How Herbal Essences’ Senior Scientist Defines Beauty and Career Growth

She walked us through her whole haircare routine.

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Rachel / Andrea

I grew up in the west side of Puerto Rico, where the only place where I could find beauty products was at my local pharmacy. That’s how I discovered Herbal Essences and its iconic smell that brings me so much nostalgia of those days where I could only dream about working in beauty. That being said, I couldn’t be more happy to have chatted with Rachel Zipperian, the Senior Scientist and Communications Manager of Herbal Essences at Procter & Gamble (P&G), where she’s responsible for developing some of the brand’s most iconic formulas, including its bio:renew collections. As an ambassador she’s often speaking about the brand’s new launches and upcoming innovations with the goal of amplifying the new products and the story behind them. With almost two decades of working with the company, Rachel has grown from her days as an intern to where she is now by chasing her own mentors and staying curious.

I was excited to learn more about her approach to beauty as a scientist who works in developing the formulas that help us tackle our daily concerns. Keep reading to learn more about what sparked her interest in the science behind beauty, her career path, and her beauty routine.

I’m curious to know a little bit about your background. What sparked your interest in science and how did you end up working in beauty? 

I’m a curious and creative working mother of two daughters with a love for life and science. I was attracted to science early on because it explained how and why things worked; even when you could not see it, you could measure it and understand it. Just like the universe is infinitely big, it is infinitely small when you start investigating with the scientific method. When I started college, I wanted to be a science teacher, so I majored in both Chemistry and Education with the intent of becoming a teacher. Once I started doing research in the lab, I met the most amazing professor who was really one of the first female professionals I ever personally knew. She influenced me in so many ways which inspired and encouraged me to stay in graduate school instead. During graduate school, I went to an on-campus interview at P&G which turned into a job offer in Beauty Care. My first job was making an upgrade for the conditioner I used in the shower. How cool is that? Plus, I already knew the entire ingredient list from my science training. The research I have done as a beauty scientist for the last 20 years has expanded my knowledge beyond science to understand people, nature, and business.  

Slow down, take a breath, and take in the ever-changing and multi-sensorial beauty that surrounds us. Many people make the mistake of thinking beauty is only how something looks.

That’s awesome! How were your first days at Herbal Essences and what does your day to day look like now? 

I have now worked on Herbal Essences for 10 years, so feel a deep connection to the brand and the decades of fans who love using Herbal Essences. I’ve touched essentially every product we currently offer and in a wide variety of roles.

When I first joined the brand, I was working in the lab making new formulas. Over the years, I’ve worked in various product development roles, including launching Herbal Essences’ bio:renew collections, where I led the creative process connecting the dots on what a product should do, how to make the experience delightful for consumers, and how to bring that to life with cutting-edge science. On Herbal Essences, what I have enjoyed the most is all the plant science I have learned by working with the world’s leading experts. In my current role, I’m excited to be collaborating every day with various thought leaders outside of my core research team on new innovative approaches and about natural and plant ingredients to bring to our Herbal Essences consumers.

Can you share any pivotal moments in your career that allowed you to achieve success? 

The corporate world can be very overwhelming and competitive. I was lucky enough to have several great mentors early on in my career, which helped me decide that I wanted to measure my success on my growth instead of focusing solely on advancement. Some of the best advice I got from a mentor was “learn from people you want to emulate,” [which] encouraged me to develop both “roots and wings.” This gave me both freedom and opportunity to continue working for amazing mentors, stay curious, search for possibilities, and grow my diverse and unique skill set. I was essentially able to create my dream job! Now, 20 years in, I am still chasing my own mentors, but now also serving as a mentor myself to others early in their careers. I have a whole new bar for success growing the next generation of female scientists and leaders.

I’ve always asked myself what a scientist’s beauty routine looks like since they have so much knowledge of ingredients and the human body. So, now that I have the opportunity, I wanted to ask you: what does your haircare routine look like? Any favorite ingredients that you can’t live without? 

For years, my styling routine involved high heat to straighten out my curly texture. I have been on a journey of embracing my natural texture which is a mixed curl pattern. I have 2C curls on my top layers of hair and tighter 3C curls underneath. With embracing my texture, I am constantly learning new tips and tricks to add to my routine. I love Herbal Essences’ shampoos, conditioners and treatments which leave my hair nourished and curls soft, yet still defined.

On wash day, I use our sulfate-free Mango + Potent Aloe shampoo and conditioner in the shower to brighten up my day and get a gentle clean. I regularly color my hair so I use the Argan Oil & Aloe Repairing Mask Treatment to keep my hair soft and supple. I also add Herbal Essences bio:renew Mango + Potent Aloe Curl Cream and plop my hair for about 30 mins as it begins to dry. After I take my wet hair down, I let it air dry. Once almost dry, I might use a diffuser to dry my hair from my scalp then use the Argan Oil & Aloe Hair Oil Mist to touch up any frizzy flyaway hair. On non-wash days, the Herbal Essences bio:renew Argan Oil and Aloe Hair Oil mist does an amazing job of reviving definition for second day curls that smell amazing.  

As far as ingredients go, I have two favorites: antioxidants and Argan Oil. All of Herbal Essences bio:renew products have antioxidants that are proven to help protect hair from damage. No matter the variant, all the bio:renew collections resupply hair with antioxidants. Healthy hair feels softer and is more manageable. Also, I could not live without all the amazing fragrances in my hair care products, especially Herbal Essences’ Argan Oil signature scent in my treatments. That burst of scent is good for my soul.  

Now I can’t wait to try the bio:renew collection! Before we go, can you tell me what’s the best beauty advice you love to share with people? 

Slow down, take a breath, and take in the ever-changing and multi-sensorial beauty that surrounds us. Many people make the mistake of thinking beauty is only how something looks. However, for me, beauty is magical because of how it can make you feel and experience our world.