Cosmetic Chemistry Graduate School Programs

Learn about the common courses you may take in a cosmetic chemistry graduate school program, as well as the typical length of time to complete the program and prerequisites. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Earn a Cosmetic Chemistry Graduate Degree

Cosmetic science master's degree programs prepare students for careers that involve researching, developing, and testing products and technology in the cosmetics industry. They typically require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a related field and/or completed science courses, as well as completion of a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The program usually lasts two years, and courses in product development, chemistry, and color cosmetics are offered.

Skincare Science

Skincare science courses teach students about the raw materials and formulations of skincare products. Students will use a hands-on lab experience to learn about the structure and function of ingredients. Examples of such ingredients are emulsifiers, emollients, silicones, thickeners, colorants, chelators, and preservatives. Students should come away from the course with a thorough understanding of what these ingredients do and how they work together.

Hair Care Science

Hair care science courses teach students the theories, practices, and ingredients behind hair care products, mainly shampoo and conditioner. Students will learn about the formulation and function of ingredients such as surfactants, proteins, polymers, and preservatives, and about toxicology, performance, and preparation and test methods. By the end of the course, students should understand the formulation and function of hair care ingredients, analytical procedures, and testing methods.

Surface, Colloid, and Membrane Science

Courses in surface and colloid science teach the technical aspects of emulsions, solubilized systems, foams, and dispersions. Students will learn the structure and dynamics of complex systems such as polyphase equilibrium phase transitions and kinetic distributions. The physics of interfaces and effects of surface structure are also explored, and students will learn the principles of colloid science through practical procedures as they apply to cosmetic formulations.

Product Development

Product development courses teach the principles of research and development of new products, starting from ideation and following through to market distribution. Students will learn about the product development process from the perspective of a cosmetic chemist, beginning from product inception to manufacturing, using their previous knowledge of raw materials and formulations. By the end of the course, students should know how to use technology to develop and formulate products other than the ones studied.

Cosmetic Science Lab

Cosmetic science laboratory courses provide hands-on laboratory experience for students. Using their previous knowledge of hair and skincare ingredients, raw materials, and formulations, as well as testing methods, students will create and evaluate hair and skin products, from creams and lotions to shampoos and gels. Upon completion of this lab course, students should have a thorough ability to create and test their own products.

Perfumery (Fragrance Applications)

Perfumery, sometimes called fragrance applications, courses teach students the history of perfume development, as well as common raw materials, key fragrance terminology, how perfume is developed, and how it is marketed. Some perfumery courses integrate lecture and lab time to give students applicable practice. Students should come away from the course with a thorough knowledge and understanding of fragrance development processes, from raw materials to marketing.

Color Cosmetics

Courses in color cosmetics teach students worldwide cosmetic color regulations. Students get an overview on formulations that have fillers, conventional colorants, and specialty pigments, as well as the manufacturing processes behind all types of makeup products. Students should complete the course with a competent understanding of the pigments that go into finished products and any companion ingredients, as well as how these products are manufactured.

Dermal Pharmacology and Immunology

Dermal pharmacology and immunology courses teach the structure and function of skin, as well as the importance of skin safety testing when developing products. The immunology of skin and its impact on the application and efficacy of products are also explored. Pharmacological principles such as pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics are reviewed as well. Students should leave the course with an understanding of how the skin is built, how it works, and how it reacts.

Cosmetics Regulation

Cosmetics regulation courses teach students the current legal international and domestic regulatory standards surrounding cosmetics. Students will learn about proper labeling of FDA-certified products and how labels are used for consumer information, legal policy, and as marketing tools. They also become familiar with regulations for lab contaminants. Students should come away from the course with an understanding of cosmetics industry regulations, liabilities, and how labels are used.


Biochemistry courses teach students the chemistry of substances that have biological significance. Additional topics explored are the mechanisms of hydrolytic and respiratory enzymes, the biosyntheses of proteins, bio-oxidations, and molecular structures of complex molecules. Biochemistry courses, when applied to cosmetic science, help students understand on a molecular level the technologies of the cosmetics industry. By the end of the course, students should have a deep understanding of the chemical processes behind biological substances, particularly hair, skin, and nails, when applied to cosmetic science.

Cosmetic science master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree, science courses, and completion of a GRE to enroll, and typically last two years. Students in these programs will take courses such as skincare science, product development, biochemistry, and color cosmetics.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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