Article by: Perry Romanowski

When I first started in the cosmetic formulation business, there was no such thing as formulation software. I did my cosmetic formulations using a lined notebook and a calculator. It was tedious and slow, but it certainly made formulas more memorable.

In the later 1990’s Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets became available and I quickly switched over to using this as my preferred formulation creation method. It had the advantage of being quicker, neater, and more accurate. This gave way to the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which was a little easier to integrate with the software package our company was using. I optimized my formulation spreadsheet and you can get a free copy here.

Cosmetic Formulation Spreadsheet

To tell you the truth, this was all I ever needed for doing my formulation work. It works. It’s easy to use, it’s easy to change, it’s easy to read and it’s free. Using a spreadsheet like this has a number of advantages. But there are a number of disadvantages such as…

1. Harder to update
2. Harder to search
3. Difficult to see formulation patterns
4. Harder to integrate with company computer systems
5. Harder to optimize formulas

For these and other reasons, a number of companies have come out with formulation software meant to make life easier for cosmetic chemists. Do they really? I don’t know. Only you can tell by trying the software out. However, to try out the formulation software you have to know which ones there are. So, here is a list of all the cosmetic formulation software packages that I could find. You may want to try them out because a number of them have free trial packages. If you are disappointed with the way you are currently creating and tracking formulas, these might be a good option.

Formulation software solutions for cosmetic chemists

Creativity Formulation Software
This is a popular choice among people who use formulation software products. You have to pay a licensing fee to use it full-time but they do have a fully functional free 30-day trial version. I’m not sure you can learn a lot in 30 days of using it but it may be worth checking out. Whether it’s worth paying the fee is another matter.

Valdata Systems
Here’s another popular choice. It allows you to do formulation creation, costing, and maintain a database of raw materials. Best of all you can get a free version of the software for a single user. This one is well worth trying out if your test driving formulation software options.

Mar-Kov Recipe Manager
This is a complete formulation and cosmetic production software solution. You can create formulas, do formulation costing, and print out batch sheets. There are even collaboration tools for you to work with other cosmetic formulators. Costs range from $9 to $49 a month. You can also get a free 30-day trial of the software. If you can find more benefit from the software than the $120+ a year it will cost, it might be worth using.

Formulator
This product is much the same as the others but it also helps you in creating your up-to-date product LOIs which is nice. It was also designed specifically for cosmetic & perfumer formulators rather than being adapted from some other industry. In this way, it might feel more “friendly” than some of the other options. However, the program graphics look like they haven’t been updated in a while so the software may feel dated.

beCPG
This is a complete product lifecycle management software package so it may be a little more than most cosmetic chemists need. But if you’re looking for that kind of thing for you entire corporation, this one may be worth a try.

Coptis Lab
This cosmetic formulation software package is packed full of functionality which not only will help you create your formulas but it will also help with project management and regulatory issues. If these are your main concern it’s certainly worth giving this software a chance. It seems a little bloated for the typical cosmetic chemist however.

Smart Formulator
This software has a database incorporated into it which allows you to look up pricing information from various vendors, IP information, ingredient regulations and more. It’s nice to have all this information in one place but it can also be a bit distracting.

Formulating for Efficiency
This formulation software is different than all the other ones profiled. It was created to help skin care formulators optimize the effectiveness of their formulations. It’s like working with a virtual consultant to help improve your formulas. Originally it was the brainchild of Johann Wiechers who passed away but it has continued to be developed by his partners. You can learn more about the software and how to use it in the Allured course Formula Optimization taught by Dr. Steven Abbott.

So, there you have it. All the cosmetic formulation software options that are worth testing. Like I said, I’ve used spreadsheets almost exclusively because they have met all my needs but I may not be representative of all cosmetic formulators or all cosmetic companies. If you are looking for a new solution and spreadsheets just aren’t working, try one of these.

And if you work for one of these companies and want to talk to us further about the software and benefits to cosmetic chemists, just use our “contact us” button to contact us.

9 comments

  1. Andrew Cox

    I estimate that Cosmetri will reduce the time taken for my PIF and production administration by at least 50%. I honestly believe Cosmetri offers an efficient, top-quality and affordable lifeline for small to medium cosmetics businesses, and, as its producers claim, helps level the cosmetics industry playing field.

