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Cosmetic Formulation Basics

To be a cosmetic chemist you have to learn to make cosmetic formulas. For most people starting out in the cosmetic industry, you’ll specialize in a specific type of formulation such as skin, hair, or color cosmetics.

However, to be a complete cosmetic chemist you should have an understanding of how ALL cosmetics work and are formulated. This doesn’t mean you have to go make them (although that is encourage) but it does mean that if someone asks you how a product works, you’ll be able to answer them.

In this series we are going to cover as many types of cosmetics and personal care products we can imagine. We’ll discuss what a product is designed to do, how it works, and some of the ingredients that make it work.

Cosmetic Formulation Basics

1. Hair Conditioner
2. Body Wash
3. Lipstick
4. Hair Gel
5. Skin Lotion
6. Sunless Tanning 
7. Antiperspirant
8. Nail Polish
9. Foundation

{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Joy adderly 02/03/2016, 6:46 pm

    Looking for a chemist to help me with fomulaying my bath bombs for online sales. If someone can point me in the right direction it would greatly appreciated! Or do I need to have it fomulated at all? Thanks again. …..

  • Regina 01/21/2016, 2:59 pm

    Does Mascara fall under hair care since it goes onto eye lashes? Are lashes Hair…lol? Or does it fall under color cosmetics?

    • Perry Romanowski 01/21/2016, 3:21 pm

      Mascara is typically considered color cosmetics.

  • Jackie 01/06/2016, 11:19 pm

    Is there a standard formulation for natural face mask, using the following ingredients, for instance: activated charcoal + kaolin clay + rose powder + red rice?

  • samir 12/18/2015, 4:04 am

    Hi perry . I want to know which perfume or chemicals suppress the odour of isopropyl alcohol in preparation of hair sprays

  • John 11/12/2015, 2:19 am

    Can someone please help me resolve this problem. I used dehyquart A-CA, Nutrilan i, Ethanol, Water, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxythanol to formulate a product. The problem is the colour of the product keeps changing with time. The older batches always look deeper in colour. What can I do to stabilize the colour and prevent it from changing with time? Thanks

  • Ashwin 09/23/2015, 9:17 am

    i want evaluation testing of shavings cream. plz. rply me on my e-mail id..

    plz..rply me.

  • sakshi 08/24/2015, 10:43 am

    I’ve recently completed my bachelors in biotechnology engineering and looking forward to a career in cosmetic science. Can you help me out with universities that offer this course as well as suggest any internships which could help in giving me a better idea about the field?

  • Akshaya 08/14/2015, 1:45 am

    Hi..any idea of cosmetic formulation course in India?

  • kasthuri 07/21/2015, 11:52 pm

    Dear all

    I am in the need of developing hydrogen peroxide developer for hair color..i was used carpobol 2020 as a base and i got a viscous liquid developer..but after a month it get viscous gel and after 6 months again its viscous fully down and looks like liquid..And my package bottles and packets get swell. But there is no major change in hydrogen peroxide value.but grey hair doesn’t change into black as previous..bobbles formation is so high.Need good stabilizer and alternate base for formulation..

  • Dr.Rayeji 06/02/2015, 10:49 am

    Hi, how can i make AHA15% gel? What materials can i use?
    And how can i make azelaic acid20% cream?

  • Chirag gupta 04/17/2015, 1:07 am

    Hi Perry,
    I have been formulating Handwash with SLES, CAPB, glycerin,cocamide DEA,EGMS. But i am unable to prepare it as that of Commercial one. Please Guide me . Thanks

  • Synarie 12/18/2014, 8:54 am

    What is the formula for eyeshadow please.

    • Perry Romanowski 12/22/2014, 5:38 pm

      See our post on color cosmetics.

  • Peto Clement Kinsaka 10/27/2014, 10:54 am

    This is very informative and I am very close to producing my product because the information I receive from your website. Thank you for good heart.

  • miller 08/23/2014, 7:32 am

    my cream developer (hydrogen peroxide) 40 vol is unstable need help with formulation

  • mrs vora 04/06/2014, 12:11 pm

    please may I ask you for simple shaving cream base formula

  • DICKA CHRISTIAN 08/14/2013, 4:53 am

    I am a chemical Engineer living in cameroon.I will wish to work in team that will enable to come out with new cosmetic formulation.

    • Mian Ghulam Mustafa 03/09/2014, 7:05 am

      Hello Mr Dicka
      i am mustafa from pakistan iwant to start the business of cosmetics
      kindly send me formulation of body lotions whitening cream cold creams
      face wash hair removing cream thanks

  • Sabin 04/29/2013, 4:47 am

    Great job

  • TC 07/25/2012, 11:09 am

    Can you include formulations for shaving products for razor bumps and razor burn?

  • Rish 01/25/2012, 3:30 am

    could you please include formulation information for eyeliners, mascaras, eyeshadows and blush? Thanks!

    • shiv bahadur yadav 02/08/2014, 2:06 am

      Hi Perry and every other members of the forum.
      Plz, can any one help me wit a starting formular for hair setting lotion. Thanks

    • shiv bahadur yadav 02/08/2014, 2:17 am

      hi rish
      shiv bahadur yadav
      (senior consultant f&D
      eyeliners, mascaras, eyeshadows and

  • Dandollars2 01/18/2012, 9:50 am

    Hi Perry and every other members of the forum.
    Plz, can any one help me wit a starting formular for hair setting lotion. Thanks

  • siobhan 01/15/2012, 4:47 am

    Hi there,

    I have been reading this website for a few months now and find it really really useful, its a great place for info, I have now taken the leap to try and make a formulation for a body butter to get certified by a chemist but desperatly need some help with this could anyone help it would be greatly appreciated.

    • Perry 01/15/2012, 7:30 am

      I would suggest you post the question in our Forum.

  • Reap company 08/18/2011, 12:25 pm

    Please if you can add botanical formulae too.

  • Estelle 07/15/2011, 10:00 am

    I would appreciate it if someone can assist me with formulating body butter and body scrub?

    • Desiree Mattox 08/15/2011, 2:01 pm

      Hi Estelle,

      I would be happy to assist you with your body butter and body scrub products. If you are still interested feel free to submit an inquiry through my website. :-)

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