Chemistry Labs

This is where the chemists at BeC-natura perform chemical analyses and studies that allow us to evaluate the quality and purity of the ingredients (raw materials) used in the formulation of cosmetics and food supplements.

In the chemistry labs at BeC-natura, our experts select raw materials every day from various providers to ensure we have the best ingredients the market has to offer.

They periodically evaluate the optimal preservation of both raw materials and finished products in storage. They determine the nutritional ingredients in the food supplements and devise nutritional charts (vitamins, mineral salts, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, etc), evaluate the presence of any impurities or allergens in the raw materials used, study the absorption of active ingredients of the cosmetic formulations on the human epidermis, and evaluate the level of sun protection of specific products in vitro.

How are these studies conducted?

All studies are conducted using modern analytical instruments including High-Performance Liquid Chromatography with a Photodiode Detector (HPLC-DAD), Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography combined with Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-MS) Gas-Chromatography (GC), Gas-Chromatography combined with Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), Visible UV Spectrophotometry, Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS).

List of our lab's findings:

  • GC-MS analysis of Essential Oils and other volatile compound mixtures (via GC-MS or GC-FID)
  • GC-MS analysis with SPME (in head area and in immersion) of traces of volatile compounds in aqueous solutions
  • HPLC-DAD analysis of parabens and other preservatives
  • HPLC-DAD analysis of hydro-liposoluble vitamins
  • HPLC-DAD or UPLC-MS analysis of phenols, polyphenols, and flavonoids in vegetal extracts
  • HPLC-DAD or UPLC-MS analysis of specific active ingredients in vegetal extracts and cosmetic ingredients
  • Findings on cations and hydrides (metallic) in water using AAS
  • Findings on cations and hydrides (metallic) in complex matrices of vegetal origin and in cosmetic/food formulations using AAS
  • Findings on anions (chlorides, bromides, iodides, etc.) using HPLC-DAD
  • Findings on total nitrogen in prepared foods (Kjeldahl method)
  • Findings on fat content in prepared foods (via Soxhlet extraction)
  • Findings on carbohydrate content in prepared foods (by enzymatic method, via UV-VIS Spectrophotometry)
  • Findings on water content in powders (via thermobalance)
  • Findings on iodine levels, peroxide levels, and free acidity in oils and fats
  • Spectrophotometric finding for oxidation of oils and fats
  • In vitro findings on level of sun protection of UV filters (UV-VIS Spectrophotometry)
  • Study of the kinetics of dissolution and/or release of active ingredients of tablets and capsules (via UV-VIS Spectrophotometry)
  • Study of the kinetics of transepidermal perfusion of active ingredients in cosmetic formulations (via Franz cells and HPLC-DAD, UPLC-MS, GC-MS analysis or spectrophotometry)
  • Findings on total and soluble dietary fibres
  • Characterisation of content in fatty acids and vegetal oil sterols, cosmetics, and supplements (via GC-MS)
  • Findings on purity grade of raw cosmetics and food materials (via UV-VIS Spectrophotometry)
  • Findings on dry herbal extracts
  • Findings on food allergens and toxins using ELISA or UPLC-MS method

Technical Labs

This lab primarily conducts the activities connected with the development of the cosmetic product formulations, including determination of the physical-chemical specifics (pH, viscosity, density, refractive index etc.) of the product, the study of the rheological behaviour of a formulation or mixtures of ingredients which will become part of the cosmetic formulation, the studies on the stability of a cosmetic formulation, studies of compatibility between cosmetic formulation and packaging etc.

Determination of the physico-chemical specifics.

These controls are essential for both the characterisation and the evaluation of the conservation of any given compound over time. Analyses can be either subjective or objective.

The subjective analysis involves the visual evaluation: the appearance of the product, the colour, transparency and smell. These parameters are determined at the time of production but can also be useful when studying the state of the product over time.

Meanwhile, the objective analysis, also referred to as the physico-chemical analysis, requires the use of certain instruments and is carried out at a later stage on all production batches.

List of findings of our technical lab:

Findings on the pH of cosmetic formulations

  • Findings on the viscosity of cosmetic formulations and ingredient mixtures (using the Brookfield viscometer)
  • Findings on the refractive index of liquids (using the Abbe refractometer)
  • Findings on liquid density, creams, and powders (using the pycnometer)
  • Study of the rheological behaviour of solutions, emulsions, and gels (using PC interfaced IKA Labortechnik)
  • Study of the stability of cosmetic formulations (thermal stability, centrifugation, etc.)
  • Microbiology Labs

    This lab primarily conducts microbiology studies on food ingredients and cosmetics (vegetable extracts etc.) which enable us to select the purest and safest raw materials available on the international market.

    Most of these studies fall within the field of microbiology on finished products, for both food supplements or cosmetics, in order to guarantee microbiological purity and complete safety for the consumer. Lastly, cell cultures of selected bacterial and fungal strains are analysed in order to test the stability of products without preservatives over time (Challenge test), and/or study the antiseptic qualities of the cosmetic formulations and certain specific ingredients like essential oils.

    Here, incubations of reconstituted human epidermal membranes are preserved to be employed in studies of diffusion kinetics of active ingredients (see chemistry laboratory).

    List of studies conducted in the Microbiology Lab:

    • Findings on the total microbial load (bacteria, yeast, and mould) in raw materials and nutritional and cosmetic formulations
    • Research of certain contaminating strains (Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, etc.)
    • Specific cultures of bacterial and fungal strains
    • Findings on antibacterial activity based on evaluating the inhibition halo of active herbal ingredients, of new natural preservatives, of cosmetic formulations, and of essential oils (aromatogram in solid phase).
    • M.I.C (Minimum Inhibitory Concentration) assessment of active herbal ingredients, essential oils (aromatogram in liquid phase), and of new natural preservatives.
    • Execution of the Challenge test to assess the capacity of a cosmetic formulation to keep over time and resist bacterial and fungal contamination.
    • Incubations of cell cultures in a controlled atmosphere (5% CO2).

    Microbiological Studies

    In accordance with current national and international regulations, cosmetic products may only be marketed if they fulfil microbiological purity criteria. Therefore, controls must be carried out to ensure the shelf-life of the products over time and guarantee their safety for consumers.

    This monitoring, excluding raw materials, is undertaken on 5 randomly selected samples in the same production batch. The total microbial load is evaluated, which must not exceed certain values.

    Even if a single batch exceeds this limit, research for the presence of specific strains (Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa e Candida albicans) is required. These microorganisms are harmful to humans and must therefore be completely absent before the batch can be accepted and the product put onto the market.

    The microbiological controls are of significant importance also to “ensure the safety and quality“ of food supplements. The analysis conducted on raw materials and finished products must guarantee a predetermined total yield and the absence of specific pathogenic strains like Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.

    Everything that comes into contact with the product is microbiologically analysed, from surfaces (machinery and tools) to packaging (bottles, wrapping sponges, etc); even the air and water present in the production labs are tested.

    A further microbiological study is conducted on the finished cosmetic products followed by the “Challenge test”, which consists of deliberately inoculating the product with a specific amount of certain pathogenic microorganisms, and evaluating the ensuing behaviour over time. This allows us to assess the resistance of the product when under attack from microorganisms and establish the expiry date of the product.

    Quality Control

    Quality control plays a central role in the BeC-natura activity and policies.

    Quality control is paramount at every stage of the process, from analysis of raw materials at the input stage and control of every relevant scientific parameter, up until the verification of the studied formulation, including the examined specifics of every outgoing product.

    It is a fundamental process implemented with the aim of providing a safe and satisfactory product that is tailored to suit the needs of the consumer and the goals of the scientists and experts at BeC-natura.

    A 'floating' quality control process permeates every moment and every workspace, from the design stage to the production cycle. The quality management makes use of two labs in particular - chemistry and microbiology - which are well equipped to perform this delicate task.

    Efficacy Testing

    These studies allow us to scientifically demonstrate the effects of the products on the skin and serve as a starting point for composing the instructions and general characteristics of the product to be included on the labelling. The protocols used at BeC-natura for efficacy testing on cosmetic products are defined by the ‘in vivo’ studies, using non-invasive methods exclusively by healthy and informed volunteers.

    Cutaneous parameters are evaluated, such as TEWL (transepidermal evaporation), pH, hydration, sebaceous secretion, elasticity, roughness of skin, and subcutaneous micro-circulation. This lab also carries out studies on cutaneous tolerance of cosmetic formulations and 'patch tests' to guarantee the safety of the consumer. Lastly, efficacy studies are undertaken ‘ex vivo’ for hair products, that is, on real hair strands (cut locks) of varying type