Article by: Perry Romanowski

There are some aspects of cosmetic chemistry that are easy but there are others that can be a but difficult. This list refers to the latter.

1. Generating new product ideas. There’s a reason that cosmetics haven’t changed much in the last 30 years. It’s very difficult to come up with something new and original. The cosmetic chemist who can do this will be in excellent shape to advance her career. Try some of the innovation exercises that we suggest.

2. Solving stability problems. Sometimes it’s not obvious why a formula isn’t stable. When this happens it’s tough to fix. But a knockout experiment can be very helpful.

3. Politicking. In a corporation your success is highly dependent on your ability to interact with other people. Your knowledge of science is just not as important, unfortunately. Learn some interpersonal skills to get better at this aspect of your career.

Cosmetic chemistry is not necessarily a difficult career but there are certainly some challenges. If you can excel at the hardest things you will be well on your way to a successful cosmetic chemist career.

7 comments

  1. Fernanda

    Hello Perry and everyone else, my name is Fernanda and I just wanted to leave a comment to say thanks for this awesome site, it has taught me a lot of new things about cosmetic chemistry and I have found answers to many question regarding my small formulating/raw material obsessions (currently hair care systems and surfactants). I live in Sweden and unfortunately we do not have any learning programs for cosmetic science but I would love to get to know as much as I can about the industry. I recently bought 2 of your books and I’m looking forward for them to arrive.

    Thanks once again and keep up the good work!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Thanks for the kind words!

  2. Mark Fuller

    Eliza,

    You don’t have to worry about being a people person so much if you target your clientelle correctly and learn to read your audience. Clients range from the amateur Chemist who will want to know as much as possible about project to the detached marketer who simply wants a functional prototype ASAP. Learn to gauge them and how to handle each type.
    All and all you will get to work with some very creative people who will come to you time and time again.

  3. Eliza

    Fascinating stuff and I totally agree with you guys that the ‘politicking’ is deff the most challenging of them all. Most beta people I know are not really people persons, myself included LOL If you know that tv show ‘Bones’ you know what I mean LOL

    Now that I’m working hard on building up my own business I am really grateful for internet and emailing, as, for me, those are easier communication channels than in person.

  4. Mark Fuller

    Glad somebody else has been there. And I am not saying all Marketing/Sales people are bad. We had one Sales Guy who came back in the lab on his own time and actually participated somewhat. I liked working with him since he knew the process. He wouldn’t walk in with a brand new client and want a prototype in a day.
    But as I said the standard Business model doesn’t work. And I am sure that some companies know that by now.
    I can also understand why Sales/Marketing wanted to be primary. Cost and price is an issue. They were afraid the Chemist would start getting involved in pricing. An experienced Chemist knows never to quote prices. In fact the only consideration I give to pricing is what the final unit cost budget is. This tells me how much chain I have to run on in regards to raw materials.

  5. Mark Fuller

    My biggest frustration would have to fall under “Politicking.” I really think that the Paridigm and system that many Contract Manufacturers have is flawed.
    When crossing over from Pharmaceutical Formulation to Personal Care, my first position was with a Contract Manufacturer as a Formulation Chemist. At this company the Chemist never spoke directly with the client. This was for Sales/Marketing and in fact it was a no-no if the Chemist ever spoke with the client. I disagreed.
    Well, we had one particular client who wanted a specific shampoo made. She had some sensitivity issues and loved an old Helene Curtis product that was no longer made. I watched the other Chemist struggle through 5 revisions based upon the information that we had available to us. The client was never satisfied and she wasted her Formulation fee.
    Well, I now work as a Consultant Formulator. The same client found me online and approached me. I took her on as a client, spoke directly with her on the phone, EDUCATED her on the different products and dispelled some of her misconceptions. I am proud to say that I got a Product Approval THE FIRST TIME!!!!
    In Contract Manufacturing in most cases the Sales/Marketing person has zero or little Chemistry background. Usually their background is in Sales or Business. I can’t vouch for everyone, but when approached to create a product, I have a Laundry list of questions I like to ask. Oftentimes the answers will lead to new questions. This process can not be accomplished through the “lens” of dealing 1 degree seperated through Sales/Marketing. I have spoken to others and in many cases my experience is not unique.
    I think this really drove home for me that the traditional model is flawed.

    1. Duncan

      WHAT MARK SAID!
      I’m on the opposite side of the fence in that I work for a Brand, and I came up via private label. We have the advantage that we can answer most of Marks questions before he asks them, as we’ve been there done that, but the first point of call whenever we transfer something in is the technical guys. They’re the ones doing the job, not the gobs in suits trying to BS there way into a sale

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