It’s pretty common to hear people complain that they didn’t like Chemistry in school because it was too hard or too boring. And perhaps the way it was taught to them, this was true. But if you like cooking you really would like cosmetic formulating. There is no other job more similar to formulating than cooking. Here are ways in which they are alike.
One of the hallmarks of a good chef is that you have the ability to create a tastey dish from the available raw materials. You pick out the right ratios and mix the ingredients in the right way to create a masterpiece. This is exactly what cosmetic chemists do. But instead of working with ingredients like eggs, flour, and milk, you’re working with raw materials like Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, and Dimethicone Copolyol. And like a chef, you even keep a recipe book. We call it a lab notebook.
While cooks spend time coming up with recipes, they also spend a lot of time actually creating them. They measure out the ingredients, follow a procedure, mix things together at a certain time using blenders or mixers. They change the temperature by heating in an oven or microwave and cool batches down with ice. Cosmetic chemists do all of these same things. Making a skin lotion requires the same type of emulsification procedure as making a salad dressing. If you can make food, you can make cosmetics.
A primary skill that a cook has to develop is their sense of taste. They need to become familiar with which flavors go well together and the relative proportions of ingredients when combined with other ones. And while a cosmetic chemist almost never has to eat their products, they do have to use their sense of touch to get a feel for how the cosmetic is interacting with the skin. The skills that a cook develops for evaluating flavors are analogous to the ones you develop as a cosmetic chemist. And both the chemist and cook have to develop a sense of what smells good.
Finally, a good cook does not just throw the food on the plate but rather they create a plate with some style. This requires them to develop an eye for what will appeal to their consumers. A cosmetic chemist also has to develop a sense of what will appeal to their consumers. They need to know what colors, odors, and feels that consumers want and expect.
If you didn’t think you liked Chemistry but you love Cooking, it’s time to reconsider. Chemistry, just like cooking, is all about putting ingredients together to create new things.