Research in Cosmetic Valley

May 1, 2010 | Contact Author | By: Eric Perrier, LVMH, et al.
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Title: Research in Cosmetic Valley
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R&D is essential within Cosmetic Valley. It combines actors from large industrial groups with teams from universities and smaller companies. Following is a consolidated group of interviews regarding research in Cosmetic Valley.

(La version Française est disponible ici./The French version is available here.)

by Eric Perrier, LVMH:

How is Research & Development (R&D) conducted within the Cosmetic Valley?
R&D is essential within Cosmetic Valley. It combines actors from large industrial groups with research teams from universities and smaller companies. This unique cluster plays a fundamental role in product innovation in the field of perfumes and cosmetics. The interaction between different research-oriented partners makes the development of technologies and products possible.

For example, in partnership with a small clinical research unit, LVMH Recherche uses a LASER confocal microscope to evaluate in vivo the antiaging effects of new skin care creams. We also work on molecular modeling with a biotechnological services company to better characterize the biological properties of natural active ingredients.

What is the overall importance of R&D to the cosmetics industry?
The cosmetics industry is one of innovation with a rapid turnover of products on the consumer market. Only a structured approach to R&D allows for the development of new cosmetic products that answer market needs while integrating the latest technological discoveries. In order to maintain good reactivity, as compared with international competitors (mainly in Japan, China, Korea and the United States), it is crucial to invest in research projects on an intermediate and long-term basis. LVMH Recherche, for instance, employs 250 researchers. Every year, we develop more than 650 products and publish more than 50 scientific papers or communications; in addition, we have a portfolio of more than 200 patents.

What are the biggest factors that impact R&D?
The biggest factor that impacts R&D is the rapid advancement of international research and techniques. R&D also must constantly consider and be aware of new regulatory matters worldwide, especially in Europe and Asia, which implies a relevant need for economic intelligence resources. Furthermore, the participation of our scientists in various international congresses and seminars helps to build new possible partnerships for future projects.

What recent developments in R&D have impacted or will impact the cosmetics industry?
Thanks to DNA micro-array, PCR, QPCR, flux cytometry and immunohistochemistry, we have obtained new data in the field of antiaging of the skin, on the importance of the skin stem cells’ role and longevity factors (sirtuins and genes), and on the importance of new skin detoxifying processes. Also thanks to a better understanding of physicochemical interactions inside very complex products such as foundations or lipsticks, it is now possible to introduce high concentrations of skin care active ingredients into the latter. These results have given birth to new product developments, such as those recently marketed by the cosmetic companies of the LVMH Group (Louis Vuitton—Moët Hennessy), that are Parfums Christian Dior, Guerlain and Parfums Givenchy.

by Michel Grisel, University of Le Havre:

What recent discoveries or advances in chemistry could impact cosmetics R&D?
Cosmetic science has a long history of discovery and innovation from areas including biology, chemistry, and physics. For decades, scientists dealing with both fundamental and applied research have brought innovative concepts to the cosmetic community. As an example, among the latest emerging technologies, nano-science could be employed to improve product efficacy; however, it is also subject to questions regarding its impact on both human health and the environment.

Another advance relates to increasing interest for natural and bio-based ingredients; as a consequence of new environmental considerations and consumer preferences, efforts are under way to use “clean chemistry” to develop new ingredients derived from natural and renewable resources while respecting both biodiversity and sustainable development.

Researchers will no doubt also play a key role in the future of the industry by innovating as far as possible—as long as long-term safety can be proven. To this aim, the Cosmetic Valley acts as a federator by facilitating the exchange of ideas between scientists, thus leading to the emergence of ambitious research programs. In Normandy, France, various public chemistry laboratories have joined forces as a Research Federative Institute (FR 3038, CNRS) and are involved in many fields of research—from the design and synthesis of new organic molecules, to the understanding and optimization of complex material properties.

