There are about 10,000 compounds used to make cosmetics, and they are monitored by government agencies in a way that products go inside the body, such as 'alternative' medicine and supplements, are not.

Because of the elaborate record-keeping, including for 300,000 women who make soap in their kitchen, if Senator Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats have their way, there is a need for analytical methods, at least at companies who can make a profit selling them. In the European Union, Regulation 1223/2009 established a list of components and conditions for using those components, such as maximum concentration and what type of products they can be used in. 

To try and stay on the right side of EU parameters, University of the Basque Country researcher Josu López has developed three ‘green’ analytical methods to analyze various components used in cosmetics, with very little solvent and very little residue compared to other analytical techniques.

The methods studied by López are based on capillary electrophoresis. He has worked on methods to analyse musk fragrances, allergens, antimicrobial preservatives, antioxidant preservatives and ultraviolet filters, and has applied them in the analysis of various perfumes, shampoos, gels, soaps, sun creams and a range of domestic products.  

Lopez explained that it is very easy to prepare the samples to be used in these methods –all you have to do is dilute the product-, and, what is more, they are cheap methods. So they are a good alternative with respect to the methods used until now (liquid and gas chromatography).One of the advances is that the simultaneous separation of various components has been achieved using capillary electrophoresis.

The next step will now be to try and simultaneously analyse a larger quantity of components, and to try and reduce the minimum concentration for detection purposes in the methods.


J. Lopez-Gazpio, R. Garcia-Arrona, E. Millán. "Application of response function methodology for the simultaneous determination of potential fragrance allergens and preservatives in personal care products using micellar electrokinetic chromatography". Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2014, 406(3), 819-829.

J. Lopez-Gazpio, R. Garcia-Arrona, E. Millán. "Simultaneous determination of multiclass preservatives including isothiazolinones and benzophenone-type UV-filters in household and personal care products by micellar electrokinetic chromatography". Electrophoresis, 2015, vol. 36, 1064-1072.