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Corneocare and Comfort Science
By: Katerina Steventon, PhD, FaceWorkshops
Posted: October 8, 2013, from the October 2013 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Recent market research demonstrates that consumers often consider moisturizing benefits more important than anti-aging benefits.1 Rawlings and Voegeli have suggested that the tight sensation of dry skin might, in fact, be of greater concern than visible wrinkles; therefore, sensation might be more important than appearance.2 Surveys in Japan, the United States and France have also shown that as much as 40% of the female population perceives itself to have an issue with dry skin, and current moisturizing technologies do not meet the needs of these consumers.3
Delayed desquamation and the accumulation of corneocytes on the surface of the stratum corneum (SC) leads to dry skin. Rawlings and Voegeli therefore postulate that the future of moisturizers lies in controlling desquamation.2 In relation, at the Skin Forum 2013 event in London, these authors introduced the seven pillars of “corneocare,” targeting: the epidermal tissue at the molecular, cellular and structural level; epidermal function; tactile experience; appearance and sensation. This is one of the first concepts in personal care to close the gap between consumer perception and a scientific approach.
The concept of corneocare also was highlighted by DSM at the 2013 in-cosmetics Paris, where the company focused on “comfort science”—a holistic approach to epidermal skin sensation,4 connecting a youthful appearance to a healthy, functioning epidermis. This brings a different dimension to the SC by recognizing it as an interface for imparting visual and tactile sensory signal processing.5, 6 Rawlings presented on this subject as well, speaking as the Society of Cosmetic Scientists’ Medal Lecturer on Mar. 7, 2013, in London. Here, he focused on enhancing epidermal sensation by building a strong barrier function.
Corneobiology is the basis for corneocare and corneotherapy. It was inaugurated as a new cutaneous discipline back in 1964, yet scientific findings of the SC’s diverse functions (see Stratum Corneum Functions) are still evolving.7 This discipline includes a broad range of research areas such as the anatomy, physiology and biology of the SC, but also encompasses immunology, endocrinology, neurobiology and psychology—i.e., a whole network of complex interactions. Albert Kligman, considered by many as the father of corneobiology, played an influential role in understanding these multiple functions.7 Prior to Kligman, the SC was thought to be an impermeable barrier, sealing the body from the outside world; but the SC is no longer considered a passive, inert, metabolically lifeless membrane: It is understood to be very much alive.8
The scientific basis of corneobiology has been further strengthened by the development of non-invasive methods to allow repeated, sequential observations of the same skin site without damaging the tissue. This field has attracted the attention of scientists from a range of disciplines, including molecular biologists, anatomists, physiologists, pharmacologists, geneticists and psychologists. In fact, scientific contributors stem from both industry and academia.9 Rawlings, for one, is well-respected for his comprehensive work on the biology of moisturization and functional skin care for dry skin conditions.10, 11