Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Recommended labs / companies for deformulation in Canada ?

  • Recommended labs / companies for deformulation in Canada ?

    Posted by DeanC on March 11, 2024 at 3:14 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I have been looking for a lab to hire to determine the breakdown of a shampoo product as well as a conditioner product and was hoping you chemists out there may have some good recommendations. The goals are:

    1. Determine the ingredients in the product

    2. Determine the % of each ingredient in the product

    3. Determine if there are any ingredients in the product (not trace) that are not listed as ingredients on the product.

    Thank you very much for your time and assistance on this, I truly do value your advice and direction here.

    • This discussion was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  DeanC.
    DeanC replied 3 weeks ago 5 Members · 18 Replies
  • 18 Replies
  • Perry44

    Administrator
    March 11, 2024 at 3:18 pm

    1. Without an ingredient list, that could be a challenging project.
    2. With an ingredient list, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
    3. Determining whether there are unlisted ingredients, that could be a significant challenge.
    As far as any suggestions, I’ll let people in the forum chime in.

  • DeanC

    Member
    March 11, 2024 at 7:43 pm

    H Perry,

    Thanks very much for the reply. I was thinking a spectrometer test and chromatography test might give a fairly accurate representation or could go the ‘reverse formulation/de-formulation route with that said, I am not sure how accurate that would be. I do have the ingredients list however am fairly certain what is listed is not all that is in the products.

    • Perry44

      Administrator
      March 12, 2024 at 11:13 am

      No, you couldn’t really get much out of using a mass spec or chromatography. There are just too many different chemicals in a cosmetic product. It’s not like an organic chemistry lab where you would be just looking at a simple solution for specific Hydrocarbon bonds and peaks and things. There could be hundreds of different chemicals in a cosmetic.

      For example, when an ingredient is listed as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it’s not just SLS. See this blog post on the subject. https://chemistscorner.com/what-is-in-a-cosmetic-ingredient/

      Basically, every ingredient used in a cosmetic is a mixture of chemicals, not just a single chemical. So things like mass spec and chromatography are not very helpful in determining exactly what is in a formula.

    • Microformulation

      Member
      March 12, 2024 at 1:59 pm

      @Perry44 brought up a pertinent point regarding the efficacy of analytical testing within the realm of formulation, particularly in the context of deformulation or reformulation processes. Perry highlighted that analytical testing is seldom employed and is considered virtually useless in such scenarios.

      When it comes to reformulating a product, chemists typically initiate the process by obtaining an ingredient list from a benchmark sample. Subsequently, they conduct bench testing on the benchmark, utilizing this information to craft a new formulation. This process involves creating a prototype in the laboratory based on the gathered insights. Leveraging their understanding of normal usage rates, raw material properties, and their expertise, chemists can develop a prototype that meets the desired specifications.

      It’s important to emphasize that in the cosmetics industry, there isn’t a magic machine akin to the one humorously referenced in Monty Python that “goes ping.” Instead, the formulation process relies heavily on the chemist’s knowledge, experience, and practical experimentation.

      • DeanC

        Member
        March 13, 2024 at 4:26 am

        Thank you very much for the response. Re:

        ‘When it comes to reformulating a product, chemists typically initiate the process by obtaining an ingredient list from a benchmark sample. Subsequently, they conduct bench testing on the benchmark, utilizing this information to craft a new formulation.’

        What if the scenario involved ingredients that were being hidden and or not disclosed on the packaging. How would one account for this in the scenario?

        • Microformulation

          Member
          March 13, 2024 at 9:55 am

          I think you are greatly overestimating the presence of “hidden” compounds in Cosmetic products. In general, most Formulators and ingredient lists seek transparency and follow the FDA Guidelines. As many Formulators and Chemists (not the same animal, different post, different day) will attest, if they leave something out it is generally seen through the incompleteness of the ingredient deck or some other red flag in the ingredient list.

          https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-regulations/cosmetics-labeling-guide

        • Perry44

          Administrator
          March 13, 2024 at 3:28 pm

          For duplicating products, I don’t think the specific ingredients matter very much. If you give a good cosmetic chemist a sample of a product and tell them what you want the product to do, they should be able to create something that duplicates the effect. It’s easier to do if you have the ingredient list, but creams, lotions, solutions…consumers are not good at noticing difference between two similar formulas.

