What is cosmetic formulation? Part I

The FDA has a very broad definition of "cosmetics" which includes things that are "intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body ... for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance."  Wow, right? 

In this series I'll tell you about my journey in cosmetic formulation and give you some insights into my process.

When I first decided I wanted to make shampoo, I turned to the Internet.  Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of really bad information out there!  A few of the suggestions I came across involved Dawn dishwashing liquid (uh, no), castile soap (the pH of soap is wrong for hair and proven to cause damage) and ripe avocados (ick and have you seen the price of avocados?)

Fortunately, I eventually found some sites that explain cosmetic chemistry.  My absolute favorite is the Point of Interest blog written by Susan Barclay Nichols, who is extremely generous in sharing her extensive knowledge of cosmetic chemistry.  I recommend this site for science-based information about ingredients, formulation and more.

One of the things I love most about Susan's blog is that she provides a lot of basic formulas, but always make suggestions about ways to modify them using different ingredients for different results.  In a way, formulation is a little bit like cooking.  You can take a basic recipe and, with imagination and knowledge of what flavors work well together, create endless variations.  When it comes to bath and body products, those variations affect how a product feels and performs, and even how much it costs.  I knew I wanted to make bath and body products that were uniquely mine, so I started my long climb up the learning curve.

As I went further down the rabbit hole of cosmetic chemistry I realized I needed to learn about a lot of ingredients.  Learn more in the next post ...


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