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Cosmetic Chemist Jobs – Where to find them

Here on Chemists Corner we get a number of requests from people who are looking for jobs.  In fact, we’ve written a number of articles about this which you can read about on our cosmetic chemist careers page. cosmetic formulating job

But these articles are more general and it seems there is a need for more specificity telling you exactly where to apply for a job.  Of course there are a number of online sources which you can scour through.  Here are 5 cosmetic job sources.

Society of Cosmetic Chemist job posts

One source which you may not be aware of is the job pages on the various SCC chapter websites.  In know the Midwest SCC has listings because I’m the one who usually posts them.  So, to make it easy for you I’m going to list all of the chapter job pages here and you can click on whichever one is in an area where you are interested to work.  I should mention that sometimes the jobs listed on a chapter page refer to jobs elsewhere in the country so if you’re looking, be sure to go through all the chapter pages.

Here they are.  Good luck!

California Chapter
Carolina Chapter
Connecticut Chapter
Florida Chapter
Intermountain West Chapter
Lake Erie Chapter
Long Island Chapter
Michigan Chapter
Mid-Atlantic Chapter
Midwest Chapter
New England Chapter
New York Chapter
Ohio Valley Chapter
Ontario Chapter
Quebec Chapter
Southeast Chapter
Southwest Chapter
St. Louis Chapter
Twin Cities Chapter

If you know of any job opportunity sources that we missed be sure to list them in the comments below.

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Chemists Corner podcast episode 36 – Ginger King


Hello and welcome to Chemists Corner. I’m your host Perry Romanowski and this is a podcast about the wonderful world of cosmetic chemistry and cosmetic product formulation. On this show we talk about topics that would be of interest to anyone who works as a cosmetic formulator or wants to start a career as a cosmetic scientist. It will also be of interest to someone who might want to start their own product line. ginger king chemist

On today’s show we have an interview with a cosmetic industry consultant Ginger King who has branched off on her own and makes a living as an independent cosmetic formulator. But first, let’s talk about an aspect of cosmetic formulating that you may not have considered.

What is the Halo Effect?

The Halo Effect is a psychological phenomena in which people come to erroneous conclusions about product features based on non-related factors. For example, if a consumer likes the way a product smells, they might rate something like foam quality higher than if they didn’t like how it smells. It doesn’t matter that the fragrance has no measurable impact on foam quality.

To demonstrate the Halo Effect for yourself, make a batch of body wash and split it into two separate batches. To one add a nice smelling fragrance. To the other add a foul smelling fragrance. Give the products to a panelist and ask them which one is better. Then ask them to rate the foam quality on a scale of 1 to 10. Invariably, the product with the more preferred fragrance will score higher in foam quality.

Factors that impact Halo Effect

We’ve mentioned fragrance as a significant factor in the Halo Effect, but there are others. These include…

a. Color — If people like the color of the formula, they’ll rate other factors higher

b. Clarity — A pearlized or translucent formula will perform different than a clear one.

c. Packaging — If two products are identical except for packaging, the one in the better package will be rated higher.

d. Story — If you present a story about the formula and people like it, they will be more inclined to like the performance.

Unfortunately, these factors rarely have an actual impact on how well the overall formula performs. This means, as a cosmetic formulator, you could be wasting your time improving formulas if you don’t consider the Halo Effect factors.

It should also be pointed out that the Halo Effect is not limited to consumers. You can be fooled by the Halo Effect too. For example, you may add a new technology to your formula and you want so badly for it to make an improvement that you might notice one that is not there. As Richard Feynman said about science

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool

How to deal with the Halo Effect

The Halo Effect does not mean that you should stop trying to improve your formulas. What it does mean is that you have to take it into consideration when you send your formula out for salon, panelist, or consumer testing. The further you get away from lab testing, the more impact you find from the Halo Effect.

Here are some key steps to take to control for the Halo Effect in your formulating work.

