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

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Measuring Indulgent Cosmetic Textures

If you have ever bought a cosmetic product from a make-up stand in a department store, you will have experienced a sales pitch from someone trying to tempt you into buying the product. 
You may have noticed that colour and fragrance are mentioned, but these are secondary to texture (and of course efficacy) – “this lipstick is creamy and feels moisturising all day”, “this face cream is thick and velvety”, “this lipgloss won’t make your lips feel sticky”, “this face wash gives you a luxurious lather”

You will not see this written on the side of cheap cosmetics, whose manufacturers think of texture as a last resort as they do not have the time or funding to carry out the required research.

Imagine buying a suncream that delivers the excellent sun protection but feels heavy and sticky on the skin while you try to apply it on the beach. You would not buy such an unpleasant product because it is missing something very important – the indulgent feeling of experiencing a product with a special texture. Textures have always held high esteem in the cosmetics industry. They enhance well-known functionality of products with sensual qualities, adding a value in their own right.

There are currently two important trends in the cosmetics market: transformational textures and light textures containing rich ingredients.

Transformational Textures

This trend is all about unexpected experiences, adding an element of surprise that is striking to the consumer, giving a premium impression of the product. For example, a dry and dusty product that transforms into a soft foam when applied to the skin, or a waxy and powdery item that melts and turns smooth when the hands are rubbed together.

The products under question here initially feel less luxurious – they may be rough or dry at first but turn into a very desirable cosmetic, giving a smooth feel to the skin or hair. If the product transforms under the application of friction, the Horizontal Friction Rig is very suitable for its analysis. If the transformation is temperature-dependent, tests under temperature control would be helpful. The Peltier Cabinet and Peltier Plate enable temperature control along with all of the ordinary characteristics of mechanical testing.

Other transformations may include the conversion of a translucent gel to a light emulsion in contact with water. In this case, texture analysis must be carried out on the pre- and post-transition phases. The Spreadability Rig is ideal for testing cream or gel based products.

Light but Rich

First impressions are deceptive. This category has been heavily influenced by the trend for layering in South Korea, which involves the application of 7 to 12 different cosmetic products during a night time routine, so the development of watery textures containing high concentrations of active ingredients is very relevant. Additionally, anti-ageing is now a priority for most cosmetics companies. It is not desirable to have a thick, viscous cream that drags on the thin skin around the eyes when rubbed in, but equally it is crucial to leave the face feeling moisturised and to deliver the necessary functional ingredients.

In this texture trend the first impression leads to a false conclusion regarding product performance. As opposed to the first trend, the aspect of surprise is the strong effect of a watery texture. Against all expectations, light or even volatile media can deliver highly effective performance.

Repurposing Powders

Powders are being increasingly used outside of the traditional colour cosmetics sector, as they can provide a soft feel to the skin after application – they are being used in the formulation of cosmetic products simply for their sensory qualities. For example, in skin care and sun care, powders can improve performance and enhance the feel of the skin, providing a number of sensory attributes such as powdery, silky and velvety.

Stable Micro Systems can provide a range of powder and granule testing solutions, such as speed flow dependency, unconfined yield stress and granular compaction – all of which can be used to monitor the chosen ingredients or assess the effects of change on the product’s characteristics.


Packaging can also ooze an indulgent feel. A luxury lipstick will be contained in slick packaging with a lid that pops off with a satisfying click.

As written in “Luxury Strategy of Beauty Products by Chanel” by Shin’ ya Nagasawa, Dominique Moncourtois worked with Coco Chanel from 1969, and developed, among many other things, the packaging of the infamous Rouge Allure series of lipsticks released in 2006, which epitomise Chanel’s meticulous attention to packaging and its technological prowess.

A lipstick is usually opened with one hand holding the tube while the other hand removes the cap. With the Rouge Allure series, the lipstick pops up by just one click. Dominique Moncourtois, who was more in charge of technological aspects, revealed the background of its development in an interview:

“The sound of a click was modelled on the opening and closing sound of the door of a luxury car or the sound one makes when walking over a thick carpet. Lipsticks are usually a first item that consumers purchase in a luxury line. That is why it is important to have packaging that retains a luxury feel from day one until the last day of its use. The black body reminiscent of a black robe, the sound, metallic scent, the texture, and the taste of lipstick are all combined to tantalise the senses, making every woman want to carry it around.”

There are two important characteristics to look at here if these high standards are to be attempted for other makeup manufacturers. Firstly, the luxurious sound of a click can be developed using the acoustic envelope detector in tandem with a tensile test on the Texture Analyser to pull the lid off.

Secondly, if the lipstick is to remain immaculate from its first use to its last, while being carried around in a handbag or pocket, its structural integrity is key. The lid and body must survive a compression test to a high force without the nucleation of any cracks, large or small.

Read the paper:
"Luxury Strategy of Beauty Products by Chanel"


Regardless of how elaborate a product is or how much careful consideration has gone into its development, it is the consumers who eventually determine its success, as the benefits of a product and its concept have to answer a consumer need. Texture is crucial to this success.

To appeal to consumers in highly saturated markets, products should not only be high quality and visually appealing, but also offer interesting and engaging experiences. Texture and sensory properties are key aspects influencing the consumers’ choice of personal care products. A product’s appearance, feel and performance affect the consumer’s mood to create that special “me time” experience.

We can design and manufacture probes or fixtures for the TA.XTplus texture analyser that are bespoke to your sample and its specific measurement.

Once your measurement is performed, our expertise in its graphical interpretation is unparalleled. Not only can we develop the most suitable and accurate method for the testing of your sample, but we can also prepare analysis procedures that obtain the desired parameters from your curve and drop them into a spreadsheet or report designed around your requirements.

For more information on how to measure texture, please visit the Texture Analysis Properties section on our website.

TA.XTplus texture analyser with bloom jar The
TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.

No-one understands texture analysis like we do!

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

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