How to set up a cosmetic lab at home
It’s easy to get started making your own products at home with some relatively basic equipment. There are some items you’ll especially need, as well as some essential requirements for the room you will be working in. This blog will be taking a look at how to set up your DIY cosmetic lab space even if it’s in your own kitchen or other area at home. Make sure your products are of the required quality, every single time.
Remember: we have a FREE Cosmetic Formulation Fundamentals Masterclass series that covers not just how to set up a DIY cosmetic lab at home, but all the other fundamental learning you need to get started on your cosmetic science journey the right way. With 15 lectures, a 50-page e-book and over 6 hours video content, we’ll get you on the right path to making your skincare and hair care products at home. Access this FREE Masterclass series here.
Essential equipment for a DIY cosmetic lab
We’ve got a great video that talks you through all of the equipment in this list, please watch it here.
To get making your very own cosmetic products at home, make sure you source the following equipment:
- Scales: small portable scales like you see in the video link above
- 3000g in 0.1g accuracy – essential
- 500g in 0.01g accuracy – optional but ideal
- Stainless steel spoons: any supermarket, department store or on-line
- Purchase 6 – 12 – essential
- Disposable pipettes: various online sources or lab suppliers for bulk purchases (500+)
- 3mL plastic disposable pipettes – recommend purchasing at least 20
- These are all single use and need to be thrown out after each use
- You do not need glass pipettes or bulbs – do not purchase them, we don’t even use them as Cosmetic Chemists!
- Stainless steel whisk: various supermarkets, department stores or on-line
- Standard 8 wire whisk is fine – 1 is enough
- Do not use a stick blender – it introduces too much air into the formula
- Heat/chemical resistant spatula: various supermarkets, department stores or on-line
- 1 is enough
- Stainless steel bowls: various supermarkets, department stores or on-line
- Purchase 3 at a minimum, 4 will give you a spare.
- Safety glasses
- Powder free gloves
- 2 x 50mL PET bottles for buffer solutions + lids + stickers to label them
- pH strips
- must read from 1 – 14
- keep sealed in an airtight bag between uses
- you’ll need to purchase a proper pH meter later – this would be your first, most important lab equipment purchase when you are formulating regularly
- Electric cook top – dual heating or two singles
- You do need two heating elements to heat two different phases at the same time
- Do not use gas or induction cooking
- Demineralised water: any hardware store
- 1 Litre (33.8 fluid ounces) is more than enough for the Masterclass formulas
- more information on your water source is provided below, for when you want to move on from this Formulation Fundamental Masterclass.
When you are ready to move to more professional equipment, please watch this video on Lab Equipment. When you start to formulate professionally, your first investments should be a good set of scales and proper pH meter as shown in this video.
You don’t need to worry about fancy stirrers or water baths even in your early stages of study, but you might enjoy finding out about Cosmetic Lab Stirrers and Cosmetic Heating Baths. Also, join Belinda in a Cosmetic Lab Tour to see how hers is set up. You won’t need to be this advanced even when you study our Advanced Certificates or Diploma with us, but it might help you plan for your future lab set up.
How to set up your DIY cosmetic lab workspace
When you are first starting out making cosmetics at home, your current kitchen will be fine – but if you want to start making more professional products, or larger batches, you will need to pay careful attention to your workspace as outlined below.
One of the first things you need to check is that your working area is clean and dry, and kept that way, every time you are not working on a project. Obviously when you are working in your home-lab you’ll be busy with equipment and a little mess is unavoidable! But as soon as you are finished, you’ll need to clean it back up using appropriate methods. You can learn how to clean your lab equipment and area properly by watching our video on How to clean Lab Equipment or joining in our FREE Cosmetic Formulation Fundamentals Masterclass here.
Use our handy list to check off each item to make sure you are prepared.
- Your workspace: make sure all surfaces are easy clean, including your walls and floors.
- You don’t need stainless steel benches, but they do need to be a durable, easy clean material that won’t harbour dust or debris in little nooks or crevices (like a deep grain timber).
- Make sure you have tiles or floorboards that are easy to clean – areas with carpets or rugs in the direct vicinity should be avoided as they can harbour moisture and micro-organisms.
- Walls with washable paint, tiles or splashbacks are more than sufficient.
- Your air supply: your product will be exposed to air while it is being made, so you will need to make sure that air is clean!
- Please avoid open windows or fans while making product and use an air-conditioner that has a clean air filter inside if you need any sort of cooling or heating. The manufacturer of your air conditioner should be able to assist with providing air filters specific to the make of your machine or you may need to install a quality air-conditioner as your productivity and batch sizes increase. Learn more about required air-quality with our Certificate in Cosmetic Quality & Stability or How to manufacture cosmetics workshop series.
- Your water supply: a lot of cosmetic products contain water, so you need to make sure that water is good quality!
- Purchase small packs of demineralised water from a hardware store.
- This water is ion and microbe free when purchased.
- Once you open the pack, measure out just the water you need and cap it again fast. Only use clean pipettes to measure out your water each time. This will help maintain its purity while you use it.
- Your storage area: you’ll have raw materials (ingredients) that you don’t use up each time. Store materials in a dry area when not in use.
- Until you have a dedicated storage space, you may find clip lock tubs a great way to store materials dry and safe from moisture and the risk of household rodents.
- As you get working with more and more ingredients, you’ll find out you need more space! This is an exciting time as you build your library of ingredients. Just be aware you may need more space later as your stocks grow.
- Handling raw materials: the types of ingredients you will be working with do not normally pose any significant safety issues.
- The only two materials you will be working with that can irritate if left on the skin are your pH buffer solutions. You can use gloves to avoid any contact, or just wash your skin thoroughly straight away if you do happen to have a spill or get some on your skin. It won’t cause any long-term damage if you rinse straight away, and any irritation caused will subside really quickly.
- Using disposable pipettes will also help protect you from ever touching these materials. You will learn how to safely make and handle your pH buffer solutions in Lesson 2 of our Cosmetic Formulation Fundamentals Masterclass series.
- Use safety glasses to protect your eyes from any splashes – even organic materials can be irritating to the eyes, so safety glasses are recommended to protect from accidental splashes.
- An apron is ideal to protect your clothing while working.
- None of the materials you are working with should cause you any sort of respiratory distress. Later when you work with other powders or more advanced materials you may find you need respiratory protection while measuring out and mixing some materials. They don’t cause long term damage, but powders can be irritating if breathed in during measuring and preparation.
- When you move on to our more professional training programs, you are taught how to read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS, also referred to as safety data sheets) to identify any special precautions you may need to take, if they apply.
What about when you want to take your brand BIGGER than just DIY making cosmetics at home?
When your brand starts to grow and you are working regularly in your home-lab environment, you will need to make it a dedicated space separate from your kitchen – especially when you start to make batches of product larger than 5kg to sell commercially or use for product evaluations.
Please make sure you plan for a dedicated space as your brand grows and your Research & Development work becomes a major part of every day, especially when you start making commercial batches to sell publicly.
New to cosmetic formulating, and want to get your cosmetic formulas and ingredient selections right from the start?
With Create Cosmetic Formulas ProgrAM, YOU’LL BE ABLE TO:
- Create almost limitless cosmetic formulas!
- Pick and choose what cosmetic ingredients your products contain
- Be guided on how much to use of each ingredient type
- Take the guess work out of the cosmetic formulas you create
- Follow our step-by-step instructions to make perfect samples, every single time
- Know the safe and suitable inputs of preservatives, actives and all other ingredients
- Make your own skin care and hair care formulas, and products, CONFIDENTLY.