Unicamp's Chemical Institute has developed the test around very simple principles that provide accurate results in the space of just two minutes, the Brazilian Toiletry, Perfumery and Cosmetic Association, ABIHPEC reports.
Fake cosmetics is a growing problem of global proportions. In Europe alone, EU customs authorities have reported that seizures of counterfeit cosmetic products, including fragrances, jumped by 800 per cent in the period 2003 - 2003, with the main hubs for the trafficking of such products found in Eastern Europe and China.
Unicamp researcher Rodrigo Catharino, who has headed up the project at the university's Sao Paulo-based research facilities, says that the test takes a snapshot of the perfume's composition, revealing the outstanding characteristics of the compound.
He adds that all that has to then be done is to compare the results with the original formulas. Replicating the exact composition of a fragrance is a task that few counterfeit producers would have the resources to carry out.
The scientist believes the test might allow authorities in Brazil, as well as internationally, to inspect the perfumes easily and without having to make a considerable investment, something that has proved difficult to do until now.
"The test is performed with a mass spectrometer, a device already in use to prove the origin of several products. All we need is a data base of the original perfumes' composition", he said.
Currently the identification of authentic cosmetic products is restricted to security tags and labels One of the leading providers of such solutions is US-based firm Microtrace.
It provides tagging solutions for a variety of consumer industries, including cosmetics and toiletries manufacturers. Its Microtaggant Identification Particle technology relies on microscopic encoded particles, incorporated into the packaging to act as virtual 'fingerprints'.
Although this has proved to be one of the most effective solutions in the fight against cosmetics piracy, it is not the cheapest solution. Catherino says that other packaging identification systems for cosmetic products have not proved to be a deterrent, as pirate products have been developed to even copy intricate holographic safety stamps.
Although the research on the detection system was completed this summer, Catharino says that he wants to work towards making this a popular way to fight the problem of fake fragrance products, ultimately benefiting both consumers and manufacturers.