Standing the Test of Time

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | September 30, 2008

When ingredients need to be tested, safety assessed and claims substantiated, the right testing facility can speed and ease the process.

The drive to offer consumers the next big breakthrough product has put great pressure on personal care and household products companies. In today’s complex and competitive market, companies must deliver improved results, be more eco-friendly, meet exacting standards and stricter regulations and do so economically at lightening speed.

These conditions have created an atmosphere in which testing facilities have become even more critical partners in the development process. Today’s top labs are helping marketers keep their fast-paced launches on schedule, navigate the “greening” of the market and provide data to substantiate claims. And if necessary, testing providers can do some investigative work and figure out what went wrong, get products back on store shelves and keep a company’s reputation intact.

“The speed at which products are brought to market is much faster than in the past,” said John J. Herries, senior director of analytical services at Chemir Analytical Services, Maryland Heights, MO. “In this day and age, companies often can’t or don’t test all raw materials before they go into production; they can’t do six months to a year in product trials.”

In addition, companies must back up their claims with third party data—for regulatory agencies as well as skeptical customers.

“Regulatory pressures are such that personal care companies have no other choice than to test their products through outside test companies to credibly support their claims. Testimonials are no longer sufficient to support marketing claims,” added Christine Perrier, quality and regulatory affairs manager, Spincontrol Group in Tours, France.

As a case in point, recently one of Harrison Research Laboratory’s clients went before the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau for a contested claim.“As a result of the testing that had been performed, the claim was allowed,” said Dr. Lynne B. Harrison, a principal investigator with the Union, NJ lab which offers a range of services including dermal patch, photobiology and UVB and UVA SPF/PF tests, among others.

Green Issues

One of the biggest factors shaping the household and personal care market is the eco-movement. With consumers clamoring for natural materials and more environmentally sound packaging, companies are looking for new ways to answer demands.

But the trouble with green is “that it is a big field that is not well defined,” said Dr. Herries. “Green means different things to different people.If you want to make a product more green, you can eliminate packaging and make it more green. But being green also means what’s inside the box or bottle.”

The green movement has made product formulation and packaging a more complex endeavor, and as a result, testing providers have had to dig deeper and enlist more sophisticated testing procedures to root out the cause of a problem.

For example, Chemir was called in when a client’s new bottle was becoming discolored. After insuring that the product itself was not being contaminated, Chemir was able narrow down the cause: an additive in the plastic polymer (used to keep it from oxidizing) was interacting with a material in the product.

“You need a deep understanding of the chemistry that is occurring within the product system, including packaging interaction, stability and supply chain issues,” said Dr. Herries. He likened his company’s use of multiple testing techniques to detective work. “We are ‘CSI’ for cosmetics and personal care,” he quipped, referring the popularity ofwell-known crime scene investigation TV shows.

Celsis also noted issues stemming from the growth of products with a natural or organic slant. Lori Daane, vice president, scientific affairs, Celsis Rapid Detection, pointed to the confusion about whether or not ATP (adenosine triphosphate) bioluminescence—a widely accepted method for detecting microbial contamination—can be used successfully.

Testing companies have had to develop custom tests and expand their capabilities to provide their clients with the data they need to assess their products accurately. Photo: Harrison Research Labs
According to Dr. Daane, while the majority of products containing natural ingredients have been successfully validated using ATP bioluminescence (mainly because their concentration levels are low), the presence of non-microbial ATP at higher concentrations can interfere with the standard bioluminescence reaction by contributing to “background noise, often resulting in false-positive results.”

To combat these false positives, Celsis enlists proprietary, enhanced-ATP technology featuring Adenylate Kinase (AK) to increase the signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio. According to Dr. Daane, Celsis’ AKuScreen reagents effectively mask the background non-microbial ATP by continuously amplifying the microbial ATP signal, and proportionally decreasing the non-microbial ATP background noise. “Compared to traditional ATP bioluminescence, this greatly increased S/N ratio removes any uncertainty of the test results,” said Dr. Daane.

Yet another challenge in today’s marketplace is the need to balance performance and consumer safety.“Companies want power and safety with regard to household products,” said Rich Ulmer, president and chief executive officer of InVitro International, an Irvine, CA-based firm that boasts an extensive database of non-animal ocular and dermal tests.

In addition, companies are more proactive today when it comes to possible misuse of otherwise safe products, such as a hair spray that could be accidentally misted into a consumer’s eyes.

