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Spider Silk in Your Skin Lotion?

I had a spider that was living on my front porch this fall.  She was a cool creature and made some excellent webs.  I’ve always been a fan of spiders and also a fan of our efforts to create spider silk without the spiders.  Well, one cosmetic raw material company wants you to believe that they’ve done just that. spider silk protein

What do you get when a scientist who figures out a cool way to make the building block proteins of spider silk teams up with a marketing consultant?

Spidersilk by AMSilk

According to this report, AMSilk has just announced that they are now able to supply the cosmetic industry with a novel protein that “is similar” to spider silk protein.

Marketing Spin

You might be wondering what’s the big deal? There have been lots of silk proteins available to cosmetic chemists for a long time. Why is Spidersilk different?

The company says that Spidersilk is not like those other silk proteins that are hydrolyzed and have lost all their “silky” benefit. Spidersilk is the first “truly functional silk formulation…”

What exactly does that mean?

In the press release, they say a bunch of generic things like the ingredient will “add smoothness and moisture management” or that it “leaves a silky feeling.”

I don’t know. I just don’t get it. What exactly is this functionality that they are talking about? If you want to add smoothness or moisturize you use petrolatum in your lotion. If you want a silky feeling, you would use a silicone. Why would anyone use this ingredient?

Formulating reality

The reality is that if you want to create a finished cosmetic product that has the functionality described and but you want a silk story, you could simply create a standard lotion, add a drop of standard silk protein, and it will sell just as well. No spidersilk technology required.

When will raw material companies start coming up with ingredients that actually do have some new functionality?

We cosmetic chemists are still waiting.

Note: no spiders are harmed in the making of Spidersilk protein.

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