As an illustration, the laboratory of chemistry based in Le Havre (URCOM, EA 3221) explores subjects related to cosmetic science; such as the functional properties of polysaccharides in formulations, and the relationship between raw material characteristics and corresponding sensory properties they impart in cosmetic products. Due to its fields of interest, the URCOM laboratory currently collaborates with academic laboratories and private companies.

How might these advances in chemistry be used to improve personal care product benefits?
The utilization of nano-particles for sun protection applications definitely is a good illustration. From a simplistic point of view, smaller particle sizes provide greater coverage of skin, and thus greater protection. In addition, small particles also may improve sensory properties by making the product feel smoother during its application. Again, nanotechnology is such a promising application, but its potential in other categories, such as antiaging products or toothpaste, will require demonstrating the absence of a negative impact as a prerequisite to any large scale industrial development.

Have market trends impacted the development of new chemistries? If so, how?
Of course! Consumer exigencies as well as changing legislation have made it necessary to discover and develop environmentally friendly processes or “clean” chemistries, to limit solvents, and to develop low energy processes, ingredients from renewable resources, and recyclable or biodegradable packaging—all with respect to health, resources and biodiversity. There is no doubt that these new challenges illustrate the necessity to develop ambitious, fundamental and transversal research programs, making the role of researchers in the industry all the more fascinating.

by Anne Marie Pense-Lheritier, Ecole de Biologie Industrielle:

What recent discoveries or advances have impacted, or will impact—whether positively or negatively—the formulation of cosmetic products?
First, the recent advances that have impacted the formulation of cosmetics are connected to the development of more environmentally friendly processes—i.e., decreasing the use of solvents, reducing the amount of energy used, and using fewer additives. Actives and ingredients are obtained via “natural” means more and more, including extraction from vegetals for actives, cultures of micro algae for antioxidants, colorants, etc., or cultures of bacteria for surfactants like glucolipids.

Secondly, new discoveries have permitted the development of sensorial ingredients such as phospholipids, natural thickeners and polymers. These raw materials improve the products’ feel, and consequently, the well-being of consumers.

How might these advances be used to improve personal care product formulations?
Under the influence of the European REACH regulation, which was set up to improve the well-being of the population in terms of health and environment, the formulation of personal care will be supported by using better chemical raw materials both in terms of residue and toxicological impact. Furthermore, personal care product manufacturers have access to more and more natural sourcing. It is thus a real re-innovation for the sector to be able to build these formulae with ingredients that are as successful as before, but much better defined with specific sensory features.

How have market trends or regulations impacted the formulation of personal care products?
We have observed an increase in the impact that regulations have as well as an increase in pressures at European and international levels, through media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). All of these movements result in a certain awareness by consumers of their own safety—take the story of parabens, for example–or that of the planet. Certainly, in the near future, cold process and low carbon footprints will lead the market. But beyond these considerations, the formulation of personal care also must strive to improve the well-being of the population. These new requirements will become the engine of innovation.

by Frédéric Ossant, University of Tours:

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.

Finally, in order to complete standard mechanical tests of the skin to estimate its elasticity, imaging could be a very efficient tool; in relation, we have noted early interest in 2D elastography. This in-depth cartography of the mechanical properties of the dermis is expressed on a few wavelength scales and combines UBM and external mechanical stress.

by Claire Elfakir, University of Orléans:

What are the latest technologies in plant extraction?
Plants are important natural sources of biologically active substances, but the complexity of plant material presents a great challenge for quality control. It is well-known that the chemical composition of plants varies not only according to the subspecies, origins, cultivation activities, harvesting time and year, but also to the extraction method.

In the last decade, few extraction techniques have been developed that are as economic, rapid and efficient as conventional soxhlet extraction or maceration. Pressurized liquid extraction (PLE), supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) based on compressed fluids as extraction agents, ultrasound assisted extraction (UAE), and microwave assisted extraction (MAE) use ultrasonic and microwave energy, respectively, as a source to heat the solvent-matrix solution.

