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Do your products perish from hotness?

January 2, 2013

Oh My God it has been hot this week here in Australialand.   If I could have  fitted my backside into the freezer I would have but of course with all the food that one has over the Christmas period that was just not happening and I had to just sweat it out.

While I sat here roasting I was reminded of a product that I’d left out on the table to defrost after a couple of freeze/ thaw rounds earlier in the year (2012 that is, not 2013 as being only the 2nd that would be quite a silly thing to say).   Let’s just say that it’s not only people who perish from hotness……..

The product that I mentioned in the above mindless ramblings was a water-in-oil cosmaceutical cream.  I had decanted it into a black pot and left it out on my back yard table for the day while I headed off to a meeting.  Not being my usual practice I forgot all about it until I got home some 6 hours later and that was when I noticed.  The pack  was almost melting it was so hot and inside the pack was what could only be described as a sloppy mess.  The formula had failed!!!!

Unaccustomed as I am to product failure (in my dreams)  I nearly cried when I saw this baby as I was sure that I’d created what could only be described as Gods gift to water-in-oil cosmaceuticals and so I put together a product revival SOS plan and waited.

Sure enough after a tense 24 hours of pretty much just leaving said product on my side board while I got on with other things I re-opened the pack only to find that it had magically gone back together again.  Not wanting to alert my customer I said nothing and watched it for a while longer – a few more days will help me to rebuild my confidence.  Sure enough the product remained stable, my face remained smiley and my customer was posted the sample.  Happy days.

Products can perish from hotness.

I was again reminded of this fact during an unrelated meeting that took place this week when a similar problem was discussed – products failing in hot weather and it occurred to me that maybe people don’t think of cosmetics as having ‘operating temperatures’.  So, in a bid to make amends I thought I’d write a blog post.

Cosmetics DO have optimal operating conditions above and below while problems can start to occur:

  • The product form may change making it thicker or thinner.
  • Form changes may lead to product spillage, over-dosing or failure to extract product from the packaging.
  • Product may break down irreconcilably.
  • Colour may bleed, fade or change.
  • Products may get stickier to the touch or even start to feel stringy.
  • The product may split into two phases temporarily before re-gaining its structure upon temperature normalisation.
  • Actives within the formulation can start to break down.

It is possible for the cosmetic formulator to test temperature tolerance during stability testing and indeed it is part of the product validation to do so – it is no good stability testing a lipstick at 45C when it turns to mush at 40C or testing the spreadability of a balm at 5C when it turns solid below 15C. However, while products should be able to withstand a variety of ‘in-use’ conditions it is not practical to always have one formula to span the arctic through to the Sahara – car tyre makers can’t do it so why should we?

The long and short of it is that product users should read the pack BEFORE taking their cosmetic product on an extreme adventure and product makers should investigate temperature range validity BEFORE launching the product and completing pack copy.   Yes that does mean a little extra time and cost but it could just save you from an in-box full of complaints and a heart full of achiness.

Good luck people and here’s to not perishing from hotness in 2013!

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