Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Category: Health. Last updated June 20, 2023.

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Hair dye, shampoo, lipstick, eye shadow, perfume, and moisturizers… These are all products made possible through the power of chemistry. Learn more about the science of how they’re made and used.


  1. Activities
  2. Demos
  3. Labs
  4. Articles
  5. Videos


  • Acne: Myths and Truths from the American Academy of Dermatology Association
    This game is a spin on the traditional version of two truths and a lie.


  • Giant Toothpaste from AACT
    Observe the production of giant toothpaste using simpler materials than those that are often used in the traditional Elephant’s toothpaste demonstration.
  • Diffusion of Particles from AACT
    Experience diffusion and model the process of diffusion of perfume or another chosen scent, like microwave popcorn in a room filled with still air.


  • Chemicals, Chromatography and Crime! from AACT
    First determine if the victim was poisoned through a solubility and crystallization test on an unknown powder. Then, attempt to identify the culprit by using paper chromatography to analyze the lipstick from the potential criminals.
  • Soap or Fuel from AACT
    Transform vegetable oil into a soft soap and into biodiesel fuel. These two reactions emphasize that the products of a chemical reaction are under the control of the chemist.
  • Bath Bomb Chemistry from AACT
    Investigate how to make a scented, effervescent bath bomb and explore the chemistry needed to create them.
  • Scintillating Scents: The Science of Making Perfumes from Science Buddies
    Perfumes and the art of making perfume is an art that is thousands of years old. Learn more about one way to make perfume, called enfleurage, and experiment with it to extract your own floral scents.


  • The Rise of Cosmetic Chemists from Allure
    Recently, scientists making beauty products have taken over TikTok feeds, going viral for busting ingredients myths and nabbing their own influencer-level sponsorship deals along the way. But who, exactly, are these people in lab coats?
  • The Battle Against Body Odor from ChemMatters Magazine
    To prevent embarrassing body odor, you can invest in clothing infused with odor-busting silver nanoparticles. Before you buy, however, consider important factors to help you decide whether it’s worth it.
  • Brush Up on Toothpaste from ChemMatters Magazine
    How does toothpaste prevent tooth decay and keep your teeth clean? We look at the main ingredients and explain how they work.
  • What’s Sunless Tanner? from ChemMatters Magazine
    Interested in a faux glow? Here’s a primer on how tanning products work.
  • Clearing the Way to Acne-Free Days from ChemMatters Magazine
    Between 80% and 90% of teens cope with acne. How does acne form, and what types of products work best in removing it?
  • How Safe are Hair Dyes from ChemMatters Magazine
    Changing hair color has become a popular way for people to express themselves. Research, however, suggests that doing it too often is sometimes related to health problems down the line.
  • How Perfume Works from How Stuff Works
    What’s your perfume preference? Aldehydic? Lactonic? Phenolic? Learn about the chemistry of scenting your skin.
  • Chemistry of Moisturizers from Compound Interest
    Whether you’re suffering from a sunburn in the summer or dry skin in the winter, moisturizers are on hand to help.
  • The Chemistry of Henna from Compound Interest
    Lawsone plus keratin equals beautiful designs on your skin that can last up to 6 weeks.


  • How Does Shampoo Work? from ACS Reactions
    Thanks to chemistry, the products we use to clean and style our hair have evolved over decades — even centuries. How do hairsprays protect your hair while keeping it flexible and light? What's the deal with sls? How do shampoos work, and why are some people choosing to dump the lather altogether?

  • How Does Moisturizer Work? from ACS Reactions
    Cold weather can mean dry, cracked skin. Many reach for the moisturizer to keep their skin soft, but how do these products actually work?

  • Chemically Perfect Perfume from Periodic Videos
    Using chemicals to make their "perfect perfume", likely not for human consumption.

  • How Does Hair Dye Work? from ACS Reactions
    Whether you need a disguise to run from the law or are just trying to emulate *NSYNC-era frosted tips, you may need some chemical assistance to put the hue in your do. But in order to understand how today’s hair salon works, the story of hair color really has its roots in the history of modern chemistry.

  • Does Shaving Cream Do Anything? From ACS Reactions
    Whether you rock sideburns or baby-smooth legs, all shavers share one concern –– the threat of razor-sharp metal. But luckily, shaving cream packs the right chemistry to keep us looking good while protecting our sensitive skin. What is this fantastic foam in a can?

  • How did 80’s Hair Get so Big? From ACS Reactions
    The 80s was a decade full of neon leg warmers, power ballads, and big hair. But how did we get that big hair so bad it’s good? A little bit of teasing and a lot of chemistry.

  • What’s the Deal with Acne? From ACS Reactions
    Breakouts are a pain and can happen well into your 40s. While there's no cure to make acne instantly go away, there are a few science-backed tips (beyond using face wash to get rid of oil) you can use to help minimize the number of pimples that pop up.

  • Why does Toothpaste Make Orange Juice Taste Bad? From ACS Reactions
    It’s happened to many of us: Half asleep in the morning, you finish brushing your teeth and reach for your daily glass of orange juice. After taking a big swig, you spit it back out, making a face like you’ve just chewed on a lemon. Turns out, a specific chemical in your toothpaste is responsible for that nasty taste.