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Guide to Cosmetic Formulation Basics

On formulating cosmetics

To be a cosmetic chemist you have to learn to make cosmetic formulas. For most people starting out in the cosmetic industry, you’ll specialize in a speci c type of formulation such as skin, hair, or color cosmetics.

However, to be a complete cosmetic chemist you should have an understanding of how ALL cosmetics work and are formulated. This doesn’t mean you have to go make them (although that is encourage) but it does mean that if someone asks you how a product works, you’ll be able to answer them.

you how a product works, you’ll be able to answer them. In this series we are

In this series we are going to cover as many types of cosmetics and personal care products we can imagine. We’ll discuss what a product is designed to do, how it works, and some of the ingredients that make it work. Before we get into the speci c formulas, it makes sense to give an overview of all the types of products that are considered cosmetics.

While there are thousands of personal care or cosmetic products on the market, they can all be sorted into 5 distinct categories.

Skin Care Products

These are products designed to improve the appearance and feel of skin. The skin care market makes up about 30% of all cosmetics sold which is the largest share of any category. Skin care products can be classi ed further by how they work and what they do.

So, there are products that are left behind on the skin. These include moisturizing products designed to improve the look and feel of skin. There are also anti-aging products that promise to get rid of the signs of aging skin (for example wrinkles, age spots, dry skin, etc). There are sunless tanners which change the color of skin. And there are over-the-counter drug products that protect from the sun, treat skin medical conditions, treat acne, and actually reduce wrinkles.

The other types of skin products are those designed to remove things from skin. This include cleansers like body washes, hand soaps, facial washes, toners, bubble baths and more. It also includes scrubs, masks, and exfoliation products. You could also add shaving creams and depilatories to this group since they are designed to remove hair from the skin.

Hair Care Products

The next category of cosmetic products is hair care. Products for the hair are the second most popular type of cosmetic making up approximately 25% of worldwide sales. Like the skin care category, hair products can be further grouped by how they work and what they do.

The most frequently purchased hair products are those designed to remove things from the hair. These are liquid shampoos which clean hair, but there are also powdered and aerosol shampoos. They remove dirt, oil and other things from hair. There are specialty shampoos which qualify as over-the-counter drugs and include anti-dandruff shampoos, anti-lice products, and even hair restoration shampoos.

Hair conditioners are another type of product designed to be rinsed off, but they also leave material behind to improve the look and feel of hair. There are standard every day rinse-off conditioners but there are also intensive conditioners, protein packs, hot oil treatments, serums and a wide variety of other specialty products that are supposed to improve the hair look and feel.

A third type of hair product are those meant to be left in the hair. These products can help change the feel of hair

but are primarily meant to help with the appearance and control of hair. The largest segment of these products are styling products including hair sprays, mousses, styling gels, putties, pomades and more. There are also leave-in conditioners which would fall into this sub-category. Of all the hair care product types, styling products are the most diverse taking on a vast array of formulations.

A nal hair product category is reactive hair products. These are formulas that chemically change the structure of

hair thereby changing the way it looks. For straightening hair there are relaxer products. For making hair curly there are perms. And for changing the color of hair there are permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary hair colors.

Color Cosmetics

Speaking of colors, that brings us to our next cosmetic category, color cosmetics. For most people these are the types of products that they think of when you say the word cosmetic. Color cosmetics or make up comprise about 20% of the worldwide cosmetic market. This group includes products that remain on the skin and change the color and appearance. It includes products for the face like foundations, lip sticks, lip gloss, blush, eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara. You could also include products for the nails such as nail polish, gloss, and all the other products related to nail care. Color cosmetics are the most regulated of all cosmetics because governments around the world restrict the types of ingredients that can be used for colorants. It turns out that some of the coloring ingredients that were used prior to the creation of the modern cosmetic industry were quite poisonous.

Fragrances

Our next major category of cosmetics is fragrances. Fragrances and perfumes have been part of the cosmetic industry since before the 1600’s. These types of products are meant to be put on to change natural body odor. They make up about 10% of the cosmetic market. This category includes perfumes, colognes and body splashes. And this group also includes body sprays which are aerosol versions of colognes.

