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Application of Check-All-That-Apply (CATA) Questions for Sensory Characterization of Cosmetic Emulsions by Untrained Consumers

Journal of Cosmetic Science | Vol. 69 No. 2
Authored by Gabriella Baki, Mihaly Szoboszlai, Matthew W. Liberatore and Mark Chandler


The sales potential of cosmetic products is greatly determined by skin feel and skin sensory performance. To please the target audience, it is important to gather information about consumers’ perception of products’ sensory characteristics. In this study, six different emulsions were formulated. Samples represented three different types of emulsions, including steric-stabilized oil-in-water (O\/W), liquid crystal–stabilized O\/W, and water-in-oil emulsions, providing different skin feel and aesthetics. Emulsions within the same group differed in the emollients, providing similar sensory attributes. The aim was to have 50 consumers evaluate the emulsions’ sensory characteristics. Using a check-all-that-apply (CATA) survey, consumers provided information about their perception of appearance, rub-out, pick-up, and afterfeel. Consumers effectively discriminated between the emulsions. Statistical analysis showed significant differences for 15 sensory attributes in the before, during, and after phases. Our findings suggest that emulsifiers, and not emollients, have the dominant role in determining the aesthetics of a skin care emulsion, similar to previous findings. The fact that untrained consumers provided similar results as trained panelists suggests the validity of the CATA survey and its reliability as a screening tool in the product development process. CATA questions may serve as a viable complimentary to descriptive sensory analysis performed by trained panelists.

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