Recommended Additional Resources for Cosmetic Chemists.
These will be occasionally updated so check back on a regular basis.

Getting Started

If you want a refresher on basic chemistry, the following is a good introductory textbook.
Virtual Chemistry Textbook
Learn the vital vocabulary.  Cosmetic industry jargon.
Here’s a list of websites that any cosmetic chemist will find useful.  Cosmetic Science web resources.


Chemistry and Manufacture of Cosmetics Formulating, 4th Edition
This is one of the original, complete set of books about cosmetic science. It is packed full of technical information covering cosmetic science, formulating and cosmetic ingredients. Almost every industry expert has written a chapter for this 4 volume book series. If you have a question about cosmetic chemistry, no doubt this book will have the answer for you.
Harry’s Cosmeticology 8th Edition
The first edition of this classic book on cosmetic science was first published in 1940. It is now in its 8th edition and is one of the most comprehensive tomes on the subject. It covers all aspects of cosmetic science in 5 sections including the substrates (skin, hair, nails), formulation approaches, ingredients, specific formulations, and production. As a formulation chemist, you will find this single volume book an indispensable resource that you frequently reference.
Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology, Third Edition
Much like Harry’s, the Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology attempts to cover as many aspects of cosmetic science as it can in a single book. This 880+ page work covers everything from the biology of hair, skin and nails to cosmetic formula types, cosmetic ingredients and even cosmetic claims. Of all the books mentioned thus far, this one does the best job of covering cosmetic claims and testing. It’s definitely worth having on your bookshelf.
A Short Textbook of Cosmetology
I don’t know where I got this book but it is a nice, short volume that covers the basics of cosmetic science. It was written by an author from Switzerland so it has a more Euro-centric view of the cosmetic industry. Other books discussed many focus on the North American cosmetic industry. I particularly enjoyed the extensive historical section in this book. The book is significantly shorter than others weighing in at only 435 pages, but it packs a lot of information in those pages.
Surfactants in Personal Care Products and Decorative Cosmetics, Third Edition (Surfactant Science)
This book is a bit more technical about the science of surfactants than any others on the list. It has chapters written by a variety of cosmetic industry experts and is an excellent resource for the advanced cosmetic chemist. It is probably not one you want to start with but after a few years of formulating, you’ll definitely want to have it in your cosmetic science library.
Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair
This is the most specific of all the books on this list and its inclusion is more reflective of the fact that I spent most of my time formulating products for hair. However, if there is anything you want to know about the science and biology of hair, you need go nowhere else but this book. It explains all aspects of human hair and is based on the latest research. In the hair care world, the book is so ubiquitous it is simply referred to as “Robbins”.

Buyer’s Guides

In the cosmetic industry, Buyer’s Guides list the names and contact information of companies where you can buy raw materials and lab supplies. It also list places to have products formulated, produced, tested and filled.
INCI Directory – This is an excellent resource which lets you search raw materials by trade name, INCI name, and supplier. It also provides you with formula suggestions, news about the materials, and spec sheets. A great resource!
GCI Directory – contains a searchable listing of a variety of raw material, and packaging suppliers for the cosmetic industry. Requires registration but it is free to use.
Happi magazine buyer’s guide – Contains information about raw material sources, packaging and equipment, and testing services. It has a limited number of companies that are indexed.
Cosmetic Bench Reference – the most comprehensive free guide to ingredients and suppliers around the world. It provides the data you need to select the best ingredients for your formulating challenge. With more than 18,500+ ingredients and more than 600 raw material suppliers, the CBR online directory is a must-have research tool for industry buyers and chemists. Requires free registration to use.
Personal Care Products Council buyer’s guide – This is a good source for finding suppliers of various INCI approved raw materials on an International level. It is searchable by raw material name, trade name, and mixture name. It only provides listings for raw materials.


Inovadex – Over 5000 different formulas. One of the most extensive collections available. Requires free registration to use.
Happi Formulary – Not a bad collection of starting formulas. Searchable too.
Cosmetics & Toiletries – A listing of over 100 starting formulas.
Free starting formulas –  A list of over 50 sources for free starting cosmetic formulas.

