What type of Testing is required for Cosmetic Products?

Could you have guessed that the makeup we use today: to enhance our features and beauty, has its roots in the ancient Egyptian age and was used for entirely different purposes?

With this blog today, we’ll time-travel back 6,000 years to understand the importance of the evolution of Make-up & Cosmetics in the context of safety and testing. The first glimpse of cosmetics can be traced to ancient Egypt, where makeup served as a standard of wealth to appeal to their gods and was considered to be next to godliness. Makeup served many purposes as to vanquish evil eyes and dangerous spirits, medicinal purposes, impressing Gods, and distinguishing social status. Seen as a source of personal power, Kohl was one of the most popular makeup which is similar to today’s black eye shadow. They even wore red lipstick, which was made by mixing fat and red ochre and even used Henna, to stain their fingertips and toes. Later, it travelled to ancient Greece and Rome, some 4000 years ago, where people there strived to achieve a more natural look, where women, preferred wearing light touches of colour on the cheeks and lips and the ingredients out of which this makeup was extracted, came from mixing plants and fruits along with dyes and mercury (which now has been declared as a toxic substance) along with honey and olive oil. By this time, the invention of light foundation powder, moisturiser, and cleanser, had taken place and parallel to it, charcoal was used to make eyebrows bolder.

From Europe, the journey of makeup made it to China, some 600 to 1500 years ago, where the Chinese royalty, with the invention of nail polish, began using it to represent their social status. On one hand, the High ranking leaders wore silver or gold colour, on the other, low-ranking leaders wore black or red and the lowest classes were forbidden to wear any nail polish. Additionally, they also used foundations to segregate between the royalty and working class. The pigment used in most cosmetics was created by boiling plants, animal fats, and spices, vermillion. Moving forward, around some 500 years ago, the time when Christian writers began to create an association between makeup and separation and Elizabeth’s concept of beauty gained popularity. Women rigorously began to work on skincare, to give themselves the appearance of naturally flawless skin using homemade recipes, and everything changed since then. Every woman began plucking the eyebrows, whitening the skin, using vinegar and white lead and coloured their cheeks and lips with egg whites, ochre, and even mercury. Tragically, these beauty trends came at the cost of extreme danger to their health and played a major role in bringing their life expectancy down to 29 years. Later, with further developments, makeup came to be believed as unladylike, and this created a backlash against wearing it, but this didn’t last long with the growth of Hollywood, which caused the beauty industry to flourish, and since then, it began to be sold to the masses. And in today’s world, our thoughts on makeup are wider and are being promoted to everyone of every race, gender and class. Makeup today has no barriers!

Safety First

Over the past decades, as we have been seeing, the Beauty and Cosmetics industries are growing at a rapid pace. This has caused lowered barriers to entry, and anyone can easily start their beauty brand. While this has advantageously given us some exciting and disruptive brands and products with a wide range, there are concerns about product safety. Many beauty chemists advocate for the fact that, if any cream, lotion or cleanser hits the market, testing it for safety, quality, and efficacy is crucial to ensure the product does not harm users and protects brands from any potential legal troubles down the line. Cosmetic product testing is done to test cosmetic products to ensure that they are safe for the skin or body. Since cosmetic products come directly in contact with the skin, they can be harmful if they happen to contain any unfavourable and damaging substance. The development in every mode has made it possible that us just not to repeat what has happened in the past.  Therefore, companies that produce good quality cosmetics need to maintain the credibility of their brand. Product testing plays a vital role in the products to be sold, making it beneficial for the company, the seller, and most importantly the buyer or user. There are many good reasons to properly test cosmetics, be it to protect the interests of the company, or to be sure to protect the health and safety of the consumers using the products.

Since the concept of most cosmetics is the fact that they’re temporary and always dynamic. When safety fails, it could lead to permanent damage, usually not just to the skin but also the eyes. Danger to the consumer is a danger to the company. By not testing their products and ensuring that they are safe for use, companies are taking the chance that something could go wrong and they could end up with a lawsuit.

It is important to acknowledge that any company can create the most eye-catching packaging or quick methods of getting a consumer to buy that first item, but the quality of the product alone can guarantee repeated customers. By testing their cosmetic products, the companies are making sure that their products will last long enough at home for the customer to fall in love. Hindrances to such are things like changes in the smell of the product, separating of liquids in the cosmetic, and even skin irritation. All of these things can be detected with testing and remedied before the product ever reaches the consumer.

For selling a new product, a company needs to test it to ensure that it’s going to sell. The tests will also help them know if their product is in danger of separating, changing colours, or ending up with foul odours. And not just this, but also about how to label it and if consumers should be given specific instructions on proper storage, practice and how long realistically they can use the product after opening before it expires. By utilizing testing methods, cosmetics companies have the advantage of accurately projecting the scope of their products.

