Cosmetic Science Talk

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Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Are all chemist equal?

  • Are all chemist equal?

    Posted by LMC33 on February 20, 2016 at 3:31 am


    I am new hear and if this question has already been answered sorry for the repeat but I could not find it anywhere on the forum. I am completely new to the cosmetic chemist arena. I am looking to work with someone to advise us on our formulations we have. 
    I have a benchmark product and have produced a few samples but I don’t know enough to say how good my formula is. As in being preserved and not using to much active ingredients. I also would like to get some advice on, if I am measuring correctly and how to scale the formula. So I am looking to hire someone for a consultation to look over my formulas and give me there expert advise along with answering a few questions. 
    My question for the group is I want to make the product with no synthetics does it matter what type of chemist I work with?  Also does anyone have a price range I could expect to pay for 1-2 hours of consulting. Thanks 
    Belassi replied 7 years, 3 months ago 11 Members · 16 Replies
  • 16 Replies
  • Tarik

    February 20, 2016 at 3:39 am

    What does you actually Want? if you want suggestions than why don’t you just share it with all and get advice of everybody,in free of cost.

    Do you want to develop Herbal cosmetics ,which product are you developing please elaborate buddy.
  • OldPerry

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    February 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    No, all chemists are not equal. But specialties don’t really divide by “chemists who use synthetics” and “chemists who don’t use synthetics.”

    The main difference in formulators is by product specialty. Some formulators know a lot about creating skin care products, others know hair care, still others focus on color cosmetics.
    There are chemists who position themselves as Natural or Organic formulators and that may be who you are looking for.  However, if you are creating hair care products you would be better off getting a chemist who specializes in hair care and asking then giving them your marketing driven formulation restrictions.
    But your request to create formulas that have “no synthetics” is an impossible one. There are almost no products on the market that are made with “no synthetics.”  
    There are certainly products that qualify under natural standards like the NPA, NSF, COSMOS, or even the USDA. But these standards allow for synthetic ingredients and companies who make products use synthetic ingredients.
    Brands like Burt’s Bees, Say Yes To, JASON organic, Honest Beauty, etc. all use synthetics.
  • LMC33

    February 20, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks for the feed back and the info on no synthetics. I will research this more since I obviously have a misunderstanding on it.  

  • Microformulation

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    February 21, 2016 at 12:10 am

    It is not uncommon to have an idealized yet misinformed outlook on terms such as “natural” (no legal definition, dealers choice), “Organic” and what is “toxic.” In most cases it is overly exaggerated and not realistic in the Market place.

    As your line grows, you will see that your definition of these terms and concepts will mature. I generally urge my clients to acquaint themselves with their regional Natural Standards (NSF, COSMOS, etc.) and to use this as a yardstick for your raw material selection. You will find that there is by far way too much misinformation and “fear mongering.” Others will argue “this is what the market wants.” Perhaps in 2005 this was still true, but the core clientele now wants a balance between compliance with a Natural Standard, Price and Performance. To put all the emphasis on being “natural” is naive and outdated.

    I would definitely use a Consultant. Cosmetic Science is not as simplistic as many neophytes will at first believe. Also, in this Industry you can be a Chemist or a Marketer. In an effective line you will quickly see that you can’t effectively do both. So hire a Chemist to match your well written Product Definition/Standard, let them do their job, do an about face and realize that you are already behind in the marketing.  DO NOT TRY TO LEARN FORMULATING OVER THE INTERNET!

  • thebrain

    February 25, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    @Microformulation: Mark, I agree with everything you said except your last line. You can learn formulating over the internet just as well as you can myriad other subjects. Perry wouldn’t be offering a course if it wasn’t possible, and there are lots of free resources available. Speaking personally, I don’t have a degree in chemistry or cosmetic science, but I have learned tremendously from the internet (this website as well as others). I encourage others to do so as well if they have an interest. Whether or not you decide to make it a successful commercial venture is a different story, but that’s possible as well if you do your homework.

  • Microformulation

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    February 25, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I suppose if you have the Fundamentals already you can gain some value. Working in a Commercial facility will multiply your knowledge ten fold as well. Perhaps I should revise it to don’t try to learn Formulating Solely over the Internet.

    That was more addressed to some of the posters we see occasionally who minimize the importance of training and experience. You know the ones “I am not a Chemist and my background is in banking. I want to make a “insert difficult or OTC product here.”” On one hand I know that the Internet has facilitated training, but on the other hand to minimize or ignore your limitations is dangerous and minimizes the values of others. My 2 cents. I will get off my soapbox.

  • Belassi

    February 25, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    The one thing nobody mentioned is: talent. You either have it or you don’t. Like chefs.

