Design and chemistry make perfect potion for new UC graduate

15 December 2020

Making skincare lotions and cosmetic creations for local and international markets is a way for Erin Chisnall to combine her skills as a chemist with her flair for design.

  • UC Graduate Erin Chrishall

The 21-year-old is one of the first students to graduate with a new Bachelor of Product Design degree from the University of Canterbury (UC).

Her graduation ceremony is this week but she is already working part-time at Peerage Products, a Christchurch contract manufacturer of skin care, hair care and other toiletry products such as lip balms, shampoos and body washes.    

The company specialises in working with New Zealand skin and haircare companies with formulation and packaging.

 “I worked on the development of a lot of new products for Peerage last summer with an internship funded by Callaghan Innovation. Some of those products are in stores now,” Chisnall says.

“This summer I’m in the laboratory, mostly doing quality control, making sure the final batches are ready for packing and meet all the specifications.

“It’s cool because there are lots of different cosmetics, but mainly skincare products, such as moisterisers, handcream and shampoos. I like the variety in the work because there are so many different companies and you’re not focused on just one set of ingredients. I’m really enjoying it.”

Chisnall chose the Product Design degree because she had always liked chemistry and she was interested in design, but she wanted to apply them in a practical way.

“With the Product Design course, you know what the outcome will be and where you can work when you graduate.”

The Product Design school has facilities for students to research, create, test and market their own products including design studios and a formulation laboratory.

Chisnall’s final year project involved designing light-weight mini-sized cosmetics suitable for taking tramping. One was a healing balm and the other was a water-based film, which are both over-the-counter type topical formulations.

She says the equipment available for UC Product Design students to use is new and the laboratory is well set up. “It was great when we were working on our final project because we had access to the lab from nine to five and we could go in and work independently.”

UC’s three-year Product Design Degree (BProdDesign) programme offers Chemical Formulation Design, which Erin has studied, Industrial Product Design, and Applied Immersive Game Design.

It has attracted students with a wide range of interests and skills across science and engineering, design, and business.

  • A showcase of selected graduating student work from the School of Product Design will be open to the public at the Riverside Market on Oxford Terrace from 15-17 December.

For further information please contact:

UC Communications team,, Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168