant – in sales networks or marketing offices or as Beauty trainer of companies;
– in pharmacy, perfumery, herbalist store, single-brand stores, e-retail: as department manager in all sales channels, able to relate to people according to the new dictates of H2H < Human to Human marketing.
GA: I believe that ICQ® is an indispensable professional figure to give cosmetics back the right value especially in the retail market. It is the operator able to know and advise, with technical-scientific skills, products and treatments focusing on the person and his psychophysical needs.
I highly recommend this course of study to all those who feel they were born for Beauty and want to be part of it by acquiring serious skills and professionalism.
In fact, I believe in the need to raise the qualitative and quantitative level of training to all categories of the cosmetic sector. I dream, moreover, of the possibility to make these courses accessible also to young people coming out of the CFP, who today are prevented by an absurd school policy that sees the Vocational Training Centers stop their training at the 4th year.
For years I have shared the ICQ® educational project by participating in the opening of the academic year with my testimony as an entrepreneur and industrialist, providing the course with two professionals from my staff who are part of the teaching staff. For educational purposes I host the students of the course at the production sites of my company.
Through my onlus Beauty Force, I have donated to the University of Ferrara La Biblioteca della Bellezza, an archive of over 300 texts of scientific literature (and not only), very useful within the university for the cultural value they carry.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish the new members of the course starting on Monday, October 26th a brilliant start to the academic year! Happy ICQ® to all of you!