  2. Lisa Grant

    We are a contract manufacturer and as such I manage the PIF for many products and brands. I am delighted to have found Cosmetri because it allows me to organise all of our products by brand. Cosmetri is extremely user friendly and the customer support is excellent. The package is essential for document control, PIF management and regulatory compliance. Cosmetri is great for small to medium companies, but I have been impressed to find the package is completely flexible to support the requirements of larger businesses too. Cosmetri is exactly what I have been looking for in a lab software package. A huge thanks to the team.

  3. Lavonda Sharp

    I would like Quotes on a Formulation Management Database and a Regulatory Compliance Database.

    Main Functions Needed:

    1. The ability to create and search formulas.
    2. Store specifications
    3. Store raw material information
    4. User friendly
    5. Cost-effective

    Optional Functions:

    1. Calculations
    2. Formulation assistance

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Lavonda

  4. Cosmetri

    Hey, It definitely is fairly good and informative site. Retain writing the very good execute, Great to establish your website.

    Cosmetri is a simple to use, affordable and secure web-based software for businesses who design and develop their own cosmetic and personal care products

  5. David

    In the creative process, i.e when you are actually formulating, no software I have seen so far really help. An excel sheet or a notebook pretty much does the job. However, when it is ready for testing and producing – then software can be very useful.

  6. GUYOT

    Coptis Lab is the reference software for R&D department, specially design for Cosmetic Companies…. Coptis has been existing since 15 years and now is a leader on the Cosmetics market.
    Maybe you would like more information about Coptis Solutions?
    Please feel free to contact me!
    Kind regards

    1. Anonymous

      I came across your website after a google search for ‘formulation software’. First I wanted to thank you for the information and the time you spent sharing your insights. I am an consultant who specializes in enterprise product management and I am looking for the best ways to optimize formulas. In my personal research it seems like excel can usually get the job done.

      Next I wanted to offer some advice based on the 5 disadvantages you listed with microsoft excel based formulation tools. I viewed your spreadsheet and it was a simple but effective sheet. You can use free excel tools such as solver, pivot tables, scenario manager and goal seek to enhance the power of your formulation tools. To give a more specific map on what excel tools can be used to manage the disadvantages you listed:

      1. Harder to update – Not sure exactly what you mean here, but excel sheets can be updated easily and shared easily with tools like sharepoint, dropbox, or google drive, depending on the size of your company.
      2. Harder to search – also not sure exactly what is meant but excel documents are also searchable using the ctrl+F function. In the latest versions of Excel (2010+) there’s also a data management feature that allows users to create data tables to reference source data easily
      3. Difficult to see formulation patterns – Scenario manger in excel allows you to compare different versions of a formula over time and you can use the graphing functions to spot subtle differences in your formula over time
      4. Harder to integrate with company computer systems – Newer versions of excel (2007+) allows users to create XML files to implement your formulas in your company computer systems. You can also use the data management capabilities (2010+) i mentioned above to manage your formulas
      5. Harder to optimize formulas – Excel has a built in optimization tool Solver, that it seems few people are aware of. You can use this very powerful software to optimize your formulas to costs, regulations, and other constraints.

      I would like to know your thoughts on the features I mentioned above and I hope I was as helpful as this post was for me.

      1. Perry Romanowski

        Thanks for your comments.

        The individual spreadsheets are not hard to search but when you have a number of different spreadsheets for each formula then it is harder to search from your archive of files.

        The things you have suggested certainly could work but they are beyond my abilities (or knowledge) and I suspect that of most of my readers. I have no idea what a pivot table is or a scenario manager or many of the other suggestions. I bet they can work great but it would take time & training to learn how to do it. These are not things that most cosmetic formulators will have time to do.

        1. Darius

          Totally understand. I have been in the consulting business for a few years and what you mentioned about and scope and time are reasons why I’ll have a job for a while. I would love to help create better excel sheets that help formulators accomplish their tasks, I’d love to view some of the other sheets you’ve used to formulate to see how they work. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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