What are Extractables and Leachables? Extractables and leachables refer to components of a product that can be extracted from the material or “leached” out of it. These substances may include materials that have been added during manufacturing processes, such as dyes or fragrances. Extractable materials may also include chemical compounds from the raw ingredients used in making a product. Extractable substances can range from low molecular weight molecules found in plastics to high molecular weight chemicals like heavy metals.
Extractables and Leachables are a big issue in the cosmetic industry. Extractable means that any substance can be removed from (extracted) or leached into (leachable) cosmetics during manufacturing, packaging, used by consumers, or disposal of the products. This is especially true for water-soluble substances like fragrances and dyes. Extractables are usually solubilized by one of three processes: hot extraction, cold extraction (used on fragrance oils), or supercritical fluid extraction (usually used on lipsticks). Extractable substances include synthetic chemicals like polyethylene glycols, plant extracts such as peppermint oil; food ingredients like vanilla extract; and natural ingredients like beeswax. All of these substances are normally used in cosmetics, but extraction of them introduces additional chemicals into the products. They can be tested using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Extractable testing is performed as a separate test from toxicity testing to determine if any new components have been introduced by an extraction process.