Article by: Perry Romanowski

We received an email from a student who was doing a report about becoming a cosmetic chemist and thought it would be a good idea to post the answers to these basic questions here. If you have ever considered becoming a cosmetic chemist, you’ll find these questions and answers useful.

1. How did you get into cosmetic chemistry?

I always liked science and when I went to college I studied Biology. When I got in my last year I switched to Chemistry and got my first job at a shampoo manufacturer. This was my first introduction to Cosmetic Chemistry & I thought it was lots of fun.

2. What classes do you need to take to prepare for a cosmetic chemist?

The most applicable classes for cosmetic chemistry are the ones you take during college.
a. General Chemistry
b. Organic Chemistry
Other classes that are helpful are Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, and Instrumental Analysis.

3. What type of degree is needed to be a cosmetic chemist?

A BS in Chemistry is best but you can also get a Chemical Engineering degree or a Biology Degree.

4. What are the duties of a cosmetic chemist?

This depends on what you do but range from formulating products, testing them, and being responsible for the regulatory information. See this post on things that a cosmetic chemist does on the job.

5. What are the responsibilities of a cosmetic chemist?

Depends on the company. Some cosmetic chemists are solely responsible for formulating products. Other cosmetic chemists are responsible for everything from coming up with an idea, creating prototypes, testing prototypes, scaling up batches for production and quality control testing when it’s done.

6. What is the starting salary for a cosmetic chemist?

This will depend on where you get a job (what country and what part of the country) but you could expect a starting salary range between $30,000 and $40,000 per year.

Do you have anything to add to these responses or do you have any other questions about being a cosmetic chemist?  Leave a comment below.

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56 comments

  1. Luna

    Mr. Romanowski,
    Hello! I would like to know where you’d work if you were a cosmetic chemist. Would you work at home, in a factory, or in a lab? Thanks!
    ~Luna

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I worked in a lab in a factory. That is what I would suggest.

  2. Rajshree Sharma

    Hello I’m Rajshree from India. I am not into maths . I just finished my school and will going to start college.
    I have decided to do cosmetic science . So is maths compulsory in cosmetic science or we can take any other subject? Thank you!!!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you’ll need to take math to become a cosmetic chemist. But you don’t use much complicated math while doing the job.

  3. Sophia

    I am doing a project on cosmetic chemist carear leaning towards Formulators. I would like to know what a starting salery would be. Also, i’ve read some of your articles but i would also like to know how geting a masters in cosmetic chemistry and some years of experience can change the salary. Thankyou!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Starting salary depends on where you are located but in the US average starting would be about $35,000 and if you have a masters degree maybe $50,000 to start.

      1. Lan Nguyen

        Thank you for your sharing. As you said, the starting salary for master degree is twice higher than for bachelor degree. So i wonder whether i should find a job or study futher after graduation.
        – is 2 years of experiences more valuable than 2 years for master?
        – with my bachelor degree, can i have enough knowledge to work for a lab in cosmetic field?
        Thank you very much

        1. Perry Romanowski

          Good question. Some people are able to get a job with a bachelor degree then get their company to help cover some of the costs of getting your Master’s degree. That is the route that I would follow.

  4. keshavi

    to be a cosmetic chemist do I HAVE to have a maths A level or is biology and chemistry fine (im planning on history, English, chemistry, biology) is this alright?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Biology and Chemistry are what you need. I’m not sure if you need A level math to get into college to study chemistry.

  5. Marco

    Hi there! I was wondering if it would be possible to get into cosmetic chemistry with a material science and engineering degree? I’m planning on doing a bio minor to supplement it if that would help too!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you could get in the industry with those degrees. But getting a chemistry degree would be better.

  6. hina

    Will i can still pursue cosmetic chemist with Biology Bsc degree ???

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes. You can get a job with that degree in the cosmetic industry.

  7. Zandra

    Will i be able to be a cosmetic chemist by studying biotechnology?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes!