Formulating Software

Mar – Kov Chemical Management software – Get a free trial here
Excel Formula template spreadsheet – This is a standard formula template that you can use and modify for your own needs.

Lab Supplies

Sigma Aldrich – You can get test raw materials and pretty much any lab equipment you need.
VWR – If you can’t find a lab supply here, it probably doesn’t exist yet. Over 400,000 scientific products.

Job sources

Careers in Cosmetics
This is a site that helps connect employers with job seekers. You can post your resume and search for cosmetic science jobs by job title, company, and location. If you’re searching for a job in the beauty industry, you should be looking here.
This website takes aggregate results from a variety of online job search sites and puts them conveniently in one place. You can search by job title or location. It also gives you alternative terms which will help you expand your search. For example, if you search for cosmetic chemist, it will suggest cosmetic formulator.


FDA Cosmetic Info — Everything you need to know about the rules governing the sale of cosmetics in the United States is here. Some say the cosmetic industry in the US is not regulated but it is, by the FDA. You can find information useful to both the consumer and cosmetic business owner.
European Commission — In the EU, cosmetics are regulated by a document called the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC. At this website you can find the full-text version and also some important commentary on the implications of the rules. An excellent website for all things EU regulatory.
Health Canada — While it’s not as big a market as the US or EU, Canada is still a significant player in the cosmetic industry and their government wants to have their say. At this website you can find all the rules (current and proposed) that will govern how you can sell your products in Canada.
Ministry of Health (Japan) — While all governments have access to the same science, they don’t always come to the same conclusions about what is safe. At this site you’ll find out what compounds are restricted in cosmetics sold in Japan.
Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board — This one isn’t a governmental agency but an industry agency that reviews safety data about cosmetic ingredients. They report to the FDA and provide an excellent guide as to what ingredients you can and can not use when formulating cosmetics.
Complete list of worldwide cosmetic organic standards
A compilation of all the various organic and natural standard agencies. There is no single standard for the world so you must choose which is most appropriate for you to follow if you are creating natural cosmetics.

138 thoughts on “Cosmetic Chemist toolkit

  1. Avatar
    Tania says:

    Dear Perry,
    I can not thank you enough. You’re doing a PHENOMENAL job!!!!!!!
    This toolkit is super useful. I had to bookmark it.

  2. Avatar
    andrianto says:

    Thanks Perry. These are very2 important informations. I, myself, can feel the progress I made as I always link to your info. From the US Patent info, formula template, HAPPI & C-T source of formula, the importance to write a blog, also the forum. Now, if I’m facing problem, whatever it is, I feel secure & sure that I can handle it because I have so many tools, right now. Frankly, I do surprise receiving this information.. complete & comprehensive. I’ll bookmark this! Thanks again.

  3. Avatar
    Ria says:

    As always Perry, you provide invaluable resources! My only complaint is where the hell was this 6 years ago when I was starting out?! LOL!!

  4. Avatar
    Thembi Mtombeni says:

    Thanks Perry, you never cease to amaze me. It is very difficult to locate cosmetic information on the web. it looks like even search engines are not well optimised to pick the few sites that are public. I will definitily make use of this info. Best luck with the work in progress

  5. Avatar
    Pablo says:

    This is indeed very helpful! You have just saved me hours of searching (and probably not finding)… THANKS A LOT PERRY!!

  6. Avatar
    Marie Alice Dibon says:

    I would also suggest two websites that are good ressources for ingredients information
    Lastly, 2 tips: you need mentors. The best option is a mentor within industry with a lot of years under their belt, that is still in the lab. But you can also find a good chemist amongst your suppliers. There are some. And enjoy their experience.
    Don’t forget to also acquire some basic business skills that will help you understand how the people that order work from you (marketing and your boss or your boss’s boss) function.

  7. Avatar
    Jan Sommer says:

    I found the ‘International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary And Handbook’ a valuable source of information for all aspects of Personal Care Science. It contains INCI, CAS #, Regulatory (Australia and Overseas), Suppliers, different functions of ingredients, Technical/Trade Names, Cross referencing to name but a few. It comes in 4 volumes and each volume is specific to the different categories. It has alot of information on raw ingredients especially when the Web is not always a good, accurate and honest source of material information. For anyone studying Personal Care Science or for ongoing research, this is a reliable source of information.

