Cosmetic Formulating Checklist

Whenever you begin a formulating project there is a variety of information you need to establish before doing anything else. Some of these things will be obvious and easy but others might be challenging especially if you have to get your marketing department to make a decision.

Remember, on some level formulating is a team sport.

But here is a handy checklist that any cosmetic formulator could use to speed up their formulating efforts and ensure that they have the best chance for success.

Cosmetic Product Profile

The product profile is intended to establish the goals that you are trying to achieve with your product. It should include information about Aesthetics, Performance, Cost, Claims and Packaging.

Cosmetic aesthetics

The specific characteristics will depend on the type of formula you are making, but in general you should have targets for all the following parameters. Since your marketing people will typically be the ones guiding the development you will need to work with them on picking the benchmark and most of these other characteristics.

1. Benchmark standard - A product that you are trying to match.

2. Color
3. Intensity of color
4. Clarity - (opaque, clear, hazy)
5. Special effects (e.g. pearled, glitter or not)
6. Consistency - Liquid, Gel, Solid, etc.
7. Rheology / viscosity
8. Product odor (fragrance benchmark)

Cosmetic performance

These characteristics depend on what you want the product to do. Your ability to come up with measurements or targets depends on your ability to test these characteristics. These can be instrumental tests or trained panel tests. We can’t list them all but here are some standarad characteristics for most types of products.

Cleansing products
1. Foam volume
2. Foam height
3. Foam density / feel
4. Level of cleansing
5. Feel of surface after cleansing (hair or skin)
6. Level of moisturizing / conditioning
7. Drying rate
8. Other…

Moisturizing products
1. Feel upon application (greasiness, dryness, tackiness)
2. Speed of rub-in
3. Immediate moistuirizng level
4. Shine
5. Skin moisturization score

For hair products
6. Ease of combing
7. Flyaway levels
8. Hair breakage reduction
9. Speed of rinsing

Styling products
1. Hair workability
2. Level of hold

Formula cost

Before you start any formulation work, you need to know how much money you have for creating the product. Typically, you will cost a formula out in terms of how much it costs per pound (kilogram) or how much it costs per unit (depends on package size).

1. Total formula cost limit

Cosmetic claims

An important thing to consider while in the early stages of formulation is the types of claims you want to make. This will help you choose feature ingredients and make you decide what characteristics you need to build into the formula.

Some of this work can be done after formulating but the more you can get done before you actually start to work, the easier your formulating efforts will be.

1. Ingredient claims
2. Performance benchmark claims
3. Competitive product claims
4. Product claims demonstrations


When formulating it is imperative that you know what type of package the product will be put into. This will affect many of the aesthetic characteristics you choose in the first section.

1. Primary container form
2. Size
3. Type
4. Material of container
5. Container pigment
6. Package supplier
7. Type of closure
8. Material of closure

Formulating checklist

For each product you could come up with a specific list that is applicable. This checklist provides a starting point which you can expand upon. Putting together this list prior to formulating and getting your marketing or management to agree to the decisions made will greatly improve your chances of creating an excellent formulation that pleases everyone in your company. And hopefully, it will please your consumers too.

Chemists Corner

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