American Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 2011, 2, 857-862
doi:10.4236/ajac.2011.28098 Published Online December 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AJAC
Determination of Compositions in Cosmetics by
Changming Zhang1*, Shaoqing Guo2, Changgen Huang1
1State Key Laboratory of Coal Conversion, Institute of Coal Chemistry, Chinese Academy of
Sciences, Taiyuan, China
2Taiyuan University of Science and Technology, Taiyuan, China
Received January 21, 2011; revised April 12, 2011; accepted April 23, 2011
An analysis method based on multi-instruments analysis technique coupled solvent extraction to determine
compositions of unknown cosmetic were established. The multi-instruments involve high-performance liquid
chromatography (HPLC), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR). The cosmetic
sample was separated and enriched into 4 fractions by the solvent extraction. The compounds were defined
as mercuric ammonium chloride, liquid paraffin, etc.
Keywords: Cosmetic, Analysis, Multi-Instruments, HPLC, FTIR
1. Introduction
In modern life, there is more and more emphasis on pro-
tecting and beautifying facial skin, especially for young
women, and more and more types of cosmetic products
could be found in cosmetics market. However, it is nec-
essary to point out that some cosmetics used for a long
-time may lead to damage of human health due to the
presence of certain harmful substances. For example,
there are a lot of reports about harmful substances being
prohibited or restricted in cosmetics. They could be de-
tected through instruments analysis, including carcino-
gens-N-nitroso-diethanolamine [1], formaldehyde [2],
preservatives [3] hormone [4], antibiotics [5], phenolies
[6] and so on.
Many methods to detect specific components [1, 2-6]
and heavy metals of cosmetics were reported in lots of
literature. For example electrochemical detector detec-
tion (EC) [8], cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry
(CVAAS) [8,9], atomic emission spectroscopy (AES)
[10], and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
(ICP-MS) [11,12], and so on. There are also some re-
ports using capillary electrophoresis (CE) combining
with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (CE-
ICPMS) [13,14] and capillary electrophoresis combining
with UV-Vis detection for heavy metals speciation
[15,16]. These methods have high sensitivity and low
selectivity for detection of heavy metals; at the same
time, most of these methods were used to determine the
total amount of metal rather than the metal form. Majidi
[13] and Gudzenko [15] reported the determination of
methyl mercury and ethyl mercury, and Evans reported
the determination of three forms of mercury including
, 25
and 613
[7]. In addition, there is no
report about determination of the heavy metal form and
simultaneous detection of multi-components in cosmet-
In literature [7-14], there is no report about determina-
tion of the heavy metal form and this method established
can analyze the form and content of heavy metal of cos-
Many methods were only used to detect a single com-
ponent of cosmetic [1-6], and was not useful to defect
many compounds. So the successful enrichment is to
ensure instrument analysis. The enrichment principle of
components is mainly based on the different solubility of
components in solvents.
If this component of sample has same group of solvent,
then it may be easier to be dissolve and concentrate than
the components. For example, when water was used as
extraction reagent, the solubility alcohols were much
higher than other no-coating OH- compounds, and then
this fraction were mainly alcohol compounds.
The present analysis methods and the treatment of
samples have some characteristics; this has not been re-
ported and will be a reference for related analysis.
2. Experimental
2.1. Instruments, Reagents and Samples
HPLC analysis was performed on a Shimadzu LC-3A
high performance liquid chromatograph (Shimadzu Co.,
Japan), with a UVD ultraviolet detector, and a RID 3A
differential refractometer. The chromatographic columns
used were Zorbax-ODS, Zorbax-NH2 and. SHIMPACK
GPC-801, the all of them provided by Shimadzu Com-
XRD analysis was performed on a Riguku D/Max
2500 system.
FTIR determination was performed on a Bio-Rad Ex-
calibur Series FTS 3000 spectrometer in the range of
4000 - 400 cm1 using KBr pellets.
Analytical-grade methanol, hexane, tetrahydrofuran,
chloroform, benzene and ethylene glycol obtained from
Tianjin Chemical Reagent Factory (Tianjin, China). Pure
mercuric ammonium chloride, stearic acid, linoleic acid ,
α-linoleic acid ethyl ester, 1,2-propanediol, 1,3-pro-
panediol, liquid paraffin, polyethylene glycol and glyc-
erol, etc were from Shanghai Chemical and Medical Re-
agent Company (Shanghai, China).
The cosmetic sample was unknown, which was pro-
vided by the relating departments of Cosmetics Company
of Taiyuan city in Shanxi Province (China).
2.2. Experimental Methods
2.2.1. Preparations of Fractions by Extraction
The first step is obtaining optimum conditions for en-
richment and separation of fractions. A series of experi-
mental factors were investigated involving different re-
agents and extraction order. The most optimum condition
was defined, which were described as follows.
1) Separation of fraction 1
The operation procedure of extraction: 1.5 - 2 g of
cosmetic sample was weighed with accurate of 0.00001
grams, and then placed into a 250 ml of Separatory Fun-
nels; 100 ml of distilled water was added into the funnels;
they were mixed fully by shaking, and then centrifuged.
Then they were rested until the both layers appeared. These
water-soluble liquids were denoted as fraction 1, which
was subjected to fixed volume and analyzed by HPLC.
Preparation of sample for FTIR analysis was that 10 ml
of fraction 1 was placed into a Petri dish, under nitrogen
at 90˚C for remove water and the dried fraction 1 was got.
2) Separation of fraction 2
The above water-insoluble substances were placed
into a Separatory Funnel and mixed with 100 ml hexane.
The extraction operations were similar to the above-men-
tioned process. Then the hexane-soluble liquid was got
and denoted as fraction 2, which was analyzed by HPLC.
The dried fraction 2 was analyzed by FTIR.
3) Separation of fraction 3
The above hexane-insoluble substances were dissolved
and extracted with 100 ml trichloromethane. The other
extraction operations were similar to the above-men-
tioned process. The chloroform-soluble substance was
denoted as fraction 3 and analyzed by HPLC.
4) Preparations of fraction 4
The above chloroform -insoluble substances were ex-
tracted with 50 ml THF, and then were filtrated. The
insoluble residue with 50 ml THF was extracted again.
The THF soluble substances were denoted as fraction 4
and analyzed by HPLC. The dried samples were ana-
lyzed by XRD and FTIR.
2.2.2. The conditions of multi-instrument analyses
1) HPLC analysis
For analysis of fraction 1, R.I.D-3A differential re-
fractometer and a Zorbax-ODS column were used. Pure-
water was used as mobile phase, with a rate of 0.8
ml/min and column temperature at 20˚C.
For analysis of fraction 2, differential refractometer
and a Zorbax-NH2 column were used hexane was used as
mobile phase, with a rate of 1.0 ml/min and column tem-
perature at 20˚C.
For analysis of fraction 3, UV detector at 254 nm and
a Zorbax-NH2 column were used. The heptanes/ chloro-
form = 1/1 (V/V) was used as mobile phase, with a rate
of 0.9 ml/min and column temperature at 23˚C.
For analysis of fraction 4the flow rate of THF was
1.0ml/min and the temperature of the column was kept at
25˚C. The wavelength (
) of UV detector was at 270 nm.
2) FTIR analysis
For analysis of fraction 1, fraction 2 and fraction 4, FTIR
was used. The spectra of Fourier transform infrared
(FTIR) were acquired in the transmission mode as 64
scan in the IR range from 4000 to 5000 cm–1 at a resolu-
tion of 4 cm–1. KBr standard pellets were used, and the
samples were dried and then mixed with KBr, ground,
and palletized.
3) XRD analysis
For analysis of dried fraction 4 XRD was used. Dif-
fraction patterns were recorded with Cu Kα (λ = 0.1542
nm) radiation and the X-ray tube was operated at 40 KV
and 100 mA. Step scans were taken over the range of 2θ
from 10˚ to 70˚ at a speed of 2˚/min.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Analysis Results of Fraction 1
The typical HPLC chromatograms of fraction 1 are shown
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AJAC
in Figure 1. The identities of components were checked
by retention time of pure reagents. The qualitative results
show that the main components of fraction 1 were poly-
ethylene glycol 200, ethylene glycol, 1,2-propanediol
and glycerin.
