Article by: Perry Romanowski
Many followers of this website have a desire to create and sell their own product. We continue to work on a training program that shows you just how to do that, but in the meantime it would be helpful if you knew exactly the type of testing you have to do prior to selling your product. Note this information applies to US cosmetic products. Other countries may follow slightly different rules.
There are four types of testing you must do before selling your own product. These include micro-testing, stability testing, safety testing and performance testing.
This could really be put under safety testing but it is so important that it deserves its own category. Whenever you create a new formula you need to ensure that the preservative system you are using is adequate for preventing dangerous microbial growth. There are two primary types of testing you need to do.
- Micro Challenge Testing — This is a test in which you purposely introduce microbes into your batches, then watch the samples over time to see whether your preservative system is good enough to kill off the microbes. If it’s not, you need to improve your preservation system.
- Contamination test — This is a test you need to do on every batch of product you sell! It is a simple matter of taking a sample and testing to see whether it is contaminated or not. If it’s not, then proceed with packaging & distribution. If it is, don’t sell it!
Cosmetic stability testing is a study run to determine whether your product will last on store shelves and on your consumers bathroom counter. Stability testing is an important quality test that you need to run in order to sell your products in the US. It is also useful to ensure that when people do buy your product they won’t be dissatisfied with a foul odor, ugly color, or separated formula.
You can’t sell a product that is not safe. If you do, you open yourself up to litigation which could pretty much ruin any fledgeling cosmetic manufacturer. Safety testing includes things like patch testing, eye irritation tests, and a host of other procedures that ensure consumers will not become serious ill after using your product. The amount of safety testing done depends on the type of product you are going to sell and how different the raw materials are. If you are making something that uses standard cosmetic raw materials, less testing would be needed than if you are using raw materials that are new to the cosmetic industry.
The type of performance testing or claims testing that you need to do depends on the specific advertising claims you’re going to be making for your product. In the US you are bound by the rules of the FTC which state that you cannot promote false advertising. This means if you say your product is going to clean hair, you have to demonstrate that it does. If you say your lotion will moisturize skin, you have to show it does that. There are some industry standard tests but in many cases as a cosmetic chemist, you’ll have to come up with your own reasonable test to demonstrate that what you say about a product is true.
It is not necessary to show the results of any of these tests to the government prior to launching your product. In the US, the industry is self-regulated. However, this does not mean you can skip testing because the FDA can inspect your facilities and levy huge fines on companies that do not have the proper paper work. Be sure to keep track of all your testing procedures and results of any product that you sell.
Testing can be an expensive obstacle to many small cosmetic company launches but it is a crucial step that you absolutely must do before launching any new product.