Frequently asked questions

General FAQs

What is a PET test?

PET - 'Preservative Efficacy Test'

A Preservative Efficacy Test (PET), also known as a challenge test, is a
laboratory test used to evaluate the effectiveness of a preservative system in
preventing the growth of microorganisms in personal care products such as

For more information visit our PET test selection guide

What cosmetics need a challenge test?

Any cosmetic product that contains water or water-based ingredients, such as creams,
lotions, gels, shampoos, and liquid soaps, typically needs to undergo a Preservative Efficacy Test (PET) or challenge test to evaluate the effectiveness of its preservative system.

The product characteristics that define products as microbiologically low-risk products are
described in ISO 29621:2017 and can be divided into characteristics due to the
composition of the product, characteristics that are a consequence of the
production conditions, packaging or combined factors.

These characteristics are
as follows:

•           Water activity of formulation: products that do not
contain water

•           The pH of the formulation: highly acidic (pH below 3) or
highly alkaline (pH above 10) products

•           Alcohol content: products with more than 20% alcohol

•           Formulation with raw materials that can create a hostile
environment: such as strong oxidizing agents, polar organic solvents, oxidizing
dyes, aluminium chlorohydrate and related salts or propellant gases

•           Production conditions: if containers are filled at more
than 65 degrees Celsius

•           Packaging types: product packaged in pressurized
containers, pump dispensers or single-dose units

•           A combination of the above-mentioned factors

Any lack of challenge test, however, must be duly justified.

What is the difference between an EP and a Vegan EP?

The European Pharmacopoeia (EP) included the standards and specifications for products to be sold within Europe. The original EP test method is commonly used across the UK and Europe on various cosmetic products to ensure they meet the required standards but they require the use of culture media and auxiliaries that contain animal by-products.

Here at ISCA Cosmetic Testing, we have partnered with The Vegan Society to certify several microbiological test methods including EP. Our new vegan-friendly method replaces these substances with vegan alternatives which have been validated to ensure equal performance.

How long does a PET take?

Once we have received your samples we will email you to notify you that they have arrived safely and can give you a more accurate time frame. For a European Pharmacopeia (EP), we estimate that once we have received your sample it will take 5-6 weeks to test your samples and receive your microbiological report.

Do you conduct CPSR's for cosmetic products?

Yes, we are able to assist you in obtaining a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR). If you
have any queries or require more information on CPSR’s please contact or call us on 01495 200747

What testing do I need to sell my product on the market?

In order to sell your product in Europe, you require to hold a Product Information File (PIF) which contains information and data related to the cosmetic product including its safety, efficacy, and regulatory compliance. This documentation is mandatory in order to comply with the European Union’s Cosmetic Regulation 1223/2009. The PIF contains the product formulation, manufacturing process, packaging, labelling, and stability testing data. As well as the microbiological report (challenge test) and toxicological report (CPSR).

We understand this there is a lot of information and testing required in a PIF and we would be happy to talk you through it!

Where are you based?

Unit 28 Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate



NP11 7HZ

South Wales

United Kingdom

How much does a challenge test cost?

Our challenging testing starts from £140 for an EP. We do have offers available that you can find under ‘Packages’ with all of our information on the latest

What is a stability test?

A stability test is conducted on a cosmetic product to evaluate its ability to maintain its
physical and chemical properties over a period of time in various specified conditions. The purpose of a stability test is to determine the shelf life of a product and identify changes in its quality, safety or efficacy that may occur over time. The product should be stability tested in its final packaging and stored in controlled conditions of temperature and light exposure which replicate the anticipated storage and transportation of the product. Variables such as pH, viscosity, colour, odour and package integrity are measured across a 12-week period at different intervals. The result of the stability test allows the manufacturer to determine the appropriate shelf life for the product as well as its handling conditions to ensure it remains safe throughout the product’s
intended use.

I can't find the answers to my question, can I have further assistance?

If we haven’t been able to answer your questions here, please do not hesitate to
contact us at or call us on 01495 200747.

frequently asked questions

Shipping FAQs

Where do I send my sample?

Please send your samples to the following address:

ISCA Cosmetic Testing

Unit 28 Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate



NP11 7HZ

United Kingdom

What quantity of sample is required?

PET testing: We require a minimum of 250g per sample for a challenge test.

Stability testing: 22 individual samples in retail packaging.

Viscosity testing: Minimum 250 ml.

pH testing: Minimum 250 ml.

How should I label my sample?

Please label your samples clearly and ensure that you keep a record yourself of what samples you have sent us to avoid any confusion. What you label your sample is what will be recorded on your final report.

How should I package my sample?

Please ensure that your sample is packed efficiently and that that your products are secure and won't leak in transit. We suggest using the final packaging for your product and sealing them within packaging.