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Lisa Hoffman

OpenTox Virtual Conference 2021 Session 10

Evaluating the Biodegradability of Cosmetics and Personal Care Products 

Lisa Hoffman1, Ramez Labib1, Jennifer Saxe2 

  1. Avon Products 
  2. EcoSafety and Sustainability Inc 

Cosmetics and Personal Care Products (PCPs) consist of chemical mixtures that after use, are either rinsed off immediately (e.g., cleansers or shampoos) or washed off from skin or hair after a longer duration (e.g., lotions, hair styling products). While some chemical constituents in cosmetics and PCPs may evaporate during or after use the majority of the chemical components in these products are deposited in wastewater. Biodegradation is the process by which organic substances are broken down into smaller compounds by microbial organisms, ultimately yielding simpler compounds like water, carbon dioxide, or methane. Biodegradability is an important aspect of a chemical’s environmental safety profile because easily biodegradable substances do not persist in the environment and thus have less opportunity to result in exposure and potential harm to wildlife and the environment. Tools for assessing biodegradability include standard empirical tests and computer models. However, these methods are not appropriate for formulated cosmetics and PCPs since once in wastewater the product separates into component substances and does not retain its identity as an intact product after use. Therefore, to determine a  finished product’s biodegradability each ingredient’s biodegradability must be assessed individually.  These results can then be mathematically combined to achieve an estimate of the formula’s biodegradability. In this presentation, we will discuss how Avon deployed this methodology to determine the biodegradability of our cosmetics and PCPs.