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Cosmetic Chemistry and the Esthetician

By: Ivana Veljkovic, PhD
Posted: September 24, 2010, from the October 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Multifunctional ingredients. These provide some topical benefits and also assist the vehicle. Examples include sorbitol, cetyl alcohol, glycol stearate, phenoxyethanol and benzyl alcohol.

Each of these components is essential to a product’s function and benefit. Product performance depends on the active ingredients’ biocompatibility, the use of appropriate product vehicles and delivery systems, and the stability of all of the ingredients within a formulation.

Hype versus science

It can be tempting to choose products because of the new, exciting ingredients they offer; however, scientific data is the most important detail to consider when choosing topical products. The spa professional should always consider that, although newer ingredients may seem intriguing, clients need products that work. Many of the most effective cosmetic ingredients are those that have been available for decades, and these typically have significant research backing their benefits.

Retinoids. These include all derivatives of the vitamin A family, such as retinoic acid, retinaldehyde and retinol. Although retinoic acid is the bioavailable (useful) form of vitamin A for the skin, many clients find it topically sensitizing. Fortunately, retinaldehyde and retinol are successfully converted into retinoic acid within the skin. This conversion makes it possible to achieve the results of retinoic acid without residual inflammation.

Studies have found that retinoids stimulate the production of collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin. They are also a superb choice for hyperpigmentation, because they help to inhibit melanogenesis at multiple points. Retinoids also encourage cell turnover, bringing youthful, evenly pigmented cells to the skin’s surface. Acne-sufferers also benefit from retinoids’ ability to prevent follicular plugs.1–3