Research points to unknown properties of skin care lotions

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Emulsion

Recent research suggests that the properties of a lotion change
radically on application to the skin; changes that were previously
unknown to scientists, and opening up the industry's research and
development to criticism.

The study, presented at this year's 234th​ national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, suggests that the nature of skin care lotions radically alter after just 10 minutes contact with the skin, affecting the product's absorption properties. The research, presented by Dr Stig E. Frinberg, regards the nature of the oil, water and surfactant mix that form the basis of most cosmetic lotions; specifically focusing how the structure changes when its moves from the bottle onto the skin. Friberg's research reveals that after application onto the skin a lotion begins to evaporate, causing its internal structure to change. The lotion moves from a liquid phase into a more orderly state such as a liquid crystalline or solid amorphous state, and it is this new state that will determine the effects on the skin. Importantly, Friberg states that these changes may affect the absorption of molecules into the skin, therefore radically altering the activity and efficacy of the product in general. "The appearance of liquid crystalline structures in the emulsion acts as if you have a much higher concentration of the active substance on the skin"​ Friberg explained. The research suggests that further study of the new structures the lotion forms on application could be extremely beneficial to the cosmetics industry, as companies are currently working with a template that is, according to the researcher, flawed. It is hoped that further investigation may help manufacturers to better tailor the active ingredients to the emulsion; one example could be salicylic acid, an active ingredient often used in formulations used to treat acne and psoriasis. Traditionally scientists have assumed that the structure of an emulsion remains intact as a lotion evaporates. And Friberg blames this ignorance on the industry's tendency to 'jump on the bandwagon' rather than to push the boundaries of original research. He references the plethora of research into the effects the form of the lotion - for example emulsions, microemulsions and vesicle solutions - has on the skin, and claims that his research shows that such efforts are in vain as the lotion is radically changed within 10 minutes after application. The scientist told the meeting that the cosmetics and skin-care product industry is sometimes beset by a 'me-too' mindset, where research and development focus on matching the competition rather than applying sound science to improve products. In terms of his own discoveries, Friberg does not expect the industry to respond straight away to his claims, stating that any view which deviates from the tradition takes a long time to penetrate the commercial world.

Related topics Formulation & Science Skin Care

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