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If you want to be a cosmetic chemist here is what you do

Heather hopes the Brains can help: Hi, I’m currently looking in to Cosmetic Science as a career. I will be graduating from uni this year but have no previous experience in the area. I plan to do a diploma from the SCS in Cosmetic Science to start me off. If you have any advice or information I’d be very grateful. Thank you!

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The Beauty Brains respond:

Heather, how wonderful that you want to enter cosmetic science. This industry, and science based industries in general, need more women. I have always found it amusing/appalling to hear non-make-up wearing, bald men men in our industry blab on about exactly what women want. Ha!

We often get asked this and similar questions about becoming a cosmetic scientist on the Beauty Brains so we’ll provide a general answer here. Hopefully, some of this information helps you.

Key Moves to Become a Cosmetic Scientist

1. Get a science degree. Unless you have a relative who started the company, if you want to become a cosmetic chemist you will need a college degree in science since most cosmetic firms require it. Preferred ones include degrees in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering. However, plenty of scientists in our industry have Biology, Microbiology, and even Physics degrees. The specific college or Uni that you attend is less important than which degree you received.

2. Consider getting an advanced degree. True, a 4-year college degree is all you need, but you can improve your chances of breaking into cosmetics by getting an advanced degree. Your involvement with the SCS is a great start in the UK. In the United States, there are only a few advanced degrees offered. These include places like the University of Cincinnati, St. John’s University, Rutgers University, University of Southern California, etc. Check the college’s Pharmacy departments for more information. You can contact the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) for a complete list. In addition to getting something good for putting on your resume, you’ll get invaluable experience making cosmetic products & meet some great people.

3. Find the companies where you’d like to work. This industry has thousands of companies that employ cosmetic chemists. Where do you find them? If you like, internet searches work, but you can also search trade magazines like Happi or GCI. In GCI, your search can be done by region of the US or world. Of course, you can also look at what company makes a product you like and Google their contact information to inquire about jobs.

4. Figure out what job you want. Speaking of jobs, many different different ones exist in the cosmetic industry for scientists. If you actually want to make formulas, you’ll want a formulating job. People who enjoyed experiments in Organic Chemistry might like these jobs. If you were more interested in Analytical Chemistry than you’ll want to find a job in an analytical lab. You can also find jobs in microbiology, perfumery, and quality control. For chemical engineers, your job search can lead you to process engineering which requires you to figure out how you might scale 1kg batches up to 10,000 kg tanks. Finally, if all else fails you can get a sales job. Raw material suppliers always look for people with technical backgrounds who can sell product. Personally, I think formulating jobs rule!

5. Find a temporary assignment. If it is too difficult to break directly into the industry, you might try finding a job through a temp agency. These companies can place you at big cosmetic companies like P&G or Unilever for a short or longer term assignment. Many people get hired on permanently at companies after starting as a temp.

6. Network with other cosmetic chemists. If you really want to step ahead of the other cosmetic science job seekers, strike up relationships with other scientists that already work on cosmetics. The most popular US association is the SCC and in the UK it is the SCS. For other countries you can contact the IFSCC to find out your local organization. The SCC has chapters throughout the US and you can often visit a monthly meeting for free. There you can meet the most famous cosmetic chemist. If you prefer computers, look on LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace for chemists who list their affiliation. You can even join the Chemists Corner forum and get connected with other cosmetic chemists.

Cosmetic science is a rewarding career which enables you to create and use almost any cosmetic or personal care product you want. Better living through chemistry. I love it!

If you want to learn more about starting a career as a cosmetic chemist, be sure to sign up for this free 4-part course on cosmetic science.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • leenat March 3, 2014, 8:12 pm

    hi, is what you have said still relevant at this point in time?

  • hina December 24, 2014, 4:26 am

    i’m thinking of becoming a cosmetic chemist in future. What sciences should I major in ? Is majoring in chemistry better choice than biology in this career ? Or majoring in Biochemistry ? I’m really confused in that

    • Randy Schueller December 24, 2014, 6:43 am

      Hi Hina. If you want to learn a LOT about becoming a cosmetic chemist you should visit our sister site: Chemists Corner (www.chemistscorner.com)

  • kathy May 6, 2015, 9:46 am

    I want to be a cosmetic chemist. I have been researching this year and I’m so eager to learn. I don’t have a science background but willing to learn

  • Mandana September 7, 2015, 11:34 am

    I have B.S degree on biochemistry and a year work experience as a stability tech in R&D at a cosmetics manufacturing .
    I would like to formulate . Is there any course or license that could help me to learn formulation ?

