Q&A with Rouah Al-Wakeel

Q&A with Rouah Al-Wakeel

Miss. Rouah Al-Wakeel, Independent Consultant

in-cosmetics Global will launch two exclusive tours for R&D professionals when it lands in Amsterdam this April – ‘Biotechnology Actives’ and ‘The Future of Anti-Ageing. Leading technical consultant and cosmetic chemist Rouah Al-Wakeel will lead the tours.

Why are biotechnology actives on the menu for the R&D tours?

Biotechnology offers the opportunity to develop new products and make materials that would otherwise come from undesirable or unsustainable sources…. all this is achieved without giving up the ambition of having a greener earth and better economy. Biotechnology has become increasingly important to the cosmetic industry, even invaluable. We have been able to use biotechnology as a tool for discovery and for developing new materials and for manufacturing – including ingredients which can help to delay the ageing process. For example, fermentation is enzymes bio-transforming fruits, plants and herbs using yeast to help generate new, naturally derived and more sustainable ingredients. Essentially this is the foundation of synthetic biology, which is the future of our industry.

What impact are these types of ingredients having on formulations?

They allow us to create more intelligent formulations with enhanced efficacies and an increased awareness of sustainable, ecologically friendly approaches to personal care. Far more of today’s cosmetic actives are biotechnologically derived than when I started as a formulator. Just think of recent trends such as stem cells, algae extracts and peptides – all these exciting ingredients are traced back to biotechnology.

What benefits do they offer formulators, brands and consumers?

Formulators are asked to meet a list of requirements, specifications and functions for new product development or for improving existing products on the market. By using biotechnology, the industry now has a plethora of actives available, which cover the broad range of required efficacies. There have never been so many options available to the formulator, we are spoilt for choice. This enables us to be creative in terms of the finished products we produce and the brand concepts we create.

Are there any examples we could cite?

Mibelle developed the PhytoCellTec™ technology, which allows the cultivation of plant stem cells rich in epigenetic factors that have been shown to protect skin stem cells and slow the effects of ageing and thus are used in anti-ageing products. Mibelle have been leaders in biotechnology and personal care for years and have a wonderful portfolio of innovative ingredients you can expect to see at in-cosmetics Global in April.

What types of innovations are impacting the anti-ageing sector (types of ingredients, functions, benefits, etc.)?

One of the important discoveries is the human microbiome. The microbial communities that live in harmony with us on our bodies can now be ”described and watched” through techniques such as next generation DNA-sequencing. These techniques are bringing us a new understanding of the effects of imbalances in skin’s microbiota and how these microbial communities interplay with actives and products. This is expected to have a huge impact on formulations generally but because of the interest in anti-ageing, we expect to see the microbiome playing a big role in maintaining youthful skin. Our knowledge of the efficacy of natural ingredients has increased and this is having a big impact on anti-ageing. Natural actives such as those found in the salicylate family, which have potencies similar to retinol are now available to formulators. Also, a huge range of exciting anti-ageing peptides have been developed, many of which will be launched and showcased at in-cosmetics Global.

Do these innovations portend any significant changes in how anti-ageing is addressed?

Yes, I think consumers are now more aware and interested in the science behind the ageing process. They appreciate that the microbiome is having an effect and are contemplating the changes occurring at the surface of the skin, so rather than wanting a quick-fix to make them look younger, they are now looking for something toactually slow down the process whilst having long-term anti-ageing benefits in addition to instant results. This means we must continually create products to meet these growing expectations.

Are there any examples we could cite?

Expect to see some brilliant innovations launched at in-cosmetics Global in April, the peptides in particular will not disappoint.

How would you describe the state of innovation in the beauty and personal care world at the moment?

Fast paced, exciting and vibrant. There is so much potential in terms of the type of ingredients being created with thanks to biotechnology, which means there are many new products on the horizon for consumers.

What are the biggest opportunities presented by the latest innovations?

Due to next generation sequencing, we can see what is happening on the surface of the skin in real time. We can now see more readily the effects of environmental factors and how different ingredients and products behave on the skin and with different skin types. If we want to go even further, we can determine this on the skin of different individuals, which can lead to a more bespoke type of skin care. In addition to this, we can use biotechnology to enhance the performance of active ingredients thus increasing the efficacy of the finished product.

What are the key challenges?

The scientific world is moving at breath-taking speed and I feel the key challenges are ”education and sharing”. Exciting developments such as smart phones that have revolutionised our lives only exist because experts from different disciplines shared and applied their discoveries. in-cosmetics Global is a melting pot of experts, ideas and materials… another challenge is to take these experts out of the comfort of their labs and offices and into this “melting pot”.

What are the regulatory considerations?

Consumer safety is of the utmost importance; all new ingredients undergo thorough safety checks and assessments including the challenge test, which requires all formulas to quickly kill any added microbes. When these formulas are applied to skin they very probably disrupt the healthy skin microbiota.

Should regulators be revisiting the current requirements?

We need safe products and healthy skin, so maybe new techniques such as next generation sequencing (which showed us the microbiome) should now become part of the way we ensure products are safe.

For more information about the in-cosmetics Global R&D tours, please visit: http://www.in-cosmetics.com/global/

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