Home Cosmetic Science Talk Cosmetic Industry What makes a cosmetic chemist?

  • gld010

    Member
    November 12, 2018 at 7:13 pm

     “A lot of what I know about cosmetic formulation I actually learned on the job.” She continued: “I learn a lot by trial and error. Take that as you will.”

    As far as I know this is a normal way to learn formulation chemistry? My first gig was as a formulation chemist for color cosmetics when I had previously formulated/researched weird cement in grad school. There are very few degree programs (in the US, at least) about cosmetic formulation. I was able to learn as I went from suppliers, coworkers, whitepapers, even this very forum. In fact, one of the things I like about this job is that I am learning something new every day. I’ve been doing this for only two years and there is so much more to learn.

    I have a degree in chemistry and a masters in molecular science, neither of which directly taught me formulation, pertaining to cosmetics or otherwise… so I am unsure that it is such a bad thing if you don’t have a degree and are selling your own cosmetic line (as long as you get all of your safety testing done, I mean :# ). I’m sure a degree in chemistry can help you parse information given to you by suppliers, and make scientifically minded decisions, and the like but I am unsure if it is 100% required.

    …But representing yourself as having a degree when you do not, or representing yourself as the only formulator when in fact you have a team or used a contract manufacturer, isn’t a great thing to do.

  • oldperry

    Member
    November 12, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    I agree that most of formulating is learned on the job. I have a degree in chemistry and learned next to nothing about formulating cosmetics in college.

    Yeah, I think the objectionable thing is claiming an expertise / credit for something that wasn’t earned. 

    I do wonder what the company did to annoy someone so much that they wrote a whole article about it. 

  • ngarayeva001

    Member
    November 13, 2018 at 6:44 am

    I took colloidal chemistry at high school and learned next to nothing. I understood some of it when started formulating and had to research it again. I am not claiming that I am anything  close to a professional but I noticed that sometimes I can give a reasonable advice to people with a degree in chemistry but who are new to cosmetic formulation. Simple because I did ‘that experiment’ many times and I know the ingredient. So I guess if someone is very passionate about the topic and invested their ‘10,000 hours’ they might have some knowledge without a degree (doesn’t justify fake claims about the certificate). Regarding this particular brand, I spend a lot of time analizing LOIs of popular product, and think that they are rather mainstream.

  • Sibech

    Member
    November 13, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Formulating is, as I see it, more of an empirical than theoretical science (granted, a lot of theory makes formulating so much easier!) and calling yourself a formulator is completely fine by me. As on-the-job training, which one could likely achieve some success with by self-study I would classify anyone without a formal degree as a Cosmetic Formulator.

    I am of the conviction that Cosmetic Chemist implies an academic background in chemistry (or a related field) and thus an expectation of fundamental expertise and should only be used with the scientific background, simply to avoid confusion.

    Having read the article though, they seem to be imprecise and inconsistent at best, lying and deceitful at worst. 

  • Microformulation

    Member
    November 13, 2018 at 2:02 pm
    A good portion of Formulating is learned on the job. However, I submit that the Fundamentals are still needed. There are often times when troubleshooting a Formulation or an interaction between ingredients that the Fundamentals provide the guidance needed. Also, many concepts we use are taught in an ordered manner in the classroom through a syllabus not piecemeal as encountered. 
    I would submit that you can blur the lines and imply a separation of responsibility between a Chemist and a “Cosmetic Formulator.” Just in my opinion, you could be misleading the client of your background. When speaking to a Client and discussing the project as a “Cosmetic Formulator”, are you entirely transparent in your Education? In many cases would a client sign on for a project if they knew there was no University Education?

    I suppose under this definition, I had several Lab Techs who worked for me who were “Formulators” under this shadow definition, but they weren’t Chemists. They never approved batch records and documents (COA’s, MSDS’s, stability Testing results) or performed QA.
    In summary, I guess it is all depending upon where you want to be in the Market. Some larger and emerging wholesalers (Detox Market for one) will ask for a minimal educational background at some point.
    Lastly, for some of these lines, I would like to cite a phrase from the FDA CGMP Guidelines;  https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocuments/ucm2005190.htm Section 3, Subsection a. “The personnel supervising or performing the manufacture or control of cosmetics has the education, training and/or experience to perform the assigned functions.” While uncommon (but not unheard of), the FDA can inspect, address and even cite a line if a requirement is not met. I had a small line contact me after getting dinged for exactly this.
    So, on the job helpful and great to an extent.
    Credentialed Training will become addressed as you grow by lines and Supervising bodies.
     

  • ngarayeva001

    Member
    November 13, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    @Microformulation, I do not argue that understanding chemistry is absolutely vital
    to be a good formulator. However, being devil’s advocate, I am
    working for a professional consulting
    firm. I do not hold a degree in accounting, I
    am a mathematician. Funny enough, my supervisor holds a
    bachelor in chemistry.  And I don’t recall a single case when any of my clients asked about my degree. All they care about is my work experience.

  • Microformulation

    Member
    November 13, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Apples and Oranges. Inevitably in larger markets, it will come up.

