cosmetics that heal and improve, a discussion from the side of biology

otherhalfotherhalf Member
edited December 2014 in Formulating
First of all I am brand new so I guess I will introduce myself.

I started as a med student, tried it for 2 years and hated it, changed my degree to biology, got a masters specialized in reproductive biology, moved on to get a PhD in molecular biology applied to stem cell biology, and an eternal fan of skin care.

European born but citizen of where the heart is.

Perusing cosmetic aisles is often a gamble. I usually search products that can actively help my particular skin type and conditions and find that most of the products offered are just very veyr poor.

I know that the general public will probably just get what is best marketed, but it would be nice to one day find products that not only are science base but also, public oriented (that can bring their science to the public).


My experience in the US was great, I found that it was very easy to find products that worked, that were well formulated and accessible, in Europe it is really disheartening, skin care is treated like a black box of hocus pocus and most of the time I have no idea of what I am getting.

I would love to hear the opinion of people that actually created their lines on some of the products that I will be pointing out bellow. Do you include them in your lines? And if you don't, why not?


Niacinamide at 4% formulation and at bellow 4.5 pH can actively help with PIH

Vitamin C, also at acidic pH, actively stimulates collagen production


Azelaic acid was found to be effective for acne treatment and for rosacea.



Ceramides and hyaluronic acid should go hand in hand as emollients for all skin types.

AHA, BHA and GHA are unbeatable as resurfacing agents, do you prefer to create mechanical scrubs instead of chemical ones?

recently Avene changed the formulation of one of their favorites amongst skin care minded people to an unusable product and I still can't understand why.

Why include antioxidants and other things in physical sunscreens when on average their pH is too high to have any of these products to do anything to the user?


Thank you very much for the time you took to read through my post.

Can't wait to hear your opinions.


Comments

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Welcome Otherhalf.  The answer to your question is ... Yes.  I use nearly every one of the ingredients you have listed above in my formulations.

    Let's start with your question: "Why include antioxidants and other things in physical sunscreens when on average their pH is too high to have any of these products to do anything to the user?"

    Why don't you clarify exactly what your point is in the question, in particular the phrase "when on average their pH is too high to have any of these products ..."  The pH of what exactly are you referring to ... the optimal pH for the antioxidants?  Or, are you referring the pH of the final formulation?
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • All the physical sunscreens I got my hands on so far have a pH of 7 to 8 (roche, roc, aptonia, biore, innisfree, Nivea, avene, uriage, lierac, shiseido)

    Some of them had

    -Niacinamide

    -Vitamin c

    -Salicilic acid

    -retinol

    Which all required acid ph to actually work as actives.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Why don't you post the ingredients list of one or two of those sunscreens.  I am assuming that the actives are either Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide.  Titanium Dioxide has a pH of 7.3 to 8.3.  

    As for Vitamin C, if they are including Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate as the source of Vitamin C, it has the best stability at pH 7.0.

    Niacinamide has a pH of 6 to 7.5 as a 5% aqueous solution.

    Salicylic Acid has a pH of 3.5 to 4.0 in solution, but I can't think why you would add Salicylic Acid to a sunscreen unless you are targeting acneic skin.

    It all depends on the formulation and the intended function of the ingredient in the formulation.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • Sodium asxorbyl sulphate doesn't seem to have enough research so far to support the same functions as other forms ( in our case for example, when we were testing vitamin c for media formulations that were serum free or fbs based this did not perform well so it was discarded)


    Lol I have no access to these sunscreen formulations, I empirically accessed the pH (yes they are all zinc based) when I had them with me. I just didn't understand why those things were added if effectively did nothing.

  • I can't edit lol

    We never got niacinamide to have any effect on melanocytes on any ph over 6.5.


    And the salicilic acid on the sunscreen was for rosacea if I remember correctly. Which makes sense due to the anti inflammatory properties.

    Not sure how they avoided photosensitivity induced by the SA...
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    So, if I understand correctly, you do not have the formulas and you did not actually measure the pH?
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Yes, if it was for Rosacea (or acne, for that matter), then Salicylic Acid would make sense.  Photosensitivity is not much of an issue with beta-hydroxy acids ... that really is an issue with alpha-hydroxy acids and retinoids.

    I think Niacinamide is most effective in the pH 5.0 to 6.0 range.  So, not seeing much to any effect at pH 6.5+ makes sense.

