Sunday, December 3, 2017

Series from a question from Patreon: What's a cosmeceutical? What's an active? And how much can we use of these things in combination? Part two...

We spent a great deal of time trying to define the idea of "cosmeceutical" and "active" in this post, so let's get to the next parts of the questions posed in my October Q&A on Patreon.

Michelle asked: I am wondering what exactly is considered an 'active' ingredient, and if there is a maximum percentage recommended for total active ingredients in a formulation.

In the same post, Belinda said: I will second Michelle’s comment. I, too, have been wondering how many cosmeceuticals is too many. Right now I’m experimenting with the ones I have one at a time, but when I’m sure I’m not reacting to any of them individually, I’d like to use combinations of them in an anti-aging facial lotion. Are there any guidelines for formulating with multiple cosmeceuticals?

In the same post, Mimi added: I have the same question as Michelle and Belinda.  Is there a limit to how many cosmeceuticals you can add to a face cream?  I put about 6-7 anti aging products that I bought from Lotioncrafter into 1 face cream, but I'm not sure doing this will cause one product to react with another and nullify the effectiveness. 

As there's no real definition of what active might be, I'll go with the Australasian College of Dermatologists defintion:
Cosmeceuticals are products that have both cosmetic and therapeutic (medical or drug-like) effects, and are intended to have a beneficial effect on skin health and beauty. Like cosmetics, they are applied topically as creams or lotions but contain active ingredients that have an effect on skin cell function. In some cases, their action is limited to the skin surface (such as exfoliants), while others can penetrate to deeper levels, either enhancing or limiting normal skin functions. Cosmeceuticals are available “over-the-counter” (without prescription) and are generally used as part of a regular skin care regime to help improve skin tone and texture, pigmentation and fine lines. 
I've been thinking about defining these ingredients by what they might do for our skin...

Anti-aging: This can mean quite a few different things. I generally find it means something that reduces the look, depth, or number of fine lines and wrinkles. It can mean something that prevents you from experiencing the symptoms of aging like a decrease in the production of collagen and elastin, a decrease in sebum production, an increase in wrinkles, and the production of age spots. It can mean your skin is moisturized and hydrated, which will make any wrinkle look less obvious, or it can mean you’re producing new skin cells by using something with AHAs, which will make wrinkles less obvious. It’s kind of a catch all phrase, and I prefer to use something more specific when I can.

Photo-aging: This refers to skin issues arising from too much exposure to the sun. In general, it refers to wrinkles and redness as well as uneven skin tone and blotchiness.

Plumping: This generally means it increases the amount of water in your skin or prevents transepidermal water loss.

Firming or maintaining skin tone: This tends to mean the ingredient helps generate more collagen or elastin in our skin.

Brightening or illuminating: This generally means your skin will look more youthful, perhaps through chemical or mechanical exfoliation and removal of old skin cells to produce new ones, or by evening out skin tone and removing age spots.

Treating age spots: This generally means the ingredient will reduce the look and size of your age spots over time. This can happen by bleaching the age spot and reducing the amount of melanin in it, or it can happen by blocking some biological mechanism that would produce an age spot. This can be referred to as hyperpigmentation or an uneven skin tone.

Skin lightening: This could come under the category of photo-aging as this is about evening out the complexion to be more uniform with fewer darker or lighter patches.

Hydrating: This means the water in your skin is increased in some way, usually by a water soluble ingredient that forms a film on your skin to prevent transepidermal water loss or by adding a humectant like glycerin, propylene glycol, or hyaluronic acid to draw water to the skin.

Behaving as an anti-oxidant: These ingredients can behave as free radical scavengers to reduce the amount of reactive oxygen species that could cause damage through the process of oxidative stress. (More about this shortly…)

Reducing skin roughness: This refers to skin that appears to be mottled or bumpy, and the ingredient will help smooth out your skin. There is a way to measure this and it's done by seeing how much light is reflected back from our faces. Rough skin or deep wrinkles reflect less light, so this can be part of the "brightening" idea above.

Reducing puffiness: This generally refers to your eye area, and it means your eyes look puffy, often because you’re retaining water.

Reducing dark circles: This is again about your eyes, and it's generally about increasing circulation.

Reducing sebum production: This would be all about reducing how much sebum someone with oily skin might product.

Reducing pore size: This is generally done with astringent ingredients, but there could be others.

Treating cellulite: Using anti-inflammatories and ingredients that increase blood circulation to even our skin tone and reduce the appearance of cellulite.

