A formulation scientist works to develop and test formulations or mixtures of different compounds. Part chemist, part material scientist, a formulation scientist determines which components are needed and in what quantity to produce a desired effect. The creation of nearly all blended products, from hair dye to house paint to pain relievers, is the work of formulation scientists. Though many formulation professionals work for laboratory corporations or as in-house developers for manufacturers, some may also work on a freelance basis or teach formulation science at the college level.
When a formulation scientist is attempting to create a new formula, he or she must follow several critical steps. Raw materials, or individual components, must be gathered and tested to ensure purity. The scientist can then begin to combine the materials, creating an initial batch of the formula. At each step, the formula is observed and tested for chemical reactions as well as changes to texture, color, viscosity, and stability. Once a batch is perfected in the laboratory, a scientist may order more thorough testing, such as seeing whether an eyeshadow might cause allergic reactions by testing it on people or animals.
The vast amount of formulations used in commercial and industrial pursuits means that many formulation scientists are employed in the creation of new and improved products. Some scientists may choose to specialize in a particular area, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, household products, or even gasoline. In large businesses, many formulation scientists may work collaboratively to develop new products and present them to the market.
In addition to daily work in development, testing, and marketing, a formulation scientist needs to stay on top of developments in his or her field. Participating in seminars, reading scholarly journals, and attending continuing education classes can help scientists stay abreast of new developments and scientific findings. For scientists that wish to develop their own products for marketing, staying on the cutting edge of development can give insight into new trends and narrow down development possibilities to suit the current market.
A formulation scientist may also serve as a teacher, increasing the ranks of his or her profession by providing a thorough education. Instead of working with a laboratory or manufacturing enterprise, teachers are often employed by universities, but may continue to do productive scientific work on their own. Some teaching positions include access to campus facilities and a staff of researchers, allowing top scientists to pursue a double goal of continued personal development and the education of new scientists.