    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Since the sunscreens you were working with were all Zinc Oxide-based, it makes sense that the pH of the final formulation would be above 7.0 since Zinc Oxide becomes quite soluble at pH levels below 7.0 and dissociates. Since the whole point is to have the Zinc Oxide particles sit on the surface of the skin and reflect sunlight ... 

    I can see the addition of Niacinamide and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate making sense in these sunscreens, but not Salicylic Acid. 
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • Marc

    I am a biologist, not a chemist, I tested my own susncreens when I doubted their own claims
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Perhaps I do not understand your point ... what testing did you do on the sunscreens?
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • I tested the pH to check if it was within the range of activity of the added actives.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    I see.  I would not presume that because the pH of the product is above 7.0 that it necessarily negates the effects of ingredients such as Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate or Niacinamide.  Unless there is a chemical reactant in the formulation that interacts with these ingredients and chemically modifies them, when applied to the skin, they may well indeed have the intended effect.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • @otherhalf. If you tested the products, why you cannot get the ingredients list. Also with the product name you can find it in many websites. If you are planning to make and commercialize sunscreens in the US, remember these are consider over the counter drugs and therefore need to be produced accordingly.
  • otherhalfotherhalf Member
    edited December 2014
    @ Ruben

    I don't make any cosmetics ah ah

    I am just interested in them, this waiver a year ago when I was able to get samples from the actual products.

    There is knowledge from the biology side that I don't know how to translate to the chemical side since it is out of my area of expertise.

    I am just here as an amateur with an interest.

    @ Marc
    That makes sense


    Just another question!


    From a theoretical stand point cerave pm is one of the most balanced well formulated facial moisturizers around for its price range.

    Is there any European equivalent? If not, why?

    Thank you!
  • In what way do you consider Cerave PM a balanced and well formulated moisturizer? Is your "theoretical stand point" based on the marketing claims of the product (ie. patented delivery system, forms a protective layer, restores skin barrier, etc) or clinical studies?
  • Anyone else noticed a difference in skincare formulations EU resp US? I only have experienced are some minor regulatory differences. 
  • "Minor" regulatory differences? I'm going to die laughing!
    I investigated the UK with a view to exporting our products and found that provided we comply with the list of banned or restricted ingredients, we have no problem, unlike the USA.
    Basically in the EU the attitude is: "Provided the product is not harmful, then any therapeutic claims made for it are the purview of the advertising standards authority." 
    Whereas in the USA, it appears that one has to first prove therapeutic claims - at immense cost - which means that that market is locked up by huge companies with deep pockets.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • otherhalfotherhalf Member
    edited December 2014
    @aurora

    It has all the right ingredients ( hyaluronic acid, ceramides and niacinamide) at amazing ph.

    The texture makes it very suitable and adaptable to a very broad range of skin types (Fitzpatrick rating independent)


    I just wish there were more likewise products.


    The second best I found so far have the most horrible marketing statement and way to reach clients so they will never leave anonymity. Perfect price range to be ubiquitous as well, just sad.


    Edit: just to add, and please keep in mind that these are small scientist at play experiments we did during incubation periods of our own experiments.

    Water alone brought the skin phs higher than 6.5, those that but a toner on their face got the pH back to under 6 in less than 30 minutes, for othose without the toner it took as much as 5 hours.

    I thought it was pretty cool to see how much cosmetics can do for you.
  • @belassi

    Because of what you describe the European market of cosmetics is suffering a shift.


    People that know a bit more about skin care are refusing to buy products from the EU.

    (the avene formula change was just an example).


    Iherb, vitacost and paula's choice for instance are becoming some of the biggest, when it comes to put cosmetics in people's homes.


    It is a quite interesting time. I would love to see the EU follow the us example.


    Of course I m seeing things from a very different angle from your own.

    I am on the side of people that just want things that work and no bullcrap.

    The us owns the best developed products.


    There is no cream in the EU that I would buy right now lol. Neither any of the people I know.
  • DavidDavid Member
    edited December 2014
    ;Belassi 
    According to Commission Regulation (EU) No 655/2013 claims on cosmetic products shall conform to the following common criteria:
    1. Legal compliance
    2. Truthfulness
    3. Evidential support
    4. Honesty
    5. Fairness
    6. Informed decision-making 


    And I am not convinced there is so much difference between US/EU skincare products, the product above has normal ingredients and I think EU chemists also can manage to produce a product with hyaluronic acid, ceramides and niacinamide at an "amazing pH" ! :)

  • I like to try leading edge materials, things like polypeptides and human growth factor, but US style regulations would prohibit all that. I don't see why it should be the preserve of giant corporates or the rich.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • otherhalfotherhalf Member
    edited December 2014
    @David

    I am sure they can, they just haven't yet in a way that can remotely compete with what you find in the US.

