Article by: Perry Romanowski

We often get questions about formulating and frequently those are centered on Natural cosmetic formulating. Here is a recent question sent in by someone who has limited background in chemistry but an interest in formulating.

Do you know if there are any places that offer instruction on natural cosmetic formulation, teaching formulation by using only natural ingredients instead of synthetic materials?

Course on Natural formulating

We created a course to address this exact question. The naturals cosmetic formulating course is a 6 lesson, online video training course which teaches you exactly which ingredients you can use for creating products that would be classified as “natural.” It is an excellent course for anyone interested in this area. However, if you are new to formulating, you might do better starting with our Practical Cosmetic Chemistry course which goes specifically through how formulating is done.

Get this free Natural formulating book

And if you want to get a primer on natural formulating, be sure to sign up for our free natural cosmetic formulating report. In it you will learn the complicated issues with creating your own natural cosmetic line.

Reality of natural formulating

Ok, so natural formulating is a real thing and there are a number of people in the cosmetic industry trying to create products which could be considered natural. But if you are not trained in chemistry or cosmetic formulation then I want to make you aware of a few of the realities of natural formulating. It is a much more complicated thing than you might imagine.

Natural formulating is hard

First, formulating natural is hard. This is because the cosmetic products that currently exist are pretty good. Most people are satisfied with the performance of their skin creams and hair products. They are always seeking new products but for the most part, cosmetics work as described. This has created a certain expectation of performance in the consumer’s mind for any product they will buy. If you sell a product that does not perform as well as one that the consumer is used to, they will not continue to buy your product. Unfortunately, when you limit yourself to only “natural” ingredients you cut out a lot of the best-performing ingredients. You reduce the number of surfactants you can use, the polymers, the preservatives, the fragrances and more. It is like being a painter and trying to use 3 colors versus competitors who can use 300. It is hard!

There is no standard definition

Another problem of natural formulating is that there are no standard definitions. There are a few different systems and we’ve written about natural formulating standards before. But there is not yet a requirement for any company to follow those standards. That means your all-natural cosmetic line is going to compete with companies who produce pseudo-natural cosmetic lines which are produced using standard ingredients with natural ingredients sprinkled in. These products will work better than yours. You will be at a marketing disadvantage. But that is the challenge of natural formulating.


One of the biggest challenges of natural formulating is that your products have to be proven safe. It is illegal to sell unsafe cosmetics in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Since most of the ingredients that you would use in cosmetics are capable of being contaminated with microbial growth, you will have to use some kind of preservative to prevent that. Unfortunately, the ingredients that are really effective at killing disease-causing microbes are not natural. You are severely limited in the ingredients you can use. This means that unless you have some special air-tight packaging made under anti-septic conditions or you have an expiration date on your product, you will not be able to honestly create an all-natural, preservative free cosmetic formulation. I know there are companies out there that claim they are but most are using tricks to pretend they are not using preservatives when they actually are. This is an extremely difficult problem.


As I said before, formulating natural products is hard and you have to face the fact that the best formulated cosmetic product is not going to work as well as the best formulated cosmetic product which is not restricted to only natural ingredients. And consumers buy cosmetics for their functionality. Yes, they say they want natural and organic. They say it makes them feel better about their purchases. But when it comes down to it, for most consumers if your product does not perform as well as one of the pseudo-natural formulations, they will not continue to buy your product.

Why natural?

Considering the disadvantages that you are going to face as a natural formulated, you have to ask yourself, why formulate natural at all? The reality is that naturally formulated cosmetic products are not more safe than standard cosmetic products. You may disagree with that but your disagreement is not based on any kind of science or testing. Cosmetics have been safety tested and have proven to be some of the most safe consumer products that anyone can buy. By restricting yourself to ingredients that are arbitrarily considered “natural” you are not making them automatically more safe. In fact, there is evidence that unprocessed, natural ingredients are sometimes less safe due to bacterial and microbial contamination.

So, be sure to ask yourself why you want to formulate naturally. You may still want to because it has proven to be a profitable marketing angle. Unfortunately, it is not a good formulating angle. Ultimately, consumers will buy products that are effective. Whether they are considered “natural” or not is just a bonus.

If formulating natural formulas is of interest to you, be sure to check out ourFormulating Naturals Cosmetics course.


  1. Avatar
    Vicky Smallwood

    Hello Perry, I am new to this site and I am wondering if you offer training on how to formulate skincare products such as Gel, Serum, Scrubs Soaps and lotion using active skin lightening ingredients like Kojic Acid, Alpha Arbutin and Hydroquinone. Skin Whitening and Lightening products

  2. Avatar
    Jonathan O

    Hi Perry,

    I hold a Masters in polymer Chemistry and I am beginning down the road of studying formulation beginning with foundations. I do not need to know basic chemistry, I know what the terminology means. I currently own the Handbook of Cosmetic science and Technology. While it is an interesting read it tells me very little don’t already know. I have investors, marketing/branding gurus and myself to get the company started so what I really need is the skinny on why polysiloxane x is better for foundation and polysiloxane y. What equipment is needed to produce this emulsion and why it is better than this other tool. The down and dirty of formulating without the beginner speak of chemistry. A big ole list of emollients and colorants and suspensions and why they are appropriate for this skin lotion vs that sunscreen. I am looking at your course and frankly there are some great looking chapters, but others would be less useful for me and while not a waste of time… kinda filler material. You know, like various clays 🙂 I would love for some pointers and perhaps a discussion of purcahsing particular segments of your training course. A purcahse as needed as opposed to the one size fits all. What are your thoughts?
    Many Thanks,


    1. Avatar
      Jonathan O

      thoughts other than that I should proofread my typing before posting 🙂

    2. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Hello Jonathan – Our course does give a good overview of the subject in one handy place but it sounds like it might be a little too basic for you. You might get more information like that from our facebook club. You can join here.

      Also, you can get a lot of questions answered in our forum

  3. Avatar

    Hello. Do you have any classes in Atlanta?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Hello – we have not done any live classes in Atlanta. Check with your local SCC

  4. Avatar

    Hello, I studied chemistry at university and I am interested to make cosmetic product but I am not familiar with cosmetic formulation, property and function of ingredients can be used in skin care products. Would someone please tell the best way of learning in this field and recommend me books or website or online courses so I can build up my knowledge in cosmetic formulation. I found many websites but I want to learn the basic functions, properties of ingredients and how to choose right ingredients for making cosmetic products. I really appreciate your help in advance.

  5. Avatar

    I have little before hand knowledge on natural cosmetics, and have been struggling to find a major that teaches all this material. Is it steady pace for a beginners? And if I’m interested in creating a business with the products I create, do you think I should focus on majoring in chemistry or biology or business?

  6. Avatar
    NY Suliman

    It is great < I will be intrested in synthetic fragrance for industrial use course , don't konw if you offer

  7. Avatar

    I currently work for a large company -as a copywriter and translator- that sells meal replacements and cosmetics. We were asked to pick trainings that would be of interest to us and improve our employee skills. Sometimes it’s not easy to translated the labels of our products, and I am very interested in natural products (my company is leaning that way). I am by no means a chemist however, and I write mostly marketing. Would this course be of interest to me, and not too complicated?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Hello – You should be able to go through the course without a problem.

  8. Avatar
    Eva Dang

    I’m from Viet Nam
    I Want study, but english is a difficult with myselt
    and now, i don’t now
    please give me advice

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I’m sorry, we don’t have any courses in a language other than English.

      1. Avatar

        Sir would you mind send me your phone number or email, I want to contact you regarding cosmetic training .

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          You can send me an email with questions. See our contact form.

  9. Avatar

    The link does not seem to work. Is it still possible to attend the online course?

    ..just a note on safety of cosmetics. It is of course true that all ingredients and products are being tested. However, it is impossible to test for long term effects, and it is obvious that chemicals accumulating in the body alters the biological cycle. Nothing is black and white 🙂

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      This could be true of any products. If you are afraid of cosmetics then you shouldn’t use them. They are not necessary to life a healthy life.

      We’ve started a new Natural formulating course. You can find our new course here.

  10. Avatar


    “The reality is that naturally formulated cosmetic products are not more safe than standard cosmetic products.”

    Really, are you serious? You are not aware of the many carcinogenic ingredients that abound in standard cosmetic products: parabens, siloxanes,BHA and BTA, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde releasing preservatives, sodium laureate sulphate, I could go on and on. US researchers report that at least 1 in 8 of the 82 thousand ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins and hormone disrupters. And you are discouraging someone from going natural? You think it’s a trend? No, the huge increase in cancer, allergies and reproductive problems is making people more aware! Shame on you for disseminating such information!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, you have been misinformed. For example, there are not 82 thousand ingredients used in personal care products. The INCI dictionary lists 15,000. The ingredients you’ve listed have been tested for safety and are safe as used in cosmetics. But you miss the most important thing…it is ILLEGAL to sell unsafe cosmetics in the US. Products must be safety tested and they are.

      There also isn’t a big increase in cancer rates. They are actually going down.

  11. Avatar

    my name sam.
    i would like to know and learn this course, how i start it.?

    thank you

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