Article by: Perry Romanowski

We’ve previously talked about the importance of trying all of the products you are working on.  But this article about the ability for people to train their sense of smell made me think of the skills that you need to properly evaluate your formulas.

Sense of smell

Developing a good sense of smell is critical to the creation of nearly all cosmetics.  It is imperative that you know what your raw materials are supposed to smell like.  This will help ensure that you are using the right raw materials.  Sense of smell can also aid you in determining whether a product is stable or not.  Finally, it will help you develop more appealing products by allowing you to figure out just the right fragrance levels and type.

Sense of sight

Color is another important factor in inspiring consumers to buy your formulations.  You need a good sense of sight to be able to pick the right color and to determine the proper levels of dyes to use.  Color changes also will help you determine stability problems.  And one of the hardest parts of the makeup chemists job is matching colors from batch to batch of product.  You need to develop a good eye to do a good job.

Sense of touch

For a skin care formulator, the sense of touch is the most important one to develop.  You need to be able to feel the difference between esters, oils, and other skin moisturizing ingredients.  For a hair care formulator you’ll need to be able to detect subtle changes in ingredient combinations on hair.  To develop your sense of touch, you need to apply ingredients to the back of your hand and memorize the different feels.

Sense of taste

Most cosmetic chemists will not have to develop their sense of taste as the products are not meant to be eaten.  However, for people who make lip products or oral care products, a good sense of taste is critical to making an acceptable formula.

Sense of hearing

This one is perhaps the least important of all your sense that you will need to employ.  Most products do not make a sound.  However, if you are the creator of aerosol products then it may be important.  Sometimes you will have to use the sound of the spray to help determine product stability.  Of course, this could be an interesting area for developing some innovative cosmetic formulas.  It’s certainly not an area that anyone is focusing on now.





  1. Duncan

    I’ve seen cooling, crackling mousses to cool the skin as aftershaves and aftersuns. Something where the class of the crackle is important, so its not that uncommon.

    The most common use is hearing the bubble and sizzle if you’ve let a water phase boil up and start making its way out of the beaker!

  2. Eliza

    It is a wonderful job when it comes to enticing the senses, isn’t it, Perry? I’ve been working on training my nose for a while now and it is indeed marvelous to see how much more I can recognize than a while back! I wish there was an odor encyclopedia of all cosmetic raw materials, not only fragrances & flavors.

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