          • DeanC

            Member
            March 14, 2024 at 12:49 pm

            Hi @Perry44 The purpose of the deformulation would be to confirm a company is being accurate with their ingredients claims as well as determining the cost to produce the product as opposed to trying to emulate something for consumer resale. Hope that helps clarify and again, appreciate you opinion and suggestions.

            • Perry44

              Administrator
              March 14, 2024 at 1:03 pm

              Ah, well if that’s the project. I personally don’t think it is really possible. Our ability to identify individual molecules in formulations is rather limited.

            • Perry44

              Administrator
              March 16, 2024 at 3:37 pm

              When I was in college, we did an exercise where we were given a substance and some clues about what it possibly could be. Then through using various chemical reactions and techniques we could identify what substance it might be. That is the kind of thing you need done. That would be an Analytical Chemist. Ideally, someone who also has a background in cosmetic science. Unfortunately, that’s a rare combination of skills. And this is also a very difficult (if even possible) problem.

  • Juggsy

    Member
    March 11, 2024 at 7:46 pm

    Atomic Pom? I would say they might be able to help, they are in Canada. Can’t hurt to send a message and ask. https://www.atomicpomlabs.com/

    • DeanC

      Member
      March 14, 2024 at 12:51 pm

      Hi @Juggsy Thank you for the suggestion, I did reach out and evidently they are more focussed on production rather than testing. For reference, we will not be moving these tested formulations into production but rather are testing for accuracy of claims and cost.

  • Cafe33

    Member
    March 12, 2024 at 10:26 pm

    If you are talking about a Shampoo and Conditioner, the process can be fairly simple based on the ingredient list. If a formulator understands how certain ingredients are used and typically at what inputs they are used; a formula can be duplicated with good accuracy.

    • DeanC

      Member
      March 14, 2024 at 12:47 pm

      Hi @cafe33,

      Thank you for your response. In your experience, how much more complicated would it be if there are ingredients that are not listed in the product (which seems to be a trend among the smaller ‘natural’ companies)?

  • Cafe33

    Member
    March 14, 2024 at 6:54 pm

    Then I would answer you by asking why you would want to reverse engineer such a product which does even conform to proper norms ? Do you really think it will be something out of the ordinary? Some textures and rheologies are more difficult to reproduce since they require an understanding and experience with more specialized levels ingredients. Typically, it’s nothing an experienced formulator would not be able to do.

    • DeanC

      Member
      March 16, 2024 at 7:02 am

      Hi @Cafe33 , the reasoning would be legal proceedings due to falsifying ingredients and misleading customers. Hope that helps.

      • Cafe33

        Member
        March 16, 2024 at 1:04 pm

        I must confess, I struggled to piece together the details in this thread, and my insomnia didn’t make it any easier. I understand you’re seeking analytical testing services. Having lived in Canada, I’ve had experience with such services in the past, albeit in a different industry. One potential lead I can offer is Gelda Pharmaceuticals, found at Gelda.com. They specialize in compressed solids and offer in-house microbial testing. Additionally, I believe they were in the process of acquiring spectrometry equipment. I dealt with them between 2003-2012. They routinely do analytical testing as they have an OTC drug license. If they can’t help you directly they may be able to steer you the right way. What I really liked about Gelda is that they never engaged in price gauging like some many do. Also, I do not believe your project will be feasible. It is one thing to test for purity and 2-4 compounds mixture but a cosmetic product could amount to 30-100 different compounds. Even a listed ingredient could have 3-4 compounds. Many are not pure compounds. Never mind the fragrance which could contain 15-20.

        • DeanC

          Member
          April 1, 2024 at 1:08 pm

          Thanks for this. Will look into them.

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