1. Control the Fragrance — In your lab work, you should use a standard fragrance that is the same no matter what test you are running. Using a standard fragrance is better than having unfragranced samples because even unfragranced formulas have an odor. In consumer testing, you should use as near-identical fragrances as possible.

2. Control the Color / Appearance — While it doesn’t matter as much in the lab, it is important to control the color when conducting consumer tests. It doesn’t have to be an exact match but they should be relatively similar in color and appearance. This also means you generally shouldn’t test a pearlized formula versus a clear formula. You can do it but understand that the results may be highly skewed by the Halo Effect.

3. Control the packaging — If you are going to test formulas with panelists or consumers, always give them the product in identical packaging. This may mean you’ll have to transfer a competitive product from the standard packaging to an opaque, white package. The more generic you make the package, the better.

The Halo Effect can be troubling, especially when your Market Research studies show differences in things like thickness even though you know the products had the same measurement viscosities. All you can do is to control as many factors as you can and don’t put too much faith in what consumers tell you about specific aspects of the formula. If your consumer panelists tell you the product is too moisturizing but your TEWL measurements say otherwise, don’t automatically improve your formula. First check to see if there is a Halo Effect that you didn’t consider.

Cosmetic Interview

Ginger King is the Founder & CEO of Grace Kingdom Beauty (www.gracekingdombeauty.com) a cosmetic product development firm in New York where she consults for cosmetic brands, contract manufacturers and raw material suppliers. She has been passionately creating beauty products from concept to finish for over seventeen years. She is well versed in innovative concepts, creative product formulation, advanced technology applications, ergonomic package development and impactful competitive analysis. Ginger has developed over hundreds of products from hair care to skin care, and sun care to color cosmetics. Her claim to fame products include the revolutionary first to market Joico ICE SPIKER, water resistant hair glue, Freeze 24.7 Ice Shield, SPF 15 face wash and Avon

Ginger holds an MBA in Marketing from Long Island University as well as a Master’s in Natural Product Chemistry from San Jose State University. She is an active member of Cosmetic Executive Women and Society of Cosmetic Chemists, including holding the executive secretary position for California Chapter and membership chair, New York. Ginger holds several patents in cosmetic formulations.

Contact Ginger





Cosmetic Science Biology – Nails

Fingernails and toenails are made of compact layers of keratinized epithelial cells and cover the dorsal surface of fingertips and toes. The nail plate is comprised of about 25 layers of flat keratinized cells and is typically between 0.5 and 1.0 mm in thickness. Keratins contain a high amount of the amino acid cysteine. Cysteine’s thiol group (C-SH) participates in disulfide bonding between keratin filaments giving the nail its strength. cosmetic nail

Nail Growth

Nail production occurs at the root, which lies just underneath the eponychium, or cuticle. As new cells are laid down, older cells are pushed forward lengthening the nail. While many other factors are involved, the growth rate of nails is related to the length of the terminal phalanges, the outermost bone of the fingers or toes. Fingernails can grow at a rate of 4 times faster than toenails.

The nail covers the nail bed and the free edge extends past the hyponychium, an area of thickened stratum corneum. The nail is mostly transulecent, but at the base of the nail, actively dividing cells in the nail bed are thicker and obscure the vasculature below. This is why you see a white, half-moon shaped feature called the lunula (from the Latin word for moon, luna). The lunula is most obvious in the thumb and may not be visible in the pinky finger.

Due to it’s highly keratinized nature; the nail is hard to penetrate for treatment of infection or disease. Understanding the structure nails allows for improved design of treatments and also, decorative nail polishes.

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This article about the upcoming ban of Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo has me concerned. We cosmetic chemists are being attacked and told by people who have no background in or understanding of toxicology or chemistry what chemicals we should be allowed to use. We have to stand up against this nonsense.

