What types of ingredients get used in make up formulas?

Ever wondered why different types of ingredients get used in make up – and what are they doing in there anyway? This table summarises the key functions of ingredients that get used in make up, and why they are used in different formulation types.


Highly active ingredients with proven results; these are different to added extras because they have proven clinically efficacy. Because of the difficulty in stabilising colour in formulas, we have only included a few actives in this program. To add more actives and create more unique colour cosmetics, you would need to undertake more detailed study to ensure the formula you create is stable with other actives selected, please contact us if you’d like to learn more to do this: info@personalcarescience.com.au

Added extras

Materials that have a nice story but not proven results. They can add to your point of difference and product story.


Help protect a formula against ‘rancidity’ – colour or odour changes that can occur to plant or essential oils. They are NOT preservatives.


Help the colour powder to bind to your skin, so the powder doesn’t just fall off.

Chelating agents

Bind to metal ions that may be present in hard water or formulas. They can also help boost antioxidant and preservative performance. We’ve made these essential in formulas where they are absolutely necessary; optional in formulas where they are not absolutely necessary and left them out of formulas where they are not necessary.

Consistency factors

Make balms ‘harder’ and creams ‘thicker’. We’ve set these to suit different product types.

Effects pigments

Add some extra hue, shimmer or shine to your formulas – use more for a greater effect, or less for a subtle effect. Add none at all for flat colour.


Help hold oils and water together to make lotions, creams and conditioners. We’ve set these to be the right types to suit different products. You’ll see some chemical descriptions so we can classify them properly and this will make more sense if you study more with us later.

Essential oils/fragrances (or flavours in lip balms)

Make products smell (and flavours taste) nice. We’ve set the limits to ensure safe and suitable use for different product forms. These should be limited in make-up products, we have set the limits to very low, or you can leave them out altogether.


Provide hydration to formulas. They give moisture, suppleness and smoothness to the skin.


Are oils and butters. We call them ‘lipids’ to cover the whole class of ‘oily substances’.

pH adjuster

To make products suit the preservatives or actives selected, or suit the skin, we need to adjust the pH of a formula. Please watch our video on how to adjust pH and then use the right material to achieve the right pH depending on the formula you create!


Help protect against microbial contamination. We’ve set the limits to ensure safe but effective use for you.

Water alternatives

Used to make your product smell and feel nicer than just using water, they are completely optional and can add to your point of difference and product story. If you use too many water alternatives and have problems with your water calculation, it means you have gone over 100% for your formula. Reduce the water alternatives until the formula totals 100%.

Water proofing agent

Provides water proofing properties to the formula, used in mascara and eyeliner to make them water resistant.



New to cosmetic formulating, and want to get your cosmetic formulas and ingredient selections right from the start?



  • 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.