Top 3 Secret (and Sexy) Formulating Trends


Exposed models line up, hit with steady flashes that both freeze them in time and heat up the scene to the beat of a sub-bass hum from beyond. These sights and sounds are coated in all the glitz and glam of a New York fashion show, right? Actually, they refer to the accelerated stability testing of cosmetic products. See? Cosmetic science can be sexy. We’re just not used to flaunting it.

Like many consumer products, all the big bucks go to marketing the effects of cosmetics, to show consumers that products can make them look and feel like celebrities. For comparison, in 2014, L’Oréal spent $5.26 billion on advertising worldwide vs. $837.67 million on research and innovation. Henkel spent $4.96 billion on advertising (and related activities) but only $526 million on research globally in 2015; and Beiersdorf put $1.68 billion toward advertising and just $201 million in research in 2015.

The point is, although some multinationals are pumping up their research spend, marketing has once again stolen the spotlight. But maybe that’s not a bad thing; maybe the point is that good science should secretly function and go unnoticed—in fact, it’s the lack of good science that gets attention, and the wrong kind. Take stability or efficacy, for example.

This column highlights my top three picks for secret trends in formulation, bringing them forward to acknowledge their silent strengths. These are but a few examples. Cue the music—sexy science, coming through.

1. Stability: The “Six Pack” Behind Core Strength

Formulas having core strength and stability should flaunt its “six pack”—whether it’s to keep phase separation in check or tame wild actives. Formula stability, particularly in emulsions, has always been a goal (and challenge) for formulators, which is why it’s my first choice, and perhaps the most obvious “hidden” formulating trend.

Just when formulators think their base emulsion is balanced, new sensory ingredients, actives and other materials enter the mix; and with so many variables in place, a multitude of solutions must be explored.

For one, emulsifiers that form multilamellar spheres are of interest. Potassium cetyl phosphate, for example, as described by Mendrok-Edinger in this issue, develops homo-domains on top of multilamellar spheres and lamellar sheet surfaces, which greatly enhances emulsion stability. Polysilicone bases are another solution. Specifically developed for wound-healing, dimethicone, volatile cyclosiloxane, silicone elastomer and nanoparticulate silica blends show spreadable characteristics yet remain stable.

Another answer lies in amphiphilic anisotropic powder, which has been designed with surfactant-like abilities, to maximize chemical and physical interface activities, as well as geometric properties similar to powder macroparticles.

Finally, let’s face it: sunburn isn’t sexy. That’s why photostability is crucial. Interestingly, a new silicone-based polymer series was described in a recent patent, whereby polymers were created by reacting a benzotriazole compound with a methyl ester silicone compound. This formed polymers containing specific benzotriazole UV-photostabilizing moieties.

While stability may not come off as sexy, it’s fundamental to the function of a product. However, there’s more to this story than just standing strong.

2. Delivery and Efficacy in Five-inch Pumps

While product stability may have silently captured our hearts, we must ask: Yes, but can it deliver? You can bet a good Galenic formula or delivery system would not only “walk all over” fundamental stability, but do so in impressive five-inch pumps. That’s why Galenic formulas and delivery systems are my second choice for hidden formulating trends.

Like product stability, the trend (and challenge) for structuring formulas and improving delivery is well-established, but the search continues to meet the “four R’s” of ingredient delivery: transporting the Right chemical, to the Right skin site, at the Right concentration for the corRect period of time.

As such, in one recent patent, non-spherical amphiphilic polymer nanoparticles are described that have temperature-controlled, reversible properties at aqueous solution-to-oil and solution-to-solid interfaces. The reversible property of these nanoparticles has interesting potential for maximizing the delivery of ingredients by controlling, through heat, the size of the emulsion at its interface.

Emulsion size aside, however, any number of delivery technologies has been developed, ranging from nano-vesicles, liposomes and liposome-like structures; to lamellar nano-vesicles and other nio-, etio-, transfer- and glycero-somes, among others. One recent invention describes hyalurosomes. Similar to liposomes, these nanometric vesicles have higher loading capacities. Composed of hyaluronate, phospholipid molecules and active ingredients, they were shown in vivo to increase the biological efficacy of therapeutic ingredients.

So not only have we built stable trust in emulsions, we’ve instilled belief in them by optimizing their efficacy; all in secret, behind the scenes.

3. To Thy Own Self be True: Self-assembly and DIY

For my third and final pick for secret (and sexy) formulating trends, the power of self-reliance cannot be over-stated. That’s where do-it-yourself (DIY) and self-assembling technologies come into play. While this trend is newer than those described above, it, too, has been a few years in the making.

In 2012, for example, Cosmetics & Toiletries reported initial findings about hidden processes behind the self-assembly behavior of fullerenes, aka “buckyballs,” with the potential to expand to nanotubes and graphene. These latter entities are incorporated in personal care formulas for effects including free radical-scavenging, anti-aging, skin whitening, anti-inflammation, sun protection, pore-tightening, sebum oxidation control and cellulite control. These findings therefore expanded the potential for self-assembly technologies in products.

A more recent example comes from a February 2016 patent, where inventors describe a particle coating that enables metal oxide pigments to self-disperse. This property is present even in the absence of milling and removes the need for a dispersing agent. In particular, a polyhydroxy stearic acid coating on titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, aluminum oxide or iron oxide affords them this capability.

As I scan these selections for secret (and sexy) developments in cosmetic formulating, I can only wonder what a closer, more intimate look at additional categories might reveal; although these have risen to the top in recent months.

There are new areas just beginning to make waves, but I’m not one to kiss and tell.

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