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Ethnic Formulating: Getting it Right
Posted: February 26, 2008
In this thought experiment, industry expert Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, concludes that skin differences between the human races are often very small but sometimes very real...
So, I managed to do it all within a single month--not bad for a starting consultant in cosmetic science. To what am I referring? Within a single month, I booked flights to: Brisbane, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Shanghai, China; Bristol, United Kingdom; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Lima, Perú. In each of these countries I will meet representatives from local International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) societies, and will present on topics of cosmetic science.
Each trip will involve a new presentation but the same basic talk can be used in different corners of our spherical world since the probability of finding another person with the same enormous carbon footprint as mine is fairly slim. And what’s more, cosmetic science is a global business, so what is true on one side of the planet is probably true on the other side, don’t you think? Of course, until you consider ethnic products.
If the rationale for ethnic products is correct, then cosmetic science should be different in different places of the world. However, my behavior of using one basic talk in different corners of the world suggests that the science is the same. And if the science is the same, the products should be the same. So either I am wrong and there is indeed a different need amongst the various races on this planet, or our marketing colleagues have it wrong and the industry is selling stories. I know which one of the two I would prefer to be wrong, but let's explore this concept.
Many papers and reviews have been written about differences in skin permeability between ethnicities. When Japanese women were compared with European women in their perception of lactic acid-induced sting, the difference was profound. Japanese women suffered much more from the lactic acid than their European counterparts. In examining studies that have compared in vivo differences in skin barrier function between Asian, Black and Caucasian skin, one quickly concludes that based on methyl nicotinate penetration, Asian skin is by far the most permeable of the three, followed by Caucasian; and Black skin is the toughest of the three.