Cutting-edge technologies to authenticate raw materials

Published on 3/1/2023

The authentication of natural raw materials is an indispensable step for guaranteeing the quality and safety of cosmetic active ingredients. Relying on many years of experience with mastering natural, SILAB created a natural raw materials reference laboratory more than 10 years ago. Its principal mission is to secure plant materials to be used both for manufacturing operations of existing products and for future developments of active ingredients.

Identify and characterize

SILAB has set up a transversal strategy combining several areas of expertise in order to ensure the botanical authenticity of its raw materials and so avoid any risk of adulteration or contamination.

Identification and characterization analyses are conducted on all batches of natural materials received in order to guarantee their quality and compliance.

  • Identification 
    Macroscopic and microscopic botanical examinations are used to verify the identity of the plant or the part received and to rapidly detect any adulteration. Since 2021 SILAB can also identify a plant species at the genome level using the DNA barcoding technique.
  • Analytical characterization 
    HPLC, GC-MS/MS, LC-MS/MS, HPTLC and colorimetric assays are all techniques used by SILAB to ensure that the active molecules expected are indeed present.

This multi-discipline technical approach is correlated with all information contained in the contract conditions for the raw material that defines the geographic origin, traceability, culture conditions, etc.

Suppliers are made fully aware of these growing requirements with the aim of guaranteeing the conformity of batches received with contract conditions. This procedure is effective since the batch acceptance rate is steadily increasing.

Focus on DNA barcoding

Consistent with the dynamics of integrating the latest technological innovations, SILAB has reinforced its botanical identification process by the use of DNA barcoding. This powerful method of analyzing DNA is based on the fact that every plant species has its own genetic fingerprint revealed by unique DNA fragments that differentiate it from every other species.


In addition to organoleptic, botanical and physicochemical analyses, DNA barcoding can be used to detect any anomaly of contamination.

SILAB uses this technology in two key steps in the development of its active ingredients: selection of the raw material and diversification of its supplies. Resulting from the use of DNA barcoding, SILAB reinforces the security of its supplies and optimizes the choice of its suppliers.

The example of water lentil

When APIOSKIN® was being developed in 2022, SILAB focused on a unique type of pectins, apiogalacturonans (APG), and demonstrated their hygroscopic potential. Water lentil (Spirodela polyrhiza) was identified for its elevated content of APG. Nevertheless, given the limitations of usual botanical identification methods for distinguishing different duckweed species received in powder form, the company decided to use DNA barcoding to validate the source of supply.

The identity and purity of samples required to develop this new ingredient were therefore guaranteed. Among the batches tested, 20% were found to be contaminated by other species.

The inclusion of this cutting-edge technology adds to SILAB’s expertise in mastering natural and in the security of its raw materials.

Conceptual representation of water lentil identification by bar coding