Fiction Turned Fact

I love a good science fiction story, especially those where the border between this world and another is blurred—or even traversable. Whether it’s space and time travel or a new existential belief, I’m intrigued by concepts that shift my perception; in fact, the 1995 American sci-fi film 12 Monkeys completely changed my view of reality and, in turn, my educational path ... which led me here.

I don’t imagine readers are wondering what science fiction has to do with cosmetic chemistry. I’m betting most would agree there’s a good deal of science fiction-turned-fact within cosmetics R&D. For instance, decades ago, who would have thought that products could change color or texture, or be targeted to upregulate and downregulate an individual’s genes? What’s next? Some would say age-reversal—which is where regulators raise the red flag, depending on the specific claims made.

In relation, I learned an interesting fact during my recent trip to Milan for the In-Cosmetics trade show. According to one manufacturer, the European cosmetics industry has more flexibility in product claims than its North American counterpart, allowing it to make somewhat biological claims to promote product advances. Whether one feels that cosmetics should perform such feats is, of course, a separate issue; but in the end, science fiction is becoming fact and being bottled up for sale at cosmetic retailers near you.

This edition of Cosmetics & Toiletries looks at a few of those functional ingredients designed to work their magic on skin. For instance, in Finnie and Barbé’s article, the authors examine the anti-aging ingredient retinol and propose organosilica microparticles to improve its stability. In addition, Farwick and Rawlings discuss the anti-inflammatory and anti-acne benefits, among others, of phytosphingosine. In relation, to assess anti-cellulite actives, Bazela et al. describe noninvasive techniques for product efficacy evaluation.

Besides actives turning science fiction into fact, however, this issue also puts a new spin on the reality of an old favorite with Pagano’s review of nail polish as the “industrial” cosmetic, serving both decorative (i.e., pigments) and protective (film-formers and plasticizers) functions. His article is complemented by Abrutyn’s column, which deciphers the anatomy of nail polishes. Finally, such a discussion of fashion and function would not be complete without the annual Color Formulary.

The limitless imagination of cosmetics R&D innovators never ceases to amaze me and continues to turn fiction into formulation fact.

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