Press and Media

10 September 2019

TÜV SÜD focuses on safety and stability

According to online statistics platform Statista, sales revenues in the beauty products industry (cosmetics and personal care products) for 2018 amounted to 6.33 billion euros in Germany and as much as 295 billion euros worldwide. A huge figure, yet the market continues to grow. New sales markets are developing, particularly in the emerging economies in Asia and the Pacific region. However, although cosmetic products are traded at international and global level, there is no harmonised testing and approval process – a real challenge. TÜV SÜD now addresses this challenge in a new White Paper.

No harmonised standards and laws
As regulatory requirements for cosmetic products are not harmonised, there are differences in standards and safety assessments as well as in prohibited and restricted ingredients between the individual nations and regions, such as the EU and China. Also different are the labelling requirements and the associated laws. Even the definitions of what constitutes a cosmetic product differ from market to market.

So what is a cosmetic product?

“In everyday use, the term 'cosmetics' usually applies to a wide variety of personal care products intended to beautify or cleanse. Specific types of cosmetic products include facial makeup and perfumes, nail polishes and skin moisturising products, and sometimes also hair shampoos and hair dyes, toothpastes and other dental care products, as well as deodorants”, explains Helen Yuan, the author of the White Paper and Senior Principal Specialist, Food, Health & Beauty at TÜV SÜD Greater China. The exact products covered by the term depend on the individual definitions in the respective countries and regions. The EU defines cosmetic products as “any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the extended parts of the human body or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance or protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours.”

While some efforts are under way to harmonise the regulations applicable to cosmetic products, for example by the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR), the issue of harmonisation has not yet been solved and the manufacturers of cosmetic products still have to cope with complex and frequently contradictory regulatory requirements. TÜV SÜD product testing provides them with regulatory certainty.

TÜV SÜD – your partner for reliable tests
According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Annual Report of July 2018, more than 8000 known natural and synthetic ingredients are used in cosmetic products. As consumers’ use of cosmetic products increases, so does the risk of their exposure to potentially harmful ingredients. Consumers in the USA use around ten cosmetic products per day, resulting in daily exposure to more than 125 different ingredients. It is therefore all the more important that cosmetic products are tested officially in order to guarantee to consumers that the products are safe and reliable. Because cosmetic products come into direct contact with the human body, they are subjected to a range of tests for microbiological, chemical and other potentially toxic substances and effects. Beyond these, cosmetic products are also assessed for stability. In concrete terms, TÜV SÜD tests cosmetics for the following aspects:

Microbiological testing

Microbiological tests are typically conducted on recently manufactured products to verify the quality of the ingredients used in production and the sterility of the manufacturing process. Testing assesses the presence of bacteria and fungi, which may not exceed a certain limit value. The results must meet the applicable regulatory requirements or the specifications defined by the manufacturer, whichever is more stringent.

Chemical contaminant testing

Chemical contamination is caused by substances such as heavy metals or dioxanes and is toxic to humans. Products are tested for these contaminants using advanced chemical analysis techniques including gas chromatography (GC), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etc.

Preservative effectiveness testing
Preservatives in cosmetics are supposed to prevent the growth of bacteria after the product has been opened by the consumer. In preservative effectiveness testing, samples of cosmetic products are injected with various species of bacteria and fungi and regularly evaluated for levels of contamination during the testing period.

Product stability testing
Stability testing assesses whether a cosmetic product changes its characteristics during its shelf life in the store: do its colour, texture and odour remain unchanged? Testing also covers the material of the container in which the product is packaged.

Product performance testing
“As the knowledge towards cosmetics and the consumption capability grows, people are now more picky on the effect of the cosmetics. As a result, cosmetics now includes more than the old name “make-up”, but instead focus more on the effects like whitening, moisturizing, wrinkle resistance, etc. As these effects are not as intuitive as the old purpose, like covering a pimple up, more scientific effect evaluation reports supported by more complex experiments done in qualified laboratories are needed for the advertisement of the product”, explains TÜV SÜD expert Helen Yuan.

Depending on the specific type of product produced, manufacturers may elect to order further tests to ensure the safety and usefulness of their cosmetic products or to meet specific quality or performance requirements. These tests include verification of the whitening effects of toothpaste, moisturising claims (of certain skin creams) or evidence of anti-wrinkle efficacy. Incidentally, cosmetic testing all over the world covers only the testing of finished cosmetic products – not their individual ingredients.

The full-length version of the TÜV SÜD White Paper is available here:

For further information about testing of cosmetic products, go to

Press-contact: Dirk Moser-Delarami

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