Preservative Challenge Testing

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Preservative Challenge Testing evaluates a product’s ability to resist microbial attack over time. These methods determine if your product will spoil after natural consumer use.

According to the FDA, it is the responsibility of the finished product manufacturer to substantiate the safety of both ingredients and finished cosmetic products prior to marketing. The goal of a preservative system is to degrade and prevent proliferation of microbes that may be introduced to products during consumer use. The ability of a preservative system to protect the product from microbial growth and degradation must be established through microbial challenge testing of the complete formulation.

Challenge testing cosmetics is likely the single most important type of testing a cosmetic maker can do to protect their product.

The testing allows manufacturers and formulators of cosmetics to have a clear image of how their cosmetic and personal care products will withstand microbial attack, which is inevitable during consumer use. Microbes are introduced to products when handled by consumers, and those microbes need to be eliminated to prevent proliferation within the product. If the preservative is insufficient and/or ineffective at eliminating those microbes, allowing microbial growth, there could be instability in the product and potential harm to consumers.

Cosmetic challenge tests are an essential part of any product’s stability regimen because microbe proliferation within the product can accelerate product aging and increase instability. Microbial growth can lead to product deterioration and worsening odor. Once a product has passed challenge testing, stability testing can be run to help establish a products shelf-life.

Testing involves inoculating the products with pathogenic, representative bacteria and fungi. Common organisms used are Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, and Aspergillus brasiliensis. Evaluations of the evaluated product are then made at different intervals to track how effectively the antimicrobial agent(s) are at eliminating the microbes introduced over time.

Microchem Laboratory specializes in both industry standard challenge test methods and custom methods based on those standards to assist you in your preservative challenge testing needs. We offer the following test methods:

Our staff of knowledgeable scientists are ready to help determine the best and most cost effective challenge testing for your needs.

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