In the multibillion-dollar skin care industry, there are many well-recognized brands. However, we sometimes forget that behind these products were formulators who took their scientific ideas and turned them into recipes for cosmetically elegant active formulations.
I have spent the last 15 years researching the activity of cosmeceutical ingredients for my new textbook, “Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients” (McGraw Hill, 2014). Each ingredient has its own quirks, and they all do not “play well in the sandbox” together. Formulation knowledge (cosmetic chemistry) is required to take these ingredients and combine them in a way that enhances rather than hinders their activity, just as a chef combines ingredients and cooking techniques to enhance the flavor and presentation of food. When I discuss cosmeceutical products, I always stress the importance of the ingredients and understanding ingredient interactions, because they determine the end product – how effective it is and how elegant it feels. If a product works well but smells bad and feels unpleasant, consumers will not use it.
Whom are we trusting when it comes to this science? The formulators, also known as cosmetic chemists, who put their blood, sweat, and tears into years of work to develop products that yield efficacious results. They are often behind the scenes, and their contributions are not always recognized. I refer to them as the “Julia Childs” of skin care, because they remind me of how Julia Child combined her knowledge of ingredients and aesthetic sensibilities to change the world of cooking.
I’d like to shine the spotlight on several top skin care formulators that I have met. Their relentless desire to perfect skin care recipes has helped the industry boom and has improved skin health.
Richard Parker is the CEO/founder of the Australia-based company Rationale. When he was unable to find skin care products that worked with his skin type, he decided to study cosmetic chemistry and create his own skin care line. Today, Rationale can be found in dermatologists’ and plastic surgeons’ offices across Australia. Parker’s passion for cosmetic science is evident. Australia has a high incidence of melanoma, and sunscreens undergo greater scrutiny there compared with other countries. One of the things that Parker is most proud of is his creation of SPF products that are “as elegant as they are effective.” This is a difficult combination to achieve, because sunscreens tend to be too white or too greasy; formulating them properly requires a “master chef.”
In addition to formulating effective and elegant sun protection, he has developed Essential Six: a combination of six products that work in synergy, delivering the perfect combination of active ingredients at the correct concentration to be recognized and utilized by skin cells.
In order to succeed in the formulations industry, you must possess a desire to make it better; and Parker does just that. It’s his wish for the industry to have an increased awareness of a holistic approach to skin care that includes immune protection, antioxidants, sunscreens, gentle cleansing, alpha-hydroxy acids, and vitamin A.
If being at the forefront of this evolution isn’t enough, Parker is devoted to continue his mission for years to come, all the while helping younger chemists/formulators embrace the culture.
“For the past 25 years, I have had the privilege to work with Australia’s leading dermatologists to create the best possible products and procedures,” he said. “At this stage of my career, it is so gratifying to see the younger generation of skin specialists embrace medical skin care as a part of best clinical practice.”
Location: Wendell, N.C.
Chuck Friedman is a man who prides himself on the use of natural products – not a small achievement for a man who has been in the industry for almost half a century. His work as a formulation chemist has spanned globally recognized companies such as Lanvin-Charles of the Ritz, Almay, Estée Lauder, Burt’s Bees, and Polysciences.
Friedman prides himself on his natural products. His product list includes hypoallergenic and natural versions of cleansers; toners; exfoliators; moisturizers and masks; shampoos; conditioners; dandruff treatments and hair sprays; antiperspirants and deodorants; lip balms; salves and cuticle treatments; shaving creams and aftershaves; over-the-counter analgesics; acne treatments and sunscreens; toothpastes; and liquid soap.
Friedman has said that he is most proud of his Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Cleansing Cream, which won Health Magazine’s Healthiest Cleanser of the Year in 1999. The product is an anhydrous, 100% natural, self-preserving translucent gel-emulsion of vegetable oil and vegetable glycerin stabilized by a proprietary protein.