Cosmetic chemist

A cosmetic chemist


Cosmetic chemists develop formulas in order to create and test new cosmetic products and improve existing cosmetic products such as perfumes and fragrances, lipstick, waterproof lotions and makeup, hair dye, soaps, and detergents with special properties, topical medicines, or health supplements.

Here are some typical duties of cosmetic chemists:

  • Develop formulations for cosmetic and personal care products, such as creams, lotions, shampoos, and makeup, considering factors like ingredient compatibility, stability, and effectiveness.
  • Research and select raw materials and active ingredients based on their properties, safety, and intended functions in cosmetic formulations.
  • Implement quality control measures to ensure the consistency, stability, and safety of cosmetic products throughout their shelf life.
  • Stay informed about regulations governing cosmetic products, ensuring that formulations comply with legal and safety standards.
  • Conduct laboratory tests to assess the performance, safety, and sensory aspects of cosmetic formulations, including stability testing and compatibility studies.
  • Address formulation challenges, such as stability issues, compatibility problems, or changes in regulations, and develop solutions to ensure product quality.
  • Work closely with cross-functional teams, including marketing, manufacturing, and regulatory affairs, to bring cosmetic products from concept to market.
  • Stay updated on emerging trends, technologies, and ingredients in the cosmetic industry, contributing to the continuous improvement and innovation of products.
  • Maintain accurate records of formulations, procedures, and testing results, ensuring that information is well-documented for regulatory purposes.
  • Facilitate the transition from laboratory-scale formulations to large-scale production, optimizing processes for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
  • Conduct sensory evaluations to assess the texture, fragrance, and overall consumer experience of cosmetic products.
  • Explore sustainable and eco-friendly ingredient options, incorporating environmentally conscious practices into cosmetic product development.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to cosmetic chemist:

formulation development chemist
cosmetics formulation chemist
research chemist
cosmetics formulator
cosmetics formulations chemist
cosmetics formulation development chemist
cosmetics development formulator
skin care formulation chemist
cosmetics research chemist
cosmetics development chemist

Working conditions

Cosmetic chemists typically work in laboratories, research and development departments, or manufacturing facilities within the cosmetic and personal care industry. The role involves a combination of lab work, collaboration with cross-functional teams, and staying updated on industry trends.

Minimum qualifications

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in chemistry, cosmetic science, or a related field is usually required. Practical experience gained through internships, research projects, or entry-level positions in cosmetic formulation is valuable. Knowledge of chemistry, biology, and cosmetic regulations is essential. Strong attention to detail, creativity, and problem-solving skills contribute to success in this role. Continuous learning and staying updated on cosmetic science advancements enhance the effectiveness of cosmetic chemists in the industry.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Cosmetic chemist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Cosmetic chemist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to cosmetic chemist.

fragrance chemist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of cosmetic chemist.

  • Cosmetics ingredients: A variety of sources cosmetics are composed of ranging from crushed insects to rust.
  • Good manufacturing practices: Regulatory requirements and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) applied in the relevant manufacturing sector.
  • Analytical chemistry: Instruments and methods used to separate, identify and quanitfy matter – the chemical components of natural and artificial materials and solutions.
  • Laboratory techniques: Techniques applied in the different fields of natural science in order to obtain experimental data such as gravimetric analysis, gas chromatography, electronic or thermic methods.
  • Scientific research methodology: The theoretical methodology used in scientific research involving doing background research, constructing an hypothesis, testing it, analysing data and concluding the results.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of cosmetic chemist.

  • Formulate cosmetic products: Formulate and design complex cosmetic products from concept to finish.
  • Perform chemical experiments: Perform chemical experiments with the aim of testing various products and substances in order to draw conclusions in terms of product viability and replicability.
  • Adhere to standard procedures: Adhere to and follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
  • Calibrate laboratory equipment: Calibrate laboratory equipment by comparing between measurements: one of known magnitude or correctness, made with a trusted device and a second measurement from another piece of laboratory equipment. Make the measurements in as similar a way as possible.
  • Conform to cosmetics regulatory requirements: Ensure conformance to regulatory requirements applied in personal care products such as cosmetics, fragrances, and toiletry.
  • Troubleshoot cosmetics formula issues: Troubleshoot the unstable formulas, scaling-up issues in order to ensure stability and a high quality end product that conforms to specifications.
  • Recommend product improvements: Recommend product modifications and process improvements.
  • Report analysis results: Produce research documents or give presentations to report the results of a conducted research and analysis project, indicating the analysis procedures and methods that led to the results, as well as potential interpretations of the results.
  • Test beauty products: Test products such as skin cream, make-up or other beauty products in order to assess their efficiency and formula compliance.
  • Examine production samples: Examine production samples visually or manually to verify properties such as clarity, cleanliness, consistency, humidity, and texture.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of cosmetic chemist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Microbiology-bacteriology: Microbiology-Bacteriology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Chemical preservation: Process of adding chemical compounds to a product, such as food or pharmaceutical products, to prevent decay caused by chemical changes or microbial activity.
  • Project management principles: Different elements and phases of project management.
  • Organic chemistry: The chemistry of compounds and substances containing carbon.
  • Market analysis: The field of market analysis and research and its particular research methods.
  • Quality assurance methodologies: Quality assurance principles, standard requirements, and the set of processes and activities used for measuring, controlling, and ensuring the quality of products and processes.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of cosmetic chemist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Use a computer: Utilise computer equipment or digital devices to facilitate quality control, data management, and communication. Follow instructions given by a computer programme, create computer files or documents.
  • Give instructions to staff: Give instructions to subordinates by employing various communication techniques. Adjust communication style to the target audience in order to convey instructions as intended.
  • Communicate with external laboratories: Communicate with the external analytical laboratories in order to manage the required external testing process.
  • Develop work plans to solve problems: Ability to develop specific goals and plans to prioritise, organise, and accomplish work.
  • Ensure safety in the production area: Take ultimate responsibility for the safety, quality, and efficiency of the production area.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the prospective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
  • Communicate production plan: Communicate production plan to all levels in a way that targets, processes, and requirements are clear. Ensures that information is passed to everyone involved in the process assuming their responsibility for overall success.
  • Control production: Plan, coordinate, and direct all production activities to insure the goods are made on time, in correct order, of adequate quality and composition, starting from intake goods up to shipping.

ISCO group and title

2113 – Chemists

  1. Cosmetic chemist – ESCO
  2. How to Become a Cosmetic Chemist? |
  3. What Is a Cosmetic Chemist? –
  4. Featured image: Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay
Last updated on March 2, 2024