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Words from Wiechers on 'Shaken, Not Stirred' Cosmetics R&D

Contact Author Tony O'Lenick, Jr., and the late Johann W. Wiechers, Ph.D.
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Editor's note: The "Words from Wiechers" series considers the many lessons we, as an industry, can learn from the late Johann Wiechers, Ph.D. He was an advisor, colleague, insightful leader and "disruptive force" (in a good way) in the industry until his unexpected passing. Presenting Wiechers's insights is IFSCC Education Chair, Anthony J. O'Lenick, Jr.

This is the third in a series of articles discussing concepts presented by the late Johann Wiechers, Ph.D. It is my desire to inspire members of our industry with these words of wisdom from an icon.

In his book, Memories of a Cosmetically Disturbed Mindinitially published in April 2013 by Allured Business Media, Chapter 14, entitled "Shaken, Not Stirred," is actually one of my favorite works from Johann. Here, he uses the line from James Bond related to how Bond preferred his martini. Johann brilliantly related this difference to research and product development processes in the cosmetics industry.

Stirring Up Trouble

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Stirring relates to the less strenuous, more common formulation and raw material development that relies on blending a variety of raw materials into a formulation to get a new product. Occasionally there is a true synergy but more often than not, the result is just a combination. While simple, there are limitations on where blending can take a technology.

A Mover and Shaker

Shaking requires more energy but represents a bolder approach. By encouraging us to “shake,” Johann challenges us to put more energy into our products. Use new technologies, develop new raw materials and look beyond the simple.

We are challenged, “Let’s stir less and shake more test tubes to create more novel chemistry that will explore routes to new efficacies rather than simply just mix existing molecules…I hope to see more true innovation."

The Lesson

We need to be more creative in our work and to seek breakthroughs, not simple mixtures.

As a final comment, Johann—having the background of a Ph.D. pharmacist—was known to smile happily at the hidden meanings in some of his work. One example is his understanding that there is actually a demonstrable difference between shaken and stirred martinis, which skin experts would find most interesting. . .


Chemists and martini connoisseurs have investigated the difference between a martini shaken and a martini stirred. Several years ago, the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario in Canada conducted a study to determine if the preparation of a martini could influence its antioxidant capacity. The researchers found that a shaken martini had more antioxidants than a stirred one.1

Here's to you, Johann.


1. M Hirst and JR Trevithick, Shaken, not stirred: Bio-analytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis, British Medical Journal 319 (7225) 1600–2  (Dec 18, 1999) 

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