Clinically Clever Cosmetic Scientists: Everything You Need to Know

We’re heading to the lab to uncover the work of cosmetic scientists! What exactly do they do, and would we dare do it?!

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Did you know that mascara contains iron oxide?! Us neither, fact fans. If you spend your days wondering who exactly makes up toiletries and products, you need better hobbies. Or you just need to read this article!

So... what do cosmetic scientists do?

It’s a bit complicated, so we made a handy list:

  • 1. They mix things and sometimes they explode.

So maybe every experiment doesn’t end in an explosion, but cosmetic scientists spend a lot of time in the lab playing around with chemicals, and testing products. So next time you microwave something and it erupts like Krakatoa, remember you could be getting paid to do that one day.

  • 2. Create magic potions (yes, like Harry Potter).

Designing make up, perfume, soaps and face masks, adding scents and colors… it’s basically a bubbling cauldron. But without Severus Snape breathing down your neck - bonus!

  • 3. Turn people green.

Okay maybe not. The point of testing products for safety is actually to make sure nobody DOES turns green. Or explodes. Or sprouts three extra legs. And so on.

  • 4. Come up with amazingly innovative inventions!

At some point, someone somewhere turned around and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if shampoo in my eyes didn’t cause me to scream in agony and curl up in a ball on the shower floor?”, and then someone else, somewhere different thought, “I wish there was some kind of spray-on hair glue that held my beehive in place all day”.

Hello hairspray and goodbye shampoo-in-eye torture. Cosmetic scientists can also be inspired inventors!

Okay, I’m interested. What else do I need to learn?

To brew up a cosmetic scientists, we recommend a pinch of curiosity and five grams of creativity to start with (we’re running with the potions theme). Throw the whole periodic table into the cauldron because somebody has to understand it.

A good pair of nostrils might sound a strange requirement, but it’s handy for sniffing chemicals and working out what they are! If you have a better sense of smell than a bloodhound in a nose costume, a career in cosmetics could be closer than you think!

How many products made by cosmeticians do you wear every day?

You might think you don’t have all that much to do with cosmetics on a daily basis. In fact you’re smearing their work all over your body and face all day long (interestingly, the same cannot be said for many other people’s work).

  • Deodorant - 24 hours a day in your smelly ol’ armpits.
  • Toothpaste - In your mouth and you probably swallow a bit too.
  • Exfoliator - Pretty much everywhere, depending on how much scrubbing you personally require.
  • Shampoo and conditioner - All over your head, hair, face and body (we’re including the run-off for dramatic effect).

Nobody (not even your mum) has such a huge influence over your appearance as cosmetic scientists. If you’ve ever struggled to find the exact product you want in a store, why not work in cosmetics and simply create it?

Mildly Interesting Facts (some of which you’re happier not knowing…):

  • There’s a pigment called carmine cochineal and it’s made by grinding up little bugs. Sorry bugs.
  • Lipstick is made of wax and oil mixed together. So sticky.
  • Nail polish was invented around 5000 years ago. The Chinese royal family reportedly had gold- and silver-painted nails like the trendy so-and-so’s they are.
  • Some eyeshadows and eyeliners get their sparkle from fish scales… Sorry fish.