How to understand claims about cosmetic product testing?
This test is automatically carried out for all products as a part of health safety testing, which is a statutory requirement under the regulation concerning cosmetics.
- The test is carried out under a dermatologist’s supervision with a group of 15 volunteers of different ages (18 years and older).
- A sample of the preparation is applied onto the subjects’ upper back or inner forearm and covered with a bandage. Subjects have to wear the bandage for 4 or 24 hours.
This claim means that a product has passed the eye area tolerance test and thus the packaging can say “ophthalmologically tested”.
- The test is carried out with 20 volunteers, selected by an ophthalmologist, for a period of 4 weeks.
Throughout the test, the product is applied twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.
- An evaluation is performed by the ophthalmologist in both eyes at the following intervals:
- Trial commencement
- 15th day of the trial
- 29th day of the trial
All changes to the conjunctiva and cornea are examined and subjective testing (questionnaire) is carried out at the same time.
This test determines the hypoallergenic properties of a cosmetic product.
It is used to establish that a product is “hypoallergenic”. The idea is to determine whether the application of a cosmetic product causes an allergic reaction. However, this does not mean that there will not be any consumers who are allergic to one of the ingredients. The product has a reduced (hypo) risk, but not a zero risk of allergic reactions.
- The test is carried out with 40 volunteers — dermatologically healthy individuals.
- 0.1 g of the product is applied onto the inner forearm. The area is covered with a bandage. The test lasts 6 weeks.
If a product claims to have moisturizing effects, this claim has to be substantiated.
- The testing is carried out by the National Institute of Public Health with a group of 20 volunteers.
- A given amount of product is applied onto a designated spot on the left forearm. The same place on the right forearm is used for reference and verification.
- The product is applied once. A corneometer, or a dielectric constant meter, is used to measure the amount of moisture.
- Measurements have to be taken under standard conditions: humidity, temperature, subjects that have been acclimatized for 10 minutes prior to the measurement.
This test is required for the “suitable for sensitive skin” claim on packaging. Prior to the test, a dermatologist chooses persons with sensitive skin.
- The test is performed with a group of 20 adults.
- The test involves daily usage of a product by test subjects who themselves assess the condition of their skin and record skin reactions after application of the product.
- This is followed by an assessment carried out by a dermatologist half way through the study (on the 15th day of the test) and after the termination of the study (on the 31st day of the test).
Not tested on animals
Pursuant to Act No. 392/2005 Coll. – amended Act No. 258/2000 Coll., on the protection of public health, 61. V Section 29 is completed with the following sub-section (5):
A manufacturer or an importer may use the option to indicate on the packaging of a final cosmetic product or in any document, note, label, flier or a sleeve that accompanies the product that no testing on animals was performed only if the manufacturer or its supplier did not perform or has not performed any testing on animals in a prototype cosmetic product, a final product or any of its ingredients, or used ingredients that were tested on animals by third parties for the purpose of developing new cosmetic products.
This claim cannot be practically used because even if final cosmetic products are not tested on animals, some ingredients (raw materials) may have been tested on animals in the past and unfortunately, suitable alternative methods do not exist for some tests that are currently performed on animals that will ensure human health safety with an ingredient. However, the European Union has been intensively developing them and a schedule for their gradual replacement has been determined and a deadline for their elimination has been prepared (see Regulation 1223/2009, Art. 18).
Repellent efficacy testing
ATTENTION! REPELLENTS ARE NOT COSMETIC PREPARATIONS!!!
Repellent efficacy is tested on insect populations (typically mosquitoes or ticks). The testing is carried out by the National Institute of Public Health. The test determines for how many hours the repellent’s protection lasts after its application.
Sun care product testing
SPF = SUN PROTECTION FACTOR, a UVB protective factor
SPF is most often used in sun care products.
The number expresses how many times sun exposure can be extended without the appearance of the first visible erythema (redness) compared to untreated skin (example: untreated skin turns red after 10 minutes; skin treated with SPF 30 turns read after 300 minutes). It expresses the level of UVB protection. This is achieved through the use of UV filters that are able to absorb the relevant portion of UV radiation (of this wavelength).
