Things You Need To Know On Product Safety & Efficacy Testing

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Product Safety

Whether driven by liability or the bottom line, most cosmetics companies test their products for safety. The products are tested on about fifty to a hundred people for allergic reactions. From a scientific perspective, this is a large enough testing sample from which to draw conclusions; however, there may still be individuals who will have an allergic reaction. If it happens to you, stop using the product and do not experiment any further.

To remain impartial, the cosmetics companies do not test the products themselves. They hire one of a few independently owned cosmetics testing companies to run their tests. (The same ones are used by almost everyone in the industry.) In this way the results are objective and reliable.

All reputable companies have a lot at stake when it comes to safety, and they test their products regularly. Companies on the Internet may or may not submit their products for allergy testing because it costs a lot and it is not easy to arrange for allergy testing.

When the product goes through safety testing, it can be marketed with the claim that it is ‘allergy tested’, hypoallergenic’, ‘dermatologist tested’, ‘sensitivity tested’ or ‘nonirritating’. Not all manufacturers put these claims on the bottle, even if the product is tested, but they keep the test results on file, for self-protection, in the rare case that something goes wrong with a consumer.

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Efficacy Testing

Efficacy testing is very different from safety testing. While nearly all products go through safety testing, fewer products go through efficacy testing. These tests look for favorable changes that occur in the skin after a few weeks of use, such as reduction of wrinkles, improvement in the tightness of the skin, the look of pores, skin hydration and moisture level. For the sake of impartiality, efficacy testing must be conducted in an independent testing lab, one that is owned by an independent company.

The best, most reliable skin-care testing produces results from measuring skin improvements with instruments that quantify the changes numerically. If a product can generate significant numerical changes, a company is allowed to print that information on the packaging. For example, a claim such as ’87% improvement in skin hydration in two weeks’. The law requires that every numerical claim be backed by an efficacy study.

Very few new cosmetics products generate measurable changes great enough to merit printing on the package. A 3 – 8% increase in hydration will hardly excite consumers. Most efficacy studies within the cosmetics industry end up at the bottom of a filing cabinet, while the high cost of conducting them becomes a tax deduction. But have you ever seen advertisements that boldly state something like ‘an independent consumer testing survey shows 87% of women experience an improvement in their skin…’? Advertising copywriters are hoping that is just how you’ll respond. They want you to believe that the product can bring about great changes for you, too, and they’d like you to think they are reporting a scientific, numerical measurement resulting from an efficacy study. But beware: they are not! This is just one more trick that the cosmetics industry uses that you need to know about.

When a product is submitted for efficacy testing, the lab measures the skin changes after 4 – 8 weeks of application. Scientific instruments are used to generate hard scientific data. But, at the same time, the testing facility also gathers study participants and gives them questionnaires to answer. If the instrumental data do not show any respectable changes, the ‘soft data’ compiled from the questionnaires may. The study participants or the ‘trained observers’ working for the testing company are more likely to say something positive about the product than the cold scientific instrument. The company will usually use the data from the questionnaires – the data that show better numbers.

For example : the scientific instrument showed a 6% increase in skin moisture content. On the other hand, 78% of the study participants said there was an improvement in skin moisture – whether it was a 6% or a 20% improvement, it was an improvement.  If 78% of the participants agreed there was an improvement (a little or a lot), the package or advertising will use the 78% and not the 6%.

<Dr Denese’s Secrets For Ageless Skin>

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2 Comments on "Things You Need To Know On Product Safety & Efficacy Testing"

  1. Jo says:

    Just want to wish u a merry xmas and happy 2010. Sori dun know where to post so post under comments :/

    One of ur faithful virgo reader, Jo

  2. Shirleen says:

    Hi Jo,

    Hahaha!! No worry :-)

    Also wishing you have a wonderful festive holiday and may your wish come true in 2010. Ho Ho Ho!!!

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