  • ngarayeva001

    Member
    November 13, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Self-study is often underestimated.

  • gld010

    Member
    November 13, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    Self-study is often underestimated.

    I agree! But it is hard to convince people you’re worth hiring without the 50,000 USD piece of cardstock to assure them.

    I guess for cosmetics formulating you can try to knock out some really nice “kitchen chemist” formulas using what’s available on Making Cosmetics and Lotioncrafter, etc to give to potential employers. For fields like semiconductors, energy, etc. there really is no “proof of self study” equivalent, all you can really go by is their education, publication, and work history.

  • ngarayeva001

    Member
    November 14, 2018 at 12:26 am

    @gld010 If you read the LOI of the most popular cosmetic products on the market you will notice that 99% of the ingredients can be found on lotioncraftet or makingcosmetics. And I am not talking drug store. You can recreate $400 moisturizer using supplies from lotioncafter.

  • Belassi

    Member
    November 14, 2018 at 2:16 am

    ^^^ Yes.

  • Doreen

    Member
    November 14, 2018 at 11:36 am

    To me a cosmetic chemist is someone who has graduated chemistry/physics on an academic level.

    I totally agree with @Sibech

    I am of the conviction that Cosmetic Chemist implies an academic background in chemistry (or a related field) and thus an expectation of fundamental expertise and should only be used with the scientific background, simply to avoid confusion.
  • gld010

    Member
    November 14, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    @gld010 If you read the LOI of the most popular cosmetic products on the market you will notice that 99% of the ingredients can be found on lotioncraftet or makingcosmetics. And I am not talking drug store. You can recreate $400 moisturizer using supplies from lotioncafter.

    That doesn’t surprise me but I never thought to check!

  • ngarayeva001

    Member
    November 14, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    @gld010, I recreated chanel sublimage using supplies from the above mentioned sites (minus a couple of fancy extracts that don’t do anything). Almost identical but the smell (I am sure they use some patented fragrance, so I didn’t bother).

  • oldperry

    Member
    November 14, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    @ngarayeva001 - yes, most big brands have customized fragrances that no one else is able to buy.

  • luiscuevasii

    Member
    November 15, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Indeed 99% of my little knowlwdge was adquired making trial and error, i have a degree in “oil-chemical proccess”, in fact in my country cosmetic-chemist degree doesnt exist and bassically there arenot cosmetic manufacturers, alll the products that are used here are imported, its a pain to find someone that barely understand cosmetic chemistry, our country its mainly oil/gas exporter, despite that i strongly belive that a chemestry background its a must.

    The same way a doctor can say thar all hes knowledge was adquiered over the years, i will no feel confidence if a lawyer is going to make a surgery althought he claims that he has done it for 10 years or so.

  • DAS

    Member
    November 15, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    You don’t need a degree to formulate, but without the basics the job becomes harder. I agree with @Microformulation, and it’s not only the guidance, it’s the reasoning through the scientific method, and that can’t be self taught.

  • Microformulation

    Member
    November 15, 2018 at 5:49 pm
    Also, here is my rhetorical outlook; if you advertise yourself as a “Cosmetic Formulator” or “Formulator” in your marketing, is it reasonable to assume that the retail customer, exposed to your marketing, could, in turn, assume that there was some Professional Education behind that title?
  • ngarayeva001

    Member
    November 15, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Saying that someone is cosmetic chemist should be supported by degree, because chemistry is a science. But I don’t think that title “formulator” should be supported by the degree.

  • Microformulation

    Member
    November 15, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    But could a customer make that leap?

  • MarkBroussard

    Member
    November 16, 2018 at 12:48 am

    That article sounds like a irrelevant hit job on Sunday Riley.  Rubbish!

    One does not need a degree to be a formulator/formulation chemist/cosmetic chemist.  Riley does have some scientific educational background.  And, let’s face it … all learning is self-learning.  While a degree can be valuable … in reality most people learn their skills through job experience and/or trial and error.

    What makes a cosmetic chemist?  Someone who has learned, be it through self-study or formal education … to make excellent cosmetic products.

    Bill Gates does not have a degree … does that disqualify him from being a computer scientist or a business executive?

  • ozgirl

    Member
    November 16, 2018 at 4:15 am
    I finally had time to read the article and it definitely sounds like someone has an issue with Sunday Riley and I would too if she did lie about qualifications or who actually formulated the product but that’s because I have an issue with lies.
    I agree with some of the others that while having a science degree certainly helps it is not essential to being a cosmetic chemist and formulator.

    :)

  • Chemist77

    Member
    November 16, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Know few formulators in my region who don’t even know how many branches chemistry has. They are doing pretty good when it comes to making money but when they sit down for trainings/seminars, they are mostly clueless about what’s being talked about in terms of chemistry. 

  • Biochemist

    Member
    November 21, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I think to call yourself a chemist you should definitely have formal qualifications..if not, call yourself a formulator. People who work in pharmacies don’t all call themselves pharmacists even though they might know how to hand out pills ????‍♀️

  • Gunther

    Member
    November 21, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    What do you need to join the Society of Cosmetic Chemists?

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