Every sun care product also has to use UVA filters. The minimum UV protection factor has to be 1/3 of the total SPF (so, at SPF 30, SPF-UVA has to be 10).
SPF can be marked on a product only as a number according to valid European Commission recommendations.
In addition to the number, a sun care product shall also verbally indicate the category, such as SPF 6 “LOW PROTECTION“.
Currently, two basic types of UV filters are used, chemical and physical (mechanical).
- In the Czech Republic, testing is performed by the National Institute of Public Health. It is carried out with a minimum group of 12 persons of different photo types. A special device, a solar simulator, which imitates solar radiation, is used for taking the measurement.
- Six 5×6 cm areas are marked on the upper back of each subject and a defined quantity of product is applied onto these areas and spread evenly.
This claim is related to sun care products according to a valid definition:
- A product is water-resistant if after 40 minutes of water activities (swimming, diving, etc.), the SPF remains at more than 50% of the original SPF.
- A product is waterproof if after 80 minutes of water activities (swimming, diving, etc.), the SPF remains at more than 50% of the original SPF.
Claims: Oil free / Paraben free / Silicone free
- This terms most often refers to a cosmetic product that contains mineral, Vaseline oil.
- This means that a product does not contain preservatives, PARABENS.
- Parabens are considered one of the most frequent allergens.
- This means that a product does not contain silicones.
- Silicone “oils” have become very popular in cosmetic products over the last 15 years. They are inert substances that improve the sensory properties of both skin and hair products. They are non-comedogenic (they do not clog pores) and when used in lotions, they provide a soft, velvety feeling during application.
- Recently, a slight decline in their use has been seen; see the “silicone free” claims on hair shampoos.
Claim: Bio / Organic
- The “NATURAL”, “ORGANIC” and “BIO” categories are not based on any generally-binding regulations.
- These categories are voluntary.
Cosmetic product assessment with respect to human health
- This is a legislative requirement that has to be met before a product is placed on the market.
- A safety assessment is prepared according to Section 29 (2) of Act No. 258/2000 Coll. The manufacturer can only authorize an individual with education and experience according to the relevant regulation to perform the assessment.
Frequently used active ingredients and their effects
- Allantoin: soothes irritated skin
- Aloe vera: soothes and moisturizes skin
- Bisabolol: obtained from chamomile, ideal for soothing skin
- Ceramides: moisturizes, improves skin elasticity
- Creatine: moisturizes, reduces fine lines
- Caffeine: promotes blood circulation and lipolysis (fat disintegration), suitable for slimming and anti-cellulite products
- Tea tree oil: antiseptic and disinfectant effects, suitable for problematic skin
- Coenzyme Q10: major antioxidant, suitable for mature skin products
- Hyaluronic acid: moisturizing, lifting and anti-aging effects depending on the molecular weight
- Salicylic acid: problematic skin; in higher concentrations (2% max.) in heel repair products; keratolytic effects
- Panthenol (B5): moisturizing, skin soothing (such as after sun exposure)
- Urea: moisturizing
- Vitamin A: especially suitable for aging skin, promotes regeneration. A derivate is beta-carotene (also an antioxidant), which promotes and prolongs one’s sun tan
- Vitamin E: antioxidant (= the ability to bind free radicals in the skin, caused by excessive sun exposure, stress, polluted air; free radicals are very aggressive particles that damage skin cells and eventually cause skin aging)
- Vitamin C: antioxidant, lightens up the skin, supports collagen formation
- Extracts: from plants (chamomile, cucumber, green tea, red wine, horse chestnut, etc.) and algae with different properties (moisturizing, wrinkle elimination, skin lifting, soothing, better blood circulation, firming)
- Oils: marigold, jojoba, macadamia, apricot, avocado, almond, soy, olive, lavender, flax, cannabis, shea butter, etc.; in addition to their effects, they also impact the sensory properties of a cosmetic product.
Manufacturers often use mixtures of different extracts, oils and other active ingredients with registered trademarks (such as: Kalpariane, Phycoborane, Firmiderm, Aquaxyl, etc.); their effects depend on their composition.