I’ve been a cosmetic chemist for over 25 years and have come to love the process of creating personal care and beauty products. It appeals to my interest in science, it lets me invent things, it leads to the creation of products that can be used every day, and those products make people happy. As far as careers in science goes, it is excellent.
Many people find this website when searching for tips on how to make cosmetics. I’m happy to provide information and love encouraging and inspiring anyone who wants to learn cosmetic science. However, sometimes people spend time, money and energy learning how to make cosmetics when that’s not really what they want to do. In fact, there are times when it makes sense to learn how to make cosmetics but there are also times when it is probably a waste of time. Let’s look at those.
When you should learn to make cosmetics
Cosmetic chemist career – If you want to work in the cosmetic industry as a cosmetic chemist or other scientist, it makes a lot of sense to learn how cosmetics are made. There are a number of places you can learn formulating and here we’ve listed cosmetic science programs around the world. You don’t necessarily need to get an advanced degree in cosmetic science but it will give you an advantage over other candidates that don’t have one. But if you have a degree in chemistry or biology and want to start interviewing in the cosmetic industry, you’ll benefit from going through an online course like our Practical Cosmetic Formulating course. It’s a good introduction to the subject and is taught by someone who actually worked in the cosmetic industry.
Working in the cosmetic industry – Not everyone who works in the cosmetic industry is looking to become a cosmetic formulator. Some people want to sell cosmetics or raw materials, or they want to work in the QA/QC departments. If you are in the cosmetic industry but are not a formulator, it still makes sense to learn how the products are made. This can help you in a number of ways. For example, if you are a salesperson for products or cosmetic raw materials, learning how the products are made will give you an excellent sense of the challenges your customers face. It will also give you ideas on where you can provide solutions. If you are in marketing learning how the products are made will let you know what types of claims you can make and the limits of what is technologically possible. If you are starting your own cosmetic line it can also be helpful to know how the products are made. This will allow you to pick the right suppliers and avoid getting taken advantage of by some industry suppliers. However, as we’ll see later, learning to formulate will not be the most important thing for you if you’re starting your own cosmetic line.
Looking for an interesting hobby – Another reason for learning how to formulate is if you want to pursue it as a hobby. Creating cosmetics can be a lot like cooking. But instead of working with flour, butter, and sugar, you work with emollients, thickeners, and surfactants. Making your own products will require you to get some equipment and purchase raw materials, but there are thriving online DIY groups that can help guide you. Of course, there is a lot of misinformation published online but you can learn a lot from websites like ours or even Point of Interest. The nice part about this hobby is that you can actually use the products you create.
When you don’t need to learn to make cosmetics
While I like to encourage everyone to learn how to make cosmetics, there are certainly cases in which you don’t need to learn how the products are made. In fact, there are times when learning how to formulate is really just a waste of time.
Starting your own cosmetic business – Many people contact us and want to learn to make cosmetics because they ultimately want to start their own product line. If this is you, you might be surprised to read that I don’t think learning how to formulate is the most important thing for you to learn. If you want to have a successful product line, it is MUCH more important to learn about marketing and selling in the cosmetic industry. Knowing how to make a shampoo or skin moisturizer will not help you sell the product to consumers. It will not help you with creating advertising or email marketing or convincing store buyers to distribute your product. As I wrote above, it can be helpful but this is something you can learn AFTER you start building your brand. It is a much better use of your time to learn how to identify your consumer, what their needs are and how to create products to solve their problems. In this case it is much smarter and a better use of your time to work with a chemist or contract manufacturer to create your product line.
Trying to save money – If you are trying to save money on cosmetic products, it might surprise you to know that making your own cosmetics at home will not save you much money. The cost of buying the raw materials, packaging and equipment will be much greater than any savings you might eventually achieve. Of course, if you are trying to duplicate products that are extremely expensive you may be able to create a less expensive version. However, a better strategy would be to find a product that works just as well for less money. The reality is that those really expensive products do not actually work better than products you can purchase in your local Target or drug store.
Cosmetic science is an interesting subject and one I encourage everyone to learn about. If your goal is to become a cosmetic chemist, work in the cosmetic industry, or have a fun hobby then by all means, learn how to formulate. But if you want to save money or start your own product line, making your own beauty products is not the best idea. Leave that to the professionals.