Looking younger, healthier, and more attractive is the name of the game. Our culture practically demands it to succeed in the high-end job market and the dating scene, but we all know that looking good also makes us feel good. That’s why the cosmetic industry has evolved beyond the reach of makeup to include skincare, haircare, toothpaste and whiteners, and even deodorants. Testing for harmful or toxic ingredients is essential and the higher the standards, the better. The EU requires that products pass three specific tests for quality and it has banned far more toxic ingredients than the US has.

EU Standards

The European Union has banned over 1300 toxic substances from use in cosmetics and personal care products. The United States has only banned 11 of those substances. That means that ingredients like formaldehyde, petroleum, hydroquinone, titanium and avobenzone can still be found in products commonly bought in the US. Another distinction the EU has made includes banning ingredients labeled as “fragrance.” It’s really an umbrella term that can disguise just about anything.

EU Cosmetics Testing

1. Physical, Microbiological, and Chemical Testing

To ensure quality and safety, every product must be tested for its chemical, physical, and microbiological properties by a beauty-tester according to GMP, or good manufacturing practice. Microbiological testing identifies organisms such as bacteria, mold, and yeast. Additionally, products that are intended for use closer to mucous membranes must contain even lower levels of these organisms.

2. Challenge Testing

Depending on the organisms present in the product, they can cause contamination over time by allowing the growth of mold and other bacteria such as penicillium, staphylococcus, bacillus, and even E.coli. Challenge testing helps to determine how long a product can be stable before harmful bacteria forms. Approved preservatives are sometimes added to increase shelf life.

3. Stability and Compatibility Testing

These tests are conducted on every product individually, so the standards are set by factors such as the intended use and the packaging.

Stability testing has to do with the product itself and entails documenting how long the product remains functional and maintains its intended scent and texture before any bacterial growth or deterioration. The products are also stored under a variety of temperature conditions and are closely monitored for changes. This can be a lengthy process. For instance, if a product is expected by the manufacturer to have a shelf life of two years, then the product must undergo testing for the entire two-year period and be approved before it can be sold to the public.

Compatibility testing involves the packaging of the product and how it affects the quality over time. Any packing that fosters the growth of bacteria or causes the product to spoil will not be approved for use.

These tests both require written reports that document the testing conditions and the results. Additionally, if a manufacturer changes the ingredients or the packaging of a product, this testing process must be conducted again before the product can be re-released for sale to the public.

Passing Thoughts

Even though these testing processes are very involved and time-consuming, they are essential. Every product must not only be subjected to the tests but must pass and receive approval before being sold on the open market. Any changes to the product’s ingredients or packaging also require it to go back through the exact same processes for approval. In this way, every possible precaution to provide safe and effective personal care products has been taken.

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