Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Cosmetic Industry Career Being a Cosmetic Chemist or Formulator.

  • Being a Cosmetic Chemist or Formulator.

    Posted by HCosChem on September 12, 2022 at 3:53 pm

     I’m a undergraduate student who’s looking to study cosmetic chemistry around next year and I have a few questions about these careers. If any of you can answer my questions as soon as possible, It’ll be very helpful for me. What are the differences between being a cosmetic chemist and formulator? Would doing a cosmetic chemistry degree help me become a cosmetic formulator? Would I have more creative freedom as a cosmetic chemist or a cosmetic formulator? Also, what are the job and salary prospects for both these careers?  Would I be able to earn well? Is it better to be a natural cosmetic formulator or chemist to earn more? It’d be great if y’all could please answer my questions. Thanks a lot in advance and hope you have a great day.

    Microformulation replied 7 months, 4 weeks ago 11 Members · 18 Replies
  • 18 Replies
  • Graillotion

    Member
    September 12, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    Kinda like ‘natural’, the terms you used have been a little vague and misused.  To me a cosmetic chemist is someone that works in the arena of cosmetics and HAS A CHEMISTRY degree.  A cosmetic formulator is someone with some background and experience formulating in cosmetics but may lack the official chemistry degree.  They may have a degree in another field, or lack one altogether, but experience as we all know, is the best teacher.

    As far as natural formulator, vs chemist.  Absolutely get the chemistry degree.  Having a chemistry degree does NOT preclude you from becoming a natural formulator, it simply means you will understand how your natural ingredients will function and interact.  Doing things vice versa will ONLY short-change you and your knowledge.

    At the beginner level….that is a little like comparing a couple of the common online course offerings.  One will give you the background to understand the overall concept, and the other has little regard for how things work, just needs to be natural (safety and the mechanics….who cares).  😮 (Note: I do not condone either one!) 

    If you live in the USA…I think University of Cincinatti has some very good offerings for those wanting to pursue a career in cosmetic formulation.

  • HCosChem

    Member
    September 12, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    Kinda like ‘natural’, the terms you used have been a little vague and misused.  To me a cosmetic chemist is someone that works in the arena of cosmetics and HAS A CHEMISTRY degree.  A cosmetic formulator is someone with some background and experience formulating in cosmetics but may lack the official chemistry degree.  They may have a degree in another field, or lack one altogether, but experience as we all know, is the best teacher.

    As far as natural formulator, vs chemist.  Absolutely get the chemistry degree.  Having a chemistry degree does NOT preclude you from becoming a natural formulator, it simply means you will understand how your natural ingredients will function.  Doing things vice versa will ONLY short-change you and your knowledge.

    At the beginner level….that is a little like comparing a couple of the common online course offerings.  One will give you the background of understand the overall concept, and the other has little regard for how things work.  (Note: I do not condone either one!) 

    Thanks a lot for your insights and opinion on these questions. It really does clear things up and is helping me in making my decision as to what I want to do. And, apologies for using such vague terms. Also, I’d like to ask if you know anything about the salary prospects of a cosmetic chemist. Do cosmetic chemists (the ones with a degree in cosmetic chemistry) usually earn well? 

  • Graillotion

    Member
    September 12, 2022 at 7:44 pm

    Chemistry degrees come in different forms….4 year…6 year…and PhD… :) 

    Depends on the company you end up with.

    You could work for yourself….and make NOTHING….or…. make $$$ beyond your wildest dreams.

    If you want to be happy in life… Chase your passions….not the $$$.

  • HCosChem

    Member
    September 12, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    Chemistry degrees come in different forms….4 year…6 year…and PhD… :) 

    Depends on the company you end up with.

    You could work for yourself….and make NOTHING….or…. make $$$ beyond your wildest dreams.

    If you want to be happy in life… Chase your passions….not the $$$.

    Right. Thanks for explaining that to me. I do want to follow my passion if I’m being honest. But I do need to earn a living too right? And that is why I’m worried about the money. I’d also like to mention that I want to do a 2 years masters course in Cosmetic Chemistry (specializing in biocosmetics). Do you have any idea for the job and salary prospects for that course? Apologies for so many questions.

  • curtissmorgan

    Member
    July 19, 2023 at 9:27 am

    HCosChem,

    It’s great to see your enthusiasm for pursuing a career in cosmetic chemistry and formulation. I’ll try to address you some questions

    Will obtaining a degree in cosmetic chemistry help in
    becoming a cosmetic formulator?

    What are the job and salary prospects for both careers?

    Is specializing
    in natural cosmetics more lucrative?

  • chemicalmatt

    Member
    July 19, 2023 at 9:47 am

    Aside from my pal @Graillotion informing to follow your bliss (mine always stops at the next martini), and without knowing your undergraduate degree (not chemistry I presume?) you are well advised to pursue formal knowledge of cosmetic science both for your skill set and career prospects. A degreed chemist with 3 years documented formulating experience under their wings will gain in the range of $60,000 - $80,000 annually now depending on the location in the USA, less than that in UK or most EU nations. MUCH less in Asia except for Singapore. In SoCal now there is such a shortage of qualified chemists you might have a bidding war should your resume’ shine enough. Progressing to senior management status will get you well into 6 figures with the large cap firms today, but you will have to smell that big corporate political stench all day.

