Skin Care

Preservative Efficacy Testing: The Silent Guardian of Skincare Safety

When it comes to skincare manufacturing, safety is one of the most important parts of the process. If you formulate a skincare product without making sure that it’s safe for your customers to use, you run the risk of causing harm and being non-compliant.

June 19, 2024


Preservative efficacy testing can ensure that your products stay effective and safe for longer, representing value, trust and safety across your skincare products.

What is preservative efficacy testing?

Let’s start at the beginning. Preservatives are used in cosmetics, skincare, hair care and body care products to stop microbial contamination. These formulations are usually rich in water, natural and organic ingredients which can create a breeding ground for bacteria, yeast and mould if preservatives aren’t used. 

Preservatives play an essential role when it comes to skincare manufacturing by extending the shelf life of products and slowing down the growth of harmful microorganisms. This protects consumers and maintains the quality of the formulations for longer.

Preservative efficacy testing (also known as PET) is the process of evaluating how effective the preservatives being used in these formulations are. It helps to make sure that products remain safe, effective, and free from harmful pathogens throughout their shelf life. Unfortunately, many brands overlook this part of the process - and they absolutely shouldn’t as it’s essential for the integrity of products.

Why is preservative efficacy testing important?

Just to recap, here’s why you should be working with an experienced formulation team who understand the importance of preservative efficacy testing:

  • Consumer safety - products contaminated with harmful microbes can cause skin irritations, infections or more severe health issues. Preservative efficacy testing acts as a shield, safeguarding your customers against these risks.
  • Product longevity - effective preservation extends a product's shelf life, maintaining its efficacy and preventing premature spoilage. This means products stay potent and your customers get better value right to the end.
  • Regulatory compliance - preservative efficacy testing aligns with regulations like the Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Act 1989 (ICNA Act), Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991 (the Standard) and the Cosmetics Standard 2007 in Australia, ensuring skincare products meet the necessary skincare manufacturing standards for distribution and use.

What other tests are needed for skincare manufacturing?

When it comes to skincare manufacturing, there are other tests that can be carried out to make sure that your formulations are the best that they can be.

Cosmetic product stability testing checks the shelf life of your products, so you can be sure that they’re safe and will last for your customers. If you’re planning to sell your products overseas, this is often a regulation that you need to satisfy to be able to stock your products on the shelves.

Micro-testing is another type of test that happens as part of the manufacturing process. A sample is sent for independent verification to ensure that your product is safe, uncontaminated and ready to be dispatched.

How does preservative efficacy testing work?

At Health Focus Manufacturers, we take pride in our commitment to formulation, quality and skincare product safety. Our state-of-the-art facilities are equipped with cutting-edge technology and our processes mean that we deliver beautiful, functional and effective products that are safe for consumer use. And part of that is our preservative efficacy testing.

Preservative efficacy testing takes place after you receive and approve the samples developed by our expert chemists. We then simulate real-life microbial contamination to challenge the product's preservation system. This involves adding specific strains of microorganisms in different conditions and then monitoring and assessing the ability of the preservative to prevent microbial growth. The whole process usually takes 7-8 weeks.

Only when a preservative is effective against these challenges do we say it’s suitable to be used in your products. Our research-backed formulations, team of experts, experience and stringent quality control mean that you’re in great hands for formulation and testing. We blend beauty with science to deliver products that your customers will love.