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    What tests do manufacturers perform to ensure cosmetic safety?

    Cosmetic safety is very important since these products are used by millions of people worldwide. Think of all the cosmetic products in your bathroom and how many of them have caused problems through years of repeated use. The majority of people have never experienced a skin problem related to cosmetic use, which attests to the excellent safety track record of this industry.

    Most cosmetics for national or international distribution have undergone a series of testing prior to market release. Stability testing is one of the first activities performed where the packaged product is subjected to accelerated stability testing by cycling the product through heating and cooling cycles. After going through multiple cycles, the product is cultured for bacterial and fungal growth. Once stability testing has been completed, a small product batch is manufactured for repeat insult patch testing. Here the product is placed on the back of volunteers under an occlusive cloth bandage that is loaded with product and changed three times weekly for three weeks. If no allergic or irritant contact dermatitis has appeared, the product is then put into use testing where volunteers use the product in its intended fashion for one to three months, depending on the company standard operating procedures. Only after completing this minimal testing, will the product be launched for general sale.

    This testing concept has worked well and provided products that are safe for general population use. This attention to detail may account for the low incidence of adverse cosmetic reactions.

    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.
    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. She is investigator, ...


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