How To Apply Chemistry to Cosmetology

Applying chemistry to your work as a cosmetologist can give you more credibility with clients.
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Hair straighteners, color and curlers, eye makeup, foundation and lipstick – most cosmetics are made from chemicals. If you want to pursue a career in cosmetology -- either as a hair stylist, makeup artist or in some other role -- knowing which chemicals you’re using on your clients will boost your credibility and your ability to best serve your customers.

    Step 1

    Test the pH levels of your clients’ hair and use this information to figure out the best products to use when styling. Without sufficient knowledge about the pH content of your products and your clients’ hair, you might end up frying a client’s ends or turning another client green when she wanted to be red.

    Step 2

    Use your knowledge of chemicals to straighten, curl, lighten or change the color of clients’ hair. You need to be licensed in your state as a cosmetologist to provide these services in a licensed spa or salon. In addition to recommending styling products, the more you know about how chemicals react to various kinds of hair, the better you’ll be able to understand how chemicals can be used to change a client's look.

    Step 3

    Familiarize yourself with chemicals that might create problems for clients. Some clients might be allergic to chemicals in certain artificial nail products, for example. Others might be sensitive to chemicals used in skin products. Knowing which chemicals are more likely to create unwanted reactions helps you provide better and safer service to your clients.

    Step 4

    Recommend the products that will best target your clients’ problem skin or cover up their flaws. Use your chemistry knowledge to increase sales of various lines of products you carry. You’ll be able to help clients understand how the various chemicals work with their skin types and earn kudos (and extra cash) for making the best recommendations.


    • Check with your state licensing agency to find which chemical-related services and products are licensed.


    • Warn your clients about how they will look for the first few days following a chemical peel. Clients may freak out when they see the red, blotchy appearance in the mirror and don’t realize the chemicals actually peel off the top layer of skin. Rely on your chemical knowledge to guide clients through these first few days after a peel, assuring them the results will be much better in a couple days.

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