Ensuring Safety & Quality: Cosmetic Laboratory Testing
By Kate Hatherley, C.TECH., LABORATORY TECHNICAL SPECIALIST, email
Cosmetic products are an essential part of our daily routines. Cosmetics help us feel confident and express our individuality. The multi-billion-dollar cosmetics industry is highly regulated to ensure the safety and quality of these products before they make their way into our homes. Behind every shampoo, lotion, or perfume spray, there’s an intricate web of testing procedures that ensure the product meets the highest standards.
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of chemical laboratory testing for cosmetic products. Our goal is to shed light on the crucial tests that guarantee your beauty and personal care items are both safe for transport and/or consumer use.
Flammability Testing for Cosmetic Products
Flammability testing for cosmetics is a safety assessment that measures a product’s susceptibility to catch fire or sustain combustion when exposed to an open flame or heat source. It helps ensure that cosmetics meet regulatory standards and do not pose a fire hazard during storage, transportation, or use.
Flammability testing for cosmetics is a core service of Dell Tech’s hazard classification testing. The following 3 flammability test methods fall under our lab’s scope of accreditation as an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory. For a full list of our scope of accreditation, see our ISO 17025 accreditation certificate.
Method 1: Flame Projection/Flashback Testing
The importance of safety in cosmetics cannot be overstated. Spray-on products like sunscreens, hair sprays, and deodorants often contain volatile ingredients. Flame projection or flashback testing, following Health Canada’s Official Method DO-30, examines the potential risk of these products catching fire or producing a flame. This test is particularly relevant for spray sunscreens, hair sprays, dry shampoos, and similar products.
Method 2: Flash Point Testing
The flash point of a substance is the lowest temperature at which it emits enough vapor to form an ignitable mixture in the air. Nail polish, nail polish remover, fragrances, and hand sanitizers fall into this category. Flash point testing ensures that these products can be safely transported, stored and used without posing a fire hazard. Dell Tech performs flash point test methods ASTM D56 for low viscosity samples and ASTM D93 for high viscosity samples. Go to this popular Dell Tech blog to learn more about these flash point methods.
Method 3: Aerosol Foam Flammability Testing
Cleansing foams, shaving creams, mousse foundations, and other foam-based cosmetics have gained popularity due to their ease of use and effectiveness. Foam flammability testing ensures that these products don’t become a fire risk during normal use. The UN TDG Manual of Tests & Criteria outlines the procedure for testing foam aerosols. The results of this test are used to classify the product as extremely flammable, flammable, or not classified as a flammable aerosol.
Corrosivity and Related Testing for Cosmetic Products
Corrosion can compromise packaging, leading to leaks and contamination, potentially causing skin irritation or allergic reactions in users. Regulatory compliance, packaging longevity, aesthetics, and cost considerations also underscore the importance of corrosion testing. By addressing this during product development, manufacturers demonstrate their commitment to producing safe, high-quality cosmetics that meet regulatory standards and consumer expectations.
Dell Tech can support your business with the following test methods for cosmetic product compliance.
Corrosion to Metals
Cosmetic products often come into contact with various types of packaging or transport containers, which may include metal components. Corrosion testing assesses whether the product will cause damage to these components over time, preserving both the product and its packaging. Dell Tech is ISO 17025 accredited to perform the UN TDG Test Method for Corrosion to Metals. To learn more about this test method, see our Dell Tech blog specific to the Corrosion to Metals procedure.
Acid/Alkali Reserve Testing
Maintaining the stability of a product’s pH is crucial for its overall quality and shelf life. Acid/alkali reserve testing evaluates a product’s buffering capacity, ensuring that it can resist drastic pH changes and remain safe for use over an extended period.
The pH level of cosmetic products is crucial for maintaining the health and integrity of the skin. From cleansers to serums, pH testing ensures that products remain within a safe and effective range to prevent skin irritation and other adverse reactions.
Physical Properties Testing for Cosmetic Products
Dell Tech specializes in a number of methods for physical properties testing. Here’s a brief summary of each method and how each is beneficial to the evaluation of cosmetic products.
Viscosity, or the thickness of a liquid, plays a significant role in the usability and effectiveness of many cosmetic products. It is a critical parameter in formulation development, product stability, and regulatory compliance. Ensuring the right viscosity guarantees that products are easy to apply and maintain their intended consistency.
Specific Gravity Testing
The specific gravity of a product is its density compared to the density of water. This test helps ensure consistent formulation and emulsion stability. Regulatory standards or guidelines may specify acceptable specific gravity ranges, helping manufacturers achieve the desired product characteristics.
Cloud Point Testing
Emulsions are common in cosmetics, where oil and water-based ingredients are combined. Cloud point testing assesses the temperature at which these emulsions may begin to separate or become cloudy. This information is vital for optimizing formulations and ensuring product stability.
Stability Testing at Room Temperature or Elevated Temperatures
Cosmetic products can be exposed to various environmental conditions, including high temperatures. Stability testing at elevated temperatures, such as 55°C, simulates these conditions and assesses how well products hold up over time. This testing aids in predicting the shelf life of products and ensures their quality even under adverse circumstances. Dell Tech offers stability testing at room temperature (20°C/68°F), and 55°C/131°F.
VOC Calculations for Cosmetic Products
Your cosmetic products may be subject to Canada’s new Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) regulations. These regulations aim to reduce emissions of harmful VOCs in consumer products. Compliance with these regulations is mandatory, and cosmetics manufacturers and importers must ensure that their products meet the specified VOC limits, label them appropriately, and keep records of compliance. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in penalties and legal consequences.
Dell Tech can assist you by first evaluating your cosmetic product to determine if you must comply with Canadian VOC regulations. If your product is subject to comply, our team can complete the necessary VOC calculations.
Our Lab Supports Cosmetic Product Compliance
In conclusion, the world of cosmetic products is not all about glamour and beauty; it is backed by rigorous scientific testing to ensure your safety and satisfaction. The battery of tests outlined above can provide crucial safety details about a cosmetic product, backed by test standards. Please reach out to our Laboratory Services Group if you have any questions about chemical laboratory testing services for your cosmetic product.
And we can help with regulatory questions too! Contact us to connect with Dell Tech’s Regulatory Affairs Group who experts in Cosmetic Regulations.