    • Bruno May 26, 2017, 10:51 am

      Looking for a cosmetic chemist. I want to partner with one and invest in building a solid brand. contact me if you are interested in discussing the details and opportunity. stargazingonmarz @ gmail

  • May January 13, 2016, 5:20 pm

    How about a masters degree in pharmacology from University at Buffalo?

  • anumita paul May 27, 2016, 11:54 pm

    Hi.i am interested in learning cosmetic science…i do have a science background.what should i do?

  • Dejanelle M Peterkin July 16, 2016, 6:15 am

    Hi, I’m interested in starting my own product line and i think It may be a great start to get an advanced degree in Cosmetic science. The program is I have a undergrad degree in liberal arts and many of the advance science degrees I see require that you have an undergrad science degree. I would rather not get 2 degrees, but is there anything or school I can look into that does not require a undergrad science degree?

  • Jenny August 17, 2016, 10:52 am

    Hi! I would very much like to work as a cosmetic chemist – probably in formulating. I’m starting university next week, a master programme in molecular biotechnology engineering which is 5 years long (in Sweden since I’m swedish). I chose that programme because I didn’t want to study only chemistry. I’ve always loved biology in school so I felt I couldn’t leave that behind. Molecular biotechnology engineering turned out to be the best choice for me – chemistry and biology combined. I wonder if the programme I’ve chosen could perhaps give me the background needed to eventually become a cosmetic chemist?

    PS Thanks for a very informative and entertaining website!

    • Tamera Cox March 15, 2020, 9:34 pm

      Hi Jenny
      I’m Tamera from CA 🙂
      I am very interested in becoming a cosmetic chemist (formulate organic skin and hair care specifically) and I am doing as much research before I commit to a school. This is a passion/hobby of mine and I believe I can be successful at this career because I’m good in science, I can cook, I’m a strong writer, and am very organized and precautions and I feel that this is what I finally want to pursue. I am stuck with which branch of science to go with: chemistry… or is there a better choice available? You mention you studied molecular biotechnology engineering…now it being 2020, would you say taking that course instead of just chemistry has more advantages or is more beneficial than just taking chemistry to become a cosmetic chemist?

  • Marissa September 24, 2016, 6:19 pm

    Hi! I am very interesting in pursuing the cosmetic science route. I am graduating from high school this spring and I was wondering if getting a chemistry degree is better than a chemical engineering degree or vice versa.

  • Nicole Vella October 20, 2016, 3:37 am

    Hi, I am currently studying business in my home country, but would really like continue in cosmetic science. However I don’t have any sciences…what do you suggest? Also I’m thinking of relocating to the UK.

  • Ogbomo Amen November 25, 2016, 5:44 pm

    I am currently running a doctor of pharmacy program in a university in west Africa.I am hoping to do my masters degree in cosmetic pharmacy. What are my chances as a foreign student in terms of scholarship and is my pharmacy degree relevant? I really have the passion to see to the beauty needs of we women as in this part of the world where I am there is not much information on this profession. Thanks

  • Soo Ji Seo December 8, 2016, 8:21 pm

    Hi i’m a pharmacy student and I am very much interested in getting into cosmetic labs and working in that industry. I don’t know how to approach first. Could you give some advice?

  • Shivani December 9, 2016, 3:13 am

    Hi! I am currently in high school and will be graduating in 2018. I wanted to know if it was possible to study cosmetic sciences at an undergraduate level. If not, what are the majors you recommend I pursue before graduation.

    • Randy Schueller December 9, 2016, 7:38 am

      I’m not aware of any high school programs in cosmetic science but majoring in chemistry or biology will certainly help you.

    • Brittany January 17, 2017, 3:51 pm

      Shivani, were are you from? My company is seeking some lab techs who actually are full-fledged formulators of cosmetics, skin and hair care if you are located in (or willing to relocate to) the Chicago area. Let me know if you or anyone you know is interested! This is a great way to get your foot in the door and work your way up (rather quickly) to a junior, then a senior chemist. This is the career path our senior chemists have all taken here. I am available at stasiak@universalbeauty.com.

  • Chandrika December 12, 2016, 10:59 am

    Hi. I am Chandrika
    I will have a degree in microbiology in a few months. Which are the colleges i should look for cosmetic science in Europe.

  • Junu February 22, 2017, 9:42 am

    I’m a student of cosmetology and I want to join my masters program in a facial surgery is this possible or not?

    • Randy Schueller February 22, 2017, 11:32 am

      I’m sorry but I’m not familiar with the requirements of your facial surgery program.

