On becoming a cosmetic chemist consultant

PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
Here are my thoughts on the things chemists have to do if they want to become a cosmetic chemist consultant.

https://chemistscorner.com/how-do-you-become-a-cosmetic-chemist-consultant/

Anyone have other bits of advice to add?

Comments

  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited November 2016
    1. before you promise anything, make sure you can deliver it
    2. if something goes wrong, take responsibility for it, and don't just dump it in the customer's lap for them to sort out
    3. don't expect manufacturers to subcontract your lab work for free

    most of the consultants we've had to deal with have failed to carry out some or all of those steps
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • DavidDavid Member
    edited November 2016
    Can only speak for myself, but an important part for was that before I even started to consult I made a survey of potential customers (brands or producers who I already formulated products for as an "employed" chemist). I made sure I knew the person in charge and that they would remember me. From there it was  - and still is - hard work!  :)
  • DavidDavid Member
    edited November 2016
    @Bill_Toge ;
    Really? point 1 and 2 should be obvious for any company including pizza delivery... 
    point 3 I don't get, maybe due to the language, what do you mean with manufacturers subcontract your lab work for free?
    when is lab work for free?

  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited November 2016
    @David a number of our customers have in the past paid for consulting services and received products which didn't conform to legal requirements, or couldn't be filled, or couldn't be manufactured consistently, or in extreme cases couldn't be manufactured at all; and in all of those cases, the consultant took their money, denied all responsibility, and the customer ended up going to us to fix the problem

    it's not limited to this industry either, it just seems to be the way things often work in the UK - you pay someone to do a job, then they do it badly, wash their hands of it and you have to pay someone else to sort it out

     as for point 3, what I mean is that some consultants routinely expect the contract manufacturer to do (for free) the stability and challenge tests that the customer has paid the consultant to do
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Most contract manufacturers have their own development lab, the services of which are usually provided for "free" to customers who will be placing a large enough order. (The charge for the lab work is actually built into the total cost)

    Sometimes, a lazy and/or under-equipped consultant will try to get a manufacturers development lab to do some of their work for them. This produces a lot of conflict, since typically the contract manufacturer will not divulge the precise formula without charging extra.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    As far as advice?

    Get your money upfront, or at the very least, withhold enough so that your client has something to lose if they stiff you.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    edited November 2016
    Have clear contracts.

    Vet your clients carefully. If you produce a product that they do not have the budget to produce, they will assign some of the blame to the Formulator.

    I have had Labs make some changes to the Formulation as part of the Process scale-up which is inevitable. However, this is the limit of any lab work I will pass on to a manufacturer. I do my own stability. If there is micro-testing required I will outsource this and have the client pay the provider directly.

    If you have a clear plan and timelines, clear contracts and work with clients who are positioned to be successful, you will do well. For me, this was part of the learning curve in my first few years.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Also, there is a clear difference between a consultant who's just trying to keep busy after retirement, one who's trying to get some income going between jobs, and someone who's trying to make a living at it.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Plus, why do we even need Consultants anymore? I see so many posts "I am an XXXX who has never taken any Chemistry classes and I am trying to make an XXXX" that we must be obsolete.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Microformulation - based on the requests I get there is still a huge market for consultants.

  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    @perry I was being facetious. I had a discussion with several Contract Manufacturers a few weeks ago at dinner and they were regaling me with tales of some DIY products that made it to them. One, for example, had 5% Vitamin E as a "preservative." Another was a lotion with a pH of 9.5.

    It is really a cautionary tale not to under-estimate the complexity of making a safe, effective and consistent product.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Ah, gotcha.

    Cosmetics is a funny area. People seem to want to actually make their own formulas.  If someone was selling a t-shirt they would never think that they would actually have to sew their own shirts.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Good Analogy.

    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • I don't think it is a good analogy. And it doesn't surprise me at all.

    People are used to companies like Lush now. And used to the idea of buying something made from glycerine, mashed banana, oatmeal and strawberries.  And so the consumer thinks: Hell, why not? I make smoothies all the time, right? Well isn't Lush's mixture just an external smoothie? I can do that!
    So they do. Then the next minute they're on Etsy selling unpreserved organic natural 'personal care' items.

    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • DavidDavid Member
    edited December 2016
    Although coming form the "chemist" side I have to admit I underestimated the complexity of cosmetic products as well. Hmm. Shampoo? A surfactant and water. Rest is marketing - I thought. I still remember 17 years ago I took 30% SLES @ home and washed my hair. Of course it worked! - but later it started itching, was unpleasant to apply and it was not nice after all.....so maybe the other ingredients has something to do with it..so I added one - and then I needed another one to keep the first one stable which leaded to the third ingredient which needed to be preserved....and so on.!
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Do other Consultants in this group limit the area in which they practice? Yesterday I told a Sales Lead that I restrict my work to North Americana they got a bit upset. I have found that with the differing material suppliers, regulations, and shipping that these out of Country jobs are unlikely to be successful. Am I out of line here? I have plenty of work, but they seemed quite put-out.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    I find it's bad enough keeping up with US and Canadian regulations, so I do the same as you when/if I take a gig, but it occurs to me that you might be able to partner with a consultant that is EU only and run joint projects.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    I have several sources I refer people to in the UK. This client was in Nigeria.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • DavidDavid Member
    edited December 2016
    Is is definitely harder to make a good job on the other side of the world. On top of regulations and raw material supplier differences, on-site scale-up assistance is practically impossible.
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited December 2016
    @Microformulation you think lotions with pH of 9.5 are bad, a big-name brander over here is selling an under-eye cream which was developed in China, is basically cement minus the sand, has an EU safety assessment that bears little or no relation to the actual product, has a pH spec over 11, and would automatically be classified as corrosive category 1 and eye damage category 1 (i.e. very serious) under CLP regulations due to the amount of strong base in it

    worse still, they've taken out full-page adverts for this stuff in the national press, and in expanding their customer base, they've opened themselves up to prosecution by Trading Standards, huge compensation claims, and future bankruptcy, but as long as they're making a tidy profit right now, the fact their product is an enormous liability is no bother to them at all!
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    Is that based on a silicate? I can't recall the specific product but I was asked to replicate it several years ago. Once the material was dissolved (and I believe it uses a Veegum as well) the pH was way up there.

    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Bill, this is one of the essential problems with Chinese goods, in my opinion. If the problem gets too big, the company just crumbles into dust - poof - nothing/no one to sue.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • The original silicate antiwrinkle composition was from the late, great dermatologist, Albert Kligman.

    His efforts can be perused in European Patent 0244859:
    "An aqueous composition comprising human serum albumin and sodium silicate is useful for cosmetic purposes for application to the human facial skin to effect smoothing of the skin and temporary removal of fine wrinkles. The liquid composition containing sodium silicate and human serum albumin is applied as a coating or film on the skin and permitted to dry. Upon drying, the dried composition lifts the skin up and the fine wrinkles there beneath are smoothed out and removed."

    It should be borne in mind that sodium silicate is a fair general term for a range of compounds of varying ratios of Na2O:SiO2 - some of them more or less neutral in reaction. It is unfortunate that the Chinese, in their efforts to copy Kligman's formulae, chose a highly alkaline version of sodium silicate, thus ruining any potential the product might have.


  • DavidDavid Member
    edited December 2016
    @Microformulation  - I think the opposite - that's exactly why consultants are needed. If everybody selling/making cosmetics were educated research chemists - then consultants would be obsolete
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    I agree. I was being facetious. It was really a commentary on how with the Internet many "entrepreneurs" will minimize the difficulty, complexity and knowledge required. We ee it in this blog with many of the postings.
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
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