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

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Measure texture: feeling the lipstick factor

Application of lipstickThe term coined to signify consumers’ reliance on life’s little luxuries in harder times – the ‘Lipstick Factor’ – applies now as it did during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The total 44 Innovation Seminars at last year’s In-Cosmetics, Paris, reinforced this view of a forward-looking industry. Admittedly, the cosmetics market is extremely crowded, making this a highly competitive business in which to operate.

This demands that, if a brand is to retain consumers through repeat purchase, product quality is impressive enough to outweigh flash marketing campaigns of rival products.

The quality and appeal of cosmetic products is judged by factors such as texture, appearance, odour and performance. Successful analyses of texture can encourage positive consumer reception of a new or existing product, and test responses provide manufacturers with vital information on the right combination of ingredients, as well as the most suitable manufacturing methods to achieve the desired result.

Influential textural properties include hardness, stickiness and consistency. Stable Micro Systems has developed a range of tests to indicate and quantify textural problems occurring in all kinds of cosmetics – from powders to eye liners – such as hardness, the presence of air bubbles and an uneven or ‘grainy’ texture. Texture analysers can assess products at any stage of the production process to assess the parameters required to achieve the desired effect.

Perhaps more than any other cosmetic, inconsistencies in lipstick formulations are highly noticeable. Colorants must be uniformly and completely dispersed to avoid a ‘grainy’ product. Lipsticks are expected to be easily applicable and not bend, crack or break during application. The
TA.XTplus texture analyser can be used to assess these physical properties and consequently formulations can be adjusted to prevent problems such as excessive stickiness, hardness or brittleness.

What’s the testing solution?


Lipstick hardness can be determined by means of a penetration test. When the test probe comes into contact with hard particles or air pockets, resulting from either incomplete colorant dispersion or the working and chilling process, inconsistencies are displayed as fluctuations in force. The TA.XTplus can also measure stickiness – a common but undesirable characteristic of lipstick formulations – by performing a specialised ‘adhesive test’.


Rigidity is another key property of lipsticks. The combination of base ingredients must be produce a product which is rigid enough to withstand firm application to the lips. In this instance, a cantilever rig can be attached to the texture analyser to test the force required to break the lipstick in two.


Similar rigidity or hardness tests can be carried out using specialised fixtures on lip and eye pencils, again providing valuable information on the product’s useability and the potential need for formulation or manufacturing adjustments. The core of a pencil should be hard enough to leave a defined line on the skin without scratching, and withstand sharpening. At the same time, the pencil should be soft enough to allow smooth application, without excessive smudging.

Texture on application is not the only factor in the formulation of these products. Product developers need also consider environmental factors such as temperature and shelf-life of the product in formulations.

Stable Micro Systems offers these and a wider range of cosmetic and skincare fixtures to accompany its texture analysers, presenting cosmetics manufacturers of all kinds the opportunity to produce perfectly textured products, and make the most of the Lipstick Factor.

Avoid getting left on the shelf in the world of cosmetics!

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

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