“Companies are interested in safety as well as consumer acceptance,” said Mr. Ulmer, who noted that companies can turn to InVitro for dermal and ocular irritation assay testing with the same sample.

Advancements in Testing

Testing providers told Happi that companies are coming in with more specific issues. As a result, labs have had to develop custom tests and expand their capabilities to provide their clients with the data they need to assess their products accurately.

“We are constantly developing tailor-made protocol and new techniques to satisfy both our clients and regulatory requirements,” said Bertrand Walle, general manager of Montreal-based Spincontrol North America. Inc. To meet these requirements, his company has become more involved with digital imaging and colorimetry.Through 7.5 MHz ultrasound imaging and 2D illustration as well traditional methods, Spincontrol can more effectively evaluate the efficacy of slimming skin products, according to Mr. Walle.Additionally, Spincontrol recently developed specific software for eyelashes that measures volume, lengthening and separation by image analysis.

Besides offering more sophisticated tests, fast turnaround is paramount, especially when bloggers and 24-hour media outlets spread news quickly.

“If you are big, you don’t want your name on the front page or in a consumer suit. As a small company, it can end your career,” noted Mr. Ulmer of InVitro, a firm that can provide results in as little as 24 hours, allowing companies to resolve issues quickly and keep their reputation intact.

For example, Mr. Ulmer cited a situation in which a well-known company in the “green products area” set out to upgrade its product, but took a “misstep when changing the formulation” and was getting negative responses within weeks of the product hitting stores. In Vitro put that client at the front of the cue, and quickly provided data that allowed the customer to make immediate changes that solved the problem.

“This can’t be done with animal testing—that takes days or months to do,” explained Mr. Ulmer, who said that InVitro will offer a new cell-based assay in early 2009 that will deliver faster results at competitive or lower costs.“We will offer results in 24 hours, which we will back up with cell-based traditional cells,” he concluded.

Be Prepared

Despite electronic communication and faster and more targeted testing capabilities, companies still must meet deadlines and consider all aspects of their business when getting ready to test their products.

And while it should go without saying that firms need to have all their ducks in a row when testing commences, that isn’t always the case. “Sometimes sponsors have trouble getting test materials to us on time. Then, a study that had to start yesterday must be postponed until tomorrow or next week because we do not have the test material,” explained Debra Harrison, a project manager with Harrison Research Labs.

While more seasoned firms know the drill when it comes to testing, start-ups should have a complete grasp of the materials and packaging they will use, as well manufacturing and distribution factors, as they all affect testing parameters.

“Will you be stocking your product at a big box retailer or a smaller boutique shop?If the expected shelf life is six months, that dictates what type of testing should be performed,” said Dr. Herries. “Is your product going to be made overseas, put on a container ship and subjected to extreme temperatures? A start-up needs to have this understood.”

Despite the added time and expense, experts say the soundest strategy is to enlist a competent testing lab as early in the development process as possible. By doing so, a company can ensure that its products are safe and efficacious, and reduce the risk and costs of those “unforeseen” failures that pop up after a product hits retail.

The reason is simple, according to Dr. Herries, “It is cheaper to postpone a launch than pull a product off a shelf.”

Testing Service Providers

Below is a list of testing service providers serving the household and personal products industry.
For more information, contact the company directly using the numbers provided.

4-Front Research

4 Enterprise House, Manchester Science Park, Lloyd Street North
Manchester, Lancs. UK
Tel.: (44) 161-232-4690
Fax: (44) 161-232-4699
Email: info@4FrontResearch.com
Website: www.4FrontResearch.com
Testing Specialties: Human safety and claims support trials for skin care, oral care and nutritional products.


Australian Photobiology Testing Facility Pty Limited (APTF)

Suite 204-205
Ross St. Building AO3
University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Sydney, Australia
Tel.: (61) 2-9351-3878
Fax: (61) 2-9351-4732
Email: g.greenoak@aptf.usyd.edu.au
Website: www.aptf.com.au
Testing Specialties: Sunscreen testing to international standards or guidelines (in vivo & in vitro). Irritancy, allergy, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, skin whitening, etc. testing on human subjects.


1213 Stewart St.
Irving, TX 75061
Tel.: 972-254-1429
Website: www.arkonconsultants.com
Testing Specialties: Formulationanalysis, performance, microscopy.


Atlas Material Testing Technology LLC

4114 North Ravenswood Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
Testing Specialties:Natural weather testing; accelerated weather testing.