  • Sakina April 17, 2017, 11:41 pm

    Actually I am in 12 science this year so I was searching for career after 12 and love to test makeup and stuff so what should I do if I wanna take cosmetic science. Plz help and I are there college’s in Mumbai for cosmetic science degree

  • khalid khan May 3, 2017, 10:40 am

    I also want to become a beauty scientist but i dont belong to biology ground i am very eager to learn about it what should i do now i am in 2nd year now plz help me

  • Bruno May 26, 2017, 10:54 am

    looking for a chemist to partner up with and create our own brand/line. I am ready to invest. Please contact me stargazingonmarz @ gmail

  • Divya June 20, 2017, 7:39 am

    Hello I am studying bpharmacy and after bpharmacy I wanted to study on cosmetics …so can u help me to choose my postgraduation regarding cosmetics

  • Abiha July 14, 2017, 3:57 am

    Hello Randy,

    Coming across this website have been a great help to me!
    I completed my Bachelors in Materials Engineering in June 2016. I really want to pursue my higher studies in Cosmetic Science. Do you think that is possible?

    Hoping to hear from you soon!

  • Ioana Kovacs August 22, 2017, 9:17 am

    Hi, I am enrolled in a MSc Pharmacy degree, and am seeking some Cosmetic Science work experience, preferably some laboratory related work experience. Do you know where I should start?

  • Brianna September 21, 2017, 7:12 pm

    Would a biochemistry degree be good enough to get a job in this field ?

    • Randy Schueller September 22, 2017, 6:44 am

      Yes a biochem degree is good background for working in cosmetic science.

  • Doria October 4, 2017, 1:46 am

    hello, I want to do cosmetic science in university can you adviice me some university which can take undergraduate students.

  • Chandra McDonald October 15, 2017, 9:49 pm

    Would a Biology/Pre-Medicine degree be good enough to obtain a career in as a cosmetic chemist?

    • Randy Schueller October 18, 2017, 6:48 am

      Yes, depending of course on the position you’re being considered for.

  • May December 7, 2017, 10:38 am

    Hey, I am doing a science project for school and one of my quiestions was to describe how it looks as a Cosmetic Chemist and to be honest, I really don;t know what it´s like being in your shoes.

  • Anushruta December 31, 2017, 1:03 am

    Hi, I have done my Bachelors and Masters in Cosmetic Technology in the year 2014 and 2016 respectively. I have also done my internship in Oriflame India office and now seeking a full-time opportunity in Hyderabad, India or any other cities in India and won’t hesitate to relocate to other countries. In case you come across any vacancy please do let me know over email anushrutashinde@outlook.com so that I can share my profile.
    Thanks in advance…

    Best Regards,

  • Ela January 12, 2018, 5:58 am

    Hi, i have a pharmacy degree . I want to keep study for cosmetic carees . What i need do study for it ?

    • Perry Romanowski January 12, 2018, 10:21 am

      It would be good to get a degree in chemistry (or at least a minor) if you want to become a cosmetic chemist.

  • Andrea Williams March 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    Do you know of any summer programs for high school students who are interested in cosmetic chemistry or hair-care industry?

    Thank you

  • Jamie Collins September 3, 2019, 1:52 pm

    Hello I am currently a senior in undergrad and Im getting closer to graduating so Im a bit nervous about how Im gonna get a job in the cosmetic science industry. Ive been using linked in and connecting with more people in the field but I am finding that their isnt alot of opportunities where I live so I will most likely have to move. But i feel like that will be very hard and expensive.

  • Pannee November 16, 2019, 1:31 am

    I just moved here to the U.S. from Thailand. I have 20 years experience as a research and development cosmetic chemist. What would an average salary be in the U.S. for a chemist with roughly my experience?
    Thank you

    • Perry Romanowski November 19, 2019, 8:38 am

      That depends on where you are but probably around $60,000 – $70,000 US.

  • Kira March 28, 2020, 3:55 am

    I am a 16 yr old junior high school student and i am planning to start my own cosmetic company soon. What should i take? STEM as my strand in senior high school then Business/Marketing in college? Or ABM in senior high school and Organic Chemistry/Physiology in college? Is it also necessary to take a degree in cosmetology to have a cosmetic brand/company? Thank you for your answer.

    • Perry Romanowski April 9, 2020, 10:42 am

      You should probably take Business / Marketing in college if starting and running a cosmetic company is what you want to do. No, you do not need a degree in cosmetology to start a cosmetic brand.