    • curtissmorgan

      Member
      July 26, 2023 at 11:01 am

      This is interesting to know, thanks !

    • Unknown Member

      Member
      October 23, 2023 at 2:20 am

      That`s interesting point! Becoming a cosmetic chemist or formulator sure sounds fascinating! In general, the path of learning is like a thrilling adventure, and each field has its own set of challenges and rewards. As a student, I’ve had my fair share of difficulties, from wrapping my head around complex concepts to managing my time effectively.

      • This reply was modified 8 months ago by  Unknown Member.
      • This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by  Perry44.
  • MarkBroussard

    Member
    July 26, 2023 at 11:26 am

    @HCosChem

    Terminology: Cosmetic Chemist is a degreed professional with expertise in developing cosmetic products. Cosmetic Formulator, generally not degreed in Cosmetic Chemistry, but may have taken an online course. You will be able to get an industry job with a degree in Cosmetic Chemistry. As a Cosmetic Formulator, you may be able to get a job with a contract manufacturer, but it will not likely be developing products, but perhaps in production.

    Before you delve into a 2-year Masters Degree program in Cosmetic Chemistry, try taking one of the online courses, which will give you a grounding to see if you might like to pursue a degree in Cosmetic Chemistry. If your undergraduate degree is not in Chemistry or one of the biological sciences, you may have difficulty gaining entry into a MS program in Cosmetic Chemistry.

  • mikethair

    Member
    July 28, 2023 at 5:45 pm

    The difference between a “Cosmetic Chemist and Formulator” is nonsense. Importantly, what you do require is a talent for formulating. In my opinion, with talent, you either have it or you don’t. And if you do not have the talent then no amount of academic qualifications will make any difference.

    I have worked globally as a formulator for around three decades. And yes, I do have a PhD, MSc, and BSc. But in my opinion, I always had a natural talent for formulating, and my academic qualifications add little to my formulation talent.

    • Perry44

      Administrator
      July 30, 2023 at 8:09 am

      I agree academic background doesn’t matter much in terms of being able to successfully create formulas. However, where it matters a whole lot is when you’re trying to get a job. Being a great formulator without a degree won’t help you getting a job at P&G, L’Oreal, Unilever, or most any other big company in the cosmetic industry.

      • mikethair

        Member
        July 30, 2023 at 4:53 pm

        Yes, but the great formulations from a talented formulator will have the heads of big companies sit up and take notice. So, my advice is to let your formulations do the talking for you.

        • ketchito

          Member
          July 31, 2023 at 8:32 am

          If you read application requirements for technical positions in P&G, UL, L’oreal, etc., they are almost exclusively for PhD’s (I know them by heart). If you then read papers published in the few important journal we have in cosmetics, they’re either from scientists from big companies or academia. So the distinction is clear: cosmetic chemists/scientists generate knowledge and formulations by applying more advanced understanding and having access to also more advanced equipment, while cosmetic formulators use (not all the time, but seldomly) that knowledge to build formulas. They are both valid in the sense that they are both useful to making money and a career, it just depends on which type of rol you want to develop.

  • Unknown Member

    Member
    October 20, 2023 at 4:44 am

    When it comes to cosmetic chemistry careers, there are two basic roles to consider: cosmetic chemist and cosmetic formulator. There are distinctions between these roles. A cosmetic chemist is usually concerned with the scientific aspects of designing cosmetic goods. They work on new formulation research and development, ensuring that they are safe, effective, and in compliance with rules. A cosmetic formulator, on the other hand, is more involved in the actual part of product formulation. They bring the chemist’s formulae to life, working on production and frequently adjusting the items to create precise textures, colors, and fragrances.

    • mikethair

      Member
      October 25, 2023 at 2:41 am

      I would not agree with this distinction between chemist and formulator.

      In my experience as the co-founder and Managing Director of a company where I worked for 20 years as the formulator (I consider myself a chemist with a Ph.D. and MSc.) I see both roles as one and the same.

      • Perry44

        Administrator
        October 27, 2023 at 10:14 am

        Yeah, I don’t agree either. There really aren’t cosmetic chemists working in industry who don’t also have to do formulating (unless they have been promoted to manager and have technicians that work for them).

  • DRBOB@VERDIENT.BIZ

    Member
    October 27, 2023 at 11:28 am

    Agree- Started in 1958 after leaving Military in 1957 (US ARMY Germany 1955-1957) as lab technician for Lever Bros: had 2 years college prior to Military.As technician learned hands on formulation while attending classes at night.Upon receipt of degree Title changed to Research Chemist .Later at JNJ became manager of New WW product Development guiding formulation. So I would say I did both until retiring from JNJ in 1995 when I Founded consulting company in Personal Care (still doing both).

  • Microformulation

    Member
    October 28, 2023 at 11:09 am

    Recently I was able to ask an Attorney who has worked in Fair Claim Trade complaints. In his opinion, using the term “Chemist” clearly communicates an educational requirement and could lead to a plaintiff requesting credentials. “Formulator”, in his opinion, was more of a Vocational function and did not have the liability attached. If we avoid any “redrafting and redefining” of the term, the answer is simple.

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