Essential protection: Anti-pollution cosmetics a ‘must-have’ for Chinese consumers in all segments

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

China’s obsession with urban pollution is driving consumer demand for anti-pollution cosmetics. ©GettyImages
China’s obsession with urban pollution is driving consumer demand for anti-pollution cosmetics. ©GettyImages

Related tags China Anti-pollution skin care

China’s obsession with urban pollution is driving consumer demand for anti-pollution cosmetics and pushing cosmetic companies to develop innovative solutions to a complex issue.

Dr Juntao Xia, head of development and innovation, personal care solutions Asia Pacific, BASF, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that he expects anti-pollution products to become a ‘must-have’ for Chinese consumers.

He noted that demand for this claim will extend beyond skin care and into other personal care categories, such as hair care.

“In 2019, anti-pollution became a must-have for many cosmetic segments. As such, suppliers and brands have the responsibility to develop suitable solutions to address these issues,”​ said Xia.

He added: “Even though pollution levels have improved thanks to the efforts of the government, the consumer awareness of pollution is getting higher and higher. They are linking pollution, outdoor and indoor, to their skin issues, like skin sensitivity.”

However, developing a solution can be complex, Xia admitted.

“According to WHO statistics, in 2016, 92% of people were living in areas surrounded by modern pollution where there are more than 200 toxic chemicals surrounding them that cannot be seen. You cannot cover it all, therefore, a one-size-fits-all anti-pollution solution does not exist.”

In the future, Xia believes anti-pollution technology will have to continue evolving to keep up with the complex demands.

For instance, he foresees more smart technology which can self-adjust according to the levels of pollution, and personalised cosmetics that can leverage on big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create skin care according to daily conditions.

A second skin

Recently, the Germany chemical company unveiled Mimiskin, an ingredient that forms a breathable film on the skin that protects from pollution while also maintaining the health of the skin.

“This is a second skin that mimics the structure of the skin. When applied, you won’t feel it, but it works to protect you from outdoor and indoor aggressors,” ​said Xia.

This new technology, which just won the PCHi Fountain Awards, was based on a phenomenon Xia described as the nano-effect.

“When you minimise wax particles, the melting point changes. One study found that when gold is broken down into a nano-sized particle, its melting point changes and it will melt at room temperature while in its original form, the melting point is more than a thousand degrees.”

Inspired by this, the BASF team in China developed liquid crystal lipid particles. These particles melts at body temperature and immediately form a film on the skin without needing to transition into a liquid state.

“The particle size is as small as 100 nanometres and is encapsulated by a liquid crystal structure that mimics our skin structure,” ​said Xia.

Unlike polymer-based film formers, the barrier that is formed on the skin is breathable.

“The problem with film formers on the market is that its like wearing a glove; it makes it hard for the skin to breathe. Mimiskin, however, allows oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through.”

As an anti-pollution solution, the application of Mimiskin makes it less likely for particles to adhere to the skin and can facilitate removability.

Additionally, the film forms a barrier on the skin to prevent particle pollutants from attaching and penetrate into the skin.

Despite its efficacy as a skin shield, it can also be removed easily.

“Removal is a critical issue. No one wants something that takes a lot of effort. With Mimiskin, all you need to do is take a shower as it will dissolve when the water temperature is above 40 degrees and leaves no residue,” ​explained Xia.

Aside from its protective capabilities, the team also found that the ingredient was effective at maintaining skin health.

It does so by preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), keeping skin moisturised for 24 hours without additional moisturisers even in dry environments.

At the same time, it can reduce skin flaking and the appearance of roughness.

“Due to this protection, it can also reduce inflammation. It’s not really a medical effect… but it works like a mini invisible bandage to keep the physical barrier intact.”

Lastly, because the film is translucent, it causes light to reflect from it to enhance the skin’s radiance.

In terms of application, the company believes the ingredient can be in skin, body, sun, baby and scalp care products.

“We are continuing to develop new application methods so we can teach our customers how they can fully utilise the benefits we have identified. It's not easy because there are so many complex ingredients in the cosmetics world,” ​said Xia.

Film with function?

Moving forward, the company hopes to explore the possibility of using Mimiskin as a platform for active ingredients.

“We are continually developing the platform, to see if we can put actives into the particle to create a film with function. Just imagine if you have brightening or anti-ageing actives in the film It will be more efficient.  We are carefully screening all the actives which can be combined with this technology.”

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