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Chemicals for Skin Protection

How LANXESS is helping to protect our skin — and allowing it to perform its many natural functions. Skin — the “material” that holds our bodies together — is the largest and most versatile human organ, one whose total area can be as much as two square meters.

Chemicals for Skin Protection

Our skin protects our bodies from potentially damaging environmental influences. It has a layered structure similar to that of an onion. The first layer, the epidermis, serves as the outermost barrier against things like radiation, abrasion, and penetration by microorganisms such as fungi or bacteria. Next comes the dermis, whose cushions of fat make it something like the shock absorber of the body. The dermis also insulates us from the cold, efficiently and flexibly stores energy, and has numerous blood vessels that provide nourishment quickly and in a targeted manner. In addition, the skin is a sense organ boasting an amazing repertoire: it enables us to feel when we are touched; it can turn red when we’re embarrassed, and pale when we’re shocked; and it emits pheromones corresponding to our emotions. Attractive skin is an aesthetic characteristic and an expression of an inner feeling of wellness.

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In order to reliably perform all its varied functions, our skin needs to be sufficiently protected and cared for. However, today’s cosmetic products do more than just improve our skin’s appearance. They also have a more extensive impact, supporting specific skin functions in a sustained manner.

Environmental pollution, a poor diet, and stress are just three examples of the many factors that can damage skin. And in addition to those risks, skin also gradually deteriorates with age, becoming thin and dry, less elastic, and more susceptible to injury. High-quality cosmetics can help here: special creams and lotions penetrate into the individual layers of the skin and support their natural powers of regeneration. Collagens and elastin maintain the elasticity of older skin and improve circulation, for example, while antioxidants inhibit the negative effects of UV radiation and air pollutants. Also available are moisturizers and vitamin complexes that support the nutrient balance in stressed skin.

Skin-care cosmetics can be tailored to individual needs as well, providing even more effective protection against negative environmental influences and skin aging. Special products are available for every type of skin, and the skin-care features of these products can also be combined with additional substances for protecting against UV radiation or repelling insects. The cosmetics market is booming worldwide.

Modern high-tech cosmetic products contain highly developed synthetic substances that are combined with natural agents. Chemistry plays a major role when it comes to observing nature’s intelligent solutions and translating them into high-performance products — and LANXESS also does its part to safeguard the quality of cosmetics and improve certain functions, thus protecting skin directly and indirectly.

Special chemical preparations such as stabilizers and preservatives make complex recipes stable, while precisely aligned ingredients ensure the required consistency and pleasant scent of skin-care products. Every year, a large number of new cosmetics are introduced to the market while new agents are continuously being developed in labs. The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) currently contains more than 6,000 different substances.

It’s All About the Agent

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A good mixture: most creams and lotions are emulsions containing water and water-soluble substances, as well as oils and lipophilic (fat soluble) components. Because oil and water don’t mix, an emulsifying agent must be added to the compound. Such emulsifiers lend the product the stability it needs by lowering the surface tension between the oil and water phases. Other substances, such as antioxidants, preservatives, and complexing agents are also added to ensure quality and durability. LANXESS produces high-quality ingredients for the cosmetics industry that support product performance, reduce the likelihood of negative skin reactions to cosmetics, and improve product environmental friendliness.

Preservatives: Without these substances, most creams that contain water would go bad in just a few weeks, which is why preservatives can be found in nearly all cosmetic products. Solbrole products from LANXESS Distribution GmbH, for example, protect cosmetics against bacteria and microbial decay.

Antioxidants: These substances prevent the oils and fatty acids in cosmetic products from becoming rancid. One example of such an antioxidant is PUROLAN BHT from LANXESS Distribution, which protects organic compounds from oxidation when exposed to air.

Complexing agents: These substances are used to stabilize native fats and fatty acids. Baypure CX, for example, is a complexing agent sold by LANXESS’ Rhein Chemie Additives Business Unit that prevents damage to cosmetics from heavy metals by forming stable water-soluble complex molecules that contain metal ions. The resulting more favorable toxicological profile reduces the risk of negative skin reactions. Baypure CX is also easy on the environment, a fact confirmed by the many awards, including the Presidential Green Chemistry Award, that the product has received for its innovative features and high level of biodegradability.

LANXESS also manufactures products that help protect the skin directly: Many regions of the world are plagued by dangerous diseases like malaria and yellow fever, which are transmitted by mosquitoes, flies, and other insects. Saltidin® — a product from the LANXESS subsidiary Saltigo — prevents such insects from identifying victims, thus preventing them from stinging. Saltidin® is used in many insect repellants, such as Autan, which are applied to the skin and slowly evaporate, releasing a scent that keeps flies, mosquitoes, tics etc. away. These products combine highly effective repellant features with optimal skin compatibility. The outstanding properties of Saltidin® have not only been confirmed by the Stiftung Warentest consumer safety group in Germany but also by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommends the product for protection against malaria. Saltigo, which is located in Leverkusen, Germany, produces several hundred tons of Saltidin® each year for sale worldwide.

For more detailed information, visit the Saltidin® website http://saltidin.com/

Anti-Aging — Vision or Reality?

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The ultimate dream of cosmetics researchers and developers is to create products that slow skin aging, smooth out wrinkles, and make skin look young and fresh again. But exactly how promising are anti-aging cosmetics — and what can consumers do to keep their skin young and healthy? Some answers are provided by Dr. Christoph M. Bamberger, director of the Medical Prevention Center at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, and holder of the first German professorship dedicated to the Endocrinology and Metabolism of Aging.

WebMagazine: Anti-aging products represent a booming industry — but where exactly is the border between wishful thinking and reality?

Prof. Bamberger: If the wishful thinking involves the idea of “eternal youth,” then that wish will most certainly never come true, not even with the help of high-quality cosmetic products. At the same time, when combined with a healthy lifestyle, modern anti-aging cosmetics are in fact already capable of slowing down the skin-aging process by up to ten years.

WebMagazine: What is the potential of such cosmetics?

Prof. Bamberger: The skin-care factor remains the most important aspect, by which I mean the effectiveness of basic creams designed for specific types of skin. Such skin-care products can also contain effective anti-aging substances such as retinol and antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Q10. Basically, what it comes down to is that skin that is cared for will age more slowly. Another decisive factor here is UV protection, since nothing accelerates skin aging more aggressively than ultraviolet light.

WebMagazine: To what extent can the skin-aging process be affected by external application of certain types of agents?

Prof. Bamberger: Just as important as the substances themselves are the so-called transport systems to help them penetrate the skin, and new versions of these systems are constantly being developed. This means that during our lifespan it will become possible to delay the skin-aging process by as much as 20 years.

WebMagazine: What alternatives are available? More specifically, what would you recommend to people who want to keep their skin healthy for as long as possible?

Prof. Bamberger: Well, there’s such a thing as “internal cosmetics,” which involves reducing and neutralizing free radicals, which make a major contribution to the skin-aging process. Smoking is particularly harmful here, because tobacco use leads to a rapid increase in free radicals and is the second most important skin-aging factor after UV light. So being a non-smoker is an investment in skin care and beauty — as is a regular supply of antioxidants to the body. Eating fruit and vegetables at least five times a day is a great way to ensure this supply, but modern nutrient supplements for the skin are also available for those who can’t eat that many fruits or vegetables, for whatever reason.