Whether a marketer is creating a high-tech beauty balm, a natural-based kitchen spray or a pigment-rich crème eyeshadow, the product must stand out on shelf by making unique product claims and then delivering them safely.
After all, if that longwear formulation rubs off in an hour or a countertop mess isn’t cleaned up properly after usage, consumers won’t buy the product again or even worse, will share their displeasure on their social network of choice.
Enter testing service providers—companies that run studies to determine whether or not a formulation is efficacious or safe. But how does a formulator go about finding the right one?
When seeking out a testing service provider, it’s all about word of mouth, according to Bradford Rope, president, BioScreen Testing Services, Inc., Torrance, CA.
“Because BioScreen deals with a variety of companies from prescription drug companies to personal care, our clients generally are looking for a laboratory with good credentials, strong industry and FDA history,” he told Happi. “Additionally, it is important to our clients that the lab have excellent technical and regulatory knowledge.”
“In this very competitive market, with so many rapidly occurring improvements in cosmetic products, all clients are seeking testing services that can provide accurate, rapid and competitively priced testing. Companies prize longstanding relationships with testing facilities that are dependable, consistent and timely,” he said.
For example, AMA offers a complete state-of-the-art hair, nail and cosmetic salon managed and operated by a certified/licensed cosmetologist, as there are a number of laboratory tests that are routinely employed to evaluate personal care products. Color is one of the most important aspects of the evaluations at this lab; the Minolta Color Computer (Chroma Meter) and a full range of color charts are popular to compare and match visual with instrumental color characteristics.
“One of the biggest issues testing labs face are clients demanding fast, accurate results of complex analysis that require sensitive testing methodologies. Clients face many challenges to get their products to the shelf, and accelerating the process can lead to undesirable consequences,” noted Angie Inouye, director of business development, Consumer Product Testing Company, Inc., Fairfield NJ. “The efficacy of a product’s performance is the key to its survival in today’s marketplace. In the state of the current economy, the consumer is definitely searching for the quality in value and effective products. Determining the efficacy of products in the lab during the development phase will have a significant impact while evaluating the strongest performing formulations.”
Consumer Product Testing Company provides analytical, microbiological, clinical, toxicological and photobiological testing services, in addition to regulatory consulting services. The facility has “hot” rooms (high temperature and humidity controlled) for running antiperspirant effectiveness and odor evaluation studies according to published monographs and client requirements; stability chambers consisting of nine environmentally controlled areas that provide the client with multiple options regarding accelerated stability programs; and temperature and humidity-controlled rooms to perform studies in moisturization, utilizing technologies such as Novameters, Corneometers and Evaporimeters.
All in all, companies are looking for good turnaround time with comprehensive detailed reports, noted Michael Muscatiello Ph.D., chief operating officer, Clinical Research Laboratories, Piscataway, NJ.
Issues Making an Impact
A higher standard of regulations across the board—from the government to retail outlets—is inspiring marketers to increase testing efforts to prove that household and personal care products deliver on their claims.
According to Rope of BioScreen, recently, the FDA has stepped up enforcement in a number of key areas. He explained, “We are seeing more actions due to misbranded or mislabeled products or those with misleading claims. Additionally, HSN and QVC have taken a tough stance to make sure that products they sell on air have proper claims substantiation.”
InVitro International operations manager Sara Memije at work in the QC inspection and lab bench assembly area.
“In the Final Monograph for Sunscreens of 2011, the FDA has eliminated human testing for UVA and now requires invitro UVA testing,” noted Debra Harrison of Harrison Research Laboratories, Inc., Union, NJ.
Her company has numerous international clients including North American, South American, European and Asian companies, and therefore needs to keep up with the global regulations in the industry.
InVitro International’s hood and lab bench testing area with pH and Corrositex (corrosives) testingvisible in the picture.
UVB and UVA SPF/PFA tests are routinely performed in HRL’s 10-position sunscreen testing department. As well, in vitro UVA testing is performed. Also, HRL performs SPF tests on site: static, water resistant and very water resistant (waterproof).
Timelines are so tight that companies need tests to start quickly, end on time and they need results and reports immediately. According to Harrison, technology has led to faster turn around time.
“I would say that the biggest issues impacting the testing services marketplace is the ability to offer ‘value-added’ opportunities to the results of classic scientific cosmetic testing,” noted Kaminsky of AMA Laboratories. “Such information will serve to enhance monadic and competitive product claims that have to be demonstrated by the standard tests.”
Harrison Research Laboratories offers in vitro UVA test methods.
PhotoGrammetrix includes a trained observer evaluating and scoring subjects and all results are supported by instrumental/ biophysical measurements. AMA uses the technology to evaluate a wide range of cosmetic products used to treat topical conditions.
After returning from the 8th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in Life Sciences held in Montreal, Canada, Rich Ulmer, president and chief executive officer of InVitro International, Irvine, CA, observed an increase in demand for in vitro testing providers.
“Perhaps first and foremost, the buying public wants this direction for testing badly.Compassion for animals is a global human response,” he told Happi. “Next, it makes economic sense for companies to shorten their new product development cycles by months, sometimes a year or more, via non-animal testing vs. in vivo approaches. Many companies get in vitro test results, go straight to small (and then larger) scale human ‘clinical’ testing, and then launch local/regional actual test marketing if not on an even larger scale. The laboratories/companies which provide in vitro testing are not that great in number at this time.”
What’s Next in 2012?
The continued push for more regulation of the personal care industry will place more demands on marketers to perform valid and verifiable testing from safety to claims substantiation, according to Rope of BioScreen. Also, laboratories and marketers alike will be under more public scrutiny than ever before due to the internet and the rapid exchange of information to the public.
“Companies should be ahead of the new regulations by making sure that their testing and claims meets accepted industry methodologies and standards so that they do not become a target in the new Internet Age,” he said.
“In my opinion, future trends in testing services for 2012 and beyond will include, if not require, the ability to identify and test for the scientific advancements in product formulations,” said Kaminsky of AMA Laboratories. “As cosmetic products become more and more efficacious we must be able, as a testing service, to substantiate these many product improvements, so that these new products succeed in this evermore competitive cosmetic industry.
Inouye of Consumer Product Testing Company concurred. “The industry has recognized the tremendous impact of how the knowledgeable consumer has influenced the development process. They are seeking innovative products and ingredients that meet their specific needs with measurable, proven results.”