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Lab Lessons—Wise Words From the Bench with Anthony Vargas
By: Katie Anderson, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: April 2, 2013, from the April 2013 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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C&T: Have you worked with any other notable technologies?
When I was at Arden, the CEO wanted me to look at a new technology that Allergan had patented—idebenone. At first, it seemed like another antioxidant, but the testing was conducted by all the top researchers. The results they had were unbelievable, and I knew it was a great opportunity, so we signed a deal. However, we were challenged with idebenone’s color—it is orange, and turned the product orange. You could put a bunch of titanium dioxide in the formulation to whiten it, but then it would look chalky. I told marketing to embrace the orange color and tout that if it is orange, you know it is authentic. From there, the [Prevage] line just evolved.
C&T: What advice would you give to a novice formulator?
Make sure you know everything about the ingredients in the formulation and their compatibility before formulating. Specifically, make sure the actives are compatible with the base. Before Parsol 1789 was approved, we started using it at Avon in a daily use sun care product, putting it in the oil phase like everything else. Our product was turning pink because we did not know we needed chelating agents.
C&T: What types of skin care products are the most difficult to formulate?
Serums/treatment products because the active must be stable in the prototype base that marketing wants. These products must deliver efficacy at the right activity level. The consumer is often of the opinion that more is better, but that is not always the case. Sometimes more active can be detrimental.
I once formulated a product that was more effective and less irritating at half the concentration requested, which was shown in clinical testing. Marketing insisted on the higher concentration because it thought that is what the consumer wanted. The industry is sometimes doing itself a disservice by putting percentages on labels, because more isn’t always better. We should communicate to the consumer to look at activity rather than getting hung up on concentration levels of actives.
C&T: What technologies/innovations do you think have revolutionized personal care?
Retinol is still one of the most touted actives out there. There is research being conducted on vitamin A derivatives that are more effective and less irritating than retinol, but they are still working on stability. Other revolutionary raw materials include AHAs, peptides and antioxidants. What is interesting about peptides is that they are made of amino acids, so they are not going to cause any irritation. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and those found in botanicals are extremely important in skin care.
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