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Methods & Processes
Research in Cosmetic Valley
By: Eric Perrier, LVMH, et al.
Posted: February 19, 2010
page 5 of 9
What are the latest in vivo imaging technologies for cosmetics R&D?
In vivo imaging technologies of the skin allow for non-invasive tests. It should be noted that different imaging types are used to explore the surface of skin than to investigate the skin in depth. To examine the skin surface, cosmetics R&D mostly uses optical techniques to perform colorimetric and roughness measurements. To perform imaging in depth, advances have been made in several technologies, including confocal microscopy and optical coherent tomography, which can be easily used in vivo; and ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM), for frequencies beyond 20 MHz.
How are these advances used to ensure personal care product efficacy?
Advances in these imaging technologies have enabled the development of objective, sensitive and reproducible in vivo tests for cosmetic R&D that quantify changes in skin function and structure. While the applications for these technologies in personal care are vast, they are primarily used to substantiate claims for antiaging treatments, using all the imaging technologies cited above; blanching or lightening effects of products, using colorimetric measurements; and the efficacy of slimming products, using ultrasound measurements of the hypodermis thickness.
Concerning antiaging treatments, colorimetric measurements allow for the characterization of dark spots (i.e., color, size, etc.) and micro-circulation. Skin relief analysis with fringe projection allows for the study of wrinkles on several scales. The thickness of the epidermis and the dermis, which are affected by skin aging (both chronological and environmental effects), can be measured by confocal imaging and UBM. Aging also affects, in part, the size and density of collagen fibers in dermis. These changes can be explored on a cell scale with confocal imaging, while UBM measures the sub-epidermal non-echogenic band (SENEB), describing chronological damage in dermis. Also, as work in our laboratory has shown, acoustic parameters estimated from images and linked to microstructures of dermis are able to discriminate skin as a function of body site and age.
What is on the horizon for imaging in personal care?
Confocal imaging by exploring in vivo tissues on a cell scale will quickly propose new tools in personal care, such as those to explore pigmentation and epidermal changes over time. Also, it is important to note that with confocal imaging, images are often interpreted like routine histology, whereas cosmetics R&D requires quantitative parameters of the skin, suggesting another opportunity for potential development.
In UBM and future developments, the investigation of skin using frequencies between 20 to 100 MHz will become possible via modern beamforming—i.e., electronics in the place of mechanical scanning. This technique will improve the quality of images, including contrast, signal to noise ratio and focus, with wavelengths of up to 15 µm. These new tools in UBM could be also be used for clinical diagnoses in dermatology, such as cancers and inflammatory diseases; ophthalmology; and in non-destructive testing for industrial applications.