Failing an assignment, battling chronic illness and being fired from her job became the most important turning points in scientist Anh Kim Phan’s life and career. Combined, they have led her to create a line of natural skincare products and set her on a path to newfound health and vitality.
Founder of AKP Organic Skincare Labs Anh Kim Phan travelled from Vietnam to complete a Master of Applied Science in Food Science and Technology at Western Sydney University.
When she failed her first research methodology assignment because it lacked original ideas, Anh saw it as a revelation.
“It was an eye-opener for me to realise that you don’t simply accept textbooks as true and don’t need to be afraid to express your independent ideas.” Anh says. Anh’s instinct for scientific innovation was awakened. For her thesis she developed a technique to measure the oxygen permeability of packaging material – a risk to a product’s shelf life. This triggered an idea to put sensor cells on expensive pharmaceutical and skincare packages which are sensitive to light and heat to ensure they are stored properly. Once patented, Anh presented her ideas at the 11th World Conference of Food Science & Technology in Seoul, South Korea, and then landed a research and development role Unilever Australasia.
However, she was battling a barrage of health problems.
Trying to correct her acne, Anh had inundated her body with antibiotics, cortisone and other harsh treatments. “I was overmedicated and destroyed the microbiota in my gut,” Anh explains. “I got Crohn’s disease and ended up having a mental breakdown – I wasn’t absorbing the nutrition from anything I ate and the long-term malnutrition caused so many problems.”
During this time, Anh was fired from her job.
She moved to Los Angeles with her husband, became a qualified cosmetologist, and opened a practice, drawing upon her science education and natural remedies for her ailments. From this, AKP Protocol Organic Skincare and Health Food Company was born. Following USDA organic certification requirements, AKP produces natural products free from preservatives, paraben and petrochemicals. “It is like food for the skin,” Anh says. “It nourishes skin’s microbiota.” Over time Anh has established a dedicated following and has plans to expand her business. “My main goal is to educate people on how to lead a natural, healthy lifestyle,” she says.
Find out more about studying science at Western Sydney University