    Or they are probably like noreva. All the right things, no way to reach costumers lol.

    But like I asked earlier in the thread please! If you are aware of an European dupe please let me know! It is a hassle to order stuff from the us for the months I am stuck in Europe

    Edit: and BTW! I feel like I am completely derailing your forum, I am really sorry, please let me know if you would like me to tone down my participation!
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Belassi - in the US cosmetics are not allowed to have an effect on the metabolism of cells.  If they do they are drugs and are regulated as such.  

    Correct me if I'm wrong but there really are no giant corporations offering products with leading edge materials.  In my opinion there are 2 reasons for this...

    1.  The materials are not measurably effective when delivered topically

    2.  Companies can make just as much money selling a good moisturizer and implying anti-aging claims as they can selling products that cost a lot more make & test but might have some unnoticeable additional benefit.

    @otherhalf - no problems, comment away.  If people tire of you they'll just stop reading.   ;)
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @Belassi:

    Regarding using "leading edge materials" ... Have you ever heard the saying "Pioneers wear arrows"?

    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • @perry

    Vitamin c changes fibroblast metabolism

    Vitamin e changes metabolism

    Q factors change metabolism

    These are just a few examples.

    What do you mean?
  • BelassiBelassi Member
    edited December 2014
    Perry, your comments make sense. 
    I have been trying to develop a hair restorer (yes you can start laughing now!) with zero success. I put everything in it that I could find that might have an effect (excepting drugs such as Minoxidil). For instance, Trichogen(tm), which is really expensive, was just one component. Our testers reported no effect whatsoever. It has occurred to me that I might buy some human hair growth factor from one of those Chinese biotech companies, but then, would it be safe... such things are after all growth hormones, not just cosmetic ingredients.

    I do use ingredients that have a metabolic effect on cells. For instance, Proteasyl TP LS8657. The manufacturer's published data states that it inhibits elastase and collegenase, which I would have thought are metabolic effects. We've been using this in an anti-wrinkle cream with excellent results. I assume that in the USA it would not be a permitted ingredient?
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • otherhalfotherhalf Member
    edited December 2014
    @belassi

    Hair is kind of a dead end, it is dead.

    You either prevent damage or just manage it.

    Edit: also, I never heard in my field of such a thing called human hair growth factor.

    Sexual hormones, neurotrophins and kgf are min inducers of growth (hence on growth, not restoration)
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @otherhalf - ah, certainly there are lots of ingredients that affect the metabolism of skin.  But there are scant few that affect the skin when delivered from a topical treatment.    

    Vitamin C doesn't stay stable long enough in a cream to have any real effect.
    Vitamin E doesn't penetrate deep enough to have much noticeable effect.

    And the thing about cosmetics is it's all in the way the claim is written.  It would be illegal to say that your skin cream "removes wrinkles" but it is perfectly ok to say your skin cream "diminished the appearance of wrinkles."

    @belassi - sure you could use Proteasyl TP, you just can't say that it will remove wrinkles.  Plus, I doubt that it has much effect when delivered from a topical treatment.  Just because an ingredient can "inhibit elastase and collegenase" doesn't mean that it will.  It has to get down deep enough in the Dermis to have an effect.  This rarely happens.  

    Also, the claim "inhibits elastase and collagenase".  What does this exactly mean?  This is a typical undefined claim that you find with antiaging ingredients.  To be able to support what the claim implies you have to know what is the baseline production level of Elastase or Collagenase.  Who knows this for any person?  No one.  Then to "inhibit production" you would have to quantify before and after when delivered from a topical skin cream.  How would you do this?

    Realistically, you can probably claim ANY ingredient "inhibits" these enzymes.   It's just a puffery claim.

    @otherhalf - while hair is dead, the hair follicles are not dead.  If you could restart the growth in the follicle you could restore hair.
  • otherhalfotherhalf Member
    edited December 2014
    @perry

    It is quite demoralizing to see cosmetics under a purely economical light. It seems like it is more snake oil than it needs to be.

