Liposomes don’t penetrate skin, but they may kick-start active ingredient delivery

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

Liposomes don’t penetrate skin, but they may kick-start active ingredient delivery

Related tags: Chemistry

Researchers in Denmark say that the way liposomes are perceived in beauty needs to change after showing that the vesicles, often praised by cosmetics companies for their alleged ability to transport active ingredients into the skin, cannot actually penetrate; but rather help the process get underway.

It is the first time that a special microscope, called a nanoscope, has been used to study the skin, and the scientists from the University of Southern Denmark say that with this technique it is possible to directly see the individual molecules and liposomes.

From this study, published in the journal PLOS One,​ they add that liposomes cannot penetrate the skin's barrier without breaking.

The current research follows a previous study from 2013, in which the research team showed that liposomes lose their cargo of agents the moment they meet the skin's surface.

"This time we use a new method, and once and for all we establish that intact liposomes cannot penetrate the skin's surface,”​ says Associate Professor Jonathan Brewer from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, at the University of Southern Denmark, who worked alongside colleague, Jes Dreier.

“Therefore, we need to revise the way we perceive liposomes -- especially in the skin care industry, where liposomes are perceived as protective spheres transporting agents across the skin barrier.”

Helping things along

Brewer and Dreier state that by studying liposome activity and the processes that occur at the molecular level in this way, it can provide a valuable insight into how cells function.

They say their study has revealed that liposomes cannot carry active agents into the skin; but that they may, in some way, help the agents get underway.

"When the liposomes hit the skin and break, it is not certain that the active agents are wasted. It may well be that a chemical reaction starts, which somehow helps the agents travel through the skin barrier,”​ say the researchers.

“So in a way you could say that the liposomes might work -- but then it is in a different way than the beauty industry tells us.”

The researchers now recommend that science changes its focus towards these possible chemical reactions.

Related topics: Formulation & Science, Skin Care

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