Cosmetic Stability Storage & Shelf Life Testing

Stability Testing for Cosmetics

Precision Stability Storage provides exceptional “off-site” stability storage options for the cosmetic & personal care industries in order to help you meet the highest standards of chemical & microbiological stability.  Whether it be studying the effects of humidity, temperature, or microbial organisms on your samples, our storage facilities help you identify potential vulnerabilities in storage or transport.

Over the years, we’ve worked with many cosmetic scientists to help them establish useful shelf life guidelines & the best conditions for storage and transport.  We know that your development cycles are often shorter than other industries, and highly variable, depending on the cosmetic product, which is why we can accommodate a variety of study lengths, from real-time to accelerated studies. Your stability testing may focus on a new manufacturing procedure or an update in your raw materials that could have huge effects on your bottom line, so we take great care in handling your batches.

Your goal is to meet ICH specifications (enforced by FDA), & our goal is to help you achieve that goal.


Our Cosmetic Stability Storage Capabilities

Our chambers allow you to accelerate the natural processes which your products will likely face over time, allowing you to not only verify the efficacy of the product, but also the influence of temperature & humidity on the aesthetics, packaging, fragrance, color, & texture of the product.

Our stability chambers’ provide a broad range of conditions to allow accelerated testing as well as various other temperature and humidities your product is likely to see in various regions of the globe.

Here’s a list of some of the variables our storage helps you test for:

  • Microorganisms/microbial stability
  • pH value
  • Color
  • Odor
  • Active ingredients
  • Texture
  • Emulsion stability
  • Fragrance


Cosmetic Stability Testing FAQs


What is cosmetic stability testing?

Cosmetic stability testing evaluates how well a cosmetic formula withstands the test of time under various conditions. It helps identify changes to the product’s physical characteristics, aesthetics, or chemical integrity over time. Stability testing is crucial for companies to ensure their products maintain quality and safety throughout production, shipping, storage, and consumer use.

When should you perform stability testing for cosmetics?

Manufacturers typically perform stability testing at several points during cosmetic product development and production, including:

  • After finalizing a new prototype formula to evaluate how the ingredients interact over time
  • When changing raw materials in an existing formulation to ensure that it remains stable
  • During and after manufacturing to confirm manufactured batches maintain stability
  • Periodically during the shelf life to verify if the product will last through its claimed expiration date
  • When entering new markets with different climate conditions, since heat and humidity can impact stability


How do you test the stability of cosmetics?

Cosmetic stability testing follows a defined process under controlled lab conditions. Samples of the product are stored in chambers which precisely simulate aging over time under different temperatures, and humidity levels.

When using off-site storage facilities, companies ship product samples and stability “pull” protocols to the storage facility. The facility handles the controlled aging storage and sends product back to the customer or 3rd party lab for testing process, providing periodic results and allowing companies to validate stability without elaborate in-house storage chambers.

What is a cosmetic product shelf life?

The shelf life refers to the maximum duration a cosmetic product maintains stability and effectiveness when stored properly. Cosmetic shelf life depends on the formula composition and how well it withstands environmental factors over time. Companies determine shelf life through extensive stability testing under conditions matching actual storage and use.

Consumers can find the stated shelf life printed on product labels, often shown as a Period After Opening (PAO) symbol with several months. Following the advised shelf life helps prevent using unstable, expired products that may perform poorly or pose safety issues.

What factors affect product shelf life?

Several factors impact how long a cosmetic will remain stable and effective:

  • Ingredient interactions within the formula
  • Exposure to oxygen, light, and varying temperature/humidity
  • Product packaging
  • Preservative system effectiveness
  • Water content of the product

Stability testing evaluates how well the formula withstands each aging factor within the intended packaging to determine how long it can maintain optimal product quality.

Does the FDA have rules regarding cosmetic shelf life and testing?

The FDA does not require stability testing or shelf life expiration dates for cosmetics. However, they recommend following Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) guidelines for quality control. Many companies adhere to international ICH guidelines, which provide detailed protocols for cosmetic stability testing and establishing rational shelf lives.

How can stability testing ensure my product has the best shelf life?

Stability testing plays a crucial role in determining the ideal shelf life for a cosmetic product in several ways. First, it identifies the most effective packaging to protect the product from exposure to external factors like light, air, and humidity.

It also helps manufacturers find the optimal preservative system and levels for each unique formula. Testing provides data to find the right balance of preservation without harming the product’s aesthetic qualities.

The testing process also reveals opportunities where reformulation can improve stability, extend shelf life, and prevent early deterioration. It’s essential to determine if a cosmetic product requires reformulation before it hits the market.

Finally, stability testing gives tangible data demonstrating when a product’s attributes extend beyond acceptable limits during aging and confirms that the marketed shelf life accurately matches the empirical stability profile.