Skin science: Top five stories on cosmetics science and formulation

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Most-read stories on formulation and science. ©GettyImages
Most-read stories on formulation and science. ©GettyImages

Related tags Science Research

We dive into our most-read stories on formulation and science, featuring Kao Corp’s perfumery research, a study on why skin creams cause a rash, sustainable bug-based chitosan and more.

1 – ‘Molecular missing link’: Research explains why some creams cause a skin rash

Allergic skin reactions can be caused by many different chemical compounds found in skincare creams, cosmetics and other topical consumer products, but how they trigger the reaction has remained somewhat mysterious…until now​.

New research that suggests the way some chemicals displace natural fat-like molecules known as lipids in skin cells may explain how many common ingredients trigger allergic contact dermatitis.

The breakthrough could help stem soaring cases of rashes, lumps, blisters, itchy eyes and facial swellings. It has been dubbed the “molecular missing link” because it might have brought a new way to treat the condition.

Currently, the only way to stop allergic contact dermatitis is to identify and avoid coming into contact with the chemical that causes the reaction.

Most allergies are attributed to proteins or synthetically produced peptide antigens that set off the immune system.

2 – Japan study suggests that DHA could play vital role in developing ‘superior’ lip products

A new study from the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine has discovered that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) could potentially be an important component​ in creating more efficient lip care products.

The university collaborated with Kose Corporation’s research laboratories in order to better understand the molecular profile of the lip area.

The study highlighted it was especially important to study the lip in closer detail as it was one of the ‘major targets of cosmetics.’

“It’s important to under the molecular profile specific to human lips to discover the intrinsic ingredients for lip cosmetics.”

To gain a better understanding, the team aimed to map out the human lip using imaging mass spectrometry to gather insight into its lipid distribution.

3 – Predictive perfumery: What does Kao’s latest fragrance research mean for perfumers?

Researchers at Kao Corporation have developed a method to predict odour intensity​, a skill previously dependent on the experience of perfumers.

The development of the technology was the result of a project by the firm’s Sensory Science Research Laboratory, which compiled a database of 314 commonly used fragrance ingredients.

The database of olfaction characteristics allowed scientists to develop a method that can predict the odour intensity based on the concentration of perfumery raw materials (PRMs) present in a gas sample.

Data were obtained from an evaluation testing performed by 18 perfumers and researchers, who scored the intensity of samples emitted from a fragrance diluter with different gas concentrations.

Based on evaluations of those results, the team managed to visualise the relationship between gas concentration and odour intensity.

4 – Bug-based beauty: Singaporean biotech firm enlists soldier flies for more sustainable and purer chitosan

Singapore biotech start-up Insectta is rearing black soldier flies on its urban farm to produce a more sustainable and purer chitosan​ for the cosmetics industry.

The company, which claims to have the first insect farm in Singapore, raises black soldier flies that feed on food waste before being converted into viable materials such as chitosan.

It is a useful material that has many functions. For cosmetics, it has antioxidant, antimicrobial and wound-healing properties. Additionally, it can enhance penetration into skin.

Chitosan is conventionally sourced from shrimp and crab. However, the company believes using insects is cleaner and more sustainable.

“These flies are not pests, they don't bite. They are native to Singapore and not an invasive species.They feed on food waste which would otherwise go into the incinerator. We're trying to promote a circular economy,”​ said Chua Kai Ning, chief marketing officer of Insectta.

The flies on the farm, which are housed in a small room, can consume around 7.5 tonnes of food waste a month.

5 – Don’t stop using sunscreen, even though chemicals ‘may seep into the bloodstream’

Experts in Australia have been urging the public to carry on using sunscreen​ even though a widely publicised study has shown chemicals can be absorbed from some products into the bloodstream.

US Food and Drug Administration scientists found that sunscreen users might be taking in more of the active ingredients into our blood, far beyond regulatory thresholds.

They tested six of the main active ingredients in sunscreen lotions, sprays and pumps, revealing quantities of sunscreen chemicals in the blood high enough for the products to have to undergo additional FDA safety studies.

This happens when formulations surpass a threshold that requires them to be taken for further testing. The chemicals studied were avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule, homosalate, octisalate and octinoxate.

The researchers stress the findings do not mean that sunscreens are unsafe, merely that more research is needed. The FDA will now conduct more research to determine the maximum levels of sunscreen ingredients that are safe to use.

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