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Cosmetics Microbiology Testing

Microbiology Testing of Cosmetics, Toiletries, Personal Care & Household Products

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Vegan friendly media options are available on tests marked with * .

If you have a specific protocol that you wish us to follow, or do not see what you are looking for above, please contact us and we will do our utmost to fit in with your requirements.

Cosmetic Microbiological Batch Release Testing

Cosmetic microbiology testing is a key part of ensuring the quality and safety of cosmetics, toiletries, personal care, and household products. Cosmetic microbiology testing can include the analysis of raw materials, intermediates, bulk, and finished products. A good starting point is to assess your product for the total viable count (TVC) of bacteria, yeasts, and moulds, along with the detection of general bacteria in 1g. This can help your business mitigate the risk of microbial contamination, helping to prevent failure in the marketplace. 

The inclusion of detection of specified pathogens ‘Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans’, is listed in the standard ISO17516 and suggested by the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) as well as the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS). This will help your products to be widely accepted throughout the world.

Some countries have their own specific requirements, so additional testing may be required; for example, this can be along the lines of detection of Salmonella species & Thermotolerant coliforms.

Cosmetic microbiology testing is most commonly conducted according to the following standards, under 

  • ISO 17516 'Microbiological Limits':
  • ISO 21148 General instruction for carrying out microbiological examinations
  • ISO 21149 Enumeration and detection of aerobic mesophilic bacteria
  • ISO 16212 Enumeration of yeast and moulds
  • ISO 18415 Detection of specified and non-specified microorganisms
  • ISO 18416 Detection of Candida albicans
  • ISO 21150 Detection of Escherichia coli
  • ISO 22717 Detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • ISO 22718 Detection of Staphylococcus aureus

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Cosmetic Preservative Efficacy Testing (challenge testing)

Cosmetic preservative efficacy testing is most commonly performed on water-based formulations, although it can be prudent to conduct this cosmetic testing on water-miscible anhydrous formulas depending on their usage instructions and packaging. This test helps demonstrate how your product will control organisms introduced through its use by consumers.

A challenge test is where known amounts of 5 standard organisms are added to your product and assessed over a 28-day period. To pass the test, the reduction of these organisms must meet specified criteria at certain time points. Other factors such as packaging, usage and storage instructions should be taken into consideration when assessing a challenge test result.

Several standards can be applied
  • British/European Pharmacopeia (BP-EP) – Preparations for cutaneous application (ex Topical products)
  • British/European Pharmacopeia (BP-EP) – Oral preparations
  • United states Pharmacopeia (USP)
  • ISO 11930 – Evaluation of the antimicrobial protection of a cosmetic product


Supporting Your Cosmetic Testing Regimes

  • Batch release and detection of pathogens
  • Quantification and characterisation included free of charge
  • Identification of organisms by request
  • Application of internationally recognised limits or client-specified limits
  • PET – Preservative efficacy tests for cosmetic products
  • Determining the antimicrobial activity of your products
  • Testing of stability of your formulation
  • Assessment of your packaging and interactions with your formulation
  • Email updates or interim reports.
  • A final PDF report - available in list (tabular) and individual formats
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West Sussex
PO20 7DU

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