Safer baby shampoo

The notion that J&J can make a “safer” baby shampoo is just wrong. Removing Quaternium-15 and replacing it with some other preservative will do nothing to make the product safer. The fact that J&J makes a Quaternium-15 free version around the world is not surprising. Some countries around the world ban formaldehyde donors from their formulations. This ban is not the result of any scientific study but rather an arbitrary reaction by the government to public (non-scientifically based) desire. J&J is simply creating a formulation for the marketplace. Those formulas are likely to be more expensive and also contain some chemicals that these groups would find objectionable.

Reducing the level of 1,4 Dioxane is not going to make the product safer either. How would J&J prove the product is safer even if they had 0 detectable level of 1,4 Dioxane? They couldn’t do it because there is no test to demonstrate that their current levels are unsafe. Incidentally, J&J doesn’t actually add any 1,4, Dioxane to their shampoos. It is a by-product of the chemical reaction that produces their primary surfactant.


Why doesn’t J&J just reformulate? Simple.

1. Any reformulated product will cost more money that consumers don’t want to pay.
2. The reformulated product will not be safer.

The better question is, why would they reformulate?

This is the kind of story that is a problem all cosmetic formulators should be concerned about. Sure, if you’re not using formaldehyde donors or parabens or ethoxylated surfactants, you’re safe…for now. But what are you going to do when these groups turn their focus on something that you think is perfectly safe to use. Do you know that Sodium Hydroxide can burn away your skin down to the bone? What will you do when Sodium Hydroxide is chemical non grata?

If you accept non-science and fear to decide whether a chemical is safe, your formulation efforts are doomed to be controlled by the whims of irrationality. If there was scientific proof that these chemicals shouldn’t be used then I’d be in complete agreement that they should be removed. But there isn’t proof and J&J should not be compelled to do anything.


Human Skin – The Ingenious Creation of Nature

This article was written by Vitaly Solomonov 

In this article, we take a short trip deep in our skin in order to understand clearly how the skin works and protects the inner environment of our body. Understanding the skin structure and the epidermal structure in particular answers the questions what the skin really needs and why. skin layers

Human Skin and cosmetics

The human skin is a unique protective tool and very strong border between our body and external world. We know almost everything about its structure, but rarely realize the real functionality of its parts and layers in terms of Cosmetic Science. The common skin schemes tell almost nothing, but showing us the layers and vital parts of the skin. All three main layers of the skin have different anatomy, but created in order to perform one important task – together, they protect us from severe impact of external world. Well, let’s see…

The Hypodermis

This is the deepest layer and built almost completely with lipid cells. When we are on a diet, we are fighting with this layer. The Hypodermis is a depot of very nutritive substances and energy. Every spare minute our organism is trying to hold over the excessive fat in the Hypodermis in order to be ready in times of famine.  During starvation or shortage of nutrients, the fat from the Hypodermis decomposes chemically into water and energy. I won’t go into this layer in detail since we will discover more interesting things within the upper skin structures for cosmetic chemists.

The Dermis

It’s the heart of the skin and it’s a vivid part that impacts all skin functions. If we look at it closely, we find it has a gel structure. This gel almost completely built with two types of proteins – Collagen and Elastin. The fibers of those proteins intertwine like bedsprings in matrasses. With the certain amount of water, the protein fibers form the gel. The dermal water is coming from the blood stream constantly and constantly the blood stream picks up the waste of skin and brings them to the liver. However, the skin tries to retain the water, since it’s the most important ingredient for all it’s functions.

Natural Moisturizing Factor

Hyaluronic acid, urea, Lactic acid and some other substances help the main proteins to keep water in the Dermis. The mix of such hygroscopic molecules that able to keep a lot of water is called The Natural Moisturizing Factor of the skin (NMF). The general rule for cosmetologists and cosmetic chemists: More water – the better skin condition. While the NMF determines the amount of water in the skin, another factors defines water loss. The rate of water loss is the most important factor for the skin and it could be measured with the special instruments during experiments or testing the new cosmetic products. The human skin loses the water when it damaged or inflamed or aged.

Unfortunately, the skin loses ability to keep the water during aging. The main role in it plays Collagen since it’s fibers are getting unable to retain the water to keep the “skin gel” in shape. The Collagen fibers become destroyed and protein structure is changing significantly. Old and damaged Collagen doesn’t form gel structure efficiently anymore and we could observe the signs of skin age, the skin loses the tension and the force of gravity has a greater impact on wrinkle formation with skin sagging.

The amount of water is important for all Dermis’ function. While the NMF and function of bloodstream maintain the volume of water, Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) regulates the water release through the evaporation. The dermis also contains nerves and nerve endings, blood vessels, immune and pigment cells, hair follicles, sweat and sebaceous glands. All those structures act as entire system in order to maintain the constant protection for our body.

The Epidermis

This is the terminal part or outer layer of the skin and its Micro Anatomy differs from Hypodermis and Dermis. The Dermis and Epidermis are divided by a basal membrane. The basal membrane is the base for all the epidermis layers of cells. The Water, Oxygen and all other nutrients diffuse through this membrane to nourish epidermis cells. The epidermis contains no blood vessels, thus the function of the membrane is so important for all epidermal cells, especially for basal cells or basal Keratinocytes. Melanocytes are also found at this basal layer – they are the cells that produce Melanin which protects us from all types of UV rays. This is the first layer and the most important one. Keratinocytes are constantly dividing. One part of the divided basal cell remains stuck to the basal membrane and another part is squeezing up to the next raw where the process of cell aging begins. This young cell should cross the entire epidermis and reach its top.

The rest of the epidermis’s thickness is divided into another four layers: spinous, granular, clear and the final cornified layer. In fact, every epidermal layer is a stage of the keratinocytes’ life. We can discover some very interesting chemical conversions in the cells within these layers. From one cell raw to another, the constant transition of the keratinocytes to the top of the skin surface leads to their death within the cornified layer. Yes, it is probably sad to say, but being born in the basal layer, the cell is striving eventually to die to perform the main task of its life – to ensure the protection and strong security for our body and all living cells and tissues. Those small kamikazes are born to die. Mother Nature has created unique and genius device protecting us from highly inhospitable environment. Indeed, the best decision is to protect the living tissues with some non-living substance. In our case – dead cells of the epidermis.

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The Chemistry of Fireworks explained

It’s not quite cosmetic chemistry but I always found the chemistry of fireworks interesting.  It’s a bit like formulating but instead of making creams, liquids and gels, you make a firework that explodes.

Here’s what is going on.


9 Topical Cosmetic Compounds That Work

Last weekend I had the opportunity to speak at the Face and Body show in San Jose. It was a great show and I was happy to have such an attentive audience. The attendees were primarily estheticians from California.

I spoke about cosmetic science which is an area they hear about from marketing people but almost never from cosmetic scientists who create the products. They seemed happy to hear what I had to say.

In my hour-long talk, one of the things covered was an answer to the question “what works?”. People are innundated with marketing messages, studies in the news, and all kinds of anecdotal information about treatments for various conditions.

Unfortunately, very little has been proven to work. Here is a list of things that have been “proven” beyond anecdotes to work. If it’s not on this list, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It just means I haven’t found any positive evidence that is compelling.

Cosmetic skin treatments that work

1. DHA – Makes skin darker.
No doubt about this one. Put some DHA on your skin and it will stain it an orangish color. Cosmetic chemists have improved the technology to the point that skin looks more brown. Of course, they’re still working on the slight odor problem that the compound on your skin causes.

2. Hydroquinone – Makes skin lighter
If you want lightened skin, hydroquinone works. In fact, it’s an OTC drug in the US. In the EU they have banned it due to worries that it might cause cancer. Other compounds like high levels of vitamin C, Alpha hydroxy acids, kojic acid, and tretinoin hold some promise but their effect pales in comparison to hydroquinone.

3. Depilatories – Gets rid of hair
These work. They contain calcium thioglycolate which is a strong base that will dissolve hair. If you leave it on your skin it can dissolve skin too so you have to be careful. But for hair removal, this cosmetic works even better than shaving. Unfortunately, it can cause skin irritation and has a foul odor but it does work.

4. Sunscreens – Block UV light
There is a reason that these things are over the counter drugs (OTC). It’s because there is scientifically verified evidence that they can prevent sunlight from causing sun burns, tans, and skin cancer. They work.

5. Retinoic acid – Makes wrinkles go away
Anti-aging cosmetics are full of fluffery and chemicals that are supposed to give you the skin of a teenager without the acne. They promise to make your wrinkles disappear with things like peptides, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, polyphenols, flavinoids, etc. The number of new materials is mind boggling. Unfortunately, almost none of them have actually been proven to work when delivered from a topical cosmetic formulation. You know what does work? Retinoic acid. In fact, it works so well that it is approved as a prescription drug by the FDA for treatment against…wrinkles! This is the class of the anti-aging actives. Everything else are just unproven posers.

6. Salicylic acid – Helps speed up disappearance of acne
If you have acne, this compound is proven to help get rid of it. In the US it is an OTC because when something can get rid of a disease, it is no longer a cosmetic but rather a drug. In the US anyway. Salicylic acid helps clean pores and speeds up removal of the dead skin cells in the epidermal layer. There are other actives that work against acne but Sal acid is the most versatile for cosmetic formulators.

7. Petrolatum, moisturizers – Makes dry skin look and feel better.
Sure, some natural loving folks can’t stand petrolatum or mineral oil and they are convinced that using it will degrade your skin or worse, give you cancer, but there is no evidence for this. You know what there is evidence for? Petrolatum is an excellent skin moisturizer. In fact, it is one of the best performing moisturizers that a cosmetic chemist can use. We keep looking for better alternatives but nothing else has topped petrolatum yet.

8. Cleansing products – Cleans skin
Surfactants clean skin. They have a polar head group and a lipophilic tail group. Together they make oil and water compatible and help you remove it from your skin. Want to get your skin clean? Use a surfactant.

9. Alpha hydroxy acids – Exfoliates top layer of skin
Finally, AHAs can help improve the appearance of wrinkles and they might even help get rid of some skin discoloration. Lactic acid, glycolic acid actually have been demonstrated to remove that top layer of dead skin cells and stimulate production of new cells. I don’t know how they get away without having to consider these things drugs but they’re not. Use with caution, but you can have faith…AHA’s work.

Have we missed anything for skin ingredients that work? Leave your comments below.


Cosmetic Claims – Skin Measurements

In order to objectively evaluate the efficacy of the cosmetic products we create, numerous skin measurement devices have been developed over the years. The primary devices are reviewed below but first, here are a few guidelines to follow when taking instrumental measurements of the skin. TEWL meter cosmetic

Skin Testing Guidelines

• The environment should be controlled to prevent sweating, typically 20 ± 1°C and 30-40% relative humidity

• Subjects should equilibrate for 30 minutes

• Subjects with obvious skin diseases, tattoos, or injury in the area of measurement should be excluded

Common Skin Measurements

Transepidermal Water Loss – Commonly referred to as TEWL, transepidermal water loss is the measurement of water transport through the skin by passive diffusion. TEWL can be used to measure the occlusive effects of moisturizers and demonstrate barrier repair or damage (TEWL increases with skin damage). For healthy skin, TEWL is in the range of 5-10 g/m2.  The Vapometer from Delfin is an example of a device that can measure TEWL

Conductance – Water has a high dielectric constant and when skin is hydrated conductance increases and impedance decreases. Conductance can be used to estimate the water content of the skin.  The Bioderm Skin Conductance meter can be used for this measurement.