Brookfield Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

11 Commerce Blvd., Middleboro, MA
Email: sales@brookfieldengineering.com
Website: www.brookfieldengineering.com
Testing Specialties: Brookfield’s state-of-the-art laboratory offers a variety of viscosity testing services capable of measuring Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids using a wide range of spindle geometries. Detailed test results include equipment and measurement system description, viscosity data that includes appropriate tables and graphs, and any recommendations pertinent to your specific material and associated method. Viscosity testing services available: test and recommend; fluid profiling; dispute resolution; multiple sample test.

Celsis Rapid Detection

600 W Chicago Avenue, Suite 625
Chicago, IL 60054
Tel.: 312-476-1200
Fax: 312-476-1201
Website: www.celsis.com/rapid
Testing Specialties: Identifies absence/presence of microbiological contamination in raw materials, in-process and finished goods (gram negative, gram positive, yeasts and molds) in 18-24 hours, including slow-growing molds, so companies can release products to market faster.

Chemir Analytical Services

2672 Metro Blvd.
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
Email: info@chemir.com
Testing Specialties: Investigative analysis, custom formulation; deformulation (reverse engineering), contaminant identification, materials identification, formulation development and scale-up, failure analysis, polymer testing; packaging testing, stability testing; competitive product characterization, raw material cost optimization, consulting, litigation support.

Clinical Research Laboratories, Inc.

371 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Tel: (732) 981-1616
Fax: (732) 981-0520
Email: jasmine.migliorini@crl-inc.com
Website: www.crl-inc.com
Specialties: Dermatology, photobiology, ophthalmology, bioinstrumentation, microbiology, cosmetology, consumer research evaluation and clinical trials. Specialized in the testing of antimicrobials, disinfectants, mouth rinses, toothpastes, antibiotics and santizers.

Consumer Product Testing Co., Inc.

70 New Dutch Lane
Fairfield, NJ 07004
Tel: (973) 808-7111
Fax: (973) 244-7507
Email: sales@cptclabs.com
Website: www.cptclabs.com
Specialties: Expanded capabilities include analytical chemistry services, clinical safety, efficacy, claims validation, microbiology, sterility testing and in vitro toxicology.

Dermatest Medical

Research Company
Engelstrasse 37
Muenster 48143 Germany
Tel.: (49) 251-4882249
Fax: (49) 251-4902727
Email: dr.voss@dermatest.de
Website: www.dermatest.de
Testing Specialties: Patch tests, dermatological application tests, efficacy tests, clinical tests, moisturizing tests, skin wrinkle measurements, skin cell.

Essex Testing Clinic

799 Bloomfield Ave.
Verona, NJ 07044
Tel.: 973-857-9541
Fax: 973-857-9662
Email: info@essextesting.com
Website: www.essextesting.com
Testing Specialties: Human clinical evaluations for safety, efficacy and claims support of cosmetics, toiletries, personal care products, household products and dermals OTCs. Specializing in patch, SPF, photo sensitivity, clinical use trials, acnegenicity and eye area product testing.

Euroderm Ltd.

Harbour House, 23 Chandlers Quay
Maldon, Essex CM9 4LFUK
Tel.: (44) 1621-859230
Fax: (44) 1621-851537
Email: Lyndanoakes@euroderm.co.uk
Website: www.euroderm.co.uk
Testing Specialties: Consumer product testing, safety efficacy, acceptability.

Evalulab, Inc.

5475 Paré Street, Suite 206
MontRoyal, Québec H4P 1P7, Canada
Tel.: 514-343-0001
Email: info@evalulab.com
Testing Specialties:Clinicalstudies to assess safety & efficacy of cosmetics, cosmoceuticals & nutriceuticals in vivo.

Harrison Research Laboratories, Inc.

2497 Vauxhall Road
Union, NJ 07083
Tel.: 908-688-7600
Website: www.HRLabs.us
Testing Specialties: Independent research organization that performs human safety, efficacy and claim substantiation testing of cosmetics, sunscreen and hair products. Testing capabilities include patch, phototoxicity/pho-to allergy, SPF/PFA, ocular and use tests.

Hill Top Research Corporation

6088 Main Street, P.O. Box 138
Miamiville, OH45147
Tel.: 513-831-3114
Email: info@hill-top.com
Website: www.hill-top.com
Testing Specialties:Phase I safety testing, Phase II-IV efficacy testing, microbiology testing, oral care testing, CRO services.

