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Vernix Caseosa: The Ultimate Natural Cosmetic?
By: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, JW Solutions; and Bernard Gabard, PhD, Iderma
Posted: August 31, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
- Figure 1. Vernix caseosa covers newborn infants
- Figure 2. Lipid, free lipid extract and ceramide analyses
- Figure 3. Water loss profiles
- Figure 4. Water loss profiles of vernix caseosa films as a function of relative humidity
- Figure 5. Equilibrium water sorption-desorption curves
- Figure 6. Percent barrier recovery after tape stripping versus film permeability
- Figure 7. Moisture accumulation assessment
- Figure 8. Water release profiles
- Figure 9. Microgels and coating lipids
- Figure 10. Water release profiles of native VC and various biofilms
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The lipid bilayer forms the building block of the bicontinuous cubic phase and is arranged in periodic three-dimensional structures.39 Glycerol mono-olein-water, for instance, exhibits a bicontinuous cubic phase. These systems are highly viscous, clear, and have a high surface area.
Gunt’s in vivo findings suggested that cubosome formulations did not impede water loss and the rate of moisture accumulation for cubosome formulas was higher than that of petrolatum or petrolatum-, mineral oil- and lanolin alcohol-based w/o emulsionsd, suggesting that more moisture was built up with cubosome formulas than occlusive petrolatum and petrolatum-based products.
Both the vernix caseosa and cubosome formulations, which showed increased hydration at raised ambient humidity in vitro, also showed a higher water-holding capacity in vivo. From the water vapor transport data, Gunt concluded that the lipid fraction of vernix caseosa is primarily responsible for providing a controlled water vapor transport, whereas the role of cellular components of vernix caseosa is still unclear.
Since the increase in hydration at raised humidity is due to the entire vernix caseosa composition, however, one cannot exclude vernix caseosa cells from the material. These studies supported the view that topical application of vernix caseosa may provide the optimum water gradient required for restoration and development of the stratum corneum barrier by allowing the generation of NMF; the cubosomes were able to provide this both in vitro and in vivo.
Barai 2006: While the work of Gunt in 2002 identified that cubosomes were the best synthetic analogues of vernix caseosa so far, Barai assessed the effects of vernix caseosa and synthetic analogues on barrier repair in 2006.35 These results, described above, identified that the semi-permeability or semi-occlusivity of vernix caseosa was an essential requirement for its biological benefits, since the effect of the petrolatum- and mineral oil-based ointmentd and other barrier creams were too occlusive.