Cosmetic Chemist toolkit

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.

Chemists Corner