  8. Noor Syazwani

    Hi I’m from Malaysia and now I’m studying in a local college and take foundation in science for one year but I drop my Physics and take computer science. So can you suggest what I need to take after this to become a cosmetic chemist?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You need to take Chemistry and Biology courses.

      1. Nelda

        You can always tell an expert! Thanks for coirnnbutitg.

  9. esther

    if i became a cosmetic chemist what type of job will i get

    1. Perry Romanowski

      see our posts on the career section.

  10. Maria

    Hi! I will start my studies in university this fall, specializing in biochemistry. I’m very excited but there is a small problem… I have always been interested in formulating cosmetics and perhaps doing research on skin conditions. The thing is that I doubt the studies will involve any of that since you can’t really study cosmetic science in my country. So should I consider studying abroad or will they teach me about cosmetics on the job? Also, what minors would you recommend besides chemistry?
    Thanks!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You could consider one of the programs outlined in our Cosmetic science programs around the world. Or you could try our online course. Just click “training program” at the top of this website.

  11. Jessica

    Hi,
    I am from Canada and I am looking into becoming a cosmetic chemist. I am not interested in working with a small company, but rather known brands such as Urban Decay, Mac etc..
    Is it common to be hired at well-known companies/ Do you know anyone who is? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Sure lots of people get hired by the big brands. But you’ll have to do some research to see which company make which brands. Urban Decay was just bought by L’Oreal and Mac is made by Estee Lauder. I don’t know of any job openings but you’ll have to search that out yourself.

  12. Frances

    Hello Perry,
    I am currently a hair stylist and constantly find myself playing “chemist” at work with product or color .I enjoy playing chemist and was considering getting a degree in Cosmetic Chemistry to better understand the ins and outs of what I do aswell, in the future work with a company. My question is, I want to stay in the hair industry ,is getting a degree in Cosmetic Chem. a wise choice since Im unsure what to do with it career wise?Thank you for your time.
    Frances

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Hello Frances,

      I’m not sure getting a degree would be you best bet based on the information you provided. If you want to continue in the hair industry but just want to learn more of the science behind cosmetics, something like our training program would be a better bet. If you are looking to become a cosmetic formulator then you’ll want to get a degree in Chemistry then start looking for jobs in the cosmetic industry.

      1. Frances

        Perry,

        Thanks for the information. I will look into the program.

        Best!

  13. Kasun

    hi
    I have completed my BSc degree with chemistry as a major subject and now I have applied for a cosmetic chemist vacancy. But they are request a one year experience. Then how can I face that interview successfully..??

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’d suggest you take a look at our Career tab for more information about this.

    2. Perry Romanowski

      If you get the interview, emphasis the experience you’ve had in your university labs and any other job you may have had. While companies will say they want a year of experience, it’s not always required.

  14. Pamela Madovi

    hi
    I am a girl from Zimbabwe. I’m currently doing my A level this year. I’m doing chemistry, biology and geography. My question is, do i need to supplement with maths or i can still become a cosmetic chemist without maths? Thanks a lot!

    1. Perry

      Hello Pamela,

      It’s good to have a background in math. Statistics and general Math is most important.

  15. Mandy

    Hi there,

    I am currently completing a BSc in Chemistry and will be aiming for a MSc degree afterwards.
    Would obtaining a higher degree decrease my chances of being hired as a cosmetic chemist or would it be considered an asset to have an MSc in organic chemistry?
    Do you know of any current research being done in the areas of cosmetic chemistry or perfumery?

    Thanks!

    1. Perry

      Hello Mandy,

      Yes, it will increase your chances. You can find research opportunities in the programs at the University of Cincinnati or Fairleigh Dickenson

  16. Aliyah

    Hello there,
    Do you know what are the main skills someone would need to have to be a cometic chemist? Or better yet the ones you need to get hired?
    Thanks,
    Aliyah

  17. Jeff

    I was wondering which suject to take for my gce edexcel as level to be a cosmetic chemsit…. Will taking bio, chem n Maths be enough or do u suggest me to take physic also…. Thanks

  18. Alexander A. Brosius

    Well chosing a career a very great thing, but living up to the task is another thing. A career that is not near your home at all is a problem.