Personal Care Products

And then there are general personal care products. This last category of cosmetic products makes up approximately 15% of sales in the market (depending on what products you include). These include oral care products like tooth paste, mouthwash and whitening products. It also includes deodorants and anti-perspirants although I suppose you could make a case that these could be classi ed as either skin care products or fragrance products. But for our purposes let’s just consider them a separate group.

So there you have it the 5 main categories of cosmetic products. They include skin care, hair care, makeup, fragrances and personal care products.

OTC Drugs

One thing I should mention though is that throughout this show I’ve mentioned over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. This is a special category of cosmetic-like products that is more tightly regulated at least in the US. You see cosmetics are not allowed to treat a disease or otherwise interact with the skin metabolism. According to the law they are only allowed to temporarily change the appearance of skin and hair. So any product that actually treats a disease is actually a drug. In the US the FDA has created a list of such products and each of these has a monograph which dictates the active ingredients, the levels, and the claims that can be made about the products. These products are not technically cosmetics although they seem like they are. This includes things like sunscreens, anti-dandruff products, anti-acne products, anti-perspirants, and anything else that might be considered treating a disease.

You can learn more details about creating cosmetics in our course: formulating cosmetics

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87 comments

87 comments Gabriela Georgieva gabry124@abv.bg  REPLY Suganya Hi perry, I want to know, how to

Gabriela Georgieva

87 comments Gabriela Georgieva gabry124@abv.bg  REPLY Suganya Hi perry, I want to know, how to

Suganya

Hi perry,

I want to know, how to formulate a shampoo hair dye

to know, how to formulate a shampoo hair dye  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your question in our forum.

suggest you post your question in our forum.  REPLY shubham hey friend! i want to

shubham

hey friend!

i want to make emuslion of turmeric oil and pongamia pinnata oil. please suggest me any solubilizer.

thankyouu

please suggest me any solubilizer. thankyouu  REPLY Perry Romanowski Have you tried Polysorbate 20? 

Perry Romanowski

Have you tried Polysorbate 20?

Perry Romanowski Have you tried Polysorbate 20?  REPLY Crystal Williams Can someone point me in

Crystal Williams

Can someone point me in the direction of where the cost calculator spreadsheet is

of where the cost calculator spreadsheet is  REPLY Perry Romanowski You can nd it here.

Perry Romanowski

 REPLY Ezekiel hi perry, Is formulation of liquid soap for dish

Ezekiel

hi perry, Is formulation of liquid soap for dish washing and laundry covered in the course? Is there any course or forum on paint formulation you can suggest? need help.

on paint formulation you can suggest? need help.  REPLY Perry Romanowski No, the course is

Perry Romanowski

No, the course is for formulating cosmetics.

No, the course is for formulating cosmetics.  REPLY Amaka Hi Perry can you plz write

Amaka

Hi Perry can you plz write me the recipe for a whitening body scrub,thanks so much.

for a whitening body scrub,thanks so much.  REPLY Chidimma I used cetyl alcohol, but I

I used cetyl alcohol, but I did not get what I want. The up is tick why the down is waterry, why is it

so?

is tick why the down is waterry, why is it so?  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’m

Perry Romanowski

I’m not sure what you mean but it’s probably due to the fact that you don’t have a proper thickener in the formula.

don’t have a proper thickener in the formula.  REPLY Eric Hello Perry. I really enjoy

Hello Perry. I really enjoy Your website.

I don’t see any formulation for face creams, gels, serums. Are these covered in Your course? (Thinking about taking it, but my main interest is in face creams masks etc.)

Thanks

interest is in face creams masks etc.) Thanks  REPLY Perry Romanowski Hello Eric – yes

Perry Romanowski

Hello Eric – yes these are covered in our course.

Eric – yes these are covered in our course.  REPLY Shalini I just wanna know

Shalini

I just wanna know can fairness creams or any cream can be manufactured by cold process method. if yes then please share the process.

method. if yes then please share the process.  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you post

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/forum

in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/forum  REPLY Naomi I am a sophomore in high school, do you

Naomi

I am a sophomore in high school, do you know of any cosmetic science opportunities for my age?

any cosmetic science opportunities for my age?  REPLY Perry Romanowski I don’t know of any.

