A Fast Efficient Method to Determine the Presence of Nitrosamines in Cosmetics, Personal Care, and Consumer Products

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Michael Jones and Christopher Glover
Waters and Northumbria University
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Application Notes
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Application Notes
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N-nitrosamines are a class of compounds that have been shown to exhibit carcinogenic and mutagenic effects in animal models at several different tissue sites and by several different routes of exposure. Nitrosamines can potentially be formed in consumer products, cosmetics and personal care formulations, either during manufacture or product storage. N-Nitrosamine formation occurs when secondary amines are present in addition to a nitrating agent such as nitrous acid, nitrites, or nitrogen oxides, generally under acidic conditions.

Analysis of cosmetic, personal care and consumer products for nitrosamine content should be included in Product Safety Assessments to ensure compliance with the new Cosmetic and Consumer Products Regulations. It has also been noted that cosmetics over five years old had higher concentrations of N-nitrosamines than new samples of the same products. This indicates that the formation of N-nitrosamines limits the shelf life of cosmetics and should be assessed as part of a cosmetic product’s routine safety evaluation.

In this application note, we describe the analysis of eight volatile and non-volatile N-nitrosamines previously detected in cosmetics and personal care formulations using the ACQUITY UPLC I-Class System coupled to the Xevo TQ-S micro. The described method offers several benefits over previous methodologies including:

  • Enhanced selectivity and sensitivity over colorimetric and ESI-MS methods.
  • A single, direct LC-MS method to analyze both non-volatile and also volatile nitrosamines with no requirements for derivitization.
  • Quantitation below the regulatory limits of 50 μg/kg.
  • Runtimes are reduced offering associated time and cost savings over HPLC and GC methods.
  • The ability to mine for additional unknowns utilizing RADAR data acquisition.


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