There’s a lot more to making cosmetics than just mixing stuff up in a beaker. Listen to this week’s show to learn all about how cosmetic scientists create the products you use everyday.
Click below to play Episode 50 or click “download” to save the MP3 file to your computer.
Take the cosmetic expert quiz
Here’s a fun quiz posted to test your cosmetic knowledge. Go to the FDA website to check your answers or read them at the bottom of this post.
TRUE OR FALSE:
- FDA must approve cosmetics before they go to market.
- Using mascara the wrong way can cause blindness.
- Tattoos used to be permanent but now lasers are an easy, reliable way to erase them.
- Cruelty free or not tested on animals means that no animal testing was done on the product and its ingredients.
- There are non-animal tests that can replace all animal testing of cosmetics.
- If a product is labeled as all natural or organic it is probably hypo allergenic
- Even if a product is labeled hypo allergenic it may contain substances that can cause allergic reactions for some people.
- Choosing products with the claim dermatologist tested is a way to avoid an allergic reaction or other skin irritation
- Lots of lipsticks on the market contain dangerous amounts of lead.
- About 60 to 70% of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body.
Question of the week…What does a cosmetic scientist do?
Mia asks…You talk about not only ingredients but also advertising and regulations so there must be more to your job than just chemistry. Can you explain more about what a cosmetic chemist does?
What is a cosmetic scientist?
It’s not surprising Mia has this question considering that cosmetic science seems to be some deep dark secret unless you’re in the industry. Even in college teaching courses in chemistry there is literally zero mention of the field of cosmetics. A cosmetic scientist may involve chemistry or some other scientific discipline. But it involves much more than just being a “cook” who mixes products together. The term “Product Developer” is more accurate in some respects.
Where do you find cosmetic scientists?
You might logically assume that cosmetic scientists would work for cosmetic companies. And of course it’s true that cosmetic companies do hire these researchers but you might be surprised to find out where else cosmetics scientists work.
The cosmetics industry can be divided into five basic categories:
* Finished goods manufacturers
* Raw Material Suppliers
* Consultants and Testing
And even across these different parts of the industry there are many different sub types of cosmetic scientists.
Types of cosmetic science careers
* Product Development Chemist/ Cosmetic Chemist
* Analytical Chemistry for raw materials and production
* Manufacturing Engineer
* Safety Specialist evaluates raw materials and finished goods to establish their safety during use
* Regulatory Specialist ensures compliance with local and global regulations
* Toxicologist/Safety Specialist evaluates raw materials and finished goods to establish their safety during use
* Packaging Engineer
* Claims development to support product performance
* Quality Assurance
* Technical Sales Representative assists customers (product developers) with formulation and technical support
* Science Public Relations
What does a cosmetic scientist do?
Rather than try to explain all the functions of all these different careers we’ll do a little deep dive into the role of the product development chemist which, arguably , has the broadest exposure/responsibility across all these careers.
Creating an idea
Driven by a combination of new technology, consumer insight, and business needs.
- Co-author concepts for testing
- Inspire the marketing department with new product ideas
- Developing the product
Making the product
Mixing products, stability testing, cleaning glassware, chasing down raw materials. Work with fragrance houses to make products smell good. This includes writing briefs, testing samples, running consumer panels, etc. Working with Packaging, Micro, Regulatory, etc.
Researching consumer insights
Sitting behind the two-way mirror in a focus group.
Efficacy testing and claims substantiation
- Test products to prove that they really work
- Tress testing, instrumental tests, large consumer panels.
- Evaluating products in the salon
- Work with stylists to test on real people. An opportunity to see/feel how your products actually perform.
- Developing advertising
Create compelling demonstrations which bring product benefits to life visually
Working with advertising agencies to develop supportable claims
Technical consulting for TV commercials
Here’s a commercial that I worked on:
Writing and reviewing label copy
- Claims (as discussed above), LOIs, warning statements, net weight, etc.
Trouble shooting manufacturing issues
- Work with Operations team on scale up
- Troubleshoot manufacturing issues
Educating the sales team and retail customers
Explain product benefits, help the sales team do a better job of selling the product to Walmart, Target, etc.
Promoting the product through Public Relations
- Staging “show and tell” events
- Desk side interviews with beauty editors
Assisting with consumer complaints and litigation
- Investigate cause of consumer complaints
- Assist council with any resulting litigation
Working with attorneys on intellectual property issues
Applying for new patents and lawsuits related to existing patents
Buy your copy of It’s OK to Have Lead in Your Lipstick to learn more about:
- Clever lies that the beauty companies tell you.
- The straight scoop of which beauty myths are true and which are just urban legends.
- Which ingredients are really scary and which ones are just scaremongering by the media to incite an irrational fear of chemicals.
- How to tell the difference between the products that are really green and the ones that are just trying to get more of your hard earned money by labeling them “natural” or “organic.
Click here for all the The Beauty Brains podcasts.
- FDA must approve cosmetics before they go to market. F
- Using mascara the wrong way can cause blindness. T
- Tattoos used to be permanent but now lasers are an easy, reliable way to erase them. F
- Cruelty free or not tested on animals means that no animal testing was done on the product and its ingredients. F
- There are non-animal tests that can replace all animal testing of cosmetics. F
- If a product is labeled as all natural or organic it is probably hypo allergenic. F
- Even if a product is labeled hypo allergenic it may contain substances that can cause allergic reactions for some people. T
- Choosing products with the claim dermatologist tested is a way to avoid an allergic reaction or other skin irritation. F
- Lots of lipsticks on the market contain dangerous amounts of lead. F
- About 60 to 70% of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body. F