Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Cosmetic Chemist

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Cosmetic Chemist

Article excerpt

Where do you turn when you have a bad hair day or need to cover up an unwanted blemish? From hair gels to concealers, cosmetic chemists use science and creativity to develop products that make us look and feel good. As the executive director of Chanel's Research and Development Formulation Laboratories, cosmetic chemist Amy Wyatt finds it exciting and rewarding to create useful, safe, and appealing personal care and pampering products.

An overview of the field.

In some ways, the process of formulating a cosmetic product is similar to cooking. With a scientific mind and an artistic eye, a cosmetic chemist carefully selects approved ingredients for an experimental formula. The ingredients can vary from natural or organic to highly advanced manmade substances. Ingredients must be evaluated and tweaked until the exact, desired product is achieved. This formulating expertise is gained over time through lab experience.

Chemists in this field can specialize in various areas. For instance, skin-care chemists create products such as cleansers and moisturizing lotions. With an eye for color, makeup chemists formulate decorative cosmetics such as lipsticks, foundations, and eye liners. Toiletry or fragrance-ancillary chemists focus on products such as body washes and lotions that support companies' signature fragrances. Hair-care chemists develop shampoos, conditioners, and fixative products such as gels.

Satisfaction at work.

Before I entered the cosmetics industry, I never considered where all of my skincare, makeup, and hair products came from. My first job out of college involved working as a technician in a printing and publishing lab. Fortunately, this lab experience along with my bachalor's degree in biology, helped me land a cosmetic chemist position with Aveda. I immediately fell in love with the fast-paced field. I recall the challenge and excitement of creating my first product--an SPF 15 lip balm made with naturally derived ingredients. It was extremely gratifying to witness people actually buying something I made.

Working for Chanel, it is always a thrill to see the products I help develop advertised in magazines and on television, as well as used by celebrities and other customers. …

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