Perry Romanowski

I don’t know of any. You could check out some soapmaking websites to get a sense of how that is made. This isn’t exactly cosmetics but it’s close.

This isn’t exactly cosmetics but it’s close.  REPLY Gulshan Sir good afternoon Sir i want

Gulshan

Sir good afternoon Sir i want to know about water less facewash formulation and ingredients. Delhi india

formulation and ingredients. Delhi india  REPLY Kalukusu Raymond I need to know the ingredients that

Kalukusu Raymond

I need to know the ingredients that give an ice cold effect / cooling effect to an aftershave lotion.

effect / cooling effect to an aftershave lotion.  REPLY Perry Romanowski That depends on the

Perry Romanowski

That depends on the formula. Menthol will do that but usually it is just due to the evaporation of alcohol.

it is just due to the evaporation of alcohol.  REPLY Rebecca I’m looking for ways

Rebecca

I’m looking for ways to intern in a lab, as I am still an undergraduate. Do you know of resources? Or programs I could apply to? Thank you

Or programs I could apply to? Thank you  REPLY Perry Romanowski Check with your local

Perry Romanowski

science-internship-programs/  REPLY Nebby hi sir condition of body scrub : oil-in-water and

Nebby

hi sir

condition of body scrub : oil-in-water and water-in-oil

can

I use body wash as the basic formulation for body scrub

can

and

I have to prepared two

you explain the method?

I have to prepared two you explain the method?  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY Thavisack This web page is really good thank you so much sir

Thavisack

This web page is really good thank you so much sir for best knnowledge for the beginer like me.

sir for best knnowledge for the beginer like me.  REPLY Virginie Hey there, is there

Virginie

Hey there, is there any basic formulation for pigmented products such as eye-shadows, blushers and such?

Thanks a bunch!

eye-shadows, blushers and such? Thanks a bunch!  REPLY Perry Romanowski See our post on nding

Perry Romanowski

See our post on nding free sources for formulations.

nd-free-cosmetic-formulas/  REPLY parisa hi could you please help me by guide formation for

parisa

hi

could you please help me by guide formation for cream ?

please help me by guide formation for cream ?  REPLY Robert Fadil We are looking

Robert Fadil

We are looking for a company to reformulate an aerosol spray for ngernails original formula if needed. Product now being made in China.

We can furnish

Product now being made in China.  REPLY We can furnish Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your request in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY m asume hi please help me please, say what is cleansing

m asume

hi

please help me please, say what is cleansing agent in make up remover lotion?? thank you best regard

make up remover lotion?? thank you best regard  REPLY Perry Romanowski That depends. Typically, they

Perry Romanowski

That depends. Typically, they are surfactants.

That depends. Typically, they are surfactants.  REPLY alyse I need help in formulating a colorless

alyse

I need help in formulating a colorless liquid eyeliner.

help in formulating a colorless liquid eyeliner.  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you post your

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your request in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY Manish Gupta Hi Sir, Can you please help me with the shaving

Manish Gupta

Hi Sir,

Can you please help me with the shaving cream formula, i am a small manufacturer in India and i am very much impressed by your reply’s given on the portal. After reading your comments i have starting feeling that you the one who can make my dream come true which is making my own shaving cream manufacturing unit. I will be highly obliged if you can provide me with the same.

Below mentioned is my email addres:

Thanks & Regards, Manish Gupta

Thanks & Regards, Manish Gupta  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you post your question in

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY Joy adderly Looking for a chemist to help me with fomulaying

Looking for a chemist to help me with fomulaying my bath bombs for online sales. If someone can point me in the right direction it would greatly appreciated! Or do I need to have it fomulated at all? Thanks again. …

to have it fomulated at all? Thanks again. …  REPLY Perry Romanowski Check in our

Perry Romanowski

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY Ajay Patel Witch type formulation you want ? Plz. contact @

Ajay Patel

Witch type formulation you want ? Plz. contact @ ajaypatel0612@gmail.com

want ? Plz. contact @ ajaypatel0612@gmail.com  REPLY Regina Does Mascara fall under hair care since

Regina

Does Mascara fall under hair care since it goes onto eye lashes? Are lashes Hair…lol? Or does it fall under color cosmetics?

