Familiar with a Twist

Here we are again, at the cusp of the new year, where we harbor great expectations for the months ahead and where the future is unknown. Well, except for the usual suspects—the events we attend, which were written on the calendar months ago; then there are the weekly staff meetings and regular customer calls, not to mention deadlines. Plus, the trash goes out every Tuesday, the house doesn’t clean itself, and someone needs to get groceries. Maybe the future is somewhat known.

As I pencil the known activities into my 2009 planner, I wonder what might happen in the space between them. Although I personally enjoy the comfort of something that’s familiar, I also believe it’s good to mix things up with the occasional surprise. It makes life interesting.

It is with this attitude of “familiar-with-a-twist” that I approach this month’s featured topic: natural actives. Natural products have ranked highly with consumers for years now, as have products that incorporate active ingredients for greater efficacy, especially in antiaging. It seems only natural that R&D would overlap the two, making these familiar market segments more interesting, as well as more challenging.

The challenge, of course, lies in finding safe and natural materials that, practically unaltered, can deliver the end benefits as efficiently as synthetic materials, which are engineered for a very specific purpose. This discovery process can lead researchers down many paths.

For example, in Schmid et al.’s article, the authors describe a blend of honeysuckle, Xanthium sibiricum and Cyperus rotundus root, used in traditional Chinese medicine for incorporation into antiaging applications. Also, Lee et al. investigate the effectiveness of magnolia extract as an acne treatment, based upon the material’s known anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.

In addition, while not necessarily in the “all natural” realm, J.W. Wiechers, PhD, offers an interesting and logical look at nanotechnology with a reality check of its safety and formulating implications for personal care. And finally, this issue of C&T magazine features the annual Skin Care Formulary, offering interesting new takes on formulators’ favorites.

Happy New Year to one and all; a little early if you are in China. While I hope the year ahead meets all your greatest expectations, I also hope it surprises you, at least a little (in good ways).

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