The IR spectra of fraction 1 and pure reagents includ-
ing ethanol, glycerol and 1,3-propanediol was shown in
Figure 2. It can be seen evidently, that IR characteristic
of fraction 1 is basically same as that of reagents. The
characteristic peaks around 3316 cm–1, 2920 cm–1, 1400
cm–1, and 1044 cm–1 respectively are attributed to OH-,
CH2, CH3 and C-O group, respectively.
When water was used as extraction reagent, the solu-
4. 1,2-Propaned iol
3. Ethyl alc ohol
2. Glycerol
1. Polyethylen e glycol 200
Figure 1. The HPLC chromatogram of fraction 1; Chro-
matographic conditions: Shimadzu LC-3A HPLC chro-
matograph Detectors: R. I. D-3A differential refractome-
ter detector a Column: 0.46 × 25 cm, packed with Zor-
bax-ODS, 5 μm; Column temperature: 20˚C. Mobile
phase: pure water; Flow rate: 0.8 ml/min. Peaks order: [1]
Polyethylene glycol 200 [2] Glycerol [3] Ethyl alcohol [4]
4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000500
Fraction 1
Frequency CM-1
Figure 2. The IR spectra of fraction 1 and pure reagents.
bility alcohols were much higher than other no-soluble
compounds, and thus, fraction 1 were mainly substances
of alcohol.
3.2. Analysis Results of Fraction 2
The fraction 2 was analyzed by FTIR. The IR spectra
were shown in Figure 3. It can be seen that the charac-
teristics of fraction 2 and relational pure reagents were
basically same. The IR characteristics peaks of 719.45
cm–1, 1377.17 cm–1, 2850.78 cm–1, 2918.29 cm–1 and
2959.79 cm–1 were attributed to peaks of alkanes.
In HPLC analysis (Figure 4), the liquid paraffin in
fraction 2 was eluted as one peak firstly and its retention
time was less than benzene (added in). While normal
phase chromatography systems (Zorbax-NH2-hexane
system) were used, the non-polar liquid paraffin must be
eluted first [17].
Through analysis of FTIR and HPLC, finally, the main
composition of fraction 2 was defined as liquid paraf-
fin.These results imply that liquid paraffin has same CH2
and CH3 groups of hexane, so it might exhibit better
solubility than other components.
3.3. Analysis Results of Fraction 3
The fraction 3 was analyzed by HPLC and chroma-
togram was shown in Figure 5. Through retention time’s
comparisons of sample with pure reagents, finally, li-
noleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid methyl ester and
α-linoleic acid ethyl ester were defined as main compo-
nents in fraction 3.
In order to further verify the qualitative analysis, the
“blank experimental” about solubility was conducted.
The pure reagents which involved linoleic acid, stearic
acid, linoleic acid methyl ester and α-linoleic acid ethyl
4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000500
Fraction 2
Frequncy CM-1
Figure 3. The IR spectra of fraction 2 and pure reagents.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AJAC
Benzene added
Liquid paraffin
Figure 4. The HPLC chromatogram of fraction 2. Chro-
matographic conditions: Shimadzu LC-3A HPLC chro-
matograph; Detectors: R.I.D-3A differential refractometer
detector a Column: 0.46 × 25 cm, packed Zorbax-NH2, 5
μm Column temperature: 20˚C. Mobile phase: n-hexane;
Flow rate: 1.0 ml/min. Peak: order [1] Liquid paraffin [2]
Benzene added.
a- Linoleic acid ethyl ester
Linoleic acid methyl ester
Stearic acid
Linoleic acid
Figure 5. The HPLC chromatogram of fraction 3 Chroma-
tographic conditions: Shimadzu LC-3A HPLC chromato-
graph; Detectors: UV detector, 254 nm; Column: 0.46 × 25
cm, packed with Zorbax-NH2, 5 μm; Column temperature:
20˚C. Mobile phase: heptanes/trichloromethane = 1/1 (V/V);
Flow rate: 0.9 ml/min. Column temperature: 23˚C; Peak
order: [1] linoleic acid [2] stearic acid [3] linoleic acid
methyl ester [4] α-linoleic acid ethyl ester.
ester were selected, and then they were dissolved by wa-
ter, hexane, and trichloromethane, respectively, to see
their dissolution natures. The results indicated they are
better soluble in chloroform.
