The challenge test is a stress test to confirm the performance of the preservative agent or system applied to the preservation of a cosmetic product. Maintenance tests in the cosmetics industry are performed to select the appropriate agent or the entire preservative system (in the appropriate concentrations). The test is also used to check the stability of the agent (or the entire preservative system) over the shelf life of the product. Another application of the maintenance test is the determination of the shelf life after opening – PAO (Period After Open). In order to confirm that the cosmetic product is properly protected against microbial contamination, it is recommended to carry out a maintenance test at the stage of developing a cosmetic formula and on finished products in commercial packaging. The maintenance test is performed in accordance with the international standard PN-EN ISO 11930: 2012.

Why do a maintenance test

The Maintenance Test is a mandatory laboratory test for cosmetic products sold within the European Union. The obligation to carry out the test rests with the Producer or Distributor (in the case of products imported from abroad). This necessity results directly from the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EC) No. 1223/2009. The result of the maintenance test is one of the bases for the preparation of the Cosmetic Safety Assessment report.

The maintenance test is not only mandatory. Conducting a maintenance test is one of the basic elements of quality assurance and quality control in the production of cosmetics. The test result allows you to confirm in laboratory conditions that the cosmetic formula has been properly developed and that it does not pose a potential threat to the consumer.

Maintenance Test Run

The maintenance test, in short, consists in the deliberate contamination of a mass of a product with pathogenic bacteria and fungi, which are the most common human pathogens. They include, among others Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphyloccocus aureus, Aspergillus brasiliensis, Candida albicans. The level of infection is between 10,000 and 100,000 cfu / g. Quantitative confirmatory testing shall be performed at appropriate intervals. In a properly preserved product, the number of viable, reproductive microorganisms should decline, or at least not increase.

Products exempt from maintenance test

Not all cosmetic products need to undergo a stress test. According to the guide for microbiological risk assessment PN-EN ISO 2921: 2011, products with low exposure to microbial proliferation are considered safe without testing. This group includes, among others products with high alcohol concentration, extreme pH, low activity.

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