cosmetic chemist joker
Article by: Perry Romanowski

I saw that Colin over at Colins Beauty Pages had tweeted that he was watching an old episode of Columbo in which Martin Sheen played an evil cosmetic chemist.  That got me thinking about other fictional cosmetic chemists.  Here are a couple that I was able to come up with.  You have any others? cosmetic chemist joker

1.  The Joker –  Perhaps the most evil cosmetic chemist ever.  He specializes in making color cosmetics that contort the face of the wearer creating a huge grin and also killing them.

2.  Poison Ivy – It’s strange that the Batman comic features a couple of evil cosmetic chemist characters.  Poison Ivy is more of an eco terrorist, but her main weapons of choice are pheromone-containing fragrances that control people’s minds.  You’d have to be quite a cosmetic chemist to pull this off.

3.  The Flash – Barry Allen was a chemist who wasn’t following proper safety precautions when he got zapped by lightning in the lab and was turned into the Flash.  I couldn’t find any instance of him making a cosmetic but I’m still searching.

4.  Dr Bunsen Honeydew – The famous scientist and inventor from the Muppets is known to have created a hair growing tonic.  I know lots of cosmetic chemists are working on that.

5.  Peter Parker – You know, Spiderman.  He’s a polymer chemist who was bright enough to come up with the formula for webbing.  He must have made some cosmetic potions over the years in the comics.  Any Spiderman geeks out there able to confirm?

6.  Simon Drudd – He was a chemist in the Marvel Universe who endeavored to make a youth serum to reverse the aging process.  While he was able to create the youth serum he couldn’t control the effects and eventually reverted to a child, baby and eventually out of existence.  A cautionary tale for all you anti-aging cosmetic chemists out there.

7. Lillian vo Loont –  More of an alchemist but she was able to create a formula that could give people perfect skin.  Unfortunately, the process turned the wearer into a gold coated statue.

Got any more fictional chemists who could vaguely be considered cosmetic chemists?  Leave a message in the comments below.



  1. Avatar
    Kevin Ewell

    The main character (Adam) in the recent movie Upsidedown (2012). Is a cosmetic chemist that makes a face cream that “lifts” wrinkles away. The movie is so so, but a big part of it is his occupation. It was exciting to see a Cosmetic Chemist make it onto the big screen.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That’s great!! I’m going to have to see that movie.

  2. Avatar

    Very entertaining post…but as a comic geek I take issue with a few of your choices.

    1. The Joker is a cosmetic chemist because he paints his face? Really?? That’s like saying I’m a tailor because I put on a pair of jeans.

    2. Poison Ivy…okay I’ll give you this one since she formulated fragrances.

    3. The original Flash, Barry Allen, worked for police as a forensic scientist. He would have been more likely to analyze finger prints and other crime scene evidence than whip up a batch of hair gel.

    4. Dr. Bunsen – love it.

    5. Peter Parker. Nope. His webbing was based on a thesis he wrote in high school (!) on adhesive polymers but there’s no evidence that he ever worked on any cosmetics. I suppose he could have licensed his webbing as a fake eye lash glue but the damn stuff dissolves in an hour!

    6. Drudd? Ok, I’ll give you this one since he worked on anti-aging.

    7. Lillian’s abilities were pretty much limited to creating a gold sheath around people so it’s a stretch to say that she was a cosmetic chemist. (Especially when you consider the argument that alchemy is more magic than chemistry.)

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Indeed you are more of a comic geek than me but a couple of clarifications. I’m not wrong about The Joker. He didn’t make the list because of his particular look. He made it because in the first Batman movie (Michael Keaton / Jack Nicholson) the Joker created poisonous cosmetics that killed people.

      I’ll admit Parker and The Flash were a stretch. Although I bet if you go through their story lines at some point they had to put together some concoction that needed to be sprayed or topically applied.

      1. Avatar

        Fair enough on the Joker. I always look to the comic book version for definitive character traits and in the books he used a “Joker Venom” which was less like a cosmetic. The movie version did indeed have more a cosmetic approach. My objection is rescinded.

        We may still agree to disagree on Parker and the Flash if your definition of a cosmetic is anything that is sprayed or topically applied. By that definition webbing, which is sprayed on crooks to subdue them, would be a cosmetic. I think you need to consider the other half of the FDA definition which states the product is for the purpose of “cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.” Clearing webbing is NOT a cosmetic by the more complete definition.

        Regardless whether or not we agree I appreciate that Chemists Corner is here to provide an open debate on important cosmetic science issues like this one. Excelsior!

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          We really should save this material for the show. Happy holidays!

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