Multi-Target Strategy to Uncover Unexpected Compounds in Rinse-Off and Leave-On Cosmetics

Molecules. 2021 Apr 25;26(9):2504. doi: 10.3390/molecules26092504.


The wide range and complexity of cosmetic formulations currently available on the market poses a challenge from an analytical point of view. In addition, during cosmetics manufacture, impurities coming from raw materials or formed by reaction of different organic compounds present in the formulation may be present. Their identification is mandatory to assure product quality and consumer health. In this work, micro-matrix solid-phase dispersion (μMSPD) is proposed as a multi-target sample preparation strategy to analyze a wide number of unexpected families of compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides, plasticizers, nitrosamines, alkylphenols (APs), and alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs). Analytical determination was performed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for the determination of 51 target compounds in a single run, whereas liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was employed for the analysis of six APs and APEOs. Both methodologies were successfully validated in terms of linearity, accuracy, and precision in leave-on and rinse-off cosmetics. Limits of detection (LODs) were calculated in the low ng g-1, showing their suitability to determine trace levels of impurities and banned compounds with different chemical natures, providing useful tools to cosmetic control laboratories and companies.

Keywords: alkylphenol ethoxylates; banned compounds; cosmetics analysis; gas chromatography; liquid chromatography; mass spectrometry; miniaturized sample preparation; nitrosamines; pesticides; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • Nitrosamines / chemistry*
  • Nitrosamines / isolation & purification
  • Pesticides / toxicity
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / isolation & purification
  • Solid Phase Extraction


  • Cosmetics
  • Nitrosamines
  • Pesticides
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons