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75 Things a Formulation Scientist Does

“What does a formulation scientist do every day?”

This was a question I received in an email from someone who was doing some research about different chemist careers. And if this person wanted to know about it, it makes sense that some of you might be wondering the same thing. So, here it is, 75 things that a formulation scientist or cosmetic chemist might do on any given work day, conveniently presented in four categories.multitasking cosmetic chemist

Cosmetic product development

Create formulas
Gather raw materials
Get equipment for making batches
Make batches
Restock lab supplies
Keep notes in notebook
Write experimental results in notebook
Clean glassware and lab
Research formulation topics
Generate new product ideas
Create prototypes
Create dye solutions for color matching
Make samples for marketing
Supervise / make batches for home use tests
Supervise first production batches
Solve stability problems
Generate test ideas to substantiate claims
Figure out ways to make formulas less expensive
Attend focus groups
Participate in brainstorming meetings
Review product label copy
Assist in writing product concepts
Present new technologies to non-scientists

Cosmetic product testing

Take pH readings
Take viscosity readings
Fill and label glass and plastic bottles
Wash & comb hair tresses
Color matching
Bleach and color hair tresses
Conduct foam tests
Run stability tests
Conduct skin moisturization tests
Run project specific, customized tests
Try formula prototypes
View samples under a microscope
Observe salon tests
Conduct odor tests
Participate in product panel testing
Get samples for testing
Evaluate competitive products

Personal Training

Read trade journals
Read Chemists Corner and other useful blogs in your RSS reader
Attend meetings with suppliers
Go to SCC meetings
Go to industry trade shows
Take continuing education courses
Attend conferences
Review latest patents
Listen to podcasts like the Chemists Corner podcast
Read industry text books
Take online training courses
Pursue an advanced degree in cosmetic science

Business stuff

Respond to emails
Create presentations
Attend corporate meetings
Attend project planning meetings
Respond to phone calls
Do desk side interviews with beauty editors
Conduct training sessions for non-scientists
Write business travel reports
Fill out expense reports
Write monthly reports
Go to office celebrations
Engage in “water-cooler” chat with co-workers
Write memos
Sign and review contracts
Give instruction to people who report to you
Meet with your boss to update them on your progress
Interview candidates
Entertain kids during Bring Your Kid to Work week
Keep track of project progress
Engage in debates with regulatory & legal departments
Write patent applications
Write employee reviews

Whew! My brain is fried and I might be able to go on, but I think I covered practically everything I did as a cosmetic chemist.

Is there anything we missed? Leave a comment below

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Taylor 07/26/2014, 6:57 pm

    Hi Perry,

    I am still in school and I was wondering what courses you would recommend taking in High School and College to become a formulation scientist because I love science and cosmetics. I would also like to know the benefits and lifestyles of a formulation scientist so I can know what they do. Like, do they always work in a lab creating the cosmetics? Or is that a completely different career altogether?

    Thanks for all of your help!!

  • Natasha 02/20/2014, 12:24 pm

    Thank you!
    This is incredibly useful! I would like to know whether how many weeks do they get off in a year? In general, do they work weekends ?


    • Perry Romanowski 02/20/2014, 12:59 pm

      No, cosmetic chemists do not generally work weekends. (On occasion but very rarely). Hours are 9am – 5pm mostly. Getting 2 weeks vacation and 5 or more if you’ve worked in one place long enough.

      • Harshad Bargaje 05/07/2014, 12:10 pm


  • chelsea 01/20/2014, 10:41 am

    Hi Perry,

    I was wondering what if I took chemistry as my Degree and cosmetic science as my major and I want to work in the business department for a company? Is that possible? I really can’t imagine myself working in a lab. I like to be at a office and socialize with people and describe them about cosmetics products. Do you think I am going in the right path?

    • Perry Romanowski 01/20/2014, 5:53 pm

      Hello Chelsea – Certainly you could follow this path but typically what happens in cosmetic companies is that the people in the business departments have business degrees. What I would suggest is you get your chemistry degree but take electives in business.

  • drwilly 08/21/2013, 6:19 am

    as a cardiologist and independent perfumer, please do not forget to take good care of your health and mental fatigue. thank you.

  • Renata Nowak 03/06/2013, 1:21 pm

    Hi Perry

    I am new to chemists corner but I already love it, so much useful information that often we don’t get from our studies. I have completed a Bsc in Cosmetic Science in London and it seems so hard to get to the industry. Do you have any tips on how to look for a job but in the UK?

    • Perry Romanowski 03/08/2013, 10:13 am

      I’d suggest you look at our Career section for articles. We’ve written a lot about how to get a job in the cosmetic industry.

  • Celina Jaime Cotrina 02/15/2013, 10:02 am

    Hi Perry
    If I get the tarining is possible fet a atrining in a Cosmtic Laboratory there?.

    Thank you,

    Celina Jaime

    • Perry 02/15/2013, 10:07 am

      Hello Celina, the course does not include training in a cosmetic lab.

  • Bukayo 06/17/2011, 1:48 am

    How can someone receive trraining to become a formulation scientist?

    • Perry 06/17/2011, 6:14 am

      Click on the “Training Program” at the top right corner of this website.

  • Doug Erick 03/24/2010, 9:18 am

    Nice job at getting the product out the door. My experience is that it doesn’t end there. You have to respond to customer service, customers or end users.

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