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After earning her doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Wales College Swansea, Siân Morris, PhD, joined P&G in 1992, where she currently serves as scientific communications manager/principal scientist for skin care. In addition to studying the science and technology of female beauty products at the company’s London Innovation Centre, she has worked on color cosmetics (1992–1999) and skin research (1999–present). Morris is a chartered chemist and member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and a specialist member of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology.
Whether their hair is fine or coarse, blonde or black, many female consumers struggle with facial hair. If they choose to remove it, courses of action include epilation, chemical depilation, manual depilation and shaving. To avoid the discomfort of manual depilation and ensure long-lasting effects, many women choose chemical depilation. Like most methods of hair removal, however, chemical depilation is known to cause skin irritation, mostly due to the highly acidic ingredients used to break down hair bonds. While this irritation can be concealed on the body, it is much more noticeable on the face, posing a challenge for women who wish to conceal their depilation efforts as well as formulators creating chemical depilatories.
Siân Morris, PhD, and her R&D team at Procter & Gamble (P&G) believe they solved this dilemma with the development of the Olay brand Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo, a two-product system that removes facial hair while preventing irritation.
The team sought to create a facial hair removal system based on an identified need. “Facial hair detracts from feminine, beautiful-looking skin. Women want to remove this hair but do not want others to know they do it, so we had to create a product that removed the hair [without causing] the redness and irritation associated with depilatories,” explained Morris. Following the first principle of medicine, “do no harm,” the team determined the best course of action was to prevent irritation in the first place, thus a post-treatment would not work for this application.
According to Morris, the basic chemistry of hair removal has changed little in the past 50 years, being based on a high alkylate pH technology. This same technology was used in the hair removal cream with tweaks to the balance of ingredients and retention of thioglycolate activity.
“The known fundamentals of hair removal are all here: a high pH to open the cuticles, penetration of the thioglycolate, disruption of the cysteine bonds between hairs and breakage of the weakened bonds as hair is wiped away,” said Morris. The hair removal system was developed to be effective yet gentle and is based on calcium thioglycolate hydroxide.