Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning to formulate: Some thoughts about cosmeceuticals

As I mentioned, I feel like I've tweaked moisturizers to death, so here are a few ideas for ingredients you can include in your products. I can't stress enough the idea of making a basic moisturizer then adding ingredients once you see if your skin likes it - give it a week before deciding, unless you're really having problems - then add a new ingredient and leave it another week. I also recommend reading the posts on skin chemistry and types to see what your skin might like or hate.

There are so many ingredients out there claiming to be good for wrinkles or dark circles or age spots, and the best thing you can do when you come upon a claim like this is to research it. Some anti-aging ingredients are very well documented (like AHAs), some are dubious, and some need more research to come to any conclusions.

Let's say you come upon a listing for Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone). It's listed as an anti-oxidant that promotes collagen and elastin synthesis. It is part of our skin's lipophilic make up, and that generally means our skin can benefit from it. It sounds pretty great, but if we take a closer look at this ingredient we see that it has a high molecular weight, which means it isn't likely to penetrate our skin very well. Having said this, one study found that it can penetrate our skin enough to help reduce wrinkle depth and prevent the negative effects of UV exposure.

There is a synthetic analogue called idebenone that is a lower weight molecule that will penetrate our skin more effectively than Coenzyme Q10 and studies have shown that 0.5% to 1% can help reduce the signs of aging, such as a reduction in skin's roughness and dryness, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and the appearance of sun damage. It is known to be a good anti-oxidant that can replenish Vitamin E's anti-oxidizing abilities and a good anti-inflammation reducer.

Or look at a humectant like hyaluronic acid (HA - scroll down after clicking for more information). It's another ingredient we can find in our skin, but the actual HA molecules we apply to our skin won't penetrate it as it's far too large. This doesn't mean it can't behave as an awesome humectant, but it won't be able to do the things you hope because it won't actually get into the layers of skin that need it.

When you're researching an ingredient, one of the important questions you should ask yourself is can it penetrate our skin? Something might sound really awesome, but if it only works if you eat it or if it can penetrate your skin, it's probably pointless to put it in a lotion. Look for information on the topical application and skin penetration of the ingredient to see if it's worth the expense.

Another thing to consider is that a lot of times, the ability for a specific cosmeceutical ingredient to work depends upon the formula and the version of the ingredient you're using. As we saw in the post on Vitamin C, only certain types of this ingredient are stable in our products. So if you wish to use this ingredient, can you put it into your normal lotion recipe with your normal processes or do you have do something specific?

Are there cosmeceuticals that interest you? Post them here and I'll do some research. Or do some research on them yourself and post your findings in the comments! Join me tomorrow for some information on niacinamide (this one sounds interesting!)


Charlotte said...

I have always used a SPF moisturizer. Is adding titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide easy to do in a moisturizer or will I look like a clown face?

Anonymous said...

Great post Susan :) Thank you.

What about Ceramide? Do I need them. I am asking because they are very expensive over here.

Warm regards,

melian1 said...

what about the copper peptides? and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 and Palmitoyl Dipeptide-5 Diaminobutyloyl Hydroxythreonine and Palmitoyl Dipeptide-6 Diaminohydroxybutyrate?

these are in 2 of lotioncrafter's cosmecuticals for wrinkles and anti-aging.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan - Oat Beta Glucan really interests me. It can be purchased at Bulk Actives or you can buy SymGlucan at the Herbarie. Its expensive so I have bought the supplement from the health food store and tried adding that to my cream but it doesn't work very well.

Hope you are feeling better!


Anonymous said...

Hello Susan. So happy you did a post on cosmeceuticals. I'm interested in lots of them and use some on a regular basis. This is what I've played with so far: Alpha Lipoic Acid, DMAE, GABA, Retinol Palmitate, Reservatrol, Renovage, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate & Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate(vit C), Argireline, Colloidal Copper, Lacto-Ceramide, Niacianamide, Phytonadione(vit K), Pepha-Tight, Matrixyl, Syn-Coll and a few of the peptides that melian1 mentioned. My problem (besides spending a ton of cash) is I don't know how many you can combine in one product or what type of product, serum, lotion etc. would they work best in. I guess that's what being a cosmetic chemist is all about...

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about using MSM in anti-inflammatory lotions. I think it is a larger molecule so it is questionable as an additive in a lotion. I also use arnica and calendula oil in the same lotion, so not sure which ingredient is the active and effective one. What do you think? Thanks!!

Katherine said...

I am also interested in ceramides. sells a blend they call Ceramide Complex. It's expensive here (USA) too. $17.80 for 30 ml, with a useage rate of 1% - 15%. Their sample recipe uses 6%, which mean a bit over $3.50 USD for 100 gms of lotion.

