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Microbial contamination and preservative capacity of some brands of cosmetic creams

Peter G Hugbo
Anthony O Onyekweli
Ijoma Igwe


Purpose: Cosmetic and topical products need not be sterile but may contain low levels of microbial load during use. This study was conducted to determine and compare the level and type of microbial contaminants in commercial cosmetic products sold in the market and a laboratory prepared aqueous cream and their preservative capacities while in use.

Methods: Ten brands of commercially available cosmetic creams and lotions were randomly purchased from the open markets in Benin City. Aqueous Cream was also prepared. Their bacterial and fungal loads as well as types were evaluated. Preservative capacity was evaluated by challenging the creams and lotions with washed and characterized isolates of Staph. aureus and viable counting was performed by the surface viable method. The prepared aqueous cream was similarly challenged with the test organism.

Results: All the products were contaminated to varying degrees. Staphylococci and other gram-positive cocci were the most preponderant; gram-negative isolates were hardly found. Fungal contaminants consisted largely of Asp. fumigatus, Penicillium and Microsporium species. Challenge test (re-infection) with Staph. aureus revealed the commercial products as having low capacity for suppressing bacterial proliferation such as may be encountered during in – use contamination.

Conclusion: Commercial cosmetic creams and lotions evaluated did not generally meet the standards for microbial limits as specified in official monographs. Such products can adversely affect health status of consumers as well as the stability profiles of the products.

Key words: Commercial products; cosmetic creams; cosmetic lotions; microbial contamination

Trop J Pharm Res, December 2003; 2(2): 229-234

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-9827
print ISSN: 1596-5996