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Volunteering as a Hair Product Tester

Cosmetics Personal Care and HouseholdMarch 22, 2020

Our hair is important to us. This probably goes back to our ancestry as, for humans and our primate cousins, the way our hair looks is a visible representation of our health and status.i It is important, therefore, that manufacturers test hair products and appliances correctly. This ultimately means they must be tested on human volunteers.

In 2018, the global haircare market was estimated to be worth around USD 87.9 billion,ii and it is predicted to grow to USD 116.33 billion by 2024.iii For manufacturers this is a dynamic market. The largest sales area remains Asia Pacific, but the most lucrative is still North America, and the fastest growing is Latin America. To take advantage of the opportunities afforded by this growing market, manufacturers must test their products in a variety of ways to ensure they are safe, comply with market regulations, and perform as advertised. 

In the European Union (EU), before a product can be tested on a human volunteer, it must be confirmed that it conforms to Regulation (EC) N° 1223/2009, the EU Cosmetics Regulation. Once this has been done, and the respective documentary evidence is filed with the testing organization, the volunteer study can be initiated.

Before Testing

Volunteers begin with a visit to the testing organization’s hairdresser. Obviously, studies can only work with volunteers whose hair fits the prescribed levels for health, dryness, coloring etc. By assessing the condition of the volunteer’s hair, it means they will only be accepted on the right kind of study. For example, if the product being tested is for people with dry hair, then the volunteers must have dry hair. 

Once a volunteer has been accepted and they agree to take part in a study, they must be registered with the testing organization. This will involve the taking of various basic details, which are logged onto a central database. At this point, a preconditioning shampoo is handed to the volunteer for use before the trial. This must be applied at least four times before the testing day.


On the testing day, the institute will firstly check that the volunteer is still happy to participate. After this, they will visit the institute’s hairdresser, where their hair will be washed using the products being examined. Ordinarily, the hairdresser will use two different shampoos, one on each side of the head. 

Hair products tested in the institute cover a wide range of products – from shampoos and conditioners, to masks and styling sprays, mousses and waxes. 

After Testing

At the end of the day, volunteers are also given a product to test at home. It will be presented with a questionnaire that allows the testing organization to record the volunteer’s opinion of the product. 

A wide variety of products are tested in this fashion. In addition to haircare and styling products, the volunteer might be given other cosmetic and personal care products to test, for example:

  • Hair coloring products
  • Creams, face masks, eye masks, shower gels, etc.
  • Shoe deodorizing sprays
  • Depilation agents
  • Razors 

They may also be given products that are not cosmetics or personal care items, such as dishwashing liquids and window cleaners.

Testing facilities also work with volunteers when assessing electrical products that are designed to come into contact with hair. Examples of products that fall into this category include hair curlers and hair straighteners. 

Following testing, it is important to ensure the volunteers are happy with the process and, as a benefit, they are also provided with a complimentary styling by a professional in-house hairdresser.

SGS Solution

SGS offers a wide range of solutions to the haircare industry. Our testing facility in Taunusstein, Germany, has a comprehensive range of testing services available, and is highly experienced in working with volunteers when testing hair products. 

This is just one of a wide range of services on offer to the cosmetics and beauty product’s industry. Our experts can also help with regulatory compliance, testing to a wide range of criteria, including chemical and physical testing, and product performance and claim support.

Learn more about SGS’s Cosmetics and Personal Care Services.

For more information, please contact:

Ines Sellami
Lab Manager Cosmetic Performance & Customer Service Consultant
CRS – Cosmetic, Personal Care and Household
tel: +49 6128 744 587 


Why we love to monkey with our hair
ii Size of the global hair care market from 2012 to 2025
iii Hair Care Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast

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