Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Cosmet Sci. 2016 Oct;38(5):476-80. doi: 10.1111/ics.12314. Epub 2016 Mar 9.

Antimicrobial activity of Butyl acetate, Ethyl acetate and Isopropyl alcohol on undesirable microorganisms in cosmetic products.

Author information

Keybio, ZI Les Paluds, BP 1427, 13785 Aubagne Cedex, France.
L'Oréal Research & Innovation, 188-200 rue Paul Hochart, 94550 Chevilly-Larue, France.
L'Oréal Research & Innovation, 188-200 rue Paul Hochart, 94550 Chevilly-Larue, France.



The microbiological contamination risk of a cosmetic product has to be assessed by the manufacturer, according to the composition, to determine whether microbiological testing is required. Certain ingredients in cosmetic formulations help to create an environment hostile towards microbial growth. In this study, the influence on microbial survival of some solvents used in nail varnishes was evaluated. The purpose of this study was two-fold. The first was to define the thresholds to be considered for the exemption of products from microbiological testing. The second was to assess the cross-contamination risk linked to the use on successive consumers of solvent-based products in beauty salons.


Strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Candida albicans and Trichophyton rubrum were exposed to various concentrations of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate and isopropyl alcohol in culture medium to estimate their MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration). These strains are relevant to cosmetic products as they are associated with skin and nail infections. Mixtures of the three solvents, which are characteristic of nail varnish compositions, were also tested for their cidal activity.


Ethyl and butyl acetates had a stronger impact than isopropyl alcohol: the MIC of ethyl and butyl acetate is ≤5% for all of the tested strains, whereas that of isopropyl alcohol is ≤10%. Various combinations of the three solvents tested showed a significant effect on both fungal and bacterial strains (greater than 3 log reduction in 15 min for the bacterial test strains and in 30 min for T. rubrum).


Products containing more than 5% ethyl or butyl acetate or more than 10% isopropyl alcohol are hostile towards microbial growth. These products can therefore be considered as microbiologically low risk during both production and use, and so do not require microbiological testing (challenge test and end-product testing). Moreover, the nine tested mixtures of these three solvents - which are characteristic of nail varnish compositions - all have a high cidal activity on the tested strains within a short time. The risk of cross-contamination can therefore be considered as controlled when the nail varnishes are applied on successive clients in beauty salons.


butyl acetate; ethyl acetate; formulation; isopropyl alcohol; microbiology; minimum inhibitory concentration; nail polishes; nail varnishes; preservation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center