NWU now watch-dog over skincare products
A new laboratory on the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University will in future play a role in the determination of the effectiveness of skincare products in South Africa. This follows after the campus recently established its new Cosmetics Effectiveness Laboratory (CEL).
According to Prof Banie Boneschans of the Centre for Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services, this new laboratory will snub various unfounded claims of the functioning of skincare products. “Many people are misled by advertising campaigns on products that promise a certain result, but cannot substantiate it. We want to see to it that products that are indeed effective enjoy a bigger market share.”
The CEL testing centre is one of only three laboratories in South Africa that do tests on skincare products. “However, the testing centre is unique in South Africa due to the fact that it is linked to a tertiary institution where experts can act in an advisory capacity and also, through their research, offer solutions to possible problematic formulations,” says prof Banie.
The laboratory is not confined to trade or propriety names or cosmetic manufacturers, but it also makes provision for the general testing of any skincare product. The laboratory, with a variety of equipment and apparatus of just over R1 million, was funded by the NWU itself, which gives it independent status. The laboratory can do various tests for example comparing the elasticity, moistening, recovery, rejuvenation and fold depth of the skin before and after treatment with a particular product.
According to Ms Sterna van Zyl, who oversees the testing in the laboratory, they make use of volunteers to participate in ethically approved clinical testing sessions. “We determine, amongst others, the moistness of the skin by measuring the electrical properties of the skin of the test person before and after the treatment with the particular product. These results enable us to verify the product’s specific claims. The fact that South Africa is currently experiencing a huge influx of skin products - especially for ethnic skin types - makes it important to test these products and to make sure the world does not bombard us with expensive, ineffective products.”
Prof Aubrey Parsons, former president of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists of South Africa, is of the opinion that there has been a need for another laboratory like this for a long time. “The value of the South African cosmetics industry is estimated at approximately R4 billion. The establishment of such laboratories enables consumers to distinguish between effective products and “rubbish”, for which they pay a lot of money.”
Ms Sterna van Zyl from the NWU’s CEL laboratory (left), tests the effectiveness of skin care products on Ms Telanie Venter, one of the volunteer test persons.