The use of supercritical carbon dioxide for the extraction of oils destined for nutraceutical applications has become desirable because removal of the extracting solvent is complete since residual carbon dioxide volatilizes on exposure to the atmosphere. MAE is increasingly employed in extraction of natural products because it is a cheap and rapid technique, and the extraction time and solvent consumption are strongly decreased. The higher extraction yield obtained using these different methods enables researchers to choose more convenient solvents, such as hydro-alcoholic mixtures for safe plant extraction both in industrial and laboratory scales.

More recently, a solvent-free microwave extraction (SFME) technique has been developed for the extraction of essential oils from fresh or re-moistened spices or aromatic plants. Its principle is based on the heating of water present inside the plant material by microwave irradiation. Hence, SFME provides a new aspect of green extraction development for natural compounds without any solvent.

How are these advances employed for personal care R&D?
The search of active ingredients from natural sources for the cosmetics industry requires rapid and high performance techniques for both analysis and fractionation. This involves working with the bio-guided fractionation of plant extracts and methods for isolation and identification of lead candidates using centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC), coupled or not to mass spectrometry.

CPC is based on partition of a solute between two immiscible solvents (mobile and stationary phases). CPC affords several advantages in comparison with preparative chromatography—i.e., CPC does not require a solid support as a stationary phase, and thus there is no degradation of solutes on the support. In addition, a high polarity range of solutes in a plant material is not a problem since a given solvent pair can be used under normal phase or reversed phase chromatographic conditions. The total recovery of compounds is assured at the end of each experiment.

A Manufacturer’s Case Study, by Daniel Guillermin, Shiseido:

What project did your company present to the Cosmetic Valley? How did members of the group collaborate on your project?
The objective of Shiseido International France Packaging was to develop new inner decoration coatings for fragrance bottles. The different partners selected by Shiseido worked together on a specific research program to invent and develop a fragrance-resistant inner coating with a repeatable and competitive industrial target process.

To launch the research, the Cosmetic Valley was very useful and effective in helping us to establish a research funding folder with the government under the Competitiveness Hub, "Science de la Beauté et du Bien-Etre." The group queried a vast network to complete the selection of the best partners. Meetings were held with the Cosmetic Valley every month during this first step, to share best practices and a good collaboration.

Why did you choose the Cosmetic Valley as your R&D partner, and what were the results of the project?
We chose the Cosmetic Valley to benefit from the group’s experience in assembling records for research funding and for its partnership research program. After two years of research, the primary goal has been achieved, and a first coating layer is already on the market—and has received innovation awards. From this research, other coatings are being developed for the next two years and should provide new creative possibilities.

A Supplier’s Perspective, by Olga Gracioso, Sederma:

What types of projects have you participated in due to your involvement with Cosmetic Valley?
Sederma is involved in two Cosmetic Valley projects. The first, held by BioChemics Consulting, is Virtual Skin Sensitization (VSS) to develop new in vitro and in silico protocols to replace tests on animals for skin sensitization. The second project, Cosmerev, is held by LVMH and is devoted to researching new targets in the field of antiaging, as well as new active molecules that interact with these targets.

Sederma also participates in several events organized by Cosmetic Valley, including shows, seminars and conferences, as well as in the elaboration of the eco-responsibility charter. In fact, Sederma was one of the first companies to sign this charter.

For these projects, how did members of Cosmetic Valley collaborate?
Each project in Cosmetic Valley is validated by a steering committee, which includes the main holding company for the project and one or more industrial partners. A project is elaborated on a symbiotic basis—i.e., each company involved benefits from the collaboration. Subcontractors can be used with a preference to those who are part of Cosmetic Valley, for example, university labs can bring their know-how to help further projects. Meetings with the technical committee take place on a regular basis in order to steer the project along, although the results are kept confidential until they are protected with both a patent and publication.