I've compared the INCI to what's in the drugstore brand CeraVe, & all of it's ingredients are in it. They also use ceramides in their skin cleanser.

Is there any real value in using an expensive ingredient like that in a skin cleanser?

I'm also interested in knowing how well the various "extras" play together. A specific one is Willow Bark Extract & things like ceramides or other extracts.

Thanks! I lood forward to your posts every morning!

Tara said...

Seems like people love this subject!

As I've mentioned before, I like using vitamins A (in the form of retinyl acetate/palmitate) and C (magnsium ascorbyl phospate). I also use vitamin E in everything that contains oil. And then niacinamide. I use these particular vitamins because Dr. Oz had recommended them for skin care (I am a die-hard Dr. Oz fan, lol!).

I was thinking of making a lip treatment with vitamins A, C and E (the vitamin C in this case being L-ascorbyl palmitate, because it is fat soluble).

I also like to use sea kelp bioferment, the so-called "miracle" ingredient of the famous (or infamous) Creme de la Mer.

Anonymous said...

Is the abbreviation for MSM Methylsulfonylmethan? Somehow this does not seem right to me.

Warm regards,

Will said...

I'm interested in MSM, too.

Ged said...

Ooooh, I'm so excited we're doing cosmeceuticals in class next!
These are the things I am most tempted to spend my money on ... after all, I am OLD!

I've just bought some niacimide, so was pleased to see your comments about that. Also interested in what you said about Hyaluronic acid and it not being able to penetrate the skin. I know that Dr Baumann also says this, but EVERY anti-ageing potion seems to contain it ...

Am interested in all the materials mentioned by Aesthete and they're probably enough to be going on with!

By the way, have any of you seen the new 300-dollar Chanel moisturiser? It seems they have discovered the secret of eternal youth and it's ... big drum roll ... Vanilla plantifolia extract!! Polyfractionated of course. So I guess I'd better stop putting it in my cheesecake, pop it in my moisturiser and make my fortune!

Joy said...

I would be interested in ingredients that would fade age/sun spots, as well as an SPF moisturizer. Thank you! I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Oat Beta Glucan seems to be very popular. Do I need it :)


zaczarowany pierniczek said...

I'd be glad to read a post about about PHA acids (since I'm going to make a toner with 10% lactobionic acid). Also I'm interested in whitening ingredients like arbutin, koijc acin and koijc acid dipalmitate, raspberry ketone glucoside. Another interesting group of ingredients for me are liposomes.

Ellbie said...

I would love to learn more about sea kelp bioferment. I am not sure if this is considered a cosmeceutical or not. Also, I am pretty new at this but ordered some stuff from bulkactives and had absolutely no problems.

Lorraine Pierce said...

So what does one look for in an ingredient to determine if it can penetrate the skin or not? I've read that HA SLMW penetrates better than regular HA. At least that is the product claim. So is their any way to tell? Other than the product claim?
L.A. Minerals

Lossa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sânziene şi Mătrăgună said...

"It sounds pretty great, but if we take a closer look at this ingredient we see that it has a high molecular weight, which means it isn't likely to penetrate our skin very well."
so, for Co Q10 does this mean that if we use a penetration enhancer ten we have a better chance to deliver it where we wanted it in the first place?

(Nedeia here, with google accounts :P)

d.anaya said...

Hi Susan... I am very interested in creating a lotion or cream using Magnesium Chloride because I've heard that our bodies benefit the most when used topically and absorbed. My husband gets bad leg cramps and is unable to sleep well and has some memory issues all of which I've heard that Magnesium helps those things. My concern is how to know how much Magnesium Chloride to use because I don't want to create something that would be harmful to use for him.. :-)

vetsinc said...

I have HA I believe its low molecular weight. I still have not made up my 1% solution as of yet I really need to find out the best perservative to use...I was wondering if optiphen would be ok? And as for penetration goes how about DMSO?

Valerie Tinga said...

I too am looking at making a 2% solution of Hyaluronic Acid ULMW and am thinking Optiphen Plus is the preservative to use.

My question is, can i add to my in the heated water phase or in the cool down phase; is it sensitive to temperature? I am thinking Cool Down until i learn otherwise.

I know i can put Niacinamide and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate in heated water. Still not sure about Ferulic Acid on this question either.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Valerie! How are you? I have the question in to Jen at Lotioncrafter as she carries these ingredients. More soon, I hope...

AJ said...

I'd like to know if using an absorbing enhancer like EDTA would make HA better able to penetrate the skin as well?
Looks like a lot of readers have this same question.
Thank you :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi AJ. I've never seen EDTA referenced as a penetration enhancer. I have seen propylene glycol mentioned for this purpose, but not EDTA. Could you share your reference with me?

As for using a penetration enhancer, by all means this is a good idea. Check out this post for more information.