Article by: Perry Romanowski

We get asked this question a fair amount by people who are in college, high school or are even just interested in starting a new career in cosmetics. Here are some suggestions.

Figure out your objective

The background you need really depends on your objectives and goals. For example, do you want to start your own cosmetic line? Do you want a job working in the lab? Do you want to make a lot of money?

Answers to questions like these are the first thing to figure out because it will help guide your decisions in the future.

Getting a job

If your primary goal is to get a job in the cosmetic field, then you will want to get an undergraduate degree in chemistry. You can study biology if you find it more interesting but it reduces the number of jobs you will be qualified for. You can also study chemical engineering, though your job options may be geared more towards process engineering than cosmetic formulating. In almost all cases, you’ll need at least a 4 year degree in some science to get an R&D job in the cosmetic industry.

In addition to your science degree, it will be good to take electives in marketing and market research. People in these subjects will be the ones who you will be working with closely (and be making decisions that affect you) so it will be helpful to know what they know.

To advance in your career and improve your chances of getting a job, it will help to get an advanced degree in cosmetic science. See our post about cosmetic science programs.

Starting your own line

While a degree in chemistry is the best thing for getting a cosmetic science job, it may not be the best thing to do if you want to start your own line. If you want to start you own cosmetic line, you do not need any degree in particular. In this case you could get a degree in any subject you want. You should take some chemistry and business courses, but you may want to just learn how to start a business. See our free report on how to start a cosmetic line.

To start your own business you need to come up with a business plan, financing, marketing strategy, and figure out how to get the product made and sold. The best way to learn how to do this is to just do it. A college degree will not be terribly useful for being an entrepreneur, and for some people it is a hinderance.

But not everyone can tolerate the lifestyle of an entrepreneur. If you are unsure or worry about your level of passion, you should get a degree, then a job to learn the business, then start your own line once you figure everything out.

There are a number of ways you can start a career in cosmetic chemistry. Getting a degree is the most straightforward route, but if you want to start your own just going out and starting might be the best way to go.

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57 comments

  1. Quynh Nguyen

    Hi. I am studying bachelor of science major in biotechnology, I am a first – year student. In the future, I want to make my own make – up brand or become a cosmetic scientist. Is biotechnology a good major to study?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      That was the subject I studied.

  2. Przemek

    Hello,
    Can I create cosmetics at home so that my cosmetics and lab will comply to all the latest regulations ? I mean 1223/2009 what is the best way to start ? What equipment do I need ?

  3. Oshra

    Hi!
    First, I’d like to thank you for creating this website and being so active with your responses. I am currently enrolled in my third year at a Doctor of Pharmacy program and am very intrigued by this field. Prior to applying to pharmacy school, I completed 2 years of science prerequisites instead of graduating with a formal bachelor’s degree. Do you think this should hinder my chances of working as a cosmetic chemist? Also, how do learn about intern positions to gain more experience?
    Thanks!

  4. Elias

    Hello… I’m looking to eventually formulate my own hair care products though i currently don’t have any A levels in science or a degree in chemistry. What would you recomend the best way to go about it and learn? Thank you

  5. Rosette Alangilan

    I wanna know how make a cosmetics products especially lipstick. What is the base ingredients?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Do a search on the website. We’ve written about that in numerous posts.

  6. mimi

    Does the biology subject is necessary to take the courses about the chemisty engineering and to be a cosmetic chemist?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      It helps to take some biology.

  7. bryttany

    If I start my line what do I have to do to make it official like getting it approved. Also what’s the best way to test it without a actual place aka a factory to make it. Like I made my lipsticks at home

  8. Sarah

    Hello Mr.Perry
    I am interested in becoming a cosmetics chemist I want to work with making cosmetics but not my own I don’t want to develop my own cosmetics I want to help make what’s already done how can I start this career? Also what are the education requirements?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      The education requirements are listed in the post above. Basically you need a college degree in Chemistry or Biology. Yes, most cosmetic chemists work on products that they do not own.

  9. Jeremy

    Hi, I’m currently studying in Malaysia. I would like to get into cosmetic chemistry but my country only provides a degree in chemistry or a degree in analytical chemistry. May I know which degree would be best if I would like to get a career as a cosmetic chemist?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      A degree in chemistry would be the best to position yourself for becoming a cosmetic chemist.

  10. Jade

    Hello, I have a very big interest in makeup and would love to start my own makeup line however I am not very good with the chemistry side of things! Is there a way to start your own makeup line without having to do the chemistry part of it?

  11. ben saad

    i am currently studying bio engineering , i will graduate next year and i want to have a carreer in cosmetics , would it be possible?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes, it is possible.

  12. Steffany

    Hi Perry,

    I’m currently a undergraduate sophomore at a liberal arts college who is considering cosmetic chemistry in the future. I am declaring my chemistry major in the spring. I have taken Gen Chem, am currently taking Organic. PChem, Inorganic, Biochem, and ResMeth are coming up later..

    I am hoping to find opportunities for internships pertaining to cosmetic chemistry (or at least chemistry) during the upcoming summer. Any tips on how to find these opportunities? Not exactly sure where to start. (If it helps, I do have a LinkedIn!)

    Thanks, Perry!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      See our section on Career on this website. Also, I would encourage you to get involved in your local chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists

  13. yen

    hi! i’m junior. Should i choose a university about cosmetic science or should i go for chemistry career in other university? and then go to university that have major career is cosmetic science?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      At this point in your studies I would suggest getting a degree in chemistry then specializing in cosmetic chemistry later

  14. nhu

    hi !! i am year 12 student and i would love to be a chemist comestic !! i want to make a new products about perfume, or product of make up. !! so which course is the best for me cause i am searching for universities ! Can you give me which course that i am going to choose in my university??! Thanks !!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Continue to study the subject of chemistry.

  15. Amy

    Hi,
    I have just started my A-levels but am not studying chemistry ! However I am studying biology, psychology and English literature would I be able to go on to study cosmetic chemistry at uni ? Or is there any other way I could pursue it as a career in the future ?
    Thanks.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’m not sure but there is no reason you couldn’t study chemistry.

  16. Liea

    Hello – I recently graduated with my BS in Biology and would LOVE to pursue a career in Cosmetic Chemist. I have no background or experience in the cosmetic industry. What training course or class you think would be best to start off as these course are not cheap? I heard cGMP is a good start or do you think I should dive right in Cosmetic Formulation?

  17. Regina

    Is it possible to formulate my own product and start my own line at the same time ?

  18. Caitlin

    Hello:)
    Im just now entering my senior year in high school so everything is relatively new to me. But after I graduate I wanted to go to college to be a dermatologist and then later along the lines start my own natural hair care line. Im wondering what classes should I take that would help in being beneficial for my career intrest?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Take courses in Chemistry

  19. Eddie

    Hi
    This is my 9th year of working in a personal care manufacturing company, At first I started to Assist a chemist in production and after 3 years I started to an R&D person, I did lots of research and tried to get as many knowledge as I could regarding to materials, formulations and,,, at the moment I am working as a R&D person and developing new formulations for our company. I have a diploma in business management and I have no chemistry background. Do you think I have a chance to get a R&D job in another company ? how can I convince the to accept me as a cosmetics chemist ?

    with many thanks

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you could certainly get a job as a technician, but probably as a formulator too. You just have to demonstrate that you know how to formulate.

  20. Jess

    I have a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience (BS), but only recently have decided I would really like to pursue a career as a cosmetic chemist. I have taken basic chemistry and organic chemistry, but am not sure if I will be able to be a cosmetic chemist now that I have read a chemistry degree would have been more beneficial? Can I still become a cosmetic chemist?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Sure. You have a background in biology so that can work.

  21. Taneshia

    Hello Mr. Perry,

    Do you know if a person with a BSc. In Forensic Chemistry would be able to somehow make a transition to cosmetic chemistry…?

    Sincere Regards

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Hello Taneshia – yes, you should be able to make the transition.

      1. Taneshia

        Thanks very much! I’ve since completed my BSc. and now looking for the ideal university to do a MSc. in Cosmetic Science! =]

  22. Vivian

    Can a student who graduated from chemical industry to become a cosmetics chemist? I that possible?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes.

      1. Vivian

        Thank you. Is cosmetics chemist highly required in every country? If not which country need them? Singapore? Malaysia? USA?

  23. Efia

    All I have to say is you are GREAT Perry!!! I love that you said “The best way to learn how to do this is just to do it” You are absolutely right! I’ve been establishing my line since 2003 and have learned valuable lessons through my journey. I will be signing up for your course and looking forward to combing through all information to take my cosmetic line to the next level. Thank you for creating value on your website.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Thanks for the kind words!

  24. Mina

    Hi, to be a cosmetic chemist can I just take Chemistry in my Cambridge GCE A Level, without Biology or Physics? And does it require any Physics knowledge?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Cosmetic chemistry does not require an extensive background in Physics or Biology but they do help.

  25. Isabel

    What is the difference between chemical engineering and chemistry? which should I major in to become a cosmetic chemist?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      If you want to be a formulating chemist a degree in Chemistry is preferred. Chemical engineers deal more with equipment and scaling up batches. So if that is where you want to spend your time, it would be a better degree to pursue.

  26. Kate

    Hi Perry… I just signed up for the course and will be looking at it shortly. I have a great background- I hold a Diploma in Chemical Technology from NAIT and I am a journeyman hairstylist. I am also a woman who just LOVES make-up. I decided to start a business because I wanted to relocate to Belize and I’m not old enough (or anywhere rich enough) to retire. I chose make-up because I saw a niche market- there is lots of cheap make-up, but it tends to be irritating and to break down under the heat here. There is some good quality make-up available, but by the time shipping, the currency exchange rate, and the retail mark-up have been applied to these products they are prohibitively expensive to most women here. And even the better quality make-up breaks down.

    I mean hey, we’re in the tropics here! So, my challenge is to create products that will stay fresh on your face in a hot, humid place and that don’t cost an arm and a leg… and I am happy to report that my loose powder eye shadow formula will last for at least 8 hours on pretty much anybody without creasing, fading, or changing colour… and it is resistant to “fall away” during application. I only use non-toxic preservatives, I don’t formulate with water unless absolutely necessary (I sell my clay masques dry- so I can give the customer more for less), I don’t use fancy or excess packaging, and I test first on myself to make sure my products do what I want them to.

    How many CEO’s of other cosmetic companies can make the above claims honestly? Or even at all? My advice to the lady above would be to start with one or two products that she knows will build her a reputation for quality (unless she already has more and can get them all out). That’s what I did- once my labels and business cards arrive, I will be selling my clay masques and eye shadows.

    I only have eight shades created at the moment, but would like at least 24. By the time my labels and business cards arrive, I will have them. The next product I plan to release is blush, followed by mineral foundations, concealers, eye liners, etc. So, don’t break your bank doing it, but DO give out a few samples. It’s an inexpensive way of testing your products- and believe me, when your tester ladies are impressed they do tell all their friends.

    I have people practically lining up to buy from me already and I won’t be launching officially and selling for another two weeks or so! And they already want to know when they can expect blush and foundation! Go out and talk to people- tell them about your company and your passion for your product. Give out some freebies and generate a buzz. Also- create a brand. Register a trademark for your products. People identify with brands.

    On the more personal side, remember to respect your customer. In my company that means clear and concise labeling, complete honesty as to risks and benefits of your products, and marketing that makes women feel good. You don’t want women to buy your stuff because they think are ugly and need to fix themselves. You want them to buy it because it makes them feel like the goddesses they already are! Make-up is not a necessity of life- you have to create a (positive) desire for it. So just figure out a plan and then just go for it like Perry says. I am in agreement with him that the best way to learn to do something is hands-on. I wish you the best of luck!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Thanks so much for your message. I look forward to working with you.

  27. May

    Hello!
    I tend to make own skin care/ cosmetic product. Though i have idea how to apply the organic food to be good skin but i haven’t have degree and experience concerning with that field. So, how should i do??? Please give me some advice and information. Many Thanks.

    1. Perry

      I would suggest you take a look at our training program.

  28. Mable

    Well then again I didn’t read every thing

  29. Mable

    This information was helpful but plz add what degree a cosmetic chemist should have

    1. Perry

      You need a degree in Chemistry or Biology.

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