  8. Avatar
    Megan says:

    Thanks a lot Perry, these info are very useful. I would only suggest additional website for cosmetic association and other related association.

  9. Avatar
    Zenith Czora says:

    got some queries in regards to regulations of some materials in cosmetics:
    1. Talc and silica – are considered hazardous due to its respirable silica content. they are still found them as one of the ingredients in cosmetics. how its usage being regulated in cosmetics and what are the implications?
    2. Acetone – what woul be suitable replacement that would comply with regulations?

  10. Avatar
    Kalindi Chirmuley says:

    This is a wonderful job,Perry. One place to look for any information. It has made search so easy , saves time and frustration too.
    I will soon add some website addresses to find guideline to formulate with natural ingredients.

  11. Avatar
    Chris Petrides says:

    Dear Perry,
    I would like to congratulate you on the great work you are doing. Would also like to point out that you ought to mention somewhere that beginners in this business not to waste their time to register with innovadex because they will not be accepted. My company is taking the first steps in the cosmetics business, we are trying to decide on products, formulations and raw material suppliers. We have wasted our time to fill the application for registration with innovadex, the reply was negative for the reason that we do not have a web site with finished products and also we did not have any references from raw material suppliers etc. This web site is aiming to already established companies and chemists in the sector and not to beginners or the advertisers do not want any other business or attract more people in the sector. .

  12. Avatar
    Timothy says:

    Thank you Perry for the useful information you provide. I am also greatful t o see that you also included Inovadex and Specialchems for cosmetics. I am also using this sites and was not sure if they are authentic sites. Thank you.

  13. Avatar
    Nichelle HoLung says:

    Thank you Perry so much. You are amazingly kind and generous to put all this information together for us!! I really appreciate!

  14. Avatar
    Wanda says:

    What can I say that hasn’t already been said; thank you so much for your generosity in sharing with the newcomers. I know that doing all this research takes a lot of time and effort, and to share it with others for the love of the art takes a great person. Thanks again for your help-it proves to be invaluable.

  15. Avatar
    Joseph Allaire says:

    I couldn’t open the link to the FDA Regulatory that you posted. Could you provide a working link? Or did I do something wrong? lol
    Thanks for all your excellent information!

    • Avatar
      Perry says:

      Thanks for pointing that out Joseph. I think the FDA updated their website so the link got broken. I fixed it so it works now.

  16. Avatar
    edward says:

    very interesting and useful. well done. one small comment. the European directive is being replaced by the European regulations from July 2013 as far as i understand

  17. Avatar
    Joshua says:

    Dear Perry,
    All i can say in words is thank you because it’s the only way to show appreciation for the excellent work you are doing.

  18. Avatar
    Sangpen says:

    Dear Perry,
    Thanks a lots for good thing you have done and provided to me. These will be very useful/helpful for the starting of my project.
    Best regards,

  19. Avatar
    Dennis says:

    I have in my library some of these books and I have found them useful. I am sure the recommended resources will prove to be priceless. Thanks.

  20. Avatar
    SMonia says:

    Dear Perry, thanks for excellent information. You provide helpful and useful resources , which are irreplaceable…in Europe , too.
    thanks a lot.

  21. Avatar
    Efi says:

    Thank you Perry!! Very usefull information indeed!! I am so glad that I joined your newsletter. You are doing a great job! Since you have worked in the industry you know exactly which are the problems that a cosmetic scientist/formulator is facing in his everyday reality. I would also like to mention that the articles and information on your site are also very helpful. Since I am in Europe I always use CosIng ( in order to see if there are any restrictions in the raw materials that I have to use. And keep in mind to update that from 11th of July 2013 the new Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 is coming into force instead of Directive 76/768/EEC.

  22. Avatar
    ikechukwu Anyaogu says:

    Dear Perry I want to express my profound gratitude to you for painstakingly puting all this vaulable information together. As a reseacher/educator I have benefited greatly from them.

  23. Avatar
    Madhu says:

    Dear Perry,
    Thank you very much indeed for providing very useful information so that the reader can find information within short period and it helps even to get information about formulations. In addition, you always present detail information related to cosmetic industry.