3.4. Analysis Results of Fraction 4
The fraction 4 was analyzed by XRD and FTIR. Their
spectra were shown in Figure 6 and Figure 7, respec-
tively. It obviously can be seen that the XRD characteris-
tics of fraction 4 were same as that of corresponding pure
mercuric ammonium chloride (HgNH2Cl). In IR spec-
trums, the characteristics of fraction 4 were also basically
same as that of pure reagent HgNH2Cl. The fraction 4
was analyzed by HPLC and chromatogram was shown in
Figure 8. The “blank” experimental was done and the
results indicate the pure mercuric ammonium chloride
only can be dissolved in THF.
It is necessary to emphasize that the mercuric ammo-
nium chloride exhibits highly toxic even at much lower
concentrations. It can be easily deposited on skin surface
and transmitted by mobile blood. If they were used for
long-time, eventually, it will cause kidney failure and
nervous system damage, including loss of motor skills
and personality changes, etc. It is a serious problem, so
consumers and managers of cosmetics must pay great
attention to it.
20 30 40 50 60 70
Fraction 4
Figure 6. The XRD spectra of fraction 4 and pure
3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000500
Fraction 4
Figure 7. The IR spectra of fraction 4 and pure HgNH2CL.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. AJAC
Fraction 4
Figure 8. The HPLC chromatogram of fraction 4 and pure
HgNH2CL; Chromatographic conditions: Shimadzu LC-3A
HPLC chromatograph; Detectors: UV detector, 270 nm;
Column: SHIMPACK GPC-801 (30 cm length, 0.8 cm i.d.,
polystyrene 6 µm); Mobile phase: THF; Flow rate: 1.0
ml/min. Column temperature: 25˚C.
3.5. Quantitative Results
The compositions of sample were quantified by the
chromatographic external standard method and calcula-
tion formula as follows.
C%C %SSVWII 
In which Cx% is the content of component x and the
unit of Cx% is the weight percentage. Cex% is content of
corresponding standard and the unit of Cex% is the
weight in 100 ml. Sx and Sex are the chromatographic
responses of component x and external standard, respec-
tively. Vx is the volume of fraction containing compo-
nent x, Wx is the total weight amount of cosmetic. Iex and
Ix- are the chromatographic injection amounts of compo-
nent x and external standard, respectively.
The quantitative results of components were listed in
Table 1. Through qualitative and quantitative analysis, a
more complete profile of a cosmetic was known. It
should be noted, these main key compositions of cos-
metic were tested only and the quantitative results were
only preliminary, and the issues of these deficiencies
need further study.
4. Conclusions
The joint application of multiple determination including
HPLC, XRD and FTIR determination and solvent extrac-
tion was an effective analysis method to study cosmetic.
The main compositions of cosmetic were defined as
mercuric ammonium chloride, liquid paraffin, 1,2-pro-
panediol, glycerin, polyethylene glycol 200, stearic acid,
Table 1. Quantitative result of components.
Components (1) (W%) (2) (W%) Average (W%)
ammonium chloride 0.26 × 10–1 0.24 × 10–1 0.25 × 10–1
glycol 200 1.52 1.22 1.27
Glycerin 6.95 7.01 6.98
Ethylene glycol 0.83 0.97 0.90
1,2-Propanediol 13.57 13.62 13.59
Linoleic acid 10.12 10.03 10.07
Stearic acid 11.41 11.63 11.52
linoleic acid methyl ester0.43 0.46 0.45
α-linoleic acid ethyl ester6.54 6.58 6.56
Liquid paraffin 4.52 4.42 4.47
Water 31.83 31.75 31.79
linoleic acid, linoleic acid methyl ester and α-linoleic
acid ethyl ester.
An analysis method to effectively determine composi-
tions of unknown cosmetic was established. The method
has a certain “universal” to analyze other cosmetics.
5. Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from the
Natural Science Foundation China (20677065) and ex-
tend their gratitude to Yang Li from Institute of Coal
Chemistry, Chinese Academy.
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