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Did you know that cosmetic companies employ teams of specialized chemists to develop

and test each new line of make up, perfume, lotion, or soap? Here's a project that lets you

be the cosmetic chemist. It shows you how to manufacture your own lip gloss right in

your kitchen using a short list of simple ingredients. Check it out and then apply some

creative cosmetic science in your own experiment.


The goal of this project is to apply basic chemistry to create your own homemade


This is a project that lets you be the cosmetic chemist. It shows you how to manufacture

your own lip gloss right in your kitchen using a short list of simple ingredients. Check out

the project video to see how two curious chemistry students, Jazi and Danielle, applied

some creative science to make and test several different types of lip gloss. Then read on

to see how you can do your own experiments and follow up with some "consumer"

testing to see which of your products is most popular.

Believe it or not, the glamorous world of cosmetics and beauty products is really based

on some serious science. Cosmetic companies employ teams of specialized chemists to

develop and test each new line of make up, perfumes, lotions, and soaps. Their research

leads to top-secret formulas that are carefully analyzed for safety, stability, and customer


Like Jazi and Danielle in the video, you can follow the recipes as they are written, but

you can also play with the formulas to change the proportions of one or two ingredients

or swap out others to create very different types and flavors of gloss. For example, Jazi

and Danielle found that a little less beeswax than the recipe called for improved their lip

gloss by making it softer, but if they left out too much wax the gloss became runny. A

change in fragrance or color also seemed to make a difference in the preference of the

gloss testers.
In this project, you have a chance to be creative. See what variations you can come up

with for your lip gloss formulas. Then you might have a better idea of how to adjust your

own formulas. For instance, most basic recipes for homemade lip gloss require some type

of oil or butter to soften the lips (an emollient), some type of wax to thicken the gloss,

and some ingredient that adds flavor or a pleasant smell. In your research, you'll discover

additional examples of chemical ingredients like solvents, emulsifiers, surfactants, and

antioxidants that are used in most commercial cosmetics.

Once you create and try out your lip gloss samples yourself, you will ask volunteers in

your neighborhood to use the lip glosses and rate them. See if you can predict ahead of

time which recipe will end up being the most popular. After you analyze the results you'll

discover just how accurate your cosmetic instincts are. And who knows, maybe what you

learn about cosmetic chemistry will eventually lead to your creation becoming the next

"hot" sales item at the cosmetic counters!

Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background


To do this project, you should do research that enables you to understand the following

terms and concepts:

• Solids, liquids, solutions

• Mixtures and solvents

• Oils, waxes

• Emulsifiers

• Emollients

• Surfactants

• Stabilizers

• Antioxidants

• Vitamin E

• What are the differences between solids, liquids, and solutions?

• How are solvents important in solutions? Are they also important in mixtures?

What solvents are frequently used in cosmetics?

• What are emulsifiers? How do they work and why are they used in cosmetics?

• What are emollients and why are they used in cosmetics?

• What are stabilizers? Name a few stabilizers most often found in cosmetics.

• What is vitamin E? Why is it added to many items including cosmetics?

Here are some websites you might want to check out as you start your research:

• Website with simple definitions for solutions, solvents, and mixtures:

Rader, A., 2007. "Solutions and Mixtures," Chem4Kids site, Andrew Rader

Studios. [accessed May 5, 2007]

• Websites with lip gloss and cosmetic recipes:

o Halderman, S., 1999. "Lip Balm/Gloss Recipes," Soap Center. [accessed

May 5, 2007]

o Osborn, S., 2007. "Family Crafts:Lip Gloss Recipe," About, Inc., a part of

The New York Times Company [accessed May 5, 2007]

• A cosmetic "Info Center" containing useful cosmetic definitions, examples of

typical ingredients in cosmetics, and their functions:

USFDA, 1994. "Chemical Ingredients Found in Cosmetics," US FDA Consumer

website [accessed May 5, 2007]

• Cosmetic ingredients reference guide and dictionary:

Staff, 2003. "Cosmetic Ingredients," Dean Coleman Herbal Luxuries site

[accessed May 5, 2007]

• American Chemical Society article describing basic types of ingredients in


Loney, D., 2007. "Beautiful Science: The Ingredients of Cosmetic Chemistry,"

American Chemical Society website. [accessed May 5, 2007]


• Website with several recipes for hand creams and lotions:

Halderman, S., 1999. "Face/Body Lotion Recipes," Soap Center site [accessed

May 5, 2007]

• TPT, 2007. "Makeup by Jazi and Danielle," DragonflyTV, Twin Cities Public

Television [accessed May 5, 2007]
Materials and Equipment
To do this experiment, you will need the following materials and equipment:

