Article by: Perry Romanowski

I like the TV show Top Chef. If you don’t know it’s a competition show in which cooks are given challenges and a time limit to create their best recipes. The reason I like it is because a cook and a formulation chemist are very similar. Both face the task of taking raw materials and converting them into something that pleases customers. Both have to consider texture, stability, color, odor, and appearance.

Of course, there are some significant points of deviation. First, cooks primary focus is on what their formulas taste like. Cosmetic formulators are concerned more with how their product functions. The other point of deviation is the raw materials that are used. While there is a small amount of overlap, cosmetic chemists have significantly more options than a cook. Unfortunately, chemists are not able to go to their local Whole Foods to get their raw materials. For that, you’ll need other sources.

Cosmetic raw materials

Your ability to get raw materials depends on the size of your company. If you work for a big cosmetic industry corporation, then you’ll often have no problem getting free samples from large and mid-sized suppliers of chemicals. In fact, the only companies you might have a problem getting free samples from are small to tiny chemical suppliers. They are often underfunded and sampling may represent a significant cost to their business. Without a guarantee of future sales, these companies are often hesitant to give product away.

To find sources of free samples, you’ll want to consult one of the many cosmetic industry buyers guides. While there is no single source that lists all the raw material companies and the products they have available, there are a couple of sources that can get you started.

Cosmetic Bench Reference — over 600 suppliers listed and >18000 raw materials
Happi Buyers Guide — Limited selection but useful
PCPC Buyers Guide — They list suppliers for over 3800 raw materials with international sourcing.
SpecialChem4Cosmetics — The INCI directory is an excellent source of raw material information.
ULProspector — You can order samples right from the website.

Cosmetic trade show directories

A little known source for cosmetic industry information and raw material suppliers is trade show listings. There are a couple of great cosmetic trade shows and they frequently put exhibitor information online complete with website and contact info. Here are a couple of the best.
NYSCC Suppliers day

Alternative cosmetic raw material sources

But what if you do not work with one of the big guys or you work in an industry that isn’t recognized in the cosmetic industry or you are at a university? Well, there are some options. Unfortunately, these sources rarely give free samples so you might have to put out some money to get the raw materials you want. The other problem is that they are not cosmetic industry specific so you have to sort through a lot of irrelevant compounds to find what you want.
Signma – Aldrich chemical — An online catalog of catalogs
eBay — You can actually find raw materials on eBay! — They have raw materials too

Being a cosmetic chemist and formulator can certainly be as fun and creative as a cook but you can’t just go to your local grocery store to get your raw materials. Hopefully, with these resources you’ll find getting materials a little easier.

Incidentally, see this video if you are curious about naming cosmetic raw materials.

What is your favorite source for cosmetic raw materials? Leave a comment below.


About the Author

Perry Romanowski

Perry has been formulating cosmetic products and inventing solutions to solve consumer problems since the early 1990’s. Additionally, he has written and edited numerous articles and books, taught continuing education classes for industry scientists, and developed successful websites. His latest book is Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry 3rd Edition published by Allured.


  1. Avatar

    Thanks for your article which is very helpful and useful Our company, CCSM manufacture raw materials such soap raw materials ,Chocolate & Candle making materials cosmetics industry.

  2. Avatar
    yoon-suck. Park

    Call or yucca extract from Cassia
    It seeks him.That a small needle

  3. Avatar
    SEKKAL Achraf

    Hi, we are a company based in Morocco, we are specialized in production/export prickly pear seeds oil, our oil is certified ORGANIC by ECOCERT, contact us if you are interested.

    Best regards

  4. Avatar

    Dear Ms. / Mr.
    I am from Chinese enterprise, specializing in the production of beeswax, royal jelly and other bee products. Used in the production of cosmetics or other.
    Please contact me if you need this product.
    Look forward to working with you.

  5. Avatar

    This place has cosmetic raw ingredients as well, and at very affordable pricing!

  6. Avatar
    Imaobong Ojeih

    Hi all,

    Our company, Delferia Company Limited suppies raw materials such shea butter/nut for the cosmetics industry. We also send free sample especially for first time buyers. Feel free to contact me on

  7. Avatar

    Ok. So I am a newbie to the chemist world….I need to know about tocopherol ,alpha without acetate. How can I produce this myself organically? Is this possible?

  8. Avatar

    I had purchased 1kg Aloe Vera Conc 10x.
    the expiry date is 2014 feb.
    When I open the bottle, I saw that the gel is cloudy with white suspension. From the COA, the gel is suppose to be clear.
    Can you advise what could have caused it to change the appearance ?
    e.g temperature, sunlight, etc

  9. Avatar


    I am wondering how to find out the distributor of a raw material.

    Can you advise ?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Google it. Or check out a Buyer’s Guide.

  10. Avatar
    Corey Esamann

    My name is Corey Esamann and I’m with a company called Gener8 located in Indiana in the United States. We have some overseas inventory of all natural Borneol Oil & Crystals. We can negotiate nicely on pricing so please get in touch with me if you are interested!

    Corey Esamann
    Gener8 LLC

  11. Avatar
    Elroy Yap

    We are a manufacture for extraction of natural Bird’s Nest extract for cosmetic industries use. We uses water based extract and natural process for the highest quality product.

    If you have any interest in it. Please content me.



    1. Avatar
      Charlie Lim

      Dear Elroy,

      Please provide more info. on the bird’s nest extract and your contact info. Thank you.

      Best regards,

      Charlie Lim

  12. Pingback:Making Cosmetics the scientific way

  13. Avatar
    rawan bitar

    Dear sir,

    We are a manufacturing comapany in Joradn, in the market for over 25 years, we manufacture cosmetics and detergents, we were agents for many companies like Cognis, since we also provide raw materials to other manufacturers , I would like to know if u provide raw materials or if u can recommend a few companies.

    Rawan Bitar
    Alfa Chemical Manufacturing Est.

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