InVitro International

17751 Sky Park East, Ste. G
Irvine, CA. 92614
Tel.: 949-851-8356; 800-246-8487
Fax: 949-851-4985
Email: invitro@invitrointl.com
Website: www.invitrointl.com
Testing Specialties: Non-animal testing for eye and skin irritation as well as corrosive/non-corrosive end points.

International Research Services, Inc.

222 Grace Church Street
Port Chester NY, 10573
Tel.: 914-937-6500
Fax: 914-937-8067
Email: ffriscia@irsi.org
Website: www.irsi.org
Testing Specialties: In vitro biological efficacy models for anti-aging, pigmentation, inflammation, anti-cellulite, neuro-cosmetology, dermal repair/ wound healing and hair care.In vivo dermatologic & ophthalmologistsafety testing (exclusive or shared panel HRIPT, hypoallergenicity, safety in-use, sensitive skin/ sting testing. In vivo dermatologic efficacy testing for claim substantiation (bioinstrumentation assessment of skin collagen, melanin, hemoglobin, hydration, dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, firmness & elasticity, cell turnover, hyper-pigmentation, skin surface temperature, acne, cellulite and hair growth).

Libra Technical Center, LLC

101 Liberty Street
Metuchen, NJ 08840
Tel.: 732-321-5200
Fax: 732-321-5203
Email: asklibra@libralabs.com
Website: www.libralabs.com
Testing Specialties: Analytical research services in chemistry, microbiology, and materials science for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and packaging.Compendial analyses, containers, residual solvents and TOC. Authenticity, comparison and infringement.

Q Laboratories, Inc.

1400 Harrison Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45214-1606
Tel.: 513-471-1300
Fax: 513-471-5600
E-mail: mgoins@qlaboratories.com
Website: www.qlaboratories.com
Testing Specialties: Comprehensive microbiology and analytical chemistry laboratory services.

Q Research Solutions Inc.

3548 Route 9 South, 2nd Floor
Old Bridge, NJ 08857
Tel.: 732-952-0000
Fax: 732-952-0001
Email: MaryanaK@whoisq.com
Testing Specialties: Q Research Solutions is R&D’s strategic partner for actionable consumer insights.As a Honomichl Top 50 research firm with 25 years of service in the industry, we’ve developed the best practices for product research from study design to actionable insights.Our extensive CPG knowledge and experience, innovative and customized methodologies, facilities and technology designed for product development and advanced analytics for strategic decision making can help you create world class products.

Rapid Precision Testing Laboratories

P.O. Box 1342
Cordova, TN 38088
Tel.: 901-386-0175
Fax: 901-386-7218
Email: RPTL@aol.com
Testing Specialties: RPTL is a highly specialized enterprise consisting principally of two full time experts in the various aspects of spectral measurement and photobiological risk assessment. We offer onsite NIST traceable spectral measurement services for labs and manufacturers seeking spectral certification of test instruments and light emitting products. RPTL is a COLIPA recognized source for certification of solar simulators for sunscreen SPF testing. We offer in-house light measurement services and optical properties of materials testing. Consulting expertise includes FDA compliance for sunlamp products, in-vitro sunscreen test methods, photobiolgical safety of lamps & lamp systems, medical phototherapy devices & germicidal lamps.


Irving, TX
Tel: (972) 871-7578
Fax: (972) 871-7579
E-mail: info@rctslabs.com
Website: www.rctslabs.com
Testing Specialties: RCTS provides clinical testing services in safety testing and claims substantiation.

Spincontrol North America Inc.

606Cathcart Suite 620
Montreal, Quebec. H3B 1K9Canada
Tel.: 514-759-3352
Testing Specialties: In vivo efficacy test for cosmetics and nutritional supplements.

Suncare Research Laboratories, LLC

2518 B Reynolda Road
Winston Salem, NC 27106
Tel.: 336-725-6501
Fax: 336-725-6503
Email: jstanfield@suncarelab.com
Website: www.suncarelab.com
Testing Specialties: Sunscreen SPF and UVA protection testing; in vitro UVA protection measurements; Phototoxicity and photoallergenicity testing

Symrise Inc.

300 North Street
Teterboro, NJ 07608
Tel.: 201-462-5553
Fax: 201-462-5450
Website: www.symrise.com
Testing Specialties: Ovens
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