How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

How to control the feeling of cosmetics

If the current beauty blogs are on trend to predicting next season’s trends, prepare to be dazzled. 

“Bursts of colour, shimmery, smoky, two-tone, chalky, glitter, perfect skin base, glossy, sheer” – all of the above, and more, describe the chameleon of cosmetics products industry experts are urging consumers to add to their make-up artillery. Colloquially known as war paint, make-up’s military connotations are equally applicable to the cosmetic manufacturer. In such a dynamic and crowded arena, contenders need to be fit enough to keep up with the pace of new developments, as well as offer superb quality if they are to fight off the competition.  

The quality and appeal of cosmetic products is judged by factors such as texture, appearance, odour and performance. Accurate and consistent analysis of texture provides manufacturers with vital information on the right combination of ingredients, as well as the most suitable manufacturing methods to achieve the desired result.

In an age obsessed with youth and appearance, the opportunity for new product development is greater than ever as image-conscious consumers seek to iron out any perceived imperfections. Stable Micro Systems has developed a range of tests to analyse and quantify textural properties of cosmetic solutions, such as hardness, consistency, the presence of air bubbles and an uneven or ‘grainy’ texture. Texture analysers can assess a wide range of cosmetic products at any stage of the production process to assess the parameters required to perfect a product.

What’s the testing solution?
Lets start with powders, which represent a huge section of cosmetic products available on today’s shelves. These can be divided into two subcategories: loose or pressed. 
Compacted or pressed powders require enough ‘cake strength’ to enable compression of the product into a tablet form and prevent it flaking or dusting.

This cake strength can be determined by means of a penetration test, attaching a cylindrical or needle probe to the TA.XTplus texture analyser. Results from this test provide the mean force required to penetrate the sample within a given distance (e.g. 1mm). Test comparisons may highlight a need for weaker or stronger binding ingredients depending on the balance of characteristics desired – to the consumer, a satisfactory ‘powder-to-cream’ eye shadow is silky on the skin yet tacky in its container, so as not to crumble or flake.

The user of a loose powder – a bronzer, for instance – seeks to achieve even and consistent coverage on the skin. A satisfactory product will demonstrate the right levels of dispersibility and spreadablility to achieve this coverage using a purpose-designed brush, in this case a blusher/bronzing brush. Objective measurement of the flow characteristics of loose powders requires an automated, mathematically quantifiable test method.

Replacing traditional, manual pouring methods, Stable Micro Systems has patented a helix blade design which controls the flow of a powder sample. The Powder Flow Analyser cuts through the sample as the axial force created by the test conditions is monitored. Exponent software – intrinsic to the Texture Analyser – displays data in real time, with subsequent data analysis providing insights into particle cohesion, batch variation and resistance to compaction.

Don’t take your eyes off the quality
Today’s society does not tolerate imperfection. Manufacturers and developers of cosmetics must adopt a similar attitude when preparing their formulations. Stable Micro Systems offers a wider range of fixtures to accompany its market-leading and highly customisable texture analysers, presenting cosmetics manufacturers with the opportunity to produce perfectly textured products.

Watch our video about Texture Analysis of Cosmetic Products  Cosmetics article
 Cosmetics and Skincare Product Testing

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