What Does a Cosmetic Chemist Do?

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  • Written By: L.K. Blackburn
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2019
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Makeup and perfume can be created by refining and combining materials within a laboratory. Chemists are employed by cosmetic companies to invent and test new products and to update existing ones in a laboratory environment. Cosmetic chemists generally have a college degree in chemistry or a related field of study.

The materials used in soap and shampoo are also engineered by a cosmetic chemist working to update new products for consumers. Perfume and cologne are made by combining different types of existing scents and conveying them into a long-lasting medium that is safe for daily use by chemists. The wide variety of available modern makeup is partly the result of the advances of cosmetic chemistry.

Chemists work in every level of the cosmetic creation process, from writing formulas to testing new products. They can be responsible for basic laboratory procedures and for managing materials acquisition and distribution within a company. Some cosmetic chemists graduate from working in the laboratory to focusing on sales and marketing of the products they used to create. Another area of focus for cosmetic chemists is strict adherence to safety protocols and regional regulations governing the manufacture and sale of products intended for human use. Safe testing procedures of cosmetic products are also followed and monitored by a cosmetic chemist.


Students interested in becoming a cosmetic chemist should focus on math and science while in high school. In college, it is advisable to get a science focused degree, usually chemistry directly. While enrolled in college, students may want to look into pursuing all available lab research opportunities that allow them access to a working laboratory. Conducting research in a laboratory can help an aspiring cosmetic chemist learn basic laboratory safety and procedures. Employers may prefer to hire entry-level cosmetic chemists who already have gained experience working in a professional laboratory while in school or post-graduation.

In addition to laboratory experience, employers seeking to hire a cosmetic chemist may desire applicants who hold an advanced degree in chemistry. As such, students who want to become a cosmetic chemist may increase their chances of success by obtaining a master's degree or doctorate within a related field of chemistry. In some situations, a cosmetic chemist can begin a career first working as laboratory technician and then move up within the company to positions that create formulas and manage other scientists. Cosmetic chemists typically work either in a laboratory or office environment. The laboratory side of the environment may be hazardous and require strict adherence to wearing proper protection from chemicals and following safety guidelines.


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