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

You can learn more details about creating cosmetics in our course: formulating cosmetics


  1. Chidimma

    I used cetyl alcohol, but I did not get what I want. The up is tick why the down is waterry, why is it so?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’m not sure what you mean but it’s probably due to the fact that you don’t have a proper thickener in the formula.

  2. Eric

    Hello Perry. I really enjoy Your website.

    I don’t see any formulation for face creams, gels, serums. Are these covered in Your course? (Thinking about taking it, but my main interest is in face creams masks etc.)


    1. Perry Romanowski

      Hello Eric – yes these are covered in our course.

  3. Shalini

    I just wanna know can fairness creams or any cream can be manufactured by cold process method. if yes then please share the process.

  4. Naomi

    I am a sophomore in high school, do you know of any cosmetic science opportunities for my age?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I don’t know of any. You could check out some soapmaking websites to get a sense of how that is made. This isn’t exactly cosmetics but it’s close.

  5. Gulshan

    Sir good afternoon
    Sir i want to know about water less facewash formulation and ingredients.
    Delhi india

  6. Kalukusu Raymond

    I need to know the ingredients that give an ice cold effect / cooling effect to an aftershave lotion.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      That depends on the formula. Menthol will do that but usually it is just due to the evaporation of alcohol.

  7. Rebecca

    I’m looking for ways to intern in a lab, as I am still an undergraduate. Do you know of resources? Or programs I could apply to?
    Thank you

  8. Nebby

    hi sir..can I use body wash as the basic formulation for body scrub..and I have to prepared two condition of body scrub : oil-in-water and water-in-oil..can you explain the method?

      1. Thavisack

        This web page is really good thank you so much sir for best knnowledge for the beginer like me.

  9. Virginie

    Hey there, is there any basic formulation for pigmented products such as eye-shadows, blushers and such?

    Thanks a bunch!

  10. parisa

    could you please help me by guide formation for cream ?

  11. Robert Fadil

    We are looking for a company to reformulate an aerosol spray for fingernails.. We can furnish original formula if needed. Product now being made in China.

  12. m asume

    please help me
    please, say what is cleansing agent in make up remover lotion??
    thank you
    best regard

    1. Perry Romanowski

      That depends. Typically, they are surfactants.

  13. alyse

    I need help in formulating a colorless liquid eyeliner.

  14. Manish Gupta

    Hi Sir,

    Can you please help me with the shaving cream formula, i am a small manufacturer in India and i am very much impressed by your reply’s given on the portal. After reading your comments i have starting feeling that you the one who can make my dream come true which is making my own shaving cream manufacturing unit. I will be highly obliged if you can provide me with the same.

    Below mentioned is my email addres:

    Thanks & Regards,
    Manish Gupta

  15. Joy adderly

    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. …..

  16. Regina

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

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Mascara is typically considered color cosmetics.

  17. Jackie

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

  18. samir

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

  19. John

    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

    1. NS

      Can I get the basic Hair color formulations?

  20. sakshi

    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?

  21. Akshaya

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

  22. kasthuri

    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..

  23. Dr.Rayeji

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

  24. Chirag gupta

    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

  25. Synarie

    What is the formula for eyeshadow please.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      See our post on color cosmetics.

  26. Peto Clement Kinsaka

    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.

  27. miller

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

  28. mrs vora

    please may I ask you for simple shaving cream base formula


    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.

    1. Mian Ghulam Mustafa

      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

  30. TC

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

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  34. Rish

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

    1. shiv bahadur yadav

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

    2. shiv bahadur yadav

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

  35. Dandollars2

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

  36. Pingback:Cosmetic formulation basics – Nail Polish

  37. siobhan

    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.

    1. Perry

      I would suggest you post the question in our Forum.

  38. Reap company

    Please if you can add botanical formulae too.

  39. Estelle

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

    1. Desiree Mattox

      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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