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

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Substantiate your product claims with the aid of texture analysis

Customers are wary of manufacturers using taglines to tempt them into buying their product – a conditioner that states “hair three times suppler after first use” will not sell well if customers start using it and find no difference to their tresses. 
News travels fast these days with thousands of cosmetics review sites and online shops, and products that fail to live up to their claims will be given poor marks. The manufacturers could have performed a simple bend test on hair specimens treated with their conditioner and would have found their mistake before it was too late. 

The development of methods to measure the effect of cosmetics is driven by increasing pressure on cosmetic companies to provide solid evidence to support product claims.

Claims on cosmetics products need to be substantiated to protect the consumer from false advertising. False claims are not fair to the consumer and lead to scepticism over claims from all cosmetics companies, not just the ones who exaggerated their products’ abilities, and so other companies who work hard to ensure efficacy in their products will also be mistrusted. Prior use of particular ingredients or behaviour of formulations is not representative of the characteristics a new or different formulation, and so reading the literature is not enough.

Efficacy testing gives a manufacturer information on how well a product lives up to its intended use. Instrumental, clinical, sensory analysis and consumer market research are all used to substantiate efficacy claims. The inclusion of all of these methods is very important and will give useful data but instrumental is the least subjective with the least bias on human perception and consumer preference, measuring the nature and magnitude of product effect, and so it should never be skipped. Instrumental methods are precise and sensitive, but even so it can be difficult to measure the whole use of a product, which is why several instrumental methods testing different components of a product are used, and combined with sensory testing or market research.

Additionally, human perception can be correlated with machine data. Efficacy testing using instrumented methods has been of interest for decades, with the first publication of note drawing on a study on the UV absorbance of sunscreen excipients in 1947, in the first Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Since then efficacy testing has taken off, with subjective studies ahead of the game until the sixties when instrumental methods became more widespread, with the new difficulty of making tests reproducible between laboratories.

• Hair Combing Rig • Three Point Bend Rig
• Hair Combing Rig • Three Point Bend Rig
Improving your Tests

An efficacy test should always be representative of the real-world application. It can be difficult to instrument a complicated process such as rubbing cream into the face, which is why consumer-based testing is useful. The result of any testing should be likely to occur in the real world conditions in which the product is used. For instance, if a hair gel has excellent frizz reduction in the laboratory where temperature and humidity are well-controlled, that does not mean it performs well during real use by a customer (on a windy day, in a hot and humid climate, or in a snowy country with a lot of hot air heating). To make a claim more valid, the real world conditions must be imitated as closely as possible, and a range of conditions should be tested.

The test method should be reliable enough that it can be repeated many times and always give the same result. This is much easier in machine tests than between different sensory panels. The test control also needs to be considered. For example, if a hair conditioner with a new property is being tested, should hair treated with the conditioner sample be compared against hair only washed with shampoo, or hair that has been treated with an ordinary conditioner?

The drive for cosmetic efficacy testing grows year on year as the pressure increases on cosmetics companies to back up their claims with solid evidence. Some products face more pressure than others – facial ageing reversal in particular is a sensitive area that can be difficult to evaluate instrumentally. An instrument can only measure one or several mechanical properties, but texture and its associated effects such as moisturisation of skin or softness of hair rely on the consumer’s definition of these attributes, as well as their previous experience with other moisturisers, and finally it depends on their particular skin composition and their living conditions. To overcome these difficulties, the key is to sample a wide range of consumers on a sensory panel, to test all condition extremes the product may face and to keep monitoring the product once it is on the market and the reaction of purchasing consumers.

Hair care manufacturers will find the Hair Combing Rig as well as the Three Point Bend Rig to be of particular use in efficacy testing. These allow tests to be carried out on real hair samples that may have been treated in any way (hair dye, vigorous brushing, hair serum) to look at the real effects of friction, stiffness or hardness. 

Stable Micro Systems can help out with many areas of efficacy testing. To find out more, contact us today.

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!

To discuss your specific test requirements click here...

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

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