Where Beauty Meets Science: The Role of R&D Microbiology in Product Formulation

The development of new cosmetics products is an iterative, collaborative, and highly technical process. In order for formulators to create products that deliver the benefits desired by consumers, scientists must first ensure the ingredients are safe. Once its components are determined to be safe and effective, chemists evaluate the physical and chemical stability of the final product.

A cosmetics company’s Research & Development (R&D) Microbiology department plays a unique, important role in the product lifecycle, from concept to market launch, and finally to post-launch support. Early on in the ideation process, microbiologists partner with formulators to first holistically understand the microbiological robustness of cosmetic formulas.

Many products – such as lotions, creams, and foundations – must be preserved to ensure they do not support the growth of bacteria that can be introduced during normal consumer use. R&D microbiology helps guide the choice of the right preservation system to fit the product’s form and function. Changing consumer preferences and regulatory landscapes have made it necessary to explore alternative preservation systems. Part of an R&D microbiologist’s role is to lead the investigation of new and sustainable preservatives. Rigorous testing is then done in the laboratory to ensure these new systems are both compatible and effective.

Microbiologists also assist in determining the shelf-life of new products. New cosmetics are stressed in the lab – exposed to elevated temperatures and humidity to mimic the natural aging process. To ensure the integrity of the product throughout its intended lifespan, scientists then conduct extensive testing of the artificially aged products to determine the preservative system remains effective.

Key partners in the development of safe and effective cosmetics products, microbiologists are stewards of integrity and champions of sustainable preservation. R&D microbiology supports innovation and the delivery of new and exciting products to today’s modern consumers.