  • David08848

    February 26, 2016 at 3:32 am

    You’ve got several peoples attention here so you might as well just start asking questions!  Don’t be afraid of how “basic” a question might be or be afraid of making a mistake.  The more questions you ask the more chance you have of learning something!  You can also do searches here on certain topics and often you may find an answer to a question without even having to ask!  You also may start to see patterns in the responses and be able to take those ideas in and apply them to what you are doing.  Just start with the basics and go from there!  If  you don’t ask you won’t learn!

  • Bobzchemist

    February 26, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Cooking is probably a good analogy here.

    Learning how to formulate is a lot like learning how to cook - it can be learned over the internet, but it’s not going to make too much sense unless you have your own kitchen to practice in, and it’s been equipped properly.
    Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques and recipes, you can go on to learning how to adapt and improvise. Over time, you can become a very competent cook.
    BUT…this does not make you a chef, and you are in no way going to be capable of cooking in a restaurant without a lot of direct experience. AND… there’s almost nothing you can do in your home kitchen that can prepare you for that experience successfully. Watch some of the restaurant cooking shows if you doubt me. It is possible, although very difficult, to move up into this position.
    HOWEVER…being a competent, home cook does not make you a food scientist. Neither, for that matter, does being a chef. Yes, it is theoretically possible to learn everything you need over the internet - but it’s not going to save you any time over taking in-person classes. Being able to devise a recipe that is able to safely and profitably be manufactured in a factory is an almost entirely different skillset. 
    This is a great analogy for one other thing - Food Scientists, unlike Cosmetic Chemists, have a professional certification available. The body of knowledge needed to be a professional cosmetic chemist is very similar: 
  • Bill_Toge

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    February 27, 2016 at 12:19 am

    @Bobzchemist, there is a professional certification available in Europe, the SCS diploma:

  • Bobzchemist

    February 27, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    The SCS diploma is not quite the same, but thanks for pointing that out. There’s a lot of controversy about it within the industry, but I think a professional Cosmetic Chemist certification would be extremely useful.

    Having thought this out for a bit, I realize that the Food Science is not the best analogy. Because the potential for harm to the users of our products is greater, what we do is closer to being a compound pharmacist than it is to being a food scientist. And yes, someone could learn to compound their own medicines, just as folks can formulate their own cosmetics. I’ve been trying to help amateur formulators, on the theory that some guidance is better than none. But the attitudes I’ve been seeing more and more lately, that the profession I’ve spent the last 30 years perfecting is something that can easily be learned in no more than 90 minutes or so of reading on the internet, is rapidly changing my mind. I do not at all like hearing that all of my hard won knowledge and experience is thought to be worthless.
    Many of my professional colleagues are deliberately ignoring the home formulating movement. When I’ve asked why, what I’ve heard generally is the assumption that eventually enough people will be badly hurt that the FDA will have no choice but to step in and make homemade/artisanal cosmetics just as illegal as homemade pharmaceuticals are, if not more so. They think giving advice and/or trying to prevent mistakes is only delaying the inevitable disaster. I’m really starting to think that they have the right idea.
    Yes, distance learning technology has improved to the point that you can learn everything you need to do any one of the three jobs over the internet. But…there’s a huge problem with doing so.
  • Microformulation

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    February 27, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    @bobzchemist I think you said it all. I couldn’t agree more.

  • heraklit

    February 27, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Bobzchemist, thank you for your thoughts.

  • thebrain

    February 29, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    @Bobzchemist As someone without a cosmetic science background who’s trying to get in to the industry, thank you for your advice here. Myself and others have benefited greatly and we appreciate it. While you may be correct that there are some home-made formulators that get in over their heads, I also want to let you know that not everyone is like that. I started over a year ago now and I intend to make a business out of it, but I’ve been taking my time learning everything I can about the industry and formulation process. I take safety very seriously. I won’t put my customers at risk of being harmed, nor will I put myself and business at risk of being sued (or worse). Please don’t be discouraged; I hope you will continue to offer advice here.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    February 29, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Here’s the concern I have with people with no scientific background trying to learn cosmetic chemistry over the Internet:

    Without the requisite grounding in science and more specifically the science of chemistry … You don’t know what you don’t know.  And, that is where someone can get in trouble.  
     Not to imply that you cannot learn a lot about cosmetic chemistry, it’s just that without the professional guidance of someone trained and experienced in the field, I don’t think you’re ever really going to elevate your craft to the level of a trained professional.
  • Belassi

    February 29, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I both agree and disagree with what has been said. Nobody trained me to become a personal care chemist; yet my product line after 4 years development is, I believe, top class. On the other hand, I know my way around chemistry, I used to teach it at secondary school level. I do believe a sound knowledge of chemistry is essential. And talent.