Cosmetic Microbiology Testing - MySwissLab - ISO Certified

Protect your brand reputation with cosmetic microbiology testing

Cosmetic microbiology testing is crucial to ensure the safety and efficacy of cosmetic products. By evaluating raw materials, finished products, and preservative systems, microbiology testing aims to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms that can compromise the quality of cosmetic products and pose a risk to human health. We provide you with a comprehensive understanding of its importance, how it is conducted, and the critical role it plays in ensuring the safety and efficacy of cosmetic products for human use.


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MySwissLab, headquartered in Switzerland, holds accreditation for ISO 9001:2015 and adheres to ISO 14001 & 22716 cGMP standards.



Understanding Microbiology Testing

Microbiology testing is an essential aspect of ensuring the safety and quality of cosmetic products. It involves the evaluation of raw materials, finished products, and preservative systems to detect and prevent harmful microbial contamination. Conventional methods of microbiology testing have been used in the beauty industry for decades, but rapid methods have gained popularity in recent years due to their efficiency and accuracy. Of particular concern are total viable counts (TVC) and specific pathogens,
which can cause significant harm to consumers if present in cosmetics.

The FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual provides guidelines for conducting effective microbiology testing. Cosmetics microbiology testing is necessary to identify contaminated cosmetics and ensure the safety of cosmetic products for human use. In summary, microbiology testing is a critical component of quality control in the beauty industry and must be conducted diligently to detect and prevent harmful microbial contamination in cosmetics.

A closer look to Preservative Efficacy Testing (PET)

Preservative Efficacy Testing (PET) is an essential quality control process that ensures the effectiveness of preservative systems in controlling microbial growth in cosmetic products. The human body provides an ideal environment for the growth of microorganisms, and cosmetic products that are not adequately preserved can become contaminated with harmful bacteria and fungi.

PET is conducted by performing a microbial challenge test, where a cosmetic product is inoculated with a high number of viable cells of microorganisms that are known to cause product spoilage. The effectiveness of the preservative system is then evaluated by measuring the reduction in the number of viable microorganisms over time. An effective preservative system must provide adequate protection against microbial growth throughout the shelf life of the cosmetic product. PET is particularly crucial for baby products and cosmetics that contain natural ingredients derived from plant sources that are more prone to contamination. In summary, PET is a vital quality control process that ensures the safety and efficacy of cosmetic products, preventing the proliferation of harmful bacteria and maintaining product quality.


ISO 18415:2017 Guidelines for
microbiological testing of cosmetics

They providing a comprehensive approach to ensure the safety and quality of cosmetic products. The workflow of microbiological testing for cosmetics according to this standard includes the following steps.

1- Microbiology Sampling

Raw materials and finished products must be sampled for microbiological testing, with a sampling plan based on the microbiological risk of the product. The analysis approach and number of samples collected must be determined based on the
product’s intended use, target market, and manufacturing process. The microbial limits for cosmetic products must be defined, including limits for bacterial counts, total viable count, and mould counts, among others. The microbiological limits must be based on safety considerations and product efficacy, and they must comply with regulatory requirements.

2- Microbiological Testing

Total Viable Count
The total viable count of microorganisms in the cosmetic product is determined by conducting an aerobic plate count of the sample. The sample is incubated for a specific period, and the number of colonies is counted.

Bacterial Counts

The bacterial count of specific microorganisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, are determined using selective media and incubation conditions specific to the microorganism.

Mould Count

The mould count of microorganisms in the cosmetic product is determined using selective media and incubation conditions specific to the mould.

3- Quality Control

Quality control testing must be conducted to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the microbiological testing results. Quality control testing includes conducting positive and negative control tests, assessing the media and incubation conditions, and conducting repeat testing of the same sample.

In conclusion, microbiological testing of cosmetics is an essential aspect of ensuring the safety and quality of cosmetic products. ISO 18415:2017 provides guidelines for conducting microbiological testing of cosmetic products, including a comprehensive approach to sampling, microbial limits, and analysis. The workflow of microbiological testing includes sampling, determination of microbial limits, and specific testing for bacterial counts, total viable count, mould counts, and quality control testing to ensure the accuracy of results.

Microbiological test

The microbiological analysis of cosmetics includes the determination of the living microbial load and proof of the absence of pathogenic microorganisms considered to pose a risk to the user. Contamination in the cosmetics production process can cause several damages throughout the value chain.
The following countries or groups of countries/regions require a microbiological specification test (this list is not exhaustive) :
  • European Union and EEA: composed of the 27 EU Member States plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • Turkey
  • Israel
  • Serbia
  • Gulf Cooperation Council countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
  • ASEAN countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Laos.
  • South Africa
  • New Zealand: it is customary to provide microbiological specifications, but not required.
  • South Korea: Testing must be performed by a Korean company or KFDA certified laboratory.
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
Please contact us to register in our system. We will then provide you with all the information necessary for the correct procedure for sending your samples.
Once you have registered and placed your order, you will receive an email with instructions. Warning! You must complete our "Sending Samples" form so that we can identify and register them correctly.
Our team generally carries out microbiological tests between 48 and 72 hours from the receipt of your samples. When the results are observed, they are transmitted to you automatically electronically.
A certificate of analysis is automatically sent to you at the end of each test. This certificate of analysis attests to the compliance of your sample with legal requirements. If you have any questions regarding any of the results listed on the certificate of analysis, contact the technical support service at
If you cannot find a microbiological analysis certificate, please contact our technical department at to obtain a duplicate. We store all microbiological analysis certificates for you on our secure servers. Please note that for ethical and confidentiality reasons we never share your test results with third parties. Duplicates are provided free of charge.
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