Recap of SCC Midyear Scientific Meeting 2012

Last week I attended one day of the SCC Midyear Scientific Meeting. It was a two day event but my schedule just didn’t allow for Friday attendence. But the Thursday talks were interesting and featured some thought-provoking and useful topics.

Green chemistry

The first session was on sustainability in cosmetic development. It was kicked off with the keyonte speaker Dr. John Warner who spoke on the development of green chemistry. Dr. Warner is one of the originators of the concept of “green chemistry”. He introduced the concept when he and another author wrote the classic Green Chemistry Theory and Practice. He said that we need a national system to determine what chemical practices are safe / green. Then he took us through the 12 principles of green chemistry. It gives a framework for improving chemical synthesis. Not all are applicable to cosmetic formulation but some are. After describing his views on green chemistry, he was pushing for chemists to be required to get toxicity and environmental impact as part of any undergraduate chemistry degree. A good idea but could prove challenging.

Dr. Warner did state one of the overarching facts of the day.

You can’t sacrifice performance to make products more green

The second speaker was Dr. Camille Sasik from Aveda. She gave a nice description of how they were trying to develop more green hair styling products using natural polymers. The problem with these products is that there is not an easy way to evaluate the performance. The Aveda team developed some standard protocols which could demonstrate differences in polymers. A modified corn starch product outperformed the standard hair styling polymer PVP. Wonder if they will switch.

Interesting quote from her talk that applies to sustainability and cosmetics.

A frog does not drink up the pond it lives in

The next two speakers were from the ACS on their Green Chemistry Round Table committee. Tom Burns talked about how raw material suppliers could improve the “greenness” of the supply chain. He outlined the challenges of finding green antimicrobials, amines, and surfactants. He comes from the household cleanser area and interestingly, there were some cosmetic ingredients of which he might not have been aware. Dr. David Wylie next talked about building a global sustainable cosmetic enterprise. In this talk we learned that green chemistry is often the cheaper way of doing things because it reduces waste and cleanup costs. It just requires people to think differently. He then introduced the NSF Green Standard that they are working on. Look for this in the future.

After a lovely lunch and a run through the poster sessions, we had the afternoon talks.

Afternoon scientific session

The afternoon was about the skin penetration of cosmetic ingredients. Dr. Ingo Schellenberg told of how his group had used HPLC to separate skin lipids to identify the exact makeup. Before being able to figure out whether an ingredient is getting through the skin, it is useful to know what’s already in the skin. It only takes 95 min to separate most skin components. I have to admit I’m not sure how this would help in cosmetic formulation though.

Next speaker was Dr. Isabell Imbert discussing skin barrier properties. Interesting fact I learned was that until age 70, skin gets thicker. Then it starts to thin. She showed a number of ingredients that could penetrate the skin and interact with some of the biochemistry going on. It seems to me these would be drugs but that is the way cosmetic research is moving.

Smitha Rao from Lonza was the next speaker and she gave some interesting information on some bio active fermentation extracts that were able to repair wounded tissue. In their research these ingredients were able to repair the skin barrier and improve skin appearance.

The last talk was by Dr. Russel Walters about SLS penetration of skin. Really interesting stuff. He showed some time lapse graphs indicating exactly how far the SLS got through the skin. Most was in the stratum corneum, some was in the epidermis, almost none in the dermis. This was after 3 hours of exposure. Guess skin penetration of sulfates is not really a problem.

Overall, these were pretty good talks. I still struggle figuring out how some of them would directly impact formulation efforts but very interesting stuff going on in this research.

The rest of the meeting was excellent. There was a cocktail reception in the early evening and I had a wonderful time chatting up with cosmetic chemists from around the country. There are a number of formulators who are interesting characters. After the cocktail hour, a group of us headed down to downtown Charleston which turned into a karaoke laden late night. It was great fun.

If you ever get a chance to go to an SCC Scientific Meeting, you should.

Related Articles

How to Become a Cosmetic Chemist

The job of a cosmetic chemist, or as they call it in the UK a cosmetic scientist, requires you to do a wide variety of things both in and out of the lab. Your main responsibility will be that of a formulator. This means you mix raw materials together to create cosmetic products like lipstick, nail polish, skin lotions, shampoos, toothpaste and any other type of personal care product.

Free Report

Sign up now to get a free report "How to Duplicate any cosmetic formula". Plus a 4-part introduction to cosmetic science mini-course.

We respect your email privacy