  19. Benita D'Souza

    Hi,
    Can i become a cosmetic chemist after getting a masters degree in pharmaceutics?

    1. Perry

      Yes, you should be able to find a cosmetic chemist job with that degree.

      1. Benita D'Souza

        Thanks a lot!

  20. Kendra

    Hello,
    I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in chemical engineering. I want to get into the cosmetic chemistry industry and someday work for well-known companies such as L’Oreal or MAC. Is it necessary for me to go to a specialized school for cosmetic chemistry? What is the next step that I must take after obtaining my BS? Also, can I attend an SCC event as an undergrad?

    1. Perry

      Hello Kendra,

      Thanks for your comments. Yes, you can attend an SCC meeting as an undergraduate and I would encourage you to do so. It’s a great chance to network and maybe even find out about internships. You do not have to specialize in cosmetic chemistry but it would help you with your career. See our post on cosmetic science programs around the world for more information. After you obtain your BS you are going to want to apply to the various cosmetic companies. You will likely get a technician or chemist job first and then work your way up. For more information, see our Career category. We’ve written a number of articles about this.

  21. Isabel Hernandez

    Hello! I am currently a junior in high school and I’ve recently became interested in cosmetic chemistry. What would be the most beneficial classes to take as i go into the university or college. Would it be better if i get a degree in Chemistry or Chemical engineering? Also, what do I need to do to become more known in the cosmetic industry because I would really love to work with well-known industries(Lancome, Clinic, Urban Decay,MAC, etc.) as i get older.

    1. Perry

      Probably Chemistry would be your best bet if you wanted to end up in the cosmetic industry. To work with well known brands in the industry I would suggest you start making connections with people who work at those companies. LinkedIn is a great place to find people as is going to SCC meetings.

  22. Kim

    I am currently a high school junior and ever since I was in the eighth grade I have been wanting to become a cosmetic chemist, however, graduation is approaching along with college and I fear I won’t have enough background knowledge to pick my classes and the path I want to take… Please help, which college/university do you recommend for a “future Cosmetic Chemist”?

    1. Perry

      See our post on Cosmetic Programs around the World for some universities that would be good to attend. But for undergraduate get a degree in Chemistry and you will be in good shape to become a cosmetic chemist. It would also help you to get involved with your local chapter of the SCC. Click on the map on the side of this website to find the SCC chapter near you.

  23. karishma

    I have completed my b.pharm degree course and im planning to go for cosmetic sciences in USA.I would like to know if chemistry is very much required in this field as im not so good in it.

  24. Dhivya

    Hey. I am also a student from Malaysia as well. I am not sure what undergraduate programme to take to become a cosmetic scientist, a perfumer to be more specific. Is it alright if i take a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry?

  25. Perry

    Yes you can become a cosmetic chemist by taking pharmacy.

  26. Hazel Cheah

    Hey.
    Is it possible to become a cosmetic chemist if i take pharmacy? My parents prefer me to take this than biochemistry or chemistry.. Thanks!

  27. Hazel Cheah

    THanks!!

    1. AE

      Hi Perry,
      I’m currently a nurse, but I would like to get into cosmetic chemistry. I’m in the process of applying to cosmetic chemistry masters programs. Most of the programs require a bachelors in a science related degree. Do you think I have a chance of getting a job as a cosmetic chemist, with a nursing degree?

      1. Perry Romanowski

        Since you probably had to take some biology you may have enough science background to get into the programs. But it just depends on the people making the decisions.

  28. Hazel Cheah

    hi.
    I am a girl from Malaysia. I just finished a government examination ( which is equivalent with GCE O Level ) and im waiting for result. I am interest in being a cosmetic chemist. I wish to take cosmetic science degree but seems like there is no university or college that offer this programme in Malaysia. Do you know any? Do I still able to become a cosmetic chemist if i take biochemistry or biochemistry engineering?
    Thanks a lot. That would help me a lot.

    Hazel.

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