Products, quality is often defined by a range of functional and sensory attributes, some of which may be easily measured - such as color - and others which may not. Visual or textural appearance and ease of application exemplify properties in this second category. Ultimately these attributes are assessed subjectively via user feedback, but relying on such information to guide formulation is somewhat impractical, particularly in the early stages of product development. Metrics that reliably correlate with product performance are therefore essential.

Rheology adds value in product formulation and benchmarking studies by providing these product performance metrics. The resulting data can be used either to replicate the quality of an existing product, to compare formulations or competitor products, or to develop a specification for a brand new product. Rheological properties such as viscosity, yield stress and viscoelasticity can be used to determine how easy it is to squeeze toothpaste or ointment from its packaging, to spread a body lotion over skin, or the feel of skin cream when the user dips their fingers into the pot. In addition it can also be used to assess and predict product stability and help to resolve process issues

In this article we look specifically at the application of rheological tests to quantify aspects of consumer product performance focusing on which tests are best for which application and the selection of appropriate test conditions.

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