Or does it fall under color cosmetics?  REPLY Perry Romanowski Mascara is typically considered color

Perry Romanowski

Mascara is typically considered color cosmetics.

Mascara is typically considered color cosmetics.  REPLY Jackie Is there a standard formulation for natural

Jackie

Is there a standard formulation for natural face mask, using the following ingredients, for instance:

activated charcoal + kaolin clay + rose powder + red rice?

charcoal + kaolin clay + rose powder + red rice?  REPLY Perry Romanowski I would

Perry Romanowski

I would suggest you post your question in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY samir Hi perry . I want to know which perfume or chemicals

samir

Hi perry . I want to know which perfume or chemicals suppress the odour of isopropyl alcohol in preparation of hair sprays

isopropyl alcohol in preparation of hair sprays  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’m not sure. I would

Perry Romanowski

I’m not sure. I would suggest you post your question in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY John Can someone please help me resolve this problem. I used

John

Can someone please help me resolve this problem. I used dehyquart A-CA, Nutrilan i, Ethanol, Water, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxythanol to formulate a product. The problem is the colour of the product keeps changing with time. The older batches always look deeper in colour. What can I do to stabilize the colour and prevent it from changing with time? Thanks

and prevent it from changing with time? Thanks  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you post

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your question in the forum with more detail http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY NS Hello Can I get the basic Hair color formulations? 

NS

Hello

Can I get the basic Hair color formulations?

Can I get the basic Hair color formulations?  REPLY Ashwin hello i want evaluation testing

Ashwin

hello

i want evaluation testing of shavings cream. plz. rply me on my e-mail id

plz

rply

me.

id ashwinmeshram007@gmail.com . plz rply me.  REPLY sakshi I’ve recently completed my bachelors in

sakshi

I’ve recently completed my bachelors in biotechnology engineering and looking forward to a career in cosmetic science. Can you help me out with universities that offer this course as well as suggest any internships which could help in giving me a better idea about the eld?

in giving me a better idea about the eld?  REPLY Perry Romanowski See our post

Perry Romanowski

cosmetic science programs around the world .  REPLY Akshaya Hi any idea of cosmetic formulation

Akshaya

Hi

any

idea of cosmetic formulation course in India?

idea of cosmetic formulation course in India?  REPLY Perry Romanowski I do not know of

Perry Romanowski

I do not know of one. You could go through our online course. It’s available anywhere in the world. http://chemistscorner.com/members

in the world. http://chemistscorner.com/members  REPLY kasthuri Dear all I am in the need of developing

kasthuri

Dear all

I am in the need of developing hydrogen peroxide developer for hair color

i

was used carpobol

2020 as a base and i got a viscous liquid developer

months again its viscous fully down and looks like liquid

swell. But there is no major change in hydrogen peroxide value.but grey hair doesn’t change into

black as previous formulation

but

after a month it get viscous gel and after 6

And

my package bottles and packets get

bobbles

formation is so high.Need good stabilizer and alternate base for

high.Need good stabilizer and alternate base for  REPLY Perry Romanowski I’d suggest you post your

Perry Romanowski

I’d suggest you post your question in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY Dr.Rayeji Hi, how can i make AHA15% gel? What materials can

Dr.Rayeji

Hi, how can i make AHA15% gel? What materials can i use? And how can i make azelaic acid20% cream?

i use? And how can i make azelaic acid20% cream?  REPLY Perry Romanowski I would

Perry Romanowski

I would suggest you post your question in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY Chirag gupta Hi Perry, I have been formulating Handwash with

Chirag gupta

Hi Perry,

I have been formulating Handwash with SLES, CAPB, glycerin,cocamide DEA,EGMS. But i am unable to prepare it as that of Commercial one. Please Guide me . Thanks

that of Commercial one. Please Guide me . Thanks  REPLY Perry Romanowski I would need

Perry Romanowski

I would need more information. Please post your discussion in our forum. http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk  REPLY Synarie What is the formula for eyeshadow please. 

