Article by: Perry Romanowski

One of the goals of Chemists Corner is to help people who are curious about the cosmetic industry learn how they could start a career in cosmetics. That naturally attracts a number of questions which we have usually responded to via email. However, other people likely have similar questions so we’re going to edit and publish those questions and answers about cosmetic science careers here.

What kind of degree should I get?

I really enjoy Chemistry but I’m not sure I would like to do it for a living for the rest of my life. What I
really am interested in is going into cosmetic sales. Would a Chemistry degree be a good way to get into Cosmetic Sales? Or do most sales employees you know start with a business degree?

Answer: If sales is what you really want to do, you’d probably be best served by getting a business degree first with a minor in Chemistry. However, lots of cosmetic industry sales people start out in the lab (with chemistry degrees), then get an MBA and switch to sales.

What should my area of concentration be?

I have decided to major in Polymer and Color Chemistry, the only thing is I do not know what concentration I should chose. There is ACS certified, Science and Operations, and Medical. I would like to concentrate in Science and Operations and attend grad school for Cosmetic Science. My question is, are my chances still good for getting into grad school with regular physics and calculus courses versus more advanced?

Answer: I think that you would be fine following the Science and Operations route. If you really want to be a cosmetic chemist, you will not need to know as much of the math behind things. It is more important to know the characteristics of the chemicals that you are mixing together.

What can you expect when starting a cosmetic science career?

Hi i’m going to study Chemistry at University in the UK , at the end of this year and have a lot of questions. What is the average salary? (although money isn’t my only target it is significant)Do you
get a chance to meet people like you would if you were working as a pharmacist? What is the most important factor for loving your job? Do you ever get the feeling that you could do more with your skills? How hard is it to get a job with a big company e.g. Estee Lauder?

Answers:
A. In the US, the average salary for a starting cosmetic chemist is ~$35,000 per year. I don’t know what that would be in pounds but you get the idea.

B. You don’t get much interaction with the general public but you certainly get to meet people who work in the cosmetic industry.

C. Loving my job involves doing something I’m interested in, feeling like I can make a difference, and making people happy. Cosmetic chemistry satisfies all those.

D. I certainly did think I could do more with my skills. That’s why I started my own business and it’s what I currently do.

E. If a company like Estee Lauder is hiring, it’s not too hard to get a job (if you have a good resume, degree, and interview).

Where are all the cosmetic science jobs?

I am currently in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area and was working on high-end skincare products and absolutely loved it, that is, until I got laid off! Immediately, I realized it was my opportunity to move and find a new job. I have been reaching out to vendors and recruiters about possible places throughout the U.S. that have a pretty fairly large number of cosmetics companies such as Dallas does. Do you have any ideas for possible cities that are good areas to move to in order to remain a cosmetic scientist? I’ve been told L.A., NY,and New Jersey. I was considering Oregon/Washington, Florida, and South Carolina or Georgia–do you think any of these are good ideas?

Answer: The places you mentioned (LA, New Jersey & NY) are the best places to go for cosmetics jobs. Jobs in Utah are looking good as are those in Ohio (Cincinnati). You should also be able to find something in Florida or in the Southeast. I’m not certain about the Oregon/Washington area.

If you have a career question about cosmetic science, feel free to click on the ‘Contact Us’ page and send it in.

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34 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Which degree is best between biomedical science and biochemistry when becoming a cosmetic Scientist

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Probably biochemistry

  2. Carissa

    Hi if i am a medical student can i get into cosmetic science master degree?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you probably can.

  3. Anna

    Hi, Perry
    I’m currently in my third year of Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree and I’d like to become a cosmetics scientist in the future. I want to further my studies but I’m not sure if I should follow to Master of Chemical Engineering or switch to a different degree (my university offers a Master in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, a Master in Medicinal Chemistry and also a Master in Analytical Chemistry). Could you suggest which of these is the best choice? Thank you

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Of those options I would say the Masters in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology would be best. Chemical engineering could also be helpful.

  4. siddhi

    I am persuing a bachlors degree in pharmacy in india. I wish to persue masters in u.s. I wish ti work as a research scientist in the cosmetics industry.so here r my questions
    1. Which universities in u.s offer a masters in cosmetic formulation research
    2. Are the cosmetic companies keen in taking up researcgh scientist for their products?
    3.what kind of pay do they have?
    4.is it realy feasible to take up masters in cosmetic formulation and development over the conventional hardcore pharmacy subjects like pharmaceutics or pharmacology?
    M realy nt findin answers to all dese questions since a year.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      The University of Cincinnati has a program in cosmetic science. See our post on cosmetic science programs around the world.

  5. siddhi

    I m a student persuing pharmacy in india.. I wish to take up masters in cosmetics.so whch universities do have a masters course? i m intrestd in getting into research n development in cosmetics.secondly r companies keen in taking up research chemists for ds industry….coz i heard vry less about scientist in cosmetics….m realy confused with these basic thngs..

    1. Perry Romanowski

      See our posts on cosmetic science careers for more information. Also, see our post about cosmetic science programs around the world for the most up-to-date information about where you might study.

  6. Xiang

    Hi, I am a pharmacy student in Cosmetic Science in U.S. I like cosmetic things so can I get a job in big cosmetic company after graduate? Is that difficult to find a job with cosmetic science?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Sure you can get a cosmetic science job with a pharmacy background.

  7. Tanmay Kulkarni

    Hello!!
    I am undergraduate of pharmacy. I am interested in the “preparation of cosmetic products” & would like to be in cosmetic industry. The question in my mind is , can I get admission to such post-graduate courses in cosmetics preparation on the base of pharmacy education?what are the courses available in USA & in which universities?
    Thanks….!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes you can. See our post on Cosmetic Programs around the World.

