Best college courses to take for cosmetic chemistry

Hello. I would like to take some chemistry courses that would help me to learn the most about cosmetic chemistry. I am not planning to become a cosmetic chemist, I would just like to learn more about cosmetics and enjoy making them( just for myself, for fun, to learn). I know many college courses won't be super beneficial, but I'd just like to know which would be more than others.

Thank you.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The main ones that will be most useful are...

    1. General Chemistry
    2. Organic Chemistry

  • This is too specific and specialized a field so college or universities won't teach much about cosmetics.

    We rarely react chemicals, we mostly mix compounds hoping they don't cross-react, and feel good on the skin or hair. Nobody really knows exactly how these chemicals interact with hair or skin at the molecular or cellular level.

    In my opinion your best option is to get the paid subscription for the basics, and Google some related chemistry lessons yourself.

  • I would disagree @Gunther. If time isn’t an issue I think it’s worth it to take  chemistry course. Yes we don’t react chemicals but I messed up a lotion based on Aristoflex by adding magnesium ascorbyl phosphate to it. I read the datasheet and knew it’s not electrolyte resistant, but due to lack of chemistry knowledge it didn’t come to my mind that magnesium is a salt. So, chemistry is very helpful. Having said that knowing chemistry and being able to formulate skincare isn’t the same.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    You would be better off taking an online cosmetic chemistry course:

    You won't learn much about cosmetic chemistry from a University unless it is a program specific to cosmetic chemistry.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited April 2019
    Perry said:
    The main ones that will be most useful are...

    1. General Chemistry
    2. Organic Chemistry

    I don't know what tertiary education is like abroad, but in the UK a general chemistry degree is only useful if you want to know how to a) pass a chemistry degree and b) become qualified to study for a Ph.D in chemistry
    both of these skills are of extremely limited use in the workplace, unless you go into teaching/academia, or take a job which mostly involves sitting exams
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Bill_Toge - I wasn't suggesting getting a degree in those subjects. Here in the US a class in general chemistry would be the first chemistry class you take in the first year of college, like Chemistry 101. I was saying an introduction course in chemistry and one in organic chemistry would be useful.  

    I agree getting a degree in chemistry does little more than qualify you to become a professor in teaching chemistry. 

  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    The MS in Cosmetic Science is a great degree program offered at many US Pharmacy Schools. It is highly in demand. Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
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