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The Person You Need is a Cosmetic Chemist……

December 23, 2013

OK so first up this isn’t a blatant shout out for new business and neither is it a thinly veiled passive aggressive attack on ‘the others’ so keep your hair on.

What it is is a statement of what I like to call ‘common sense’.

So, you are sitting down to your week and a bit off over Christmas and decide you want to create the next big thing in skin care. You want your own brand!

Do you call:

  • The Butcher?
  • The Baker?
  • The Candlestick maker?


  • Baby Jesus (because it is Christmas)?

OK so it is unlikely that you would have picked any of the above (although divine inspiration/ guidance isn’t such a bad idea) but from where I sit it sometimes feels like that is what has happened.

I talk to people who have gone to a beautician, hairdresser, laser therapist, biologist,  doctor, dermatologist, microbiologist, models,  pharmacists, biochemists, research assistants, entrepreneurs, aged-care worker, nurse or even a chef to get their own label skin or hair care brand off the floor before they wind up on my door and I wonder why?

It’s not that the above don’t represent people with important and very useful skill sets as that is blatantly disrespectful but they are not going to be able to hit the nail on the head like a cosmetic chemist.

Cosmetic Chemist

Cosmetic Chemistry is a science in its own right. You can study it at university (usually aligned with pharmacology) or as a post grad after (preferably but not 100% necessary)  completing a chemistry degree.   As an applied science you learn not only how molecules fit together but what they do in a mixture, where they go, how they work and what happens to them after that.   But cosmetic chemistry isn’t just a science, it has an element of art to it too.  People have to fall in love with your creation, feel interested and attracted enough to slather it all over themselves, to enjoy that process and pay top dollar to repeat it.  You are selling people hopes, dreams and wishes wrapped up in some scientific thinking and know how. A marriage made in heaven and one that the cosmetic chemist has been trained specifically to produce.

But before you turn around and shoot me down with insults I do believe that a cosmetic chemist can only do so much.

Yes we are trained to work with the skin and hair and to consider how products feel and perform but the emphasis for us is on the chemistry and ensuring it is safe. For the ultimate in-use experience we need to pair up with a beautician or hairdresser.

Hairdressers REALLY know hair, know how they want it to look, to feel and to act.  They know how much time they can afford to spend rinsing, combing and drying. Know how much the client will spend on the treatment and how often they wish to sell it.

Beauticians see, feel and treat many different types of skin, know what people like, how they want their skin to look and feel, how much they will spend and how likely they are to comply with use instructions.

And other professionals come into the picture too.

Once you have a starting formula it might be the perfect time to take it to a dermatologist and get an opinion,  gain some feedback and insight into how they might use the product, what they would like to see or what works best in terms of format, feel, smell, active levels.  The derm might also be able to give you advice on the best chemical format for an active and the optimal dose.  But to ensure that is possible and feasible you would probably need to go back to the cosmetic chemist.

A cosmetic chemist should:

  • Understand how to build a safe and effective framework formulation of the type you are needing (depending on their experience) and can customise that to suit your needs.
  • Keeps relatively up to date with new ingredients and technologies to make your range cost-effective/ safe/ results driven/ interesting/ stable.
  • Understands the cosmetic ingredient guidelines, IFRA laws, safety guidelines and other legal requirements to ensure you end up with a saleable product.
  • Has an appreciation for how the product will be used and by whom and knowledge of which ingredients are best suited to those conditions (eg: non-comedogenic ingredients for acne prone skin, shiny emollients for hair care, less shiny emollients for skin).
  • Has experience of developing a product to a specific price point to ensure marketability.
  • Has experience of the scale-up process to ensure your formula can be mass-produced.
  • Understands how to improve or limit  a formulations skin penetrating ability  as necessary.
  • Can select ingredients and actives to help you tell your brand story.
  • Understand the risks and responsibilities of the industry (GMP etc)
  • Has a good grasp on ingredient and formulation stability and minimises interactions.
  • Has an awareness and appreciation for the complexity of the supply chain
  • Can offer you plan B, plan C or D options if needs be.

So, while I appreciate that it can sometimes feel daunting, confusing or somewhat uncomfortable to reach out to a CHEMIST to help you build your cosmetic dreams I can assure you it is the best way to avoid turning those dreams into expensive nightmares and any good chemist will welcome the chance to formulate along side with your hairdresser, beautician, health food guru, dermatologist or catwalk model. After all, if that’s your target market it makes sense to have them on board.

Happy holidays and may all of your cosmetic dreams come true.

Amanda x


One Comment leave one →
  1. December 25, 2013 6:00 am

    It’s only logical, really 🙂 And happy holidays to you too, enjoy!

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