Stem Cells, Wellness and Claims Substantiation Take Center Stage at IFSCC Congress

The 2012 International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) Congress, held Oct. 15-18, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa, opened with a frenzy—the "African Frenzy" dancers, that is. Performers in traditional tribal dress drummed, stomped and chanted native songs of various Africa cultures, representing the beauty and diversity of the continent. Similarly, the opening ceremony keynote lecture by Aubrey Parsons of AP Consulting provided an overview of research under way examining the diversity of sub-Saharan and South African botanicals. For example, the fruit of Kigela africana, or "sausage tree," has been shown to have high flavonoid and coumarin content as well as anti-inflammatory benefits, among others.

Rooibos has extensively been shown to exhibit various benefits. "It's the new 'white tea' for skin and hair," said Parsons, "and in China, the market for it has grown significantly." Also, honey bush, or "cancer bush," is an African extremophile with the ability to heal burns and wounds, and soothe irritation. Buchu (Barosma betulina) leaf extract is chemically related to onion and garlic, and Parsons noted its chemistry is an interesting proposition to replace these flavor oils at a lower cost.

The outer shell or seed coating of the Ubuntu baobab is being examined as a new source for vanillin, which Parsons explained is especially exciting for the fragrance industry. Also within the Ubuntu family, mafura appears to have specific antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits, whereas ximenia is interesting for a multitude of benefits. "There is much research going on here," said Parsons.

Interest continues in the Barbadensis family, notably Aloe vera and feroux; in fact, this interest has led to the formation of the Aloe Council. Finally, tocotrienols are "literally changing the face of the personal care industry," remarked Parsons, "and interest in them is still growing."

Beyond an overview of phytochemical research, Parsons called out marketers who make outlandish product claims, undermining the credibility of the personal care industry. "I don't know how they get away with it," he said, illustrating advertisements in Africa and Indonesian media. One in particular claimed to "drive HIV from the body."

Parson's presentation was dedicated in memory of the late Johann Wiechers. "We were all shattered by his passing," said Parsons. "He was a true scientist and long-time friend." Chair of the IFSCC Steering Committee, Roy Gardiner, then welcomed attendees, thanked scientists in the industry for taking the time to present their research and declared the congress open. The evening came to a close with a networking cocktail reception.

Stem Cells

Stem cells remain one of the biggest trends in cosmetics research, albeit from different angles. While some have focused on plant stem cells for the sustainable production of natural ingredients, others aim to activate actual skin stem cells for various effects. Both were the focus of IFSCC presentations. Mike Farwick of Evonik, for instance, presented Cyanidium caldarium algae extract for anti-aging effects on epidermal fibroblasts. His work focused on the signals sent to skin stem cells to continue the cell renewal process. The described algae extract was shown to increase hyaluronic acid production and delivery to the extracellular matrix. "Its effects were equal to that of the retinol positive control," said Farwick. During the Q&A session, one attendee asked whether its mechanism of action was cause for regulatory concern, to which Farwick replied: "No, it's a natural ingredient."

Orange stem cells were presented by Bianca Martinez-Teipel of Provital for their ability to "organize the skin matrix." She noted the importance of producing the cells under controlled conditions, and that this method saved some 98% of the water typically consumed by orange plants. In addition, Tsutomu Soma of the Shiseido Research Center explored the multifunctional roles of dermal stem cells in cutaneous homeostasis.


Interest in wellness in personal care and related research earned this subject a congress session of its own. I. Iwai from Shiseido examined, via advanced techniques such as cryo-electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction, how the stratum corneum structure is fundamentally rearranged by the continuous cycle of a dry skin state, follwed by application of skin care products, and the drying out of skin again. The physical and mental effects of cosmetic therapy for the elderly were considered by M. Shirato, also of Shiseido, as well as clinical and psychological studies of cosmetics and well aging, presented by Philippe Masson of Evic France.

Takeo Imai of Kao Corp. predicted future facial appearances based on current appearance using 3-D analysis and polygon modeling. According to Imai, "the aim of this study was to clarify cues for age perception in adulthood." This work identified clusters of certain characteristics that could be grouped into four main types related to the size of eyes, lips, cranial facial form, etc., which ultimately could be used to provide consultative information for choosing customized product types.

Additional related topics included a dendritic type molecule to treat acne by balancing keratolytic activity without cytotoxicity, by Estelle Loing of Lucas Meyer Cosmetics; improvement of chronological skin aging through autophagy regulation, by Kanae Tashiro of Pola Chemical Industries; and the chances and risks of alternative preservation, by Andrea Wingenfeld of ISP/Ashland. Wingenfeld reminded attendees, "The main risks in preservation are overdose, which causes irritation, and under-dose with subsequent contamination." She noted that deactivations can occur, of which product developers are not always aware.

