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Cosmetics QC Testing – Technical Information

Test: Total Viable Count

Also known as: TVC, microbial count, bacterial count, fungal count, microbial limits test


This is a quality control test, it is carried out to tell you how many micro-organisms are present in your product.  Most cosmetic products are not made sterile, a low level of contamination can therefore be acceptable.

Typically this test would be carried out on each batch as it is made.

MCS Test Reference: TMMCS1

Quantity of test sample required: 5 g (minimum)

Total Test Time: 4 days

Companion Tests:

The TVC test is often carried out with tests for the absence of certain objectionable organisms.  The recommendation of ISO 17516: 2014 (the Cosmetics Microbiological Limits document) is to test for the absence of S aureus, Ps aeruginosa, E coli and C albicans.  We can carry out this testing for you, see here for more details.

Sending samples:

Send samples to the address at the bottom of this page accompanied by a Test Request Form.  Where possible all samples are tested on the day that they are received.

Samples are usually tested in their finished packaging but could also be tested as a ‘bulk’ product sent in a clean sample container.


Written reports are issued on completion of the test.  These results will be given as the number of organisms (bacteria / yeast / mould) per g (or ml) of your product.  Basic identifications of recovered organisms will be given.

Full identifications can be carried out if required.