• Ingredients for three lip glosses: (see recipes below)

o Beeswax

o Cocoa butter

o Shea butter

o Petroleum jelly

o Aloe vera gel

o Vitamin E liquid

o Peppermint oil

o Sweet almond oil

o Coconut oil

• Pyrex® glass measuring cups (microwavable) or small cooking pan

• Small plastic containers with lids for your gloss samples

• Microwave or hot plate/stove with a double boiler pan

• Popsicle sticks or wooden stirrers

• Cotton swabs (Q-tips®) or flat edge toothpicks

• Tissues

• Food scale that measures ounces

• Measuring spoons

• Notepad and pens/pencils

• Hand mirror
• Safety goggles

• Pot holders/hand protectors

• Apron or lab coat

• Minimum 10 volunteers to serve as "testers"

a. Notes on using volunteers: To see how many volunteer subjects you need,

check out the Science Buddies resource Sample Size: How Many Survey

Participants Do I Need?.

b. For ISEF-affiliated science fairs, studies involving human subjects require

prior approval. For more information, see Projects Involving Human


Safety note: In your informed consent form, ask each participant if they

have any allergies or sensitivities to makeup or lip sticks. If they do, it is

better to NOT have them volunteer for your experiment.

Safety note:

 Be sure you have your safety goggles and apron or lab coat on before you start your


 If you are using a stove or hot plate, work carefully and use pot holder or hand protectors

to prevent burns.

 Keep your work space clean as you mix and heat your ingredients to prevent any spills

or fire.

Experimental Procedure
1. Assemble the ingredients for the three lip gloss recipes:

A. Almond Honey B. Vanilla Lip C. Cocoa Mint Lip

Lip Balm Gloss Balm

Heat and melt while 8 oz. sweet almond 3 Tbsp. coconut 1.5 oz. shea butter

stirring: oil oil 1.0 oz. beeswax

2.5 oz. beeswax 2 Tbsp. 1.5 oz. cocoa butter

petroleum jelly

2 Tbsp. aloe vera

Remove from heat; 1 tsp. honey ½ tsp. vanilla 1 drop vitamin E

stir in: liquid

3–5 drops

peppermint oil
2. Melt together the basic ingredients of each recipe. You can use either a double

boiler pan on a stove or a glass pyrex measuring bowl with a lip in a microwave.

Use low to medium heat on the stove or a short time in the microwave, checking

the mixture every 15 to 30 seconds. Stir well.

3. Carefully remove from heat using a pot holder and add the appropriate flavorings

or vitamin E.

4. Stir well and carefully pour into clean containers.

5. Let the samples cool and seal with a tight lid.

6. Label the containers "A", "B", or "C".

7. Helpful Hint: You may spill a bit of gloss mixture outside the containers even if

you are careful in pouring. If this happens, wait for the mixture to cool and harden

and then you can wipe the containers with a clean cloth.

8. Decide how you will ask your testers to evaluate your lip glosses. For example, in

the video Jazi and Danielle used three categories in their test: look, feel (texture),

and taste. They asked each tester to state their favorite gloss (A, B, or C) for each

category. You can do the same or try a numbering system (i.e., 1–5, with 5 as the

best lip gloss) to evaluate each sample lip gloss in each category. This method

will give you a more quantitative way to tally the responses.

9. Note: Keep your samples free of contamination. Use cotton swabs or toothpicks

to apply samples. Be sure each tester uses a clean cotton swab or toothpick for

each lip gloss.

10. Evaluate each lip gloss yourself before running the tests with testers. Use the

same categories that your testers will use. Make a hypothesis (prediction) about

which gloss you think will be most popular to your testers and why. Remember, a

hypothesis is an educated guess. You'll need to make sure you understand the

Terms and Questions listed in the beginning of this science fair project in order to

make your hypothesis. The resources listed in the Bibliography can help you get


11. Assemble your testers or arrange to bring your samples to each tester. Explain

your experiment and ask them to try your samples and give you some quick

feedback according to your evaluation categories.

12. Record each tester's responses for all three lip glosses in your notebook.
13. After they have tried all three lip glosses, ask each tester to state which gloss is

their all-around favorite.

Analyze Your Data

1. Compile the responses from all your testers. Make a bar graph showing how many

testers chose sample A, B, or C for each category (look, feel, and taste).
2. If you asked the testers to rank the samples 1–5 for look, feel, and taste, total the

numbers for each sample for each category.

3. Were there any differences between the three glosses for preference in look, feel,

or taste?

4. Which lip gloss ranked as the all-around favorite? If so, did this match your

prediction? Were you surprised at the results?

5. For help with data analysis and setting up tables, see Data Analysis & Graphs.