Finally, Yoko Gozu, also of Shiseido, examined the circadian rhythms of skin moisturizing functions and rhythm-regulating materials. Her team observed the HAS2 "clock gene" via bioluminescence, which was found to be active at night, as was the synthesis of filaggrin. She noted that with stress, the circadian wave flattens. "These studies suggest that day time and night time skin care have different meanings," said Gozu, who proposed that products be developed to optimize their time of application, i.e., "time-tuning."

Efficacy and Claims Substantiation

Clearly, efficacy testing and claims substantiation have become crucial to the industry. After all, if products have no effects, why would anyone use them? In fact, even in research not focused on testing methods, testing is still involved, as would be expected. Various methods have been introduced in recent years, to which improvements have been made. However, a few novel methods presented at the congress have the potential to become game-changers.

T. Yamashita of Shiseido presented one such technology, which enables the noninvasive in situ assessment of structural alterations to human dermis caused by photoaging. The collagen-specific imaging is based on second harmonic generation (SHG) microscopy. "This technique is among the hottest current techniques," said Yamashita. "The target-specific multiphoton imaging uses femtosecond pulse lasers to show the dermal fibers in human skin." This paper won the IFSCC Basic Research Award.

Philippe Mondon of Sederma described the evaluation of dermal extracellular matrix and epidermal-dermal junction modifications using four methods: histology, matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization mass spectrometric imaging (MALDI-MSI), in vivo confocal laser microscopy and echography. These complementary methods were used to measure the effects of aging and potential anti-aging peptides. Also, David Boudier of Silab showed a pilot study using fluorescence in vivo laser scanning microscopy for fast, qualitative and quantitative measurements of the barrier function.

In relation, Mirela Gianeti of the University of Sao Paulo evaluated the skin penetration of UV filters using reflectance confocal microscopy, whereas Ian Tooley of Croda Europe measured UV-initiated free radical generation in skin substitutes by electron spin spectroscopy. Heat Shock Protein 27 in the stratum corneum was considered a potential marker for the noninvasive detection of environmental stress, by Takahashi Yoshino of FANCL Corp., Japan; the assessment of an anti-aging cosmetic formula by in vivo confocal scanning laser microscopy was illustrated by Jamila Essadouni of Yves-Rocher; and a tool based on osmotic pressure for investigating the structure and function of the aqueous phase of cosmetics was highlighted by Luigi Rigano. "Osmotic pressure is very influential in living organisms," said Rigano. "Osmolytes protect the native form of protein."

In addition, Robin Fleser of the Artistry division of Amway described the development of an automated method to objectively determine changes in pore count, pore size and pore area. This technique utilized advanced imaging with an algorithm to digitally plot the pores on the face and assign a pore score, which could be used to compare the before and after effects of products. "Interestingly, the pore score varied among individuals in the morning versus midday or afternoon," said Fleser, who added, "this shows the importance of ensuring that efficacy tests be performed at the same time of day with individual subjects."

Anti-oxidation, Cooling, Web-based Imaging and More

Among the various other research topics presented were antioxidants and anti-oxidative strategies; sensory benefits and their measurements; a Web-based tool for skin care analysis; and a novel, invisible nanosheet for skin benefits. Strategies for suppressing radical chemistry in hair coloring products were discussed by Jennifer Marsh of Procter & Gamble, whose presentation won the IFSCC Applied Research Award. Her work found that chelators EDTA and EDDS, in the presence of copper ions alone, equally suppressed hydroxyl radication formation. However, the addition of calcium to the EDTA system increased radical formation eventually, while EDDS continued to prevent it.

Fumitaka Fujita of Mandom Corp. presented mechanisms involved in the cooling sensation via the TRPM8 receptor. According to Fujita, this sensation is reported to be impacted by ambient temperature, so his objective was to "control the cooling sensation precisely in various ambient temperatures." Interesting to note is that his work found 1,8-cineole to be a more suitable cooling agent than menthol.

Greg Hillebrand, also of Procter & Gamble, presented the validation of a Web-based imaging system for at-home skin care analysis. The system he described allows individuals to track changes in facial wrinkles and pigmentation using their own digital cameras. Hillebrand explained that a special headband is worn by the user to calibrate the system for consistent analysis. His work received an honorable mention by the IFSCC for Applied Research.

Finally, Satoshi Yamaki, also of Shiseido, looked into the future to predict whether an ultra-thin, transparent nanosheet film could become an ideal stratum corneum, to impart novel skin care effects. "Rather than applying a skin care product, we suggest applying a nanosheet," said Yamaki. He described various challenges posed with the use of such a sheet. "The sheet is recovered with a mesh to make re-application possible," he said. A sodium hyaluronate laminated nanosheet was shown to extend moisturizing effects on skin. Further, when applied beneath a foundation, it could continuously impart anti-aging effects to the crow's feet area. During the Q&A session, attendees envisioned treatments for compromised skin, although Yamaki noted the need to test for long-term effects.

These are but a few highlights from the three-day congress, which highlighted 65+ presentations, more than 150 posters and aproximately 50 exhibitors. The 2013 IFSCC Conference will be held Oct. 30-Nov. 1, in Rio de Janeiro. For more information, visit

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