Synarie

What is the formula for eyeshadow please.

What is the formula for eyeshadow please.  REPLY Perry Romanowski See our post on color

Perry Romanowski

See our post on color cosmetics.

Romanowski See our post on color cosmetics.  REPLY Peto Clement Kinsaka This is very informative

Peto Clement Kinsaka

This is very informative and I am very close to producing my product because the information I receive from your website. Thank you for good heart.

from your website. Thank you for good heart.  REPLY miller my cream developer (hydrogen peroxide)

miller

my cream developer (hydrogen peroxide) 40 vol is unstable need help with formulation

40 vol is unstable need help with formulation  REPLY Perry Romanowski post your question in

Perry Romanowski

post your question in our cosmetic science forum (http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk)

http://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk )  REPLY mrs vora please may I ask you for simple shaving cream base

mrs vora

please may I ask you for simple shaving cream base formula

I ask you for simple shaving cream base formula  REPLY DICKA CHRISTIAN I am a

DICKA CHRISTIAN

I am a chemical Engineer living in cameroon.I will wish to work in team that will enable to come out with new cosmetic formulation.

to come out with new cosmetic formulation.  REPLY Mian Ghulam Mustafa Hello Mr Dicka i

Hello Mr Dicka

i am mustafa from pakistan iwant to start the business of cosmetics

kindly send me formulation of body lotions whitening cream cold creams face wash hair removing cream thanks

cold creams face wash hair removing cream thanks  REPLY Sabin Great job  REPLY TC

Sabin

Great job

cream thanks  REPLY Sabin Great job  REPLY TC Can you include formulations for shaving

TC

Can you include formulations for shaving products for razor bumps and razor burn?

Pingback: Cosmetic formulation basics – Foundation Rish Hello! could you please include formulation information

Rish

Hello!

could you please include formulation information for eyeliners, mascaras, eyeshadows and blush?

Thanks!

mascaras, eyeshadows and blush? Thanks!  REPLY shiv bahadur yadav Hi Perry and every other members

Hi Perry and every other members of the forum. Plz, can any one help me wit a starting formular for hair setting lotion. Thanks

formular for hair setting lotion. Thanks  REPLY Perry Romanowski Hello – post this in our

Perry Romanowski

Hello – post this in our cosmetic science forum

– post this in our cosmetic science forum  REPLY shiv bahadur yadav hi rish shiv

hi rish shiv bahadur yadav

(senior consultant f&D R&D ) COLOR COSMETIC

for

eyeliners, mascaras, eyeshadows and

MOb.09675171134

mascaras, eyeshadows and MOb.09675171134  REPLY Dandollars2 Hi Perry and every other members of the forum.

Dandollars2

Hi Perry and every other members of the forum. Plz, can any one help me wit a starting formular for hair setting lotion. Thanks

REPLY Pingback: Cosmetic formulation basics – Nail Polish siobhan Hi there, I have been reading this

siobhan

Hi there,

I have been reading this website for a few months now and nd it really really useful, its a great place for info, I have now taken the leap to try and make a formulation for a body butter to get certi ed by a chemist but desperatly need some help with this could anyone help it would be greatly appreciated.

anyone help it would be greatly appreciated.  REPLY Perry I would suggest you post the

Perry

I would suggest you post the question in our Forum.

suggest you post the question in our Forum.  REPLY Reap company Please if you can

Reap company

Please if you can add botanical formulae too.

Please if you can add botanical formulae too.  REPLY Estelle I would appreciate it if

Estelle

I would appreciate it if someone can assist me with formulating body butter and body scrub?

me with formulating body butter and body scrub?  REPLY Desiree Mattox Hi Estelle, I would

Hi Estelle,

I would be happy to assist you with your body butter and body scrub products. If you are still interested feel free to submit an inquiry through my website.

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