Biomimicry and the Cosmetic Chemist

Perhaps the most difficult thing about being a cosmetic chemist is that the formulas are already pretty good.  Also, nearly everyone has access to the same technology.  This makes it nearly impossible to make your formulas stand out.

Sure, you can optimize your formulas and find a unique consumer group that likes your product over everyone else, but for the most part, cosmetic products rely on marketing to set them apart.  But don’t worry, I said it was “near impossible”, not impossible.  If you start investigating and formulating in ways that other people aren’t you can create formulations that are truly different.  This will require looking in areas where no one else is.


Perhaps one of the best possibilities for creating noticeably new formulas is to look into the world of biomimicry.  Biomimicry is described as “innovation inspired by nature.”  Essentially, it involves looking at how things in nature have solved problems and adapting them to your products.

Here is a list of some of the coolest adaptations of biomimicry to real products.

The ones that could be applied to cosmetics would include.

5. The Lotus Effect - this is a self-cleaning surface with “superhydrophobicity.”  Could you make a make-up product that has this effect?

6.  Self-healing plastics - I always thought a self-healing hair spray might be interesting.  Fill it with unreacted styling resin monomers nanosperes that open up and repair themselves when moved.

7.  The golden streamlining effect.  Could this be used to make a better hair dryer?

12. Diatomaceous Nanotech. I’ve always thought diatoms on skin might be able to create some interesting effects. Maybe color changing?

15. Butterfly-Inspired Displays. Could these be the next new colorants for cosmetics?

Here’s a pretty good application.  Using bacteria to create 3D objects.

Biomimicry projects

There is an entire institute dedicated to developing biomimicry technologies.  Take a look at the Biomimicry Institute and search through their database.  You just might find that inspirational idea that could open up a whole new market of biomimetic cosmetics!


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How to Become a Cosmetic Chemist

The job of a cosmetic chemist, or as they call it in the UK a cosmetic scientist, requires you to do a wide variety of things both in and out of the lab. Your main responsibility will be that of a formulator. This means you mix raw materials together to create cosmetic products like lipstick, nail polish, skin lotions, shampoos, toothpaste and any other type of personal care product.

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