Testing for specific ingredients

Hi All,

I'm trying to bring a cosmetic to market and in the midst of deformulating.  Before I deformulate the entire product using gc/ms and lc/ms, I was wondering if there was a cheaper way to test for specific ingredients before I use the above methods.  The three ingredients are piptoporus betulinus, birch tar, and betulinic acid.  I believe all of these ingredients are related, so perhaps there is a way to confirm all of them with one test.  I welcome any responses from the community or those that could help in conducting these tests.  Thanks!


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    If by "deformulating" you mean you are trying to figure out what someone else's formula is, then you just have to look at their ingredient list. 

    If you are trying to use equipment to figure out the exact percentages, well that is probably not possible. It would be more efficient to just guess.

    What specifically do you want those ingredients to do in the formula?
  • edited May 2019
    Thanks for your reply.  I have a partial ingredients list, but I believe one or more of the above mentioned ingredients are also in the formula.  Is there a way I can test to identify if they are indeed in the product without doing a full deformulation with gc/ms and lc/ms?

    The formula is for psoriasis
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Psoriasis is a medical condition and the FDA has a monograph specifically written for it. If a product is going to claim it treats psoriasis, it must include only actives laid out in the FDA monograph. See this.

    The easier-to-read version is here. 

    The bottom line is that none of the ingredients you listed are approved for treatment of psoriasis. It's an unproven folk remedy. 

    And since this is the case, you can put in however much you want.
  • I'm aware of that.  We won't be labeling it for treatment of psoriasis unless we put an active ingredient from the FDA monograph.  I have the regulatory/labeling process under wraps, just reaching out here to understand if I can do what I stated in my question above without the above mentioned tests.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    To answer your question, no there isn't a simple test to run to say definitively yes or no that a product contains piptoporus betulinus, birch tar, and betulinic acid.

    Piptoporus betulinus and birch tar are extracts which can be made up of a wide variety of different chemicals. You would have no way of telling whether a formula contains those extracts. You can theoretically determine some components of those extracts but you wouldn't know for sure.

    Betulinic acid is a more simple chemical so you should be able to identify unique peaks in a mass spec or GC/IR or something like that. There isn't a simple test that I know of.

    But it seems like none of this really matters. If you want to include those ingredients for marketing purposes (which is the only legal reason to include them), just buy an extract like this 

    or this

    And put it in at some low level 0.1% and that's it.
  • Thank you for your response.
  • GuntherGunther Member
    First, make sure you're not unknowingly infringing any patent
    hopefully, you can find an expired patent that lists the typical composition and manufacturing methods.
    Google patents or freepatentsonline.com can help.
  • Thank you for that information.  Do either of you have a lab that you recommend for deformulation?  I have a quote from EAG charging $8000 for the qualitative phase (gc/ms, lc/ms, icp/ms) and then $1900/2500 for the quantitation of each analyte.  I also have a quote from Avomeen for $34000 for both phases.
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