IFSCC Probes into the Biology of Cosmetics

Parrot feathers, stem cells, melanin, cellulite and epidermal tight junctions were among the many biology-themed papers presented during the 25th IFSCC Congress, held Oct. 6–9, 2008, in Barcelona. This heavy focus on biology is indicative of the evolving actives arena and likely a direct response to the antiaging consumer trend.

IFSCC congresses, which are held on even-numbered years, rotate with IFSCC conferences, held on odd-numbered years. Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, president of the IFSCC, described the distinction between the two during his opening remarks as well as in the official congress program. According to Wiechers, while congresses are aimed at presenting the latest cutting-edge cosmetic science, conferences provide a more basic education, which ensures participation from both seasoned and novice formulators within the industry.

This year’s congress certainly reached to the edges of science, digging deeply into molecular cosmetics and biology. Papers ranged from the nervous system and skin’s immune response to stimulants, and suppressing melanosome expression, to studies on actives, including a novel retinol-like material derived from parrot feathers, gene expression modulators for elastic fiber maintenance and repair, extracts from hibiscus and dill for antiaging, and a new discovery regarding the regulation of calcium within the skin’s epidermal tight junction.

Day one of the congress featured opening remarks from IFSCC committee members. Joaquim Sisto, president of the executive committee of the host chapter Spanish Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SEQC), welcomed delegates to Spain in Spanish, which was followed by greetings from SEQC president Ricard Armengol, who said, “It was a big challenge for the Spanish society to put this conference together, but we (the SEQC) believe that we have reached a high level of science in this conference—you be the judge.” This year’s event was a special occasion in that it marked the 50-year anniversary of the SEQC.

Following SEQC opening remarks, Wiechers addressed attendees, stating: “The purpose of the IFSCC is to bring all cosmetic scientists together and it is important to remember that there are also those chemists who are very dedicated to their work that, due to cost or time, could not attend this year.”

Yoshimaru Kumano, PhD, (Shiseido), immediate past president of the IFSCC, then awarded the Maison G. de Navarre Young Scientist Prize to Telanie Weys, a pharmaceutical graduate student at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University. Weys is completing her graduate degree studies in the cosmetics research group of Unit for Drug Research and Development. Earlier this year, she entered the Maison G. de Navarre Young Scientist competition with an entry about how the cosmetic industry has changed during the last 50 years, and what it could look like in the next 50 years.

The opening ceremony concluded with an impressive presentation by perfumist Augustí Vidal, during which delegates experienced three vials of fragrance formulated to represent accompanying music. The first scent was developed to represent a sweet, relaxed mood, followed by a second, more “violent” scent—each with music written to accompany the given fragrances. The third and final fragrance, as well as its musical piece, was a balanced mix of the first two, creating an entirely new scent and sound combination.

After the opening ceremony, attendees enjoyed a cocktail reception to mingle, relax and peruse more than 300 poster presentations, which were on display over the course of the week.

Day two of the IFSCC opened with a keynote lecture by Antonio Ferrer-Montiel, PhD, of the Miguel Hernández University in Spain, describing neurogenic inflammation and sensitive skin. According to Ferrer-Montiel, nerves and the immune system are intimately connected, and “the neuroimmune system is one, functional unit.” He also discussed “reverse physiology, in which researchers start by looking at skin in a pathological state and work to bring it down to the normal physiology state.”

Sessions continued throughout the day on progress in actives research, antiaging research, trends in hair, nails and skin protection, and assessments in cosmetic efficacy. In a separate evening session from L’Oréal Recherche, speakers covered cosmetics and well-being, featuring talks on cosmetics efficacy; anorexia and beauty care; and cosmetics to support oncology.

Finally, makeup to reduce elderly women’s risk of falling was described by Waly Fall of the Hôpital La Charité in Saint Etienne. As Fall noted, “Beauty care has an impact on mood, mood impacts gait, and gait impacts whether a person falls,” which occurs more frequently in elderly populations.

The evening wrapped up with an informal dinner, cocktail reception and muscial entertainment held in the host hotel’s botanical gardens.

Day three of the IFSCC kicked off with a keynote presentation from José Vicente Castell, PhD, of the University of Spain in Valencia, who covered the alternatives to animal testing currently available. He noted that the testing ban is expected to be put into force by March 11, 2009, but “it is unlikely that we will have fully replaceable test methods for animals in place by 2009 or 2013.” The day’s sessions continued with further discussions on antiaging and actives research; cosmetic safety including consumer health and animal testing alternatives; neurobiology and immune response in cosmetics; and sensorial appeal in cosmetics.

Day four started the morning session off with bright and early discussion of stem cells and cancer research from Maria Blasco, PhD, of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). Her presentation provided an interesting approach to antiaging with a look at cancer cells.

The theory presented was that since cancer cells are eternal, the answer to antiaging may be found in their perpetual activity. The primary candidates described were DNA telomeres. According to Blasco, as telomeres shorten, DNA stops regenerating; in contrast, if telomeres are lengthened, cells live longer. In relation to stem cells, Blasco has been investigating whether they contain telomeres and thus eventually stop regenerating tissues as the telomeres shorten, leading to failure to maintain mechanisms in the skin and thus produce the signs of aging.

During her Blasco's Q&A session, Art Georgalas of TRI-K/Kemira commented, “This is a very fascinating research topic and I’m sure we’ll see more on this topic of telomeres in the future.”

The remainder of the final day’s sessions concluded with discussions on assessing cosmetic efficacy, new trends in formulation, delivery system advances and additional antiaging research.

The 25th IFSCC Congress closed with an exquisite gala dinner, hosted in the former olympic facilities at the Palau Sant Jordi. Delegates were entertained by street performers, flamenco dancers, castanet and fan dancers, excerpts performed from the opera Carmen, two dancing horses and more, positioned intermittently between award announcements and the passing of the gavel to the new IFSCC president for 2009, Xavier Romeu of Spain.

Award recipients for the 2008 IFSCC Congress included Erik Schulze zur Wiesche of Henkel for the poster, “Specific Repair of Aging Hair Keratin”; for best basic research, Shohei Kuroda of Pola Chemical Industries for the paper, “Epidermal Tight Junction: The Master Skin Barrier Regulator”; and for best applied research, Tomo Osawa of Shiseido for the paper, “Development of a Water-resistant/Detergent-washable Powder Coated with Stimuli-responsive Polymer and its Application in Sun-care Products.”

The 2009 IFSCC Conference, “A Coroboree of Science and Beauty,” is scheduled for Oct. 7–9, 2009, in Melbourne, Australia. For more information, visit www.ifscc.org.

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