Mastering the microbiology of cosmetic formulations is a key issue to ensure their safety, which is also becoming more and more complex to achieve. On the one hand, regulations tend to limit the list of authorized preservatives and on the other, the wariness of consumers for these substances and the trend towards natural products is prompting manufacturers to look for alternatives. In addition to preservatives, ultra-high temperature (UHT) or ionization technologies (the use of which is forbidden for organic cosmetics), HPBioTECH proposes to use high hydrostatic pressures. Created in 2011 and certified as “Young Innovative Company”, HPBioTECH is headquartered in Léognan, near Bordeaux.
“As with ionization, we treat cosmetics in their final packaging. But we only use water, it’s a totally natural process which is less energy consuming than UHT,” explained Adrien Plumecocq, R&D Engineer at HPBioTECH. “In practice, to destroy micro-organisms, we play on several parameters, mainly pressure, temperature and the duration of the pressure applied. Due to the low amount of energy developed, processing must be optimized for each type of formula and packaging to secure the content while preserving its organoleptic properties. Among companies proposing high hydrostatic pressure technology, we are the only ones capable of inactivating bacterial spores and thus obtain a ‘sterilization equivalent’.”
To date, this technology is mostly used by the food industry. However, it could be of great interest to the cosmetics industry.
As products are processed in their final packaging, implementing a complex and expensive system to ensure the sterility of packaging lines is no longer necessary. Moreover, the array of products that can be treated with this technology is very wide. And because it is possible to work at low temperatures, it is also possible to process fragile formulas containing sensitive ingredients.
The current limitations are the ones coming from the stiffness of primary packaging. “For pressure to be efficient it must be able to act on the formula and therefore the container must be relatively flexible. For example, treating products in a glass container is not possible,” detailed Adrien Plumecocq. And because packagings will be subjected to high hydrostatic pressures, they also need to be perfectly sealed to prevent water from entering. Ideally, tubes should be sealed.
After developing and patenting sterilization processes by means of high hydrostatic pressure, HPBioTECH wants to enter the segment of service providers specialized in high hydrostatic pressure treatment by acquiring an industrial tool.