Discovering the latest trends and topics in this constantly changing industry
The home and personal care market is a fast-growing segment. Manufacturers face many challenges to release their products to the market safely while keeping up with increased consumer demands. To provide some insights and topics in this exciting industry, we are chatting with Anne Wagner, PhD, Technology & Market Development Manager for home and personal care for Charles River. She has 18 years of diverse scientific research experience with eight years specifically focused on home and personal care product formulation. Anne has a passion for science advocacy and communicating scientific concepts to a variety of audiences along with teaching and mentoring. She values research that impacts people’s daily lives and is committed to making high quality and ethical scientific contributions.
Chiara: From your perspective, are there any opportunities where companies can improve their lab efficiencies that will help streamline their operations process?
Anne: Great question! In my opinion, we should consider their context and if they are using traditional microbial testing, then they are missing out on what is probably the single greatest opportunity to take days out of their manufacturing process. Using the traditional plating methods, it takes days, even up to 7 days, to get microbial results while inventory is on “QA hold.” A rapid microbial method or RMM for short gives them the same results in a fraction of the time. Moving to a rapid method can have significant impact in both their lab and operations. RMMs give them automated results, increased data integrity, and in case of a contamination event, faster corrective action. When manufacturers release products faster, held inventory and working capital requirements are reduced – saving them time and money…which are really appreciated by stakeholders and financial teams. This allows for improvement and optimization of warehouses. Why waste time and money when there is a better way to get your products to market faster? The key is to think Smarter. Faster. Better.
Chiara: What does the word “Rapid” mean for Home & Personal Care Manufacturers?
Anne: The “rapid” in rapid microbial method refers to faster time to result. For manufacturers it means faster and higher product throughput. Some rapid methods can process a large number of samples with minimal effort, reducing labor, physical lab space and other resources needed for testing. This allows manufacturers’ labs to run at maximum efficiency. Faster results enable companies to detect contamination earlier by testing upstream in their process, like raw materials and in-process samples. However, not all rapid methods are created equal. Some may require extra preparation steps, have system complexity, or need multiple systems to get the results they need. Understanding the real value of a rapid method starts with knowing your options, and the different types of technologies out there to find the best fit for your company.
Chiara: One of the most common trends lately is transparency. Would you mind telling us a bit more about this?
Anne: Consumers are demanding that future beauty products have a clear stance on environmental protections and sustainability. Consumers want transparency on how products are manufactured, purchased, and tested. Already, there are products with traceable ID numbers that can be entered on websites to see manufacture date, full ingredient details, a supplier list, and test results for their purity, potency, and quality. It will be interesting to see if the ingredient transparency trend will spread globally across all consumer products. Upcoming regulation in the US — from the passing of the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act to more recent proposals for sunscreen reform — suggests that greater ingredient transparency is on the horizon, so manufacturers should take this into account and be ready for this upcoming change.
Chiara: Are there other regulations that manufacturers should be aware of?
Anne: The quality of your product is essential to the reputation of your brand, and therefore, the trust that consumers have in your company. Manufacturers are held accountable for these standards of quality. Some personal care products are classified as over-the-counter drugs (called OTCs), such as sunscreen and fluoride toothpastes. Additional regulatory oversight for OTC drugs requires companies to adopt Good Manufacturing Practices (known as GMP) that enforce quality control standards similar to the pharma industry. GMP provides guidelines for quality manufacturing of products through standardized procedures and regular oversight of facilities, records, staff, and overall operations. Though GMP is not currently required by law for cosmetics, that is changing, too. The Modernization of Cosmetics Regulations Act of 2022 will require cosmetics manufacturers that sell products in the US to follow GMP. The FDA is planning to publish new rulemaking for cosmetic GMP by 2025 with implementation by 2026. To learn more about GMP standards in the US go to FDA.gov.
Chiara: When we talk about good practices, we hear a lot about Environmental Monitoring. What does that mean?
Anne: Environmental monitoring programs or EM is essential to the manufacturing quality control process. The true value of EM comes down to understanding what microorganisms are in your environment in the first place. If you don’t have a clear picture of your environment, you don’t know your risks. EM is a lot like the impressionism technique pointillism, a process using lots of little dots to create a picture. When you get close to the picture all you see is dots, but as you step away and see the picture as a whole, you can truly appreciate all that is there. You can see the lady in the sun hat by the river. When you are too close you can’t see everything. This is a great analogy for EM, if you are only testing your final product, you are only getting a snapshot, only see the dots, but when you monitor your air system, water system, and equipment; you can see what is really going on…the full picture. EM programs are early warning systems that will save you time and money with faster and more effective microbial investigations, changing your manufacturing processes from reactive to proactive.
Chiara: Another topic to explore with you is preservatives. Why do cosmetics need preservatives?
Anne: Preservatives play a crucial role in keeping our cosmetics safe. Many cosmetics are water-based; however, water is also a good medium for microbial growth, some of which can be harmful. The most common strategy to keep your products free from harmful microorganisms is using preservatives and anti-microbial agents that can be synthetic, natural or even multi-functional ingredients. Preservative regulation can vary by geographical region. The FDA doesn’t have specific rules only applying to cosmetic preservatives, but the EU’s EC regulation 1223/2009 Annex 5 sets limits on preservatives allowed in formulations. It’s one of the most comprehensive regulatory cosmetic guidelines, setting the standard for many regulatory agencies around the world.
Chiara: You mention that water is a good medium for microbial growth, would you mind telling us more?
Anne: Sure! With water being an essential ingredient in most home and personal care products, it can have an impact on the product quality. If manufacturers are not testing their water systems frequently, they could miss harmful organisms like Burkholderia cepacia. Since Burkholderia cepacia is a waterborne microorganism, this contaminant can be a reoccurring problem in a facility. Monitoring the environment allows quality control professionals to detect and analyze any microbial deviations. Although routine water system monitoring is not required in cosmetics, water remains one of the top contamination sources found in manufacturing. It’s important to choose a robust system of identification to stay informed of the microbial presence in your environment.