• Chromatography Searches for the Secret to Skin Care

Supercritical fluid (SFC),Green Chromatography

Chromatography Searches for the Secret to Skin Care

Oct 31 2019

Skin care is a massive industry. Globally, the skin care and cosmetics industries are worth hundreds of billions of pounds. In the UK alone, over one million people are employed in the industry and it is worth over £15 billion. The market is a rapidly changing one, with new products, new technologies and changing trends constantly altering what we buy.

Social media influencers are increasingly altering the landscape, with their ‘how to’ videos and side-by-side comparisons consumers can see products used before they buy. Natural and organic products are also increasing their sales as consumers both want to be green and also become more aware of possible side-effects of artificial products. Let’s take a look at one of the main ingredients in skin care and see how chromatography can be used to assess its products.

Natural oils - smoothing the way

One of the main ingredients in skin cream products are oils - preferably natural or fruit oils. There are many different oils that are used in skin creams as both carriers of the other ingredients or as active ingredients in themselves. Some of the oils provide a scent or perfume to the product whilst others might provide other benefits including antimicrobial activity to keep the product fresher for longer.

Some of the oils used in skin creams include:

  • Avocado oil - the oil is extracted from the flesh of the berry (botanically - avocado is a berry) after drying off most of the water. The oil contains many phytosterols which it is claimed can replenish the skins lipid barrier. Avocado oil also contains vitamin E which can act as an antioxidant.
  • Olive fruit oil - olive oil is made by crushing the fruit of the olive tree. The oil contains fatty acids like palmitic, linoleic and oleic acids that can help replenish the skin’s lipid barrier. This is needed to prevent water loss and keep out harmful bacteria.
  • Bergamot fruit oil - bergamot is a fragrant citrus fruit, and the oil is used as a fragrance in skin and beauty products. However, bergamot oil can act as a photosensitizer meaning the skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight.

What’s in the oils?

But does the type of oil in your skin cream matter? Well a recent study published in the International Journal of Scientific Research in Science and Technology suggests it can. Researchers carried out analysis of different skin creams to assess the levels of compounds in different creams. They analysed skin creams based on olive, groundnut and palm kernel oils using chromatography to assess six active ingredients. Chromatography covers a diverse array of techniques two of which are discussed in the article, SFC-MS versus LC-MS - advantages and challenges. The team found that in the samples tested, formulations based on palm kernel oil had the highest concentration of active ingredients.

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