  8. Meghan

    Hi!
    I would love to be a cosmetic scientist. I have a passion for cosmetics and I love science. However, I’m afraid I am not smart enough to take such hard classes. I’m only in seventh grade. Is there any thing I can do now to prepare? Please advise! 🙂
    Thanks so much

    1. Perry

      Hello Meghan – it’s not problem you have lots of time to learn. Just take science & math classes and remain curious. Read up on cosmetics and chemistry. And if you get good at cooking, you’ll have a great start to become a cosmetic chemist.

  9. Emilia

    Hi,
    I’m currently doing a Pharmacy degree in the UK and am interested in a career within the cosmetic industry, what are the prospects for me? Which roles within the industry would my degree be satisfactory for? Also how is it best to go about getting into such a career?
    Thanks.

    1. Perry

      Hello Emilia – Your prospects are pretty good if you are interested in formulating. Pharmacy and formulation are connected. I would suggest you take a look at our ‘Career’ tab and go through some of the articles to find tips on getting started with a cosmetic career. Good luck!

  10. K

    Hi, I am currently working as a cosmetic scientist. I have only been in this field for 6 months and am wondering if I should pursue the MS degree offered by Cincinnati. Is the salary paid off worth it?

  11. Creme S Lorhpipat

    I am currently a sophomore studying Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) with a concentration in General Biological Engineering and Food Process at Purdue University. My dream job is to be working in the cosmetics industry. As a professional in this area what opportunities/potentials do you see for ABE graduates in the future? Where do I can stand compared to a chemical engineering major? Please advise! Thank you!

  12. Felice

    Hi I am a graduate who studied biomedical science in the uk. I would really like to get into a Research and Development department of a cosmetic company. I have been trying to get a job or internship or unpaid work in this field but am failing to even get an interview. I would like to become a research scientist in a cosmetic company researching for skincare products that will improve the appearance of skin e.g. anti-wrinkle, whitening etc. And because of this, I have decided to go onto postgraduate studies e.g. masters or phd but I don’t know what is suitable for this role.. there are so many courses e.g. biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, synthetic biology, drug design…
    Please can someone help me with my concerns and let me know which subject most relate to what I want to do.
    Many thanks.

    1. Perry

      Hello Felice,

      I would suggest you contact your local SCC chapter (or SCS in the UK). Or you can post your specific questions on the Cosmetic Science Forum.

  13. Paulina

    How did you set up your own buisness? I mean what are you doing now that you didn’t when you were just employed?

    1. Perry

      That’s a good question. There are a number of things you can do but if you want to be a consultant you can just declare yourself a consultant and start trying to get jobs. File your taxes as a Sole Proprietor. If you want to launch a product, you should start an S Corporation (US anyway). We are going to be publishing an e-book on the subject before the end of the month. Be sure to sign up for the free ebook on the right side of this blog (with your email address) and you’ll be alerted to the new ‘Start your own business’ report.

    1. Perry

      That is a rough estimate of the starting salary and it could be on the lower end. It depends on where you get a job.

  14. Dania

    Hello Mr. Perry R.

    I am part brain, part artist apparently. My love for Makeup artistry and Cosmetology outweighs my love for Pharmacy (I am a final year student). The reason I did Rx in the first place was to move into cosmetics sciences but now I am wondering if my vision of this career is realistic.

    My vision is to have two jobs, one as a cosmetic scientist and one as a beautician. Anything is possible, but do you think this is practical?

    Which branch(es) of cosmetic science do I choose if I am interested in things like Colour cosmetics, Packaging design, Improving formulations, Developing new foundation shades.

    I think I would enjoy being in contact with costumers as well. I have often imagined myself as a representative for a cosmetic company, sharing the details of new products which I have helped to develop, and demonstrating how they are used/applied.

    I have always had an intense passion for chemistry and cosmetics. I think if I am given a bit of freedom in this career, I could bring a lot to the table.

    Please give me your opinion.

    Also, THANK YOU so much for taking your time to provide people like me this valuable resource. So many of my questions have been answered here. Keep up the good work!

  15. Eliza

    Hi, I’ve been so lucky to get my first job in a cosmetic lab and just started (this is my 5th week). Unfortunately it’s not at all what I was expecting. It’s basically following orders, executing my manager’s formula, weighing, heating and mixing ingredients. And a lot of cleaning. My own input is not allowed and I’m told I should have patience (like at least 10 years or so). Is this the typical job description for a ‘cosmetic scientist’? That was the title on the job application. I’ve got my Masters in Applied Chemistry this year.
    Any input is appreciated, many thanks!

  16. koubida

    Hello!
    what are the books you recommend reading to have a good level in the cosmetic formulation? thank you.

  17. Megan

    Hello, I am also an undergraduate in the new york area majoring in chemistry, looking for experience through internships and possibly lab tech jobs. I just checked out the website suggested (http://nyscc.org) but it seems to be a list of more advanced career options. Where online or in newsletters can i find more entry level options? Or is my best bet to call various companies and ask what they have available? Thank you for your time.

  18. Ivana

    Hello, I am currently an undergraduate student of chemistry (sophomore) and I would like to gain extra experience during summer. I already do research in college but I would like to work in a cosmetic/pharmacy environment. What are my chances as a student to get a job like that in NJ area? -Thank you a lot

    1. Perry

      You are certainly in the right area to get a job like that. Most of the chemical companies that produce for the cosmetic industry are located in the NJ/NY area. Your best bet is to check with the NYSCC (http://nyscc.org) and see which companies are looking for workers. Good luck!

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