According to James H. Carraway, M.D., skincare products have stuck close to their roots — moisturizers, sunblocks and Retin-A (Ortho Neutrogena). However, he says, "We're now seeing an increased number of product lines. Each product has a new twist — a different kind of oil base or nutrient in the product — each one touting a distinct advantage."
Dr. Carraway is a professor and chairman, division of plastic surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School and a Cosmetic Surgery Times medical advisor.Claims vs. promises
Examining the skincare market as a whole, "We see a greater focus on claims that can be substantiated rather than open promises. And the claims are becoming stronger and definitely coming more from the cosmeceutical market," according to Janice Hart, business development manager with Engelhard Corp., a $4.2 billion surface and materials science company that develops surface treatments including skincare products, ingredients and technologies.
Engelhard meets these emerging demands with formulations and delivery systems that target problems including wrinkles and age spots at various levels within the skin by bringing active ingredients exactly where they're needed, Ms. Hart says.
In April 2005, the company launched filling spheres technology comprised of hyaluronic acid beads measuring 1 micron to 5 microns that over 24 hours swell to 60 microns to 80 microns to fill wrinkles and fine lines.
What is unique about the product is that it starts achieving observable effects in an hour, she says. To penetrate more deeply, Engelhard employs liposome technology that delivers active ingredients intact near melanocytes to achieve whitening.
The company also uses what it calls submicron technology to more effectively deliver active ingredients for applications including slimming and anti-wrinkle treatments. The latest example in this area is Cyclocaps, a grafted cyclodextrin vehicle.
Ms. Hart says, "It's a multiple-cavity sphere based on beta-cyclodextrins."
Key to the above advances is an industry-leading, tissue-engineering program that recreates the dermis and epidermis in vitro for product development and testing, she explains.
"The benefit that (this program) provides our company is that we're able to see very clearly what happens when an active ingredient is applied to the skin in vitro and how that correlates to what happens in vivo," she says.
In recent testing involving phytokine, a soy extract product, Ms. Hart says Engelhard was able to screen thousands of molecules to see which was most likely to produce extremely efficient increased synthesis of collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) before studying the strongest candidate in vivo.
Fixing UV damage
When it comes to sun protection, "research has evolved significantly over the years from topical application of sunscreen, which absorbs UV light, to reduction or elimination of the damage caused by the UV by using antioxidants," says Daniel H. Maes, Ph.D., vice president, research and development, The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.
Antioxidants eliminate sun-induced damage so effectively, he says, that Estée Lauder's DayWear SPF 15 now contains 50 percent less sunscreen than it did a decade ago.
"Our dream is to produce a product that achieves SPF 15 against UVA and UVB without any sunscreen," Dr. Maes says. "Sunscreens do not stay long enough on the skin's surface because they get dislodged when we wipe our faces. At the end of the day, they will not provide the protection one expects from them."