I realize this is a very generic list, but it's the best one I can come up with when thinking about what we might want our products to do for us. With these categories in mind, I thought I could come up with a few examples of what ingredients might seem to be cosmeceuticals or actives to us...
  • Vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), Vitamin B5 (panthenol), Vitamin E
  • Anti-oxidants: Vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, Co-enzyme Q10, alpha arbutin
  • Cell signalling: Copper peptides, DHEA, DMAE, amino peptides (including palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3, and acetyl hexapeptide-3 aka argireline)
  • Skin lightening agents: Arbutin, glycolic acid, liquorice extract, niacinamide, retinoids, Vitamin C
  • Exfoliants: AHA, salicylic acid, fruit enzymes like those found in papaya
  • Acne ingredients: Salicylic acid
  • Anti-aging: Argireline, 
  • Photo-aging: Co-enzyme Q10, genistein, Alpaflor Gigawhite, Fision Active White
  • Hyperpigmentation: Vitamin C
  • Sebum reduction: Niacinamide
  • Anti-inflammatory: Aescin, genistein
Sunscreens, anti-perspirants, dandruff shampoos, and acne treatments are also considered cosmeceuticals, but we don't make those things as they are drugs, so I'm not including those in this list.

Wow, this is far too long at this point, so let's start again in part three as we take a look at further defining our categories and figuring out what we have to take into consideration when creating combinations for formulas.

Previous posts in this series:
Series from a question from Patreon: What's a cosmeceutical? What's an active? And how much can we use of these things in combination? Part one - definitions

Don't forget, your comments and interaction with this topic will unlock part three! I'd love to hear what you think for categories or ingredients! Please comment and share your thoughts!

This post appeared on a few weeks ago, on my Patreon feed. If you'd like to see these posts three to four weeks earlier, click here for more information on my Patreon feed. $10 subscribers get an e-zine as well as discounts from awesome shops, like Lotioncrafterbut you can subscribe at as little as $1 a month to gain access to the feed.

Why sign up for Patreon? Because this is my full time job now, and your subscription helps me write more and experiment with more ingredients and equipment for the blog!


SweetHeartSearching said...

Thank you very much for sharing this post. It is very helpful for the easy breakdown to remind you what is great for your problem areas. Then I can go back to your books and or the search bar and search individual ingredients even more again as I tend to forget things I love about ingredients. I take notes like you recommend. I have two notebooks a soaping book and cosmetics books for my research and things I make.

I've been wondering on a side note if anyone uses those adjustable scientific pipette with the disposable tips. I've used those when I was in college in my micro and cellular bio class I was thinking that for making sample or testing very small individual things like Chapstick and making just a few or single the flavor oils to test the flavors or combinations or fragrance combos in hard perfumes etc.

Ashlee said...

You've given my a few more ingredients to research in the 'cell signalling' designation. I'd love to try formulating with copper peptides - I think I've found one place that sells pure GHK-Cu powder.

For reducing pore size, have you heard of p-Refinyl? I don't know if it can be purchased by hobbyists, but it's really just lentil extract.

theDine inDiva said...

Very interesting post. The amount of different ingredients we have access to these days is staggering and can be very overwhelming. What I find frustrating is the lack of specific info for newbies. I guess they expect one to experiment and figure it out but with the price it can seem prohibitive. For example I purchased a dimethicone from a company and it seems like it should be easy enough to incorporate but I have had a horrible time getting it to mix into my anhydrous concoction. It pools and gloops. I have had minimum success diluting it with cyclomethicone but even then it still separates some. I felt the company was less than helpful with helping me troubleshoot, almost like I was stupid for not knowing and was bothering them. It may have been the rep I dealt with but still a frustrating experience. One of the reasons I appreciate your blog - often my google search leads me to an excellent article you have written, even on some very odd thoughts I have contemplated.

Some of these compounds sound lovely to work with! I also suffer from the "everything but the kitchen sink" syndrome when it comes to promising additives. I try to blurt it all out, research them, then edit my recipe down to keep it as simple as possible.

SoapsbySly said...

Thank you for clarifying so many of these things...
This is a great list and will have to flag it for reference.

Diana de Gratigny said...

Thank you, Susan! Your information is needed as usual!

Caroline said...

I hadn't thought about breaking things down to specific effects, much more logical than trying for an overall result but not really knowing what you want! Can't wait for the next installment

Deb said...

Really helpful approach. And I did use your info on a number of these ingredients as seen in your sidebar and search function for my "Batch #1!!".

"Batch #1!!" is cosmeceuticals in hydrosols. It is a small batch (only enough for 4-6 weeks), kept in the fridge, and only for my use, and I opted to not use a preservative. I then read about concerns with high botanical content. A botanical product line, formulated by a bio-chemist (PhD) adds Polyaminopropyl Biguanide to her hydrosol to eliminate the need for refrigeration ( I'm thinking of getting some but do note concerns at LotionCrafter and here about that product.

Thoughts on high botanical-cosmeceutical...'botcosmos'?!... content without a preservative?
Thoughts on Polyaminopropyl Biguanide? A better alternative?
And also looking forward to knowing when/if cosmeceuticals 'fight' each other in a formulation.

Hope it's as lovely in Chilliwack today as it is here in Victoria.
Thanks for this community, Susan.

Ally H. said...

Good morning Susan and everyone! I'm wondering if you know which cosmeceuticals may be beneficial for helping to fade acne scars? I'm not sure if the ingredients that fall under "skin lightening" or "age spots" might be appropriate. Thank you!