scientist apply makeup
Article by: Perry Romanowski

The number of people I’ve known who work on products that they’ve never even tried has always amazed me . They miss so much when they don’t have direct experience with a product. Perhaps it’s understandable if you are not in the target market for your product, but anyone can safely use most any product and the information you’ll learn from the experience will be invaluable. Here are 5 reasons cosmetic chemists should be trying every cosmetic formula they work on. scientist apply makeup

1 – Learn the most important characteristics

When I first started working on the cosmetic industry, I was making hair care products. While I always used shampoo, I rarely used conditioner. It seemed like a waste of time. But when I was given the task to make a new hair conditioner formula, I needed to figure out the most important characteristics. Reading about slip, spreadability, and hair conditioning properties didn’t make sense until I tried the product. After using it a few times, I figured out what these terms meant and why they were important. This gave me a basis for evaluating new formulas allowing me to know when I made something better.

If you don’t try a formula, you can’t make it better

2 – Build your powers of observation

Many of the formulas you will work on are ones you’ve tried all your life. But most of the time you use them without thinking. Your mind has become dulled to the experience. When you try a product thoughtfully, you can build your powers of observation and discover all sorts of details you never noticed.

For example, you might start to notice the ease at which your hands slide while applying a lotion, or the length of time it takes to “work into the skin”. You might notice the bubble density of your body wash or shampoo. In short, using a product frequently and mindfully can make you an excellent evaluator.

You can’t make formulas better if you don’t know what to change

3 – Figure out formula problems

Sometimes your Market Research data will come back suggesting there is a problem with your formula. This will be surprising to you because companies do not like to field consumer tests with formulas they know will exhibit problems. Even if all your lab testing shows your formula is good, there may be some subtle things you miss if you don’t try it.

For instance, the product might sting or cause another unpleasant sensation during use. There might be a foul odor which you only smell when it’s exposed to skin, hair, or moisture. You might feel tiny particles that interfere with the experience.

Trying a product identifies unseen problems

4 – Learn the effects of raw materials

A great benefit to trying your formulas is that you learn quickly how different raw materials change the experience. You can read all you want about a raw material but until you actually experience it from a formula, your knowledge isn’t useful. Every cosmetic chemist should have a standard “blank” formula which they can incorporate a new raw material in and try it to determine the effects. This is the best way to learn. Even if the raw material isn’t meant to affect performance, it can have a subtle impact that you would never notice unless you used it.

The fastest way to learn about a raw material is to use it

5 – Inspire new product ideas

Finally, trying cosmetic formulas is an excellent way to inspire new ideas. When you think about the different products while using them, you may start to notice common problems. For example, maybe all the skin lotions you use feel too greasy or don’t last long enough. You should write down these observations and try to come up with new solutions. Product brainstorming while you’re in the act of using a product leads to much more useful ideas than sitting in an office just trying to think.

If not you, who?

As a formulator, you should take pride in everything you make. And if your formula is not good enough for you, how can it possibly be good enough for anyone else?

Do you try all the products that you make?  Why or why not?  Leave a comment below.


  1. Avatar
    Erica Payton

    I’ll definitely be making sure I test my lipstick. Lol, Thanks everyone for good feedback, and I love all the knowledge you help out with Perry..Your awesome!


  2. Avatar

    To be a cosmetic formulator, I think it is necessary to try your products. On one hand, like you say, it is a good way to understand more about the product which you designed. On the other hand, it is a right way to show your responsibility. I think it is irresponsible if you never tried your product. You have to make sure it is safty enough before other user try it.
    Some of other colleages who are nutrition food formulators in my company never tried their products. They always gives reasons that they are not in the target market. Like they have no heart problems when they designed heart protected product. But I think they had to try it to make sure it was safty because nutrition food is not drug.
    If consumers know the designer never use the product, they will not buy and use it.

  3. Avatar

    Just a word of warning. I once tried a mascara I was working on – a product type I use very rarely indeed. I only needed to use it on one eye to get the feel of it. I then forgot to remove it when I went to the shops. Needless to say I realised fairly quickly when I got stares from people. Non-habitual mascara users don’t travel with the accessories, so I had no way to remove until after the trip.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      lol! One of the hazards of being a cosmetic chemist. Thanks for the laugh Colin.

  4. Avatar

    If you haven’t tried it on yourself, you shouldn’t hand it over to someone else to try.
    I’ve worked in Haircare labs where I’ve had my hair dyed (I was one of the few dark haired chemists in a lab with a bunch of nordic blondes)
    Before I cut my hair short I was the go-to victim for testing hair sprays
    I’ve tried on Nail polish and mascara, and during formulating I’ll repeatedly test skin creams until I get the exact skinfeel.
    The only product I haven’t tried is lye based hair straightener, and as a white middle aged guy I don’t have the right hair type or enough of it left to make a meaningful assessment.
    The only advisory I would give would be if you’ve been trying out Ladies EDT’s all day is to have a good long shower before going on a lads night out

  5. Avatar

    I also wonder why someone can formulate without using it first. Well as for me i use all my products like lotion, shampoo, hair relaxer, body wash etc. I think it even helps me to be more serious and dedicated to my formulations. I love your article. Pls keep it up.

    1. Avatar

      Thanks Frank!

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  8. Avatar
    Monique Lindeboom

    Hi there, as a beautyjournalist (based in the Netherlands, europe) iam always wondering why chemists DON’t try their products or don’t use cosmetics anyway.

    you can mail us privately as well at

    monique, publisher of

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