18 February 2009

The science of beauty evolves

Beauty and grooming scientists have presented research that offers evidence of science's role in evolving beauty and grooming product efficacy.


So beauty is only skin deep? Perhaps, but research and development in the beauty world requires astonishingly deep pockets, if the line-up of just one company's presentations at the 2009 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting is anything to go by.

This year's meeting, which ended on February 16, observed the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth.

Research summaries from Proctor & Gamble's beauty and grooming division included:

Colour science
More than Meets the Eye: The Science of Unique Skin Colour and its Interaction with Cosmetic Foundation, Presented by Karen Kalla:

The optics of human skin are well understood, including how the skin's chromophore layers (melanin, haemoglobin, and collagen) generate reflectance in specific regions of the visible spectrum. However, how these phenomenon vary across populations, impact skin defects (such as under-eye circles, age spots) and can be predicted through light absorption and scattering principles (Kubelka Munk theory) are less well known.

Genomics of skin ageing
Genomic Analysis of the Anti-oxidant Capacity of Ageing Skin, Presented by Rosemarie Osborne, PhD:

Studies have established that environmental factors, such as UV light, trigger skin damage and photo-ageing; and while the benefits of antioxidants in offsetting this damage have been documented, thorough understanding of skin's anti-oxidant response element (Are) on a genomic level are key to the next generation of targeted prevention and reversal strategies.

To uncover these insights, researchers analysed gene expression patterns in sun-exposed and sun-protected old and young skin. The study results detail the genomic patterns found, including a pathway which found older, exposed skin having a dysregulated expression of ARE-related proteins, thus resulting in reduced defences against oxidative damage, as compared to younger skin.

Stratum Corneum Lipid Metabolism Pathways Associated with Intrinsic and Extrinsic Ageing, Presented by Rosemarie Osborne, PhD:

The same genomic study described above found new insights on the stratum corneum, the skin's barrier layer responsible for protecting against environmental assaults.

Through a separate analysis, researchers gleaned vital genomic understandings of the respective roles of intrinsic and extrinsic ageing in affecting the stratum corneum's ability to perform its core function.

The same study analysed this affect while adding the variable of a topical cosmetic compound, using human skin equivalents. The results demonstrated that the compound increased the expression of genes involved in lipid biosynthesis and metabolism of the stratum corneum, leading to new appreciation of its potential in improving barrier maintenance and repair.

Hair science
Liquid Crystals for Surface Modifications of Coloured Hair, Presented by Steve Shiel, PhD:

Conventional oxidative hair colour processes, such as bleaching, change the structure of hair fibres, removing more than 70% of the natural, hydrophobic protective layer after even a single colouring.

This structural change inhibits hair's interaction with traditional, hydrophobic conditioning ingredients, such as dimethicone, leaving bleached hair in an unprotected state. To address this damage, scientists studied the effect of liquid crystal technology.

Liquid crystals were found to significantly increase the hydrophobicity of the hair surface, enabling bleached hair to be conditioned with dimethicone.

Grooming science
Innovations in Modern Blade and Razor Technology, Presented by Pamela Zupkosky:

The modern five-blade razor is the product of years of research and technological advances. A five-blade razor is not a new idea, but it has taken almost 90 years to perfect the technology.

Like all multi-blade razors, the five-blade razor improves the closeness of the shave through the "hysteresis effect", which results from a slight hair extension out of the follicle as the first blade engages and from the hair being cut further down the hair shaft by the subsequent blades. – (HealthDay News, February 2009)

Read more:
Beauty formula unveiled at last
Cosmetic surgery revolution?


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Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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