Skin Surface pH – pH is the measure the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. The definition has been stretched to quantify the skin’s apparent pH due to diffusion on hydrogen ions. It is easy to measure by hard to interpret what skin pH really means. The typical range for skin is 4.0-5.7.  A device like the Skin pH Meter from CK Electronic would work to get this value.

Mechanical Properties of the Skin – By applying a known stress and measuring the strain the elastic properties of the skin can be measured and used to support certain anti-aging claims.  Some have used a durometer for this measurement.  See this paper for a discussion about measuring the mechanical properties of skin.

Skin Color – Chromameters measure the color of the skin using the L*A*B* scale. L* ranges from white to black, A* ranges from red to green, and B* covers spans from blue to yellow. Erythema, natural skin pigment and tan induced by the sun or sunless tanners can be measure.  This paper describes a comparison of different devices for measuring skin color.


Why do people buy cosmetics?

You work hard as a cosmetic formulator. You research the ingredients, you optimize the levels, and you do it in an affordable way. Then you evaluate the performance and adjust the formula so it will work perfectly for your intended consumer. But then your company puts the formula in an uninteresting package or creates a dull story and no one buys it. This happens all too often in the world of cosmetic formulating.

You should never let the marketplace performance of a product be an indication of how good or bad your formula is. Lots of really great formulas are never tried and lots of lousy ones are bought over and over again.

Consumers buy on emotion

It turns out there is a good reason that the performance of the formula doesn’t always predict the sales of the product. According to research done out of the University of the Basque Country, people primarily buy cosmetic products for emotional reasons.

The study showed that both the utility and emotional effect of a product had an impact on consumer satisfaction, but it showed that the emotional piece was just much greater. Meaning: The marketing, story, image, and packaging have more impact than how well the product works.

Some other interesting things from the study…

1. For cosmetic advertising to work consumers must be made to first feel negative about their appearance.

2. Very attractive models make people feel inferior.

3. Emotions are used to make purchasing decisions which are justified rationally.

Cosmetic Chemist implication

So, does this mean you can just make any old product as long as you put it in a excellent package and give it a great story?


The performance of the product still has some impact on whether people like it or not.

But what it does mean is that you shouldn’t feel too bad when your product bombs even if you have testing that shows that it should not.

People buy and like your product for reasons other than how well it works.


Lab Safety: Chemical Labeling

Often, I receive raw material samples with little more than a trade name and lot code number on the label. It’s important that cosmetic formulators inspect every raw material that arrives by reviewing the Certificate of Analysis to verify specifications and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to understand proper handling and to obtain safety codes. Two commonly used coding systems are the Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) and the National Fired Protection Association (NFPA). These codes help to quickly and easily identify the risks posed by hazardous materials. This helps determine what, if any, special equipment should be used, procedures followed, or precautions taken during the initial stages of an emergency response.

HMIS Codes

The HMIS system was developed by the American Coatings Association to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard. The HMIS system uses color bars to indicate level of hazard. Blue NFPA codes
indicates health hazard, red represents fire hazard, orange for physical hazard (reactivity, oxidizers, etc), and the white bar describes the personal protective equipment that should be utilized when work with the material. Codes range from 0 to 4, the higher the number the greater the potential hazard. More details about the HMIS coding system can be found at

HMIS coding system

NFPA Codes

The NPFA label, commonly referred to as the fire diamond because of its shape, shares similar color codes with the HMIS label. Blue represents hazard to health, red is flammability, and yellow denotes reactivity. The white area is reserved for special hazards like oxidizers or materials that react with water in a dangerous manner. NFPA codes also range from 0 to 4, with the 4 being the highest level of hazard.chemical safety

Go here form more details about NFPA coding.

Tips for Raw Material Labeling

1. Ensure the proper INCI name is on the label, not just the trade name.
2. Verify the lot code with the CoA.
3. Add the expiration date if not included. This allows for easy removal of raw materials that should no longer be used.
4. Add HMIS or NFPA labels. Blank stock labels are readily available through laboratory supply catalogues.