Advice for a clueless chemical engineer.

IQNathaIQNatha Member
edited October 2014 in Starting a cosmetic line

I'm a chemical engineer from Colombia. Last week I was contacted by a colombian company that is beginning in the business of "Natural Cosmetics". Since then, I've been researching about cosmetics formulation and that is how I got to know this website.

Regarding the company's calling, the executive director told me that I would have to design a new line (5 to 10 products) to be launched in june. Since I have absolutely no experience in formulating cosmetics, I would like to ask you how hard is it to formulate this type of cosmetics. Do you consider possible to accomplish what I've been asked for in that period of time?. (Note: I would be the only person working on that project).

As I have not signed any contract yet, I would appreciate enormously your opinion about that situation. That will help me to make up my mind.

Thanks in advance


  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    I'd say it's possible. Please note, though, that it isn't going to be easy. Emulsion chemistry and surfactant chemistry are very different from usual reaction-based chemistry.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    For someone who's not trained in cosmetic formulation, you're taking on a big job with a tight deadline. A trained/experienced cosmetic chemist could do this, but for someone with no formulating experience, I'd say you have a 50/50 chance of success on all 5-10 products being successful in that time-frame.

    I'd make two or three suggestions:

    1) Find a partner/assistant who is already a cosmetic chemist

    2) Partner with raw material suppliers who have their own formulation labs who will be able to develop most or all of the formulations for you. Explain to your client that there will be minimal opportunity to make/test changes, since proper stability testing requires 3 months of testing each time the formula is changed.

    3) Get at least 50% of the cost of the project up-front
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Hi! My recommendation here; 

    1) Take the position and accept the challenge. You will learn something for sure. 

    2) Follow Bobzchemist's recommendation. They want to hire you because they don't know how to do it. But I agree with Bob, you will need someone to guide you. 

    regards, Javier
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    Here are a couple of thinks to consider.

    What type of products would you be formulating? If it is basic shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion type products it could probably be done as there are plenty of starting formulations out there that you can use and modify to suit your needs. You should definitely join up to the Prospector (formerly Innovadex) website.

    I would also find out more about what they expect of a "natural" cosmetics line. If you need to avoid certain preservatives (e.g. parabens or formaldehyde donors) or classes of ingredients (e.g.sulphates, palm oil ingredients etc) it is going to make your job much more difficult as it can take weeks to research and test alternatives.

    You also need to consider what types of ingredients you will have readily available in your area. Some ingredients can take up to 12-14 weeks to get to you after they are ordered. This is probably difficult to know without taking the job and talking to suppliers but it is definitely worth considering.

    I personally think it is a pretty tight time frame but it could be done. I would ask what the outcome would be if you can't meet that deadline. Is this an existing company that is introducing an additional product line that could push back the deadline by a couple of months or is it a new company that must have things done by a certain deadline?

    Best wishes if you decide to take the job.

  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    Very good points @Ozgirl. Here in a major city in Mexico I can get most but not all ingredients of interest. I'd definitely begin by investigating supplier availability. The problem with using any publicly-available formulation is that they invariably contain some particular manufacturer's pet substances which, naturally, you can't easily find.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Thank you all for your recommendations. I will have in mind all of the points that have been exposed here, to make my decision.

    Regarding @Ozgirl questions:
    1. The type of products I would be formulating are mainly for skin care (lotions, creams, cleansing oils, body scrubs, etc.). 
    2. It is a new company, but I'm not sure if they can push back the deadline by a couple of months. Nevertheless, I think they haven't considered all of the steps involved in creating a new product line (ingredients research, delivery time, stability tests and so on). So that's definitely a talk I have to have with the Executive Director in order to put things into perspective.

    Nathalia A.
  • Hi Nathalia
    Look like you and I have the same products, I am too in the process of making lotions, surgar scrub, salt scrub, etc...the product will mainly use by nail supply shop.
  • pmapma Member
    June? Remember you're in Latin America, maybe the most bureaucratic of the world. Nothing is quick here. I'm not sure about Colombia, but in Brasil just to register a product at ANVISA can take many months. For stability tests you will need many days as well... 
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