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Cosmetic Raw Materials – Finding sources

I like the TV show Top Chef. If you don’t know it’s a competition show in which cooks are given challenges and a time limit to create their best recipes. The reason I like it is because a cook and a formulation chemist are very similar. Both face the task of taking raw materials and converting them into something that pleases customers. Both have to consider texture, stability, color, odor, and appearance.

Of course, there are some significant points of deviation. First, cooks primary focus is on what their formulas taste like. Cosmetic formulators are concerned more with how their product functions. The other point of deviation is the raw materials that are used. While there is a small amount of overlap, cosmetic chemists have significantly more options than a cook. Unfortunately, chemists are not able to go to their local Whole Foods to get their raw materials. For that, you’ll need other sources.

Cosmetic raw materials

Your ability to get raw materials depends on the size of your company. If you work for a big cosmetic industry corporation, then you’ll often have no problem getting free samples from large and mid-sized suppliers of chemicals. In fact, the only companies you might have a problem getting free samples from are small to tiny chemical suppliers. They are often underfunded and sampling may represent a significant cost to their business. Without a guarantee of future sales, these companies are often hesitant to give product away.

To find sources of free samples, you’ll want to consult one of the many cosmetic industry buyers guides. While there is no single source that lists all the raw material companies and the products they have available, there are a couple of sources that can get you started.

Cosmetic Bench Reference — over 600 suppliers listed and >18000 raw materials
Happi Buyers Guide — Limited selection but useful
PCPC Buyers Guide — They list suppliers for over 3800 raw materials with international sourcing.
SpecialChem4Cosmetics — The INCI directory is an excellent source of raw material information.
Innovadex — You can order samples right from the website.

Cosmetic trade show directories

A little known source for cosmetic industry information and raw material suppliers is trade show listings. There are a couple of great cosmetic trade shows and they frequently put exhibitor information online complete with website and contact info. Here are a couple of the best.
InCosmetics
NYSCC Suppliers day

Alternative cosmetic raw material sources

But what if you do not work with one of the big guys or you work in an industry that isn’t recognized in the cosmetic industry or you are at a university? Well, there are some options. Unfortunately, these sources rarely give free samples so you might have to put out some money to get the raw materials you want. The other problem is that they are not cosmetic industry specific so you have to sort through a lot of irrelevant compounds to find what you want.
Signma – Aldrich chemical
Chemexper.com — An online catalog of catalogs
eBay — You can actually find raw materials on eBay!
Amazon.com — They have raw materials too

Being a cosmetic chemist and formulator can certainly be as fun and creative as a cook but you can’t just go to your local grocery store to get your raw materials. Hopefully, with these resources you’ll find getting materials a little easier.

Incidentally, see this video if you are curious about naming cosmetic raw materials.

What is your favorite source for cosmetic raw materials? Leave a comment below.

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • shirley 06/29/2013, 6:05 am

    Hi
    I had purchased 1kg Aloe Vera Conc 10x.
    the expiry date is 2014 feb.
    When I open the bottle, I saw that the gel is cloudy with white suspension. From the COA, the gel is suppose to be clear.
    Can you advise what could have caused it to change the appearance ?
    e.g temperature, sunlight, etc
    Thanks.

  • shirley 06/14/2013, 9:54 pm

    Hi,

    I am wondering how to find out the distributor of a raw material.

    Can you advise ?

    • Perry Romanowski 06/17/2013, 1:02 pm

      Google it. Or check out a Buyer’s Guide.

    • Debi Prasad Mishra 07/22/2013, 7:36 am

      contact us for Aloe vera Spray dried Powder Organic certified one for cosmetic use

  • Corey Esamann 04/10/2013, 8:23 am

    My name is Corey Esamann and I’m with a company called Gener8 located in Indiana in the United States. We have some overseas inventory of all natural Borneol Oil & Crystals. We can negotiate nicely on pricing so please get in touch with me if you are interested!

    Corey Esamann
    Gener8 LLC
    317-616-8326

  • Elroy Yap 04/02/2013, 3:08 am

    We are a manufacture for extraction of natural Bird’s Nest extract for cosmetic industries use. We uses water based extract and natural process for the highest quality product.

    If you have any interest in it. Please content me.

    Cheers

    Elroy

    • Charlie Lim 11/05/2013, 1:48 am

      Dear Elroy,

      Please provide more info. on the bird’s nest extract and your contact info. Thank you.

      Best regards,

      Charlie Lim

  • rawan bitar 11/13/2011, 1:54 am

    Dear sir,

    We are a manufacturing comapany in Joradn, in the market for over 25 years, we manufacture cosmetics and detergents, we were agents for many companies like Cognis, since we also provide raw materials to other manufacturers , I would like to know if u provide raw materials or if u can recommend a few companies.

    Regards
    Rawan Bitar
    Alfa Chemical Manufacturing Est.
    rawanbitar@yahoo.com

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