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‘Proof’ beauty

With more brands looking to launch globally, a bigger focus on self-care and more active lifestyles post-pandemic, we are seeing new claims emerge on the cosmetic market. Forget seeing ‘waterproof’ on mascaras only, now primers, foundations and concealers are making similar statements.

Claims such as ‘sweatproof’ and ‘humidity proof’ are also gaining popularity in the colour cosmetic market, with some brands even bringing out fitness lines and workout resistant makeup. The desire for such claims is understandable, with busier lifestyles, who wouldn’t want products they don’t need to re-apply after going about their day and that still look good and set during a workout.

The question is how do you put such claims to the test when there are currently no standardised protocols?

Consumer survey

These are a great way to gather honest opinions from consumers, however it is hard to control application and assess the resistance of such products to the conditions stated. How long someone would have worked out for, the amount of sweat they have produced and other environmental factors such as temperatures would affect the outcomes.

In addition, a relatively large panel size (expect at least minimum 50) is required to be able to gather data that will be statistically valid.

Consumer panel with expert grading

Companies can create internal protocols to replicate similar conditions that a consumer would experience, such as length and style of workout in temperature controlled rooms. These protocols would need to be reliable and reproducible.

The number of panellists is also important, it can be lower than you would need for a consumer survey, but still large enough to perform statistical analysis on. Expert grading can be introduced to assess how well the product has stayed on after sweating or variable humidity conditions.

Before and after pictures under controlled lighting could also be used to assess how well the product has stayed on.

Water resistance testing (using same method for sunscreen) with expert grading

This is an industry standardised test developed to evaluate waterproof claims for sunscreen. The product is applied to the skin, time is given for the product to dry, SPF is determined and then the application area is immersed in water for 20 minutes. After this, the SPF is determined again.

A similar method could be used to assess water resistance testing on cosmetics, but with an expert grading before and after.


The beauty industry is very innovative and strives to formulate products that meet consumers' needs, but businesses need to ensure that they hold sufficient robust data to support their claims. Supporting product claims is vital and is a requirement of the cosmetic regulation. Claims like ‘sweatproof’ and ‘humidity proof’ are much harder to substantiate than ‘resistance’ claims as the meanings are not the same.

‘Proof’ implies that the product will not budge whereas ‘resistance’ means that it will stay. Although no industry standardised test exists, companies need to ensure that they have reliable and reproducible methods to substantiate such claims. Such methods can be developed internally or with the support of external experts.

Choosing the right wording for your claims and ensuring you are satisfied with your substantiation data is crucial to protect business’ compliance and credibility toward consumers.

Written by: Elizaveta Luneva

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