Growing demand among baby boomers and others for "enhanced cosmetics" that marry cosmetics and active ingredients to smooth wrinkled skin and otherwise improve appearance is fostering research on micro-capsules and other technology to package those ingredients in creams, lotions and other products. That boom in research on encapsulation and other delivery technology is the topic of the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.
In the article, C&EN Senior Correspondent Marc S. Reisch explains that major chemical companies like BASF, Dow Chemical and Air Products & Chemicals are acquiring or partnering with makers of beauty and personal care ingredients to take advantage of a global market valued at $425 billion in 2011. Active ingredient delivery systems are already incorporated into 10 to 20 percent of cosmetics on the market today, a number predicted to grow to 35 or 45 percent in five years. To meet that demand, chemical companies are looking for better ways to encapsulate these additives -- which can reduce inflammation, repair hair or prevent wrinkles -- to stop them from breaking down in the bottle or help deliver them to the skin and hair more effectively.
Reisch describes several new approaches. For example, Air Products & Chemicals, which produces gases like oxygen and helium, as well as adhesives and electronic chemicals, has adapted an insulin sugar delivery system to make better sunscreen. Microcapsules help