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Essential Cosmetic Lab Equipment

If you want to be a cosmetic chemist and make cosmetic products, there is certain essential equipment that you’ll need to get.

Here is a list of the basic equipment for setting up a cosmetic lab. lab-mixer

Basic cosmetic Lab equipment

1. Weighing equipment. To make proper measurements of the raw materials, you’ll need a good balance. Be sure to get one that can measure up to at least 500g.

Other weighing equipment that helps includes disposable pipettes (for measuring liquids) and weigh boats (for measuring solids).

2. Containers. The most common container you’ll use to make a cosmetic formula is a beaker. You’ll need a variety of sizes because you’ll be making different sized batches. Be sure to have a number of 500mL, 800mL, 1000mL, 1500ml and 2000mL beakers. You really want 400g to be the minimum size batch you make.

3. Mixers. In college, you most frequently used a magnetic stirrer to mix your creations. These are rarely used in a cosmetic lab. For mixing, you’ll want an industrial type mixer, something like the Lightnin mixer. It is like a single blade hand mixer with a variable speed control. Quite handy.

4. Controlling Temperature. Most cosmetic formulas require heating and cooling so a good hot plate is a must.

Sometimes you can air cool batches but for things like emulsions, you’ll want to have a water bath for cooling it down quickly. This could simply be a tub you fill with cold water and ice.

5. Testing equipment. After you’ve finished a cosmetic formulation, you’ll need to test it to ensure that it meets specifications. For this, you’ll want to have a pH meter and a viscometer (for measuring rheology).

Of course no cosmetic lab would be complete without a good stock of cosmetic raw materials. Which of these you have will depend on the type of formulas you make. Everyone will want to have a supply of deionized water. Most will also want to have a stock of common preservatives, acids, bases, and dye solutions.

Fortunately, if you work for a company they’ll have this stuff for you. They’ll also have more specific equipment for the types of formulas you’ll mostly be working on. However, if you are setting up your own lab or helping your company get into the field of cosmetic science, be sure to stock your lab with the proper equipment.

What equipment do you use for cosmetic formulations? Leave your comment below.

{ 27 comments… add one }

  • Mildred 09/02/2014, 8:43 am

    Im dealing in sales and distribution of laboratory testing equipment if you need anything please cobtact me.

  • Melanie B. 01/17/2013, 1:59 pm

    Hello!
    our hair product test salon is looking for an [acrylic] “divider” to section off a 1/2 live head for hair spray testing.
    could you help me as to where this piece of equipment may be available?
    Thanks in advance!
    Melanie

  • Nayana 12/13/2012, 11:58 pm

    very informative post.we are trying to set up lab in mumbai (India) or we can outsourcing a lab .question is which will be preferable & economic

    • Perry 12/14/2012, 6:51 am

      If you have enough volume of work, setting up your own lab would cost you less. However, in the beginning outsourcing your lab will be more economical. I would suggest starting with that.

      • nayana 12/24/2012, 4:45 am

        thank you
        perry

  • yazan 11/21/2012, 4:32 am

    Hi Perry,
    thank you for this greating information .
    I am doing my internship in cosmetic production in germany now .
    and I will do my graduation project in the same industry after 2 months , but actually I am looking for a topics that i will starting to do my graduation project .
    could you please help me and give me some suggestions topics in this field ….

    Best Regards,
    Yazan Al-Massri

    • Bob 06/03/2014, 8:12 pm

      Please post this question in the forum.

  • Mohamed Bhyat 03/06/2012, 2:35 am

    Dear Perry,
    We are setting up an aerosol and chemical Manufacturing plant in South Africa, Pretoria, and would your advise on how toset up a full scale labe, that will be used for both industrial and cosmetic chemicals,

    • Timothy 03/09/2012, 1:26 am

      Hi Mohamed

      I am also doing the same thing as you are maybe we can meet and share ideas. I am also in Pretoria and my contact is 0715543236.

    • Bob 06/03/2014, 8:21 pm

      Mohamed,

      You could try asking this question on the forum, but questions like these, where someone is asking for a detailed answer that, under most conditions, would require the services of a paid consultant, are only rarely, if ever, answered at a level that would help you avoid having to pay a consultant.

  • Timothy Rukuni 01/19/2012, 12:33 pm

    hi Perry

    I am starting a skin care manufacturing business and I am on the verge of setting up a plant. can you advice me on the production equipment required and reliable suppliers of the full plant. Can you also advice on required laboratory tests.

    • Bob 06/03/2014, 8:22 pm

      Timothy,

      You could try asking this question on the forum, but questions like these, where someone is asking for a detailed answer that, under most conditions, would require the services of a paid consultant, are only rarely, if ever, answered at a level that would help you avoid having to pay a consultant.

  • Angus 09/06/2011, 7:51 am

    If you are looking for cheaper alternatives to Brookfield viscometers, then you can try the chinese trade site alibaba.
    It has numerous producers of Viscometers.

    Perry is correct, Brookfield is the mark of quality, but as ever, this is usually associated with a high price. ($5000-$10000).
    This is outside the range of most home grown cosmetic startups. That money can be better spent elsewhere.
    Chinese suppliers will quote approx $1000-$2000 for a viscometer with a good specification. (import taxes and shipping on top of this). If you are only producing a small number of products and limited testing, you can also get this completed at an external lab with Brookfield equipment.

    everything is relative, if you work for a mid to large enterprise, high grade equipment is essential. On the other hand , a mom and pop small business will require a lot more flexibility.

    On hot plates, one way to remove some of the need for this is using cold processing emulsifiers. There are several on the market now that provide good results. (many formula using standard emulsifiers need to be heated to 60-80C to allow full emulsification – you then don’t need to worry so much about cooling)

    Likewise with Mixers, you can easily pay over $1000 for an industrial one, but you have other options. I use a bamix mixer from the food industry. German engineering, high quality, excellent motor and under $200.

    pH meter absolute essential, but lower costs than above, but again the same principles of cost versus quality.

    hope this helps.
    Angus

  • Pranil 07/30/2011, 5:06 am

    Dear Perry,
    which simple & easy method to measure viscosity for cream, lotion & styling gel.
    Brookfield viscometer is very costly,can you suggest on this.

    Regards
    P.S.Pednekar

    • Perry 07/30/2011, 7:07 am

      @Pranil – The Brookfield viscometer is the best. I’m not familiar with any other less expensive, effective option.

      • Alex Byarugaba 12/09/2013, 6:05 am

        Pranil,
        Use a flow cup you can then convert the flow cup results in seconds to Brookfield or other viscosity unit for comparison. Flow cup cost less than $10 depending on the number of the cup.
        ALEX

  • Ingrid 11/24/2010, 11:57 pm

    Hi Perry, will there be any changes in the formulation if we are going to do a scale up from lab scale to factory or manufacturing scale? Anything that we should take note of during the formulation before we send it for scaling up?

    • Perry 11/25/2010, 12:02 am

      Yes, there will be changes needed (depending on the formula of course). You should do a knockout experiment before you send it to scale up

      • Emily 02/01/2012, 4:53 pm

        Regarding scaling up and the concept of a knockout experiment, it would be greatly appreciated if we could expand on this idea. I had a formula perfected and duplicated perfectly on smaller scales – then scaling up to large batches it did not come out. I realize there are a variety of factors that could be at play. Is there any place that you have discussed this issue further or any suggested reading? Thanks!

  • Perry 05/18/2010, 2:56 pm

    @Elaine – That is the intent. The focus is not going to be on starting your own lab but ideally you’ll learn enough in the class to be able to.

  • Eliane Treadwell 05/14/2010, 8:48 pm

    This is great information! In your online class will you be shedding more information on this and information about how to start a lab?

  • Perry 05/11/2010, 6:06 pm

    It really depends on the viscosity of the batches you’re making but you might look at this page and contact the manufacturer for more info.
    http://www.lightninmixers.com/products-and-services/mixers/small-top-entering-mixers/classic

  • Jill Jones 05/11/2010, 4:51 pm

    Very informative post, Perry. Thanks! Still working on the cooling equipment here, but for now the ice bath works well enough. Do you have a suggestion as to which of the Lightnin mixers would be best for batches of 5 – 10 gallons?

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