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DSM in Personal Care

IFSCC 2018 round-up: responding to the needs of modern society

The International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists is dedicated to international cooperation in cosmetic science and technology. The theme of its 2018 congress was “Cosmetics: Science for Beauty and Lifestyles”. After the conference, Silke Adamietz, Marketing Communication Manager, caught up with Thomas Rudolph (Head of R&D Personal Care) and Mathias Gempeler (Head of Science & Promotion Skin Care) to find out more about this year’s hot topics.
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Silke: The focus of this year’s IFSCC conference was very much about exploring what modern society wants when it comes to beauty and lifestyle. Did any particular themes stand out for you both and is DSM ready to respond to these?

Mathias: It was interesting to see how many of the key topics discussed at the conference already chime with DSM’s research and recent innovations. A number of sessions discussed shielding the skin from blue light or environmental stressors such as pollution and sun exposure. Others looked at skin aging, stress and cortisol, or at the importance of skin hydration. The skin microbiome is also getting more and more attention. All these themes have been close to DSM’s heart in the past year: Pentavitin® for example was developed to address the skin dryness often associated with urban living, while our unique synthetic molecule BEL-EVEN® has been shown to rebalance cortisol levels in stressed skin.

Thomas: A key subject at this year’s IFSCC in my opinion was “light” and new findings related to its adverse effects. Analysis went well beyond the traditional discussion about “UV” to unveil the effects that visible (in particular blue) light can have on skin.

Silke: DSM was one of first companies to present research on blue light so it is interesting to see this subject gaining momentum. Would you say that the risks blue light poses, whether from the visible sunlight or from electronic devices, are becoming more substantiated?

Thomas: The blue light discussion reminds me a little bit of the UVA debate in the 1990s. Back then, standardized UVA claim substantiation was not available, but UVA claims have featured on labels ever since and grown into a long-term trend worldwide. Knowing that biology does not stop sharply at 400nm why shouldn’t blue light become the next UVA?

Silke: So how can DSM take this forward?

Thomas: Looking at the various individual test methods around “blue light protection”, as presented during the conference, it seems that objectification about blue light protection via harmonized standards may become important in the future. At DSM we are prepared to proactively contribute to this challenge. In fact, our ongoing studies into our bioactive PEPHA®-AGE, our vitamins, and particulate UV filters are built on four major pillars for blue light claim substantiation: the prevention of hyper-pigmentation (in vivo), protein carbonylation (ex vivo), the preservation of carotenoids, and classical light attenuation measurement (in vitro, in vivo). Compared with other results presented at the IFSCC conference, we are convinced that thanks to IP protected technologies covering particulate organic and inorganic UV filters such as PARSOL® Max and PARSOL®TX, or the combination of our vitamins B3 and B6, DSM can provide the highest blue light protection factors.        

Mathias: Blue light protection seems like an ideal field for DSM as it combines our expertise in skin biology and photo protection in a holistic approach.

Silke: From your experience at the conference would you say that these kinds of overlaps and synergies are a growing trend in personal care?

Mathias:  Definitely, and one of the areas where this could be seen most clearly during the conference was in the change of narrative around anti-aging. The focus here is shifting away from addressing specific issues in isolation, to a more holistic view of well-being and aging gracefully. So, moisturization, UV protection, a natural-looking glow and boosting barrier resilience to improve how skin feels or address sensitivity all become part of the package. This requires a change in scientific approach. Traditional anti-aging ingredients have tended to target the dermis primarily, but there is more attention now on the stratum corneum and processes in the epidermis, which is logical when you consider that the skin barrier is the skin’s first line of defense.

Our new cosmetic ingredient BEL-EVEN® is a good example of this holistic approach. By reversibly inhibiting activation of the “stress hormone” cortisol in the skin, this ingredient has been shown to increase skin density, boost elasticity and skin barrier function, and offer protection against transepidermal water loss. All these factors can have an impact on the appearance of skin wrinkles. So inhibiting cortisol activation in skin appears to be a very promising approach for both coping with today’s lifestyle stresses and delaying the skin aging process in the long term.

Silke: One of the hottest topics in the sphere of holistic beauty at the moment is the skin microbiome and I see that this featured prominently in the conference program. As we have recently embarked on both original scientific research and parallel market-related studies on the skin microbiome, which discussions did you find particularly interesting and do you see evidence that we are on the right track?

Mathias: The skin microbiome is currently enjoying increasingly attention in skin care. In addition to general talks on the topic there were discussions about very specific methods such as Quorum Quenching which can be used to block microbial communication (or Quorum Sensing) and disarm bacteria. There is real potential here for plant-based ingredients that can prevent unwanted microbial action in skin without killing microbiota.

Because of its expertise in both the gut microbiome and epidermal care, DSM has been able to establish a strong position within skin microbiome research from the outset.  Our initial focus has been on the interaction between skin actives and the microbiome and our early findings are very promising. As I mentioned earlier, in personal care there is an increasing focus on the role skin barrier function plays in achieving beautiful skin. Over the years we have built up in-depth understanding of serine protease activity in human skin and we believe that a resilient skin barrier goes hand in hand with equilibrium in the skin microbiome.  Our patented peptide derivative, SYN-UPTM,   has been found to boost the skin barrier by rebalancing epidermal serine proteases, such as plasmin, and promoting a harmonious interaction between the epidermis and skin microbiome.

Silke: The IFSCC also attracts many cosmetics companies serving end consumers. What would you say were the key themes for them?

Mathias: In his keynote lecture, Dr Frédéric Leroy from L’Oréal made the point that as the cosmetics industry becomes more globalized it will become less and less standardized, with product ranges increasingly required to address region and culture-specific beauty concerns. To adapt, the industry will need to understand not only the physiology of skin and hair types but also different consumers’ cultural history, environments, relationships with beauty, and cosmetics routines and habits. 

The other theme that stood out is the increasing demand from consumers for tangible, relatable and easy-to-understand scientific evidence about the efficacy of their beauty products. One of the conference workshops was all about “optical non-invasive in-vivo measurements in cosmetics research”. There’s been great progress in these technologies which make it possible to observe skin from the inside while removing the need to take painful biopsies. These methods can help us to better understand the functionality of the skin, but they can also be used to illustrate the effects of skin care ingredients.

Silke: So do you think that we at DSM are prepared for these challenges?

Thomas: Absolutely- as a global company that prides itself on keeping in tune with consumers’ interests DSM is well aware that beauty needs can vary from region to region, culture to culture or depending on ethnicity or gender This is why, for example, our portfolio now includes many Halal-certified ingredients, or  at-home hair care shampoo mixes that encourage experimentation for specific hair types, supporting the trend towards an easy, natural and personalized style.

I can also see a serendipitous overlap between the themes of diversity and making science tangible because in 2015 we used our own cutting-edge visualization technology to compare and contrast facial skin hydration needs in different ethnic groups. More recently, we’ve used this same technology to study dry skin and hydration specifically in Chinese women living in urban areas and to demonstrate the efficacy of our active PENTAVITIN® when used in the long term. Our consumer research regularly points out that users appreciate the reassurance of access to scientific evidence that products will benefit their health, routines and lives. Facial color skin hydration mapping technology is an excellent way to provide this evidence.

Silke: Thank you for your time