Sea Monkeys, Plastics, iPods and More: Forging the Future in Cosmeceuticals

SAN DIEGO, Calif. USA—The third annual Cosmeceuticals Summit, held Feb. 11-12, 2008, took the entire first day to look at advanced materials forging the future of this booming industry. Speakers covered topics ranging from devices and delivery systems for increased penetration and time release of actives; plastic molecules designed to attach any organic groups for uses such as UV blockers; and squid and marigold extracts for skin lightening and antioxidant activities, respectively.

The morning session opened with welcomes from Christine Groff, conference director of Intertech/Pira, and Nava Dayan, PhD, of Lipo Chemicals, who served as conference chair. Dayan thanked attendees for coming and speakers for accepting her invitation, adding “[Today] we want to acknowledge and talk about the signs of aging to satisfy our curiosity about what’s going on in antiaging work. On day two we’ll discuss how we cope with the regulatory aspects and changes that are occurring. I’m hoping that this event will provide tools for you and cautious optimism about ways to improve appearance.”

The first speaker presented a different angle from the customary topical approach—skin care devices. Helen Knaggs, PhD, of Nu Skin Inc., discussed how the industry is seeing an influx of at-home devices available to the consumer. “Technology is rapidly moving ahead and the cosmetic and personal care industry needs to think about what the impact is; it affects our consumers every day.” She added that consumers are interested in better and more personalized treatments and want devices they can use to measure the improvement of their skin. With the popularity of the iPod and other compact technologies leading the way, skin care device manufacturers are following this lead with the introduction of several new handheld treatment devices on the market, which she provided examples of in the Japanese, Korean, American and European markets.

Knaggs then described some of the challenges faced by her company to develop not only a treatment but a diagnostic skin care device, including such prerequisites as: imaging or numeric calculation of skin, good quality images, being reliable and reproducible, providing sufficient resolution to look at a small area of skin, proper lighting and subject movement and compensating for user error.

Moving from the devices arena, Chris DeArmitt, PhD, of Hybrid Plastics, opened with the comment, “Everyone’s first question must be, ‘What is a guy from a plastics company doing up here'?’” He then went on to explain how his company has developed a chemical technology for plastics that bridges the property space between hydrocarbon-based plastics and ceramics. POSS molecules, short for polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane, are 3D cages of silicone and oxygen plus any organic group. The material has found use in many areas but could be especially useful as a UV blocker because, according to DeArmitt, they are effective dispersants for nanoparticles.

After a mind-twisting morning of new ideas, Betty Santonnat of Evonik presented on advances in a more well-known arena to the personal care industry—sphingolipids, biopolymers, polypeptides, amino acid derivatives and plant extracts for antiaging, health environment and convenience. Her presentation described an invention that mimics the makeup of skin thus helping it to repair and correct itself. According to Santonnat, “It has taken two years to find the right blend to mimic the right lipid organization, like that of skin.” Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine will go into depth on the details of this invention in the April 2008 issue.

After a morning break featuring refreshments sponsored by nanotech company Xetacomp, and a networking opportunity among tabletop exhibitors, the sessions resumed.

Donald Owen, PhD, of Owen Biosciences Inc., discussed biosurfactants as bioactives and emulsifiers. He commented how, through work with the Mayo Clinic, it is apparent that the medical field is concerned about changes it is seeing in children and whether they relate to ingredients found in toothpaste, foods, the environment, etc. “When you really look at personal care ingredients, we put an enormous number of INCI names in products.”

He also added that breakthrough science is coming out of lipo-oligopeptides since they can be sequence-specific, thus acting as cell stimulants, hormetic agents and biocides. They are capable of producing complex micelles that auto-aggregate, auto-deliver, and may act as a food source. According to Owen, it is known that many of them are site-specific and can trigger toll-like 1,2 and 4-receptors to provide defensive properties.

Owen said it is commonplace in the industry to use microarray DNA assays that reveal the gene responsible for turning on upregulated proteins. In addition, the industry is learning more about human antimicrobial peptides. “We’re loaded with a host of defense peptides,” said Owen. “They’re our basic defense mechanisms; we can upregulate defenses and the entire keratinocyte system is a part of it.”

During the question/answer session, Rebecca James-Gadberry of YG Labs agreed with Owen that keratinocytes are a part of the immune system. She asked, “Have you tested the theory that [ketatinocytes] produce these peptides, and do you know what group they are?” To which Owen replied, “Yes. They all are defensive BS.”

Smart delivery systems were the next topic as Sam Shefer, PhD, of Salvona Technologies Inc., took the podium. He first outlined the particle sizes of various delivery systems to reach various points on the skin; to keep particles on the topmost layer = 100 nm; for antiaging care in the dermal layer = 50 nm; to penetrate a little deeper such as actives to enhance or retard hair growth = 10-100 nm; and on a drug level to affect the nerve system = 1-10nm. Shefer added that delivery systems should be designed to provide better targeting release, thus less ingredients are needed since they target the right place.

“What is a del system? It is a vehicle that can protect functional ingredients and deliver them to the site of interest at the right time,” explained Shefer, “They must also control as well as release.” He added that “smart” delivery systems can respond to the environment and release when and where active is needed most; for example, moisturizer released as needed, exfoliating agents released just enough so as not to irritate the skin, or release of antiaging actives at the dermis level where it is needed most. Shefer then described several delivery systems his company has developed, including SalSphere brand Resveratrol. According to Shefer, resveratrol is one of the best antioxidants available, but it is generally not soluble or it turns the formulation a dark color. By encapsulation in a delivery system, the company has made it more stable and thus bioavailable on the skin when the skin needs it.