    You are also mistaken on your knowledge of biological actives

    I would suggest starting with this review:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23369589/?i=6&from=topical vitamin c metabolism


    And this paper

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23691100 Vitamin c is taken up by glu4 receptores it really does not need a deep effect because of cell-cell communication.

    Regarding the hair:
    I mentioned in my own post, you can only act on growth, but the mentioned growth factor does not exist.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The claims are what make cosmetics seem like snake oil.  The products work very well to make skin look and feel better.

    Thanks for the links to the papers. 

    I'd encourage you to check out the following review of anti-aging ingredients noting particularly the three Kligman questions.  For any ingredient you believe has an effect, see if the three Kligman questions are answered.


    --------
    I don't have access to the first article you linked to but I found an open access version of the second paper you mentioned.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653797/

    It's quite likely that I misunderstand something as I've been away from biological research for many years, but I don't see how the second paper supports your position.

    From the paper "At the end of the study, female mice treated topically with C E Ferulic exhibited a 34% decrease in tumor burden compared to mice treated with vehicle (Figure 1B); however, probably as a result of variability due to the outbred nature of this strain of mice, the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.6047). "

    Also..."Examining the change in tumor burden over time, we found that tumor growth rates did not significantly differ between mice treated topically with C E Ferulic and those treated with vehicle (Figure 1C)."

    The authors later claim that "Tumor number and burden were decreased in C E Ferulic-treated mice compared to vehicle-treated mice" but at the same time say the differences were not statistically significant.  I don't understand the point.  What am I missing?

    -----------
    I don't mean to be demoralizing.  Creating cosmetics is fun and it really has an impact on the way people feel about themselves.  

    But science is science and reality is just how it is.  If things are not the way we want them to be we shouldn't pretend that they are.  As scientists it is up to us to have the highest standards when it comes to proof of effectiveness.  

    I'm willing to believe, but before I start recommending to formulators that they should put a specific ingredient in a formula at a certain level because it's going to have some effect on the skin, I want to know whether that is demonstrably true or not.

    If you can't demonstrate that an ingredient used at a significant level is superior to using a drop of that ingredient then there is really no reason to use a high level.
  • Compared with our standard face cream, without the Proteasyl, I found quite a big difference - visible in days. I don't have any doubt myself that it works. I did tester trials with this and two other ingredients from the same lab (Laboratoires Serobiologique) and found it the best of them, although all seemed better than the standard moisturiser. (The other two were Hyalurosmooth and Firmiderm LS 9120).
    The tests resulted in two products, one is an anti-wrinkle cream for night use, the other is a gel for morning use. The cream was already our most popular product, the gel is catching up. We often get people buying the pair as a system.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • @belassi

    What is that compound? What is it supposed to do?

    Serobiologique has some pretty awesome things

    Tell me more!
  • otherhalfotherhalf Member
    edited December 2014

    The papers I proposed in my last post are just the demonstrate that these compounds actually can modulate cell metabolism, not to prove that they cure cancer ah ah ah

    Also, I tend not to trust on kligman work after the 90's when it was found that he forged data and was banned by the fda.

    He created retin a i will always be thankful 

    My skin would not be what it is without it. 

    But, take his opinion with a grain of salt. 

    I do know of a few actives that work. And fortunately there other people that also believe in them and put out products that are science backed.

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @otherhalf - In the link I posted I wasn't referring to any Kligman data.  I was referring to the 3 Kligman questions that everyone should ask when evaluating any anti-aging ingredient.  Whether he forged data or not, these questions are still important and should be answered for any anti-aging active.  Here they are.

    1.  Can the active ingredient penetrate the stratum corneum (SC) and be delivered in sufficient concentrations to its intended target in the skin over a time course consistent with its mechanism of action?

    2.  Does the active ingredient have a known specific biochemical mechanism of action in the target cell or tissue in human skin?

    3.  Are there published, peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled, statistically significant, clinical trials to substantiate the efficacy claims?

    Science is not about belief, it is about evidence and what you can prove.  Cosmetics is about getting people to believe in stories and buy products.  As scientists we need to be careful that we don't fall for marketing BS just because we want to believe.  
  • @perry

    If you read the papers I posted you already know the answer to the 3 k questions.

    And yes, as scientists there is a need to separate waters, at the same time it is disappointing to see the cognitive dissonance between knowing what works and cash cow what doesn't.

    I guess the science just isn't reaching the consumers, allowing for quackery to reach everyone's homes.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @otherhalf - which of the papers you've posted (or that you know of) satisfy Question 3 posted above?
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