Central Drugs Standard Control Organization

Consumer trust is more and more difficult to get but losing it can be as easy as a snap. Depending on the country where one is commercialising their products, different regulations apply. For example, in the European Union, manufacturers must follow the rules mentioned under the Product Information File (PIF) and carry out certain mandatory tests. On the other hand in the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manages product safety. In India, CDSCO specifies a cosmetic as a particular product that can be used by humans to apply on the skin for cleansing, beautifying, or enhancing the appearance. In India, CDSCO approval is required for colour additives used in cosmetics and drugs. The cosmetics must be appropriately labelled and should not be adulterated and misbranded in any case. However, one is legally accountable for formulating unsafe and inappropriately labelled products. The license is given after the products are observed to be safe enough.

Tests: How to ensure the Cosmetic Product is Safe?

 Although the kind of test may vary from country to country, given below are the most common tests that help ensure that the cosmetic product is safe to consume use, and can be different, depending on the category and claims and the ingredients used.

  1. Microbiological Testing: As we know that everything contains microorganisms, and so do cosmetic products. But the matter the fact is,  they can be harmful to consumers during product usage and can even lead to bacteria being mixed with other chemicals, causing a change in the product and making it dangerous. That’s where this test comes into productivity. Microbiological Testing helps manufactures to check the formulation preservative system and make sure that the product is free from any possible growth of harmful microorganisms. The samples of the products are tested using various methods that help in highlighting the presence of bacteria, yeast or fungi. And is even later submitted to a Challenge Test which is also known as the Preservative Effectiveness Test, to help in the early identification of the risk of such growth.
  2. Cosmetic Sample Testing: Cosmetic product testing should be performed as per Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) requirements as well to meet the criteria for imported cosmetic product registration. Moreover, it should also meet the specifications of the per manufacturer, buyer and consumer. The sample testing includes the following
  • Physical and chemical analysis of raw materials and active ingredients
  • Safety tests to assess the presence of heavy metals in cosmetics, banned colours and chemicals
  • Microbiological quality check to ensure the absence of microbial counts and pathogens
  • Qualitative and quantitative estimation of active ingredients
  • Physical testing which includes parameters such as viscosity, spread-ability, scratch test, pay-off test
  • Estimation of sun protection factor
  • Skin irritation and sensitivity studies;
  • Stability testing, shelf life determination, etc.
  1. Stability Testing: There is also a high chance of environmental conditions, creating a huge effect on the product causing it to be altered and become unsafe for consumer usage with time. That’s when this test comes into use. The stability test enables the manufacturers to help ensure that during the product’s shelf life, the product maintains its chemical and microbiological quality and does its functions along with preserving its physical aspect. In this, the product samples are put under real conditions to determine their stability and physical integrity and focus on any change in the colour, odour or any physical aspect. This test also enables manufacturers to evaluate the storage conditions and predict their shelf life.
  2. Performance Testing: This test keeps its core from the foremost reason with which a consumer decides to buy a product, which is the claim based on its functions and the after-usage results. Performance testing is a test conducted to demonstrate the claims made by the product and ensure if it’s real or fake. It tastes the product based on its functionality, usability, durability and performance. it is also integral to ensure that everything that is being promoted is also proven. This can simply be understood with an example: Let’s say, any XYZ brand promotes its product with a tagline of combating acne within 24 hours. so this test ensures that it does what it claims or not.
  3. Safety and Toxicology Testing: This test helps manufacturers to determine if any substance of the product and the mixtures are presented with any risk when used by customers or not. So to make sure that the raw materials used do not contain any toxic substance, this test is conducted. Several tests are included to highlight the product’s effect when it comes in contact with the skin and eye skin irritation, corrosion, penetration, and sensitisation.
  4. Compatible Testing with Packaging: In addition to the product test, it is crucial that the packaging should also be tested, especially the ones, which are coming in direct contact with the finished product because chemicals can easily react with any other substance and can pose a risk to the customers. This test will check if there are any cross-effects between the product formulation and packaging.

Cosmetic Testing Laboratories in India

Our country does have some notable cosmetic product testing labs in India, some of which are as follows :

  • Gujarat Laboratory
  • Sigma Tests & Research Centre
  • Spectro Analytical Lab
  • Arbo Pharmaceuticals
  • Auriga Research
  • RCA laboratories
  • Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals etc.

When it comes to cosmetic products, safety is the most important concern a consumer desires for. Testing a product is just crucial to keep a check and reduce the risk and ensure the safety of the cosmetic product. Regulations are now being strengthened because these products pose high risks to the health of the consumers and henceforth need to be up-to-date when they are launched and must be committed to quality and safety.

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