Before the break for a networking luncheon, Evelyne Bismuth, PhD, of EMD Chemicals, discussed new technologies available in sun care as well as future technologies. She commented that sun care is moving into daily skin care, but asked whether the consumer needs higher SPFs such as 30 or 15 just for going to the office. She described her company’s encapsulated OMC, which has made it more compatible with other UV filters, and described the futuristic, ideal photoprotective molecule as one that brings three worlds together—photostability, UV absorbance and antioxidants. “The future will be found in the compatibility between the worlds of antioxidants and photostabilizers,” said Bismuth.

During the afternoon session, Julio Lamberty of Beauty Avenues described the US$56.8 billion naturals product market and covered the topical benefits of ingestible ingredients. For example, natural antioxidants include: tomato (lycopene), marigold, mangosteen fruit, flax seed oil, Aronia berries (black chokeberry) and soybeans. Natural anti-inflammatory agents were cited in: licorice root, Boswellia root, grapes, quercetin, turmeric and puer tea from China. Lamberty named some natural exfoliants to slough off deads skin cells to allow rejuvenated skin to surface, including physical and chemical exfoliants in nature such as: crushed shells, sugar and salt crystals and pumice, as well as willow bark, grapes, citrus fruits, apples and shrimp.

Some natural skin-lightening agents, active by such means as tyrosinase inhibition, reduction of reactive oxygen species, inhibition of melanosome transfer and skin, and turnover acceleration, included: grapefruit; a mix of the Ayurvedic natural herbs Lithuania somnifera, Glycyrrhiza glabra and Phyllanthus emblica; squid, reportedly a natural source of chitin that inhibits tyrosinase; soy; wheat germ and Indian cress petals.

Some natural skin conditioning agents were noted, including: wheat germ oil that contains high amounts of natural tocopherol; wild pansy that is rich in oligosaccharides and stimulates synthesis of aquaporins to boost levels of hyaluronic acid in skin; sesame seeds to reinforce cohesion of the SC; water cress that stimulates GAGs and retains water in the etracellular matrix; aloe vera that hydrates and provides anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant effects; and prickly pear, rich in materials that provide skin conditioning.

Lamberty, discussed some of the challenges of using naturals—supply and availability issues, investigating to make sure the material is not a threatened or endangered species, consistent and measurable active compounds evaluated from internal analytical data, not the vendor’s, color that can vary, odor that can vary, preservation, safety—just because they are naturals does not mean they are safe, and short- and long-term stability. Companies are in the area of naturals because it is a huge market—people are looking toward the trend for health and wellness. Naturals are currently a US$6.1 billion market in personal care and projected to reach US$8 billion by 2010. Rebecca James Gadberry of YG Labs then presented new ingredient trends in non-drug cosmeceutical skin care, explaining that “Nondrug does not mean nonefficaceous or nonactive, it just means it is not recognized by the FDA as an OTC material,” said Gadberry. “These materials still give benefits and biochemical results.”

After a brief review of DNA and the genetic helix, Gadberry explained that with aging, the DNA ladder “rungs” no longer fit together. Current products she described that address DNA damage and aging included Laboratoires Sérobiologiques’s DN-Age (INCI: Cassia alata leaf extract) which protects cells from photoaging. Another material, Heliomoduline (Gossypium hirsutun (cotton) extract) from Silab, is a low molecular weight peptide from cottonseed that upregulates protein by 91% and is specific to damaged areas within the nucleus. It works through “excision repair” of DNA, explained Gadberry, taking the DNA spiral and separating out the damaged part of the ladder. The protein “cuts out” the damaged part of ladder, and a template is formed to inject into the part that is missing half of its rung. GP4G (Artemia salina  brine shrimp extract, or “sea monkeys”) from Vincience/ISP is said to reduce DNA damage and enhances DNA repair by controlling overexpression of p53 and assisting DNA repair, reducing apoptosis by 30%.

Gadberry covered two antioxidant categories; one being the direct, commonly known antioxidant and the other, a new category—i.e., endogenous antioxidants, or what she referred to as indirect antioxidants. The difference between the two is that direct antioxidants directly scavenge free radicals whereas the indirect stimulate the body’s own free radical scavenging resources. As one example, Venuceane from Sederma/Croda (Thermus ferment) is an extremophile, exisiting only in extreme conditions, and stimulates the body’s natural antioxidants during heat exposure; repairing and protecting against UVA damage.

From a very different angle, Jim Glasheen of Technology Partners, spoke about how he, a venture capitalist, was interested in exploring the personal care area as an industry to become financially involved in, adding that other venture capitalists have considered this area as “consumer medicine.” His presentation related to funding of R&D for intentional innovation in the personal care area. “Drugs like Botox and Viagra were developed by accident,” said Glasheen, “Imagine what might happen if we put money into things on purpose.”

Finally, rounding out an intense and eclectic day, dermatologist Karen Burke, MD, PhD, went into depth about antioxidants to reverse the signs of aging. She discussed that natural topical d-α-tocopherol between 2-5%, and not its esters, provides the best protection against UV. Adding to the benefits of vitamin E, vitamin C also protects against UV damage and is an inflammatory; it is unstable in liquid form but can be very beneficial if provided in powder form and mixed with water just prior to application. Another antioxidant, ferulic acid, enhances vitamin C stability and UV protective effects. Finally, the trace mineral selenium has shown to reduce cancer incidence and boosts immunity; it has been shown to protect against pigmentation and formation of blisters on UV-exposed mice. “Why do we need topical antioxidants?” asked Burke. “They enhance photoprotection and provide a reservoir of protection in the skin and they can also reverse photoaging.”

The Cosmeceuticals Summit provided a cornucopia of ideas for future innovation in the cosmetics and personal care industry—including active ingredients. Learn more about actives at Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine's April webinar, Actives: Testing for Efficacy. For more information about the webinar, visit

-Rachel Chapman, C&T magazine

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