Formulating with Naturals—Skin Depigmentation

After having served as a judge at a local science fair last spring, this author brought home a message of the pervasive appeal of natural skin care actives based on a precocious fifth grader’s clinical study titled, “Garlic: Winning the War against Vampires (sic) Zits.” The proposed mechanism of action was that garlic (Allium sativum) exhibits antimicrobial activity. Her home clinical study involved making an extract from garlic bulbs and incorporating it into a cocoa butter-containing body oil, then comparing its effects with those of a commercial benzoyl peroxide cream, minocycline and toothpaste—an interesting mix of positive and negative controls.

While her subject population of one individual per test material requires expansion in any follow-up studies, her enthusiasm in evaluating this natural active was impressive, as was her successful salesmanship in convincing her older sibling to apply the garlic-containing body oil twice daily, as it certainly affected his social life. Further, the results of the garlic treatment, as shown by photos taken over the course of the study, were surprisingly good.

This study parallels in microcosm the skin care industry’s drive to formulate products based on nature’s remedies. However, formulators of such products seek more scientific guidance to determine whether a particular natural material measures up to its synthetic counterpart. Here, both current knowledge about the skin and data about the myriad active ingredients available can be used to make decisions. Knowledge on skin physiology increases continually and phytochemical actives are legion.

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