Microbiological Testing of Cosmetic, Health, Beauty, and Personal Care and Products

MDS provides extensive services for testing the health, beauty, cosmetic and personal care products to assure that your products are free of objectionable microorganisms. Cosmetics do not need to be sterile, but their preservative system must be able to take care of harmful microbial contamination.

When consumers use cosmetics products and health, beauty or personal care products, they are repeatedly challenging the cosmetics or toiletry products (for example: mascara, eye shadows, face powder, foundations, lotions, face creams, shampoos, conditioners, etc.) by contaminating ("challenging") them with their unclean hands. For the manufacturer of cosmetic and personal care products, it is important to ensure that their products are free of pathogenic (harmful) microorganisms and are safe for consumer use. Microorganisms in cosmetics may cause spoilage or chemical change in the product and can possibly harm cosmetic, health, beauty and personal care product consumers.

Health, Beauty, Personal Care and Cosmetic Product Testing Methods

Aerobic Plate Count (APC)

This test determines the total number of aerobic bacteria present per mL or gram of the personal care or cosmetic product. It is carried out for 48 to 72 hours.

Yeast and Mold Count

This test determines the total number of yeast and fungi present per mL or gram of the personal care or cosmetic product. It is carried out for five days.

Enrichment Method for Specific Pathogen Screening

This test determines if any harmful bacteria are not present - even in very low numbers or amount. The product is enriched by growing in the enrichment broth for seven days so pathogenic bacteria, if present in very low numbers, will be able to multiply and be detected.

Total Gram Negative Test

This test looks for Gram negative organisms, including



Total Gram Positive Test

This test looks for Gram positive organisms of medical interest:

Microbial Identification

Once organisms are isolated from a product and a manufacturer wants to know which organisms they are, they order the Microbial Identification Test of their products. Isolates are identified starting with observing their morphology. Isolates are Gram stained and observed under the microscope. This gives an initial clue about whether they are Gram negative or Gram positive. Isolates are then identified by Commercial identification kits, e.g., API.

Antimicrobial Preservative Effectiveness Test (Challenge Test)

To evaluate the effectiveness of an antimicrobial preservative in the health, beauty, personal care or cosmetic product, the product is challenged with known strains of microorganisms.

Personal care and cosmetic samples are tested at different intervals to determine the survival of the organisms. The test demonstrates the efficacy of the product to stop the growth of pathogenic organisms such as:


Microorganism survival is monitored for 28 days. At least 100-150 mL or grams of the product are needed to run this test.


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