cosmeticCosmetics safety testing

Citoxlab tests your cosmetics and fragrances in one place

Citoxlab has been working with industry in the development of cosmetics, skin care products and perfumes (ingredients and finished products) for more than 45 years. Since the worldwide ban on animal testing for cosmetics came into effect, we have been at the forefront in implementing new alternatives. Today, we offer one of the most extensive ranges of in vitro tests in Europe for safety assessment of raw ingredients and finished products. Our expertise is backed by a complete safety assessment package.

The reasons you can trust Citoxlab France with your cosmetics and perfume testing requirements:

Extensive laboratories and experienced staff

  • GLP qualified laboratories
  • Official ECVAM testing partner
  • EU-NETVAL qualified
  • Official member of ESTIV, IVTIP and Cosmetic Valley


Cytotoxicity testing

Assessment of cytotoxicity is the first test to provide reliable insight into the safety of a cosmetics, skin care products and fragrance ingredients.

Since the world-wide ban on animal testing for cosmetics, the acute toxicity 3T3 is the only regulatory test approved by the ECVAM as suitable for the identification of chemicals not requiring labelling according to the EU Classification.

Acute toxicity 3T3

  • Test from OECD 129 guidance
  • Neutral red uptake in Balb/c 3T3 cells treated with test item
  • Estimation of LD50
  • No classification required for test item with LD50 > 2000 mg/kg according EU CLP system

Other assays

  • Extensive cell culture facilities.
  • BSL2 laboratories
  • Extensive experience with cell lines, stem cells and 3D cell models.
  • EU-NETVAL qualified laboratory


In vitro irritation and corrosion

Citoxlab offers the full package of in vitro skin and eye irritation studies required by EU authorities for the labelling of cosmetics, skin care products and fragrances.

We use the EpiSkin™ and EpiDerm™ reconstructed human epidermis models which are approved for both corrosion and irritation testing of chemicals. Our assays are OECD compliant for corrosion (OECD 431) and irritation (OECD 439). We offer quantification of IL-1alpha for irritation assays as an option and can advise on protocols for finished products prior to clinical trials.

For eye corrosion and irritation we offer the BCOP test (revised OECD 437) now as a potential stand‑alone test. If required, we can offer 3D corneal epithelium models for subsequent irritation testing.

Our scientific experts can advise you on the best testing strategy for your cosmetics, skin care products and fragrances (indgredients or finished products).


In vitro skin sensitization

Citoxlab has been a forerunner in the implementation of the latest non-animal skin sensitization replacement tests.

The gold standard for assessing skin sensitization is the local lymph node assay, but with the world-wide ban on animal testing, the cosmetic industry has been innovative in developing alternative technologies. Today a number of fully validated methods are available to meet the safety assessment requirements for regulatory purposes.

Skin sensitization, otherwise known as contact allergic dermatitis, is a problem associated with chemicals and cosmetics exposed to the skin. It is a complicated step-wise process that begins with chemical absorption and haptenation (binding) with cellular proteins, which in turn initiates an inflammatory response in the epidermis controlled by transcription activation factor Nrf2. Dendritic cells are then activated and migrate to the lymph nodes where they activate T cells. which are then programmed to recognize an allergic reaction (the hapten complex) when the chemical is applied to the skin.

The following studies are available and our expert scientific teams are always available to advise you about the best package for your compound or product.

Direct Peptide Reactivity Assay (DPRA)

  • Step 1 – peptide reactivity
  • ECVAM validated protocol
  • OECD guideline in draft
  • Depletion of cysteine and lysine peptides detected by HPLC/UV
  • Suitable for pure chemicals


  • Step 2 – Nrf2 activation
  • ECVAM-validated protocol
  • OECD guideline in draft
  • ARE luciferase reporter assay in cells
  • Suitable for all soluble test items


In vitro phototoxicity

Assessment of phototoxicity is required for both pharmaceutical and cosmetic ingredients that absorb light (290-700 nm) and will be applied topically or reach the skin when administered systemically. At Citoxlab, we have extensive experience in phototoxicity testing and a full range of tests is available.

In vitro 3T3 NRU phototoxicity test

  • OECD test guideline No. 432
  • Neutral red uptake in Balb/c 3T3 fibroblast cells treated with test item then exposed to UV irradiation
  • First tier in the phototoxicity testing battery
  • No further testing needed with a negative result
  • Suitable for pharmaceuticals, chemicals and cosmetic ingredients

In vitro photo-EpiSkin test

  • In vitro phototoxicity assessment with a fully differentiated skin model allowing more accurate prediction of phototoxicity
  • MTT dye reduction assay to measure cell viability following exposure to test item and UV irradiation
  • Suitable for cosmetics and fragrances
  • Undergoing ECVAM validation

In vitro cutaneous penetration

Skin absorption studies are conducted to determine how much of a chemical penetrates the skin. This allows the systemic exposure tothe test item to be estimated.

Within the EU, in vitro skin absorption methods are preferred, and the OECD has issued a guideline on in vitro skin absorption (OECD guideline 428). A number of alternative methods are permitted and different levels of information are obtained, for instance with fresh skin, metabolism is taken into account.

At Citoxlab, our expertise in skin absorption is reflected in our co-authorship of the current OECD guideline.

In vitro skin absorption studies at Citoxlab use :

  • Dynamic Franz cells
  • Fresh or frozen, human or animal skin
  • Radiolabelled (14C, 3H or 125I) or unlabelled test items
  • Full or partial thickness (dermatomed) skin
  • Fully validated GLP studies


Genetic toxicology

Citoxlab has many years of experience and has performed thousands of genetic toxicology tests on fragrances, cosmetics and other personal care products.

Our scientists are available to help choose the best testing strategy for your product.

Ames test (OECD 471)

  • Detection of mutagens
  • Salmonella and E. Coli

Micronucleus test (OECD 487)

  • Detection of chromosome and genomic damage
  • L5178Y cell and human lymphocytes

Chromosome aberrations test (OECD 473)

  • Detection of chromosome damage
  • Human lymphocytes

Mouse lymphoma assay (OECD 476)

  • Detection of mutagens and chromosome damage
  • L5178Y TK


Genetic toxicity liabilities, if discovered late, can be challenging in the development of cosmetics, skin care products and fragrances.

Citoxlab offers screening versions of the accepted regulatory tests to highlight any liabilities and to avoid unforeseen issues in later development. Our studies are designed to be fast, cost effective solutions without any loss of sensitivity or specificity.

Our scientists are available to help chose the best testing strategy for your product.

>Mini-Ames test

  • Detection of mutagens
  • Salmonella and E. Coli
  • Choose from 2 to 5 strains

>In vitro Mini-Micronucleus test

  • Detection of chromosome and genomic damage
  • L5178Y cell or human lymphocytes

>Skin sensitization

  • DPRA
  • h-CLAT
  • KeratinoSens™