  24. Avatar
    Abderrazek Dahbi ( Dr. ) says:

    I appreciate all your good efforts,
    It’s so helpful and informative
    wish you all progress
    Dr. A. Dahbi

  25. Avatar
    Aeshna says:

    I really appreciate your efforts in compiling this and sharing with us your rich experience, so freely. I am grateful for it. I have just started out as a cosmetic chemist and your list will be very handy. Please let me know if I can be of any help in return….

  26. Avatar
    abbas fathel says:

    Greetings We followed all stages of the product type to choose the type of raw materials at the beginning and experience these steps thank you for your successful development and follow-up we now need to types of mixtures cosmetics in order to take advantage thanks

  27. Avatar
    Mehran Mohaghegh says:

    Dear perry
    I really find Chemist toolkit helpful. I wish you extend your field to home-care products too.

  28. Avatar
    Jamie says:

    Thank you for sharing the information that has taken hours to find. I’ve
    Spent countless hours doing such searching left to feel un satisfied with my findings or just going in circles. Your insights and resources are very appreciated and I’m so thankful to have come across chemist corner. Thank you so much!

  29. Avatar
    Adrienne says:

    This is an incredible wealth of information…especially for a newbie like me. Now I can find answers all in one place. My previous research experience has mostly led to seemingly endless “surfing” on the Web. I very much appreciate your effort and willingness to share. Thank you very much.

  30. Avatar
    Jay Kaif says:

    Dear Perry
    How can I thankyou for remembering me and sending this very enlightening and helpful “Cosmetic Chemisr’s Toolkit.
    I dont feel ashamed to tell you that I am totally new in this industry and wish to make a carrer in it.
    I am hopeful that with your help I will suceed .
    Thanks and regards Perry

  31. Avatar
    Sandra Britton says:

    Thank you so much, all the information is really helpful. I am now trying to find a source for raw materials. I sent out some emails to different companies and awaiting response. But thanks sooo much for your help. I hope I can still contact you for further information if need it.

  32. Avatar
    Jayasheel Hegde says:

    Your work is very exhaustive and very useful. It is ‘every information in one place’. Outstanding work and very useful source. Thank you

  33. Avatar
    Bertran Santiago says:

    I found these tools very interesting, it will help me so much in my actually job…. thank you very much for that effort…

  34. Avatar
    Janet says:

    Hi ,I really appreciate the cause and am learning a lot from it.thank you so much for your time and commitment to help chemist like me.
    I have a question, am currently working on product, which the raw material am using is discontinue what show I use to the get the same result?
    Micro patch caffeine.
    Also what can I add to this to a solution to achieve “anti-inflammatory soothing effect”

  35. Avatar
    judy bernstein says:

    Dear Perry,
    Your not just a great Chemist and Formulator, but where you shine is as an Educator.
    You have provided years of your research and work to all of us who receive your newsletter.
    Like you said, nobody wants to share their secrets, and especially their suppliers, yet you have opened the doors to all of us and expecting nothing in return, a true act of giving.
    You have taught all of us the importance of sharing our knowledge for not just our own personal growth and expansion, but to lend to others to enable them to grow as well.
    May you be blessed with a long, healthy and accomplished life,
    Keep them info rollin,

  36. Avatar
    Christina says:

    I want to thank you so much for all those useful informations! You provide us with so many educational material! Great job!

  37. Avatar
    Tatiana says:

    Hi Perry Thank you for getting all this info condensed in one place.
    I have been researching USDA NOP Organic standards, but I am still a little stumped as to why I cannot locate a complete list of ingredients that are approved for use in USDA 100% Organic products. Or is it based on each ingredient in your formula: you have to contact the producer to show the USDA certification documents and then your formula becomes automatically USDA organic as well if you are solely using their certified ingredients? Thank you in advance.

    • Avatar
      Perry Romanowski says:

      Hello Tatiana – This is probably because there is no one who could really profit off putting together a list like that. The USDA is in the business of regulating food not cosmetics so they won’t do it. The raw material suppliers are only inclined to tell people about their own ingredients so they won’t do it. Maybe someday we’ll do something like that here on Chemists Corner.
      No, you can’t call yourself USDA organic certified just by using certified ingredients. Your production has to be observed and certified by an agent of the USDA before you get certified.

    • Avatar
      suki says:

      I’m certain Perry’s totally correct re:the USDA, however, it might be worth your time to contact ‘Oregon Tilth’, if you’re seeking a starting point (& to greatly increase your label value, depending on your market)..they are a very legitimate 3rd party-objective assessment type of organization which is held in high esteem on the west coast, & possibly further. Regardless, they’ll certainly be able to give you some guidance as to the logistics of the process. Best of luck!

  38. Avatar
    Milagros Gonzales says:

    Hi! Thanks again for sending me these info. These will allow me to explore the field of cosmetics. As I’m going deeper in this field, am pretty sure i will be one of those asking questions. God bless you for the support you are providing not only for individuals with same profession as yours but also those who have great interest to learn cosmetics.

  39. Avatar
    Alaa says:

    Hej Perry
    Thank you very much for your effort in making available for us all the resources necessary to get a peek into the cosmetic industry.
    Thanks again

  40. Avatar
    David Moon says:

    Thank you for sharing information on cosmetics, I want to share the cosemtic information all around world with Koreans for making better strategy how to develop in Korea.

  41. Avatar
    Simona says:

    Dear Perry
    Thank you very much. It is really very helpful to find everything at once place. Especially looking for particular INCI (when evaluating a composition of a cosmetic product) is sometimes challenging – especially for my students. If you do not mind I will share your findings with them.
    Since I am from EU I am also looking for some specifics for EU market…
    I found very useful following link: describing products with DMS(R) base cream for “treatment” of problematic skin…. I personally have some experiences with this base. (I developed creams for sensitive skin using also some DMD base) … however I do not know if this link fits to this topic…
    I am looking forward for addition news:).
    Thank you
    Kind regards

  42. Avatar
    okon ekpa says:

    I really appreciate the information you have provided here. It will help me in getting appropriate information on everything about cosmetics all in one place.
    Thank you so much Perry, you are a true professional.

  43. Avatar
    Carletta says:

    I really appreciate the resources you have shared. I spend hours researching information for my product line and it’s wonderful that you have provided such good information at my fingertips. Thank you so much.

  44. Avatar
    Niki says:

    Thank you! I personally appreciate all the time and effort that went in to providing this information to us for free! I am so grateful for this email and glad I joined this group. Absolutely a huge time saver and invaluable resource!! Thank you!

  45. Avatar
    Doyin says:

    Thank you so much for your selfless input in educating and helping others. God will continue to reward you in all your undertakings. I am neither a chemist nor a formulator, just a curious natural skin care products promoter who wants the best for my clients.
    Thanks for sharing your time and resources with all.

    • Avatar
      Eva Unger-Kovacs says:

      Thank you so much Perry for your time in putting together and providing with this rich and valuable data.I was literally overwhelmed, went through of it in this weekend.
      I am finding it as a goldmine for those who are formulating.

  46. Avatar
    Jacqulyn Watson says:

    Wonderful job Perry! Thanks for the pertinent information. I have been trying to figure out where to start to get an effective product.

  47. Avatar
    suki says:

    Dear Perry, you are one impeccably detail-oriented & seriously knowledgeable dude! & altruistic too! This is of inestimable value to me & to all your readers. Thank you for compiling such a comprehensive & useful resource, this is going straight onto my home screen. Best & most grateful regards, suki

  48. Avatar
    Sta says:

    Dear Perry,
    I presume that for yourself all these items, you offered, may be quite normal or of no big deal, but just having an overview of all these comments, I am quite sure that you have already realized the amazing job you have done.
    Really, Thank You

  49. Avatar
    Kim Pelletier says:

    THANK YOU, PERRY! I appreciate this whole site; your expertise, the links, the forum, the information you’re providing, not to mention how easy it is to access it all. Great stuff here!

  50. Avatar
    Anthony C. Dweck says:

    Dear Perry
    Thank you for the excellent service you are providing. I have been in the industry for 45 years and I wish this Chemist’s Corner had been around in 1971 when I joined because it would have saved a lot of hassle! Please may I let your members know that my web site is full of published papers, useful links and other information. It also has information about some publications that are available as ebooks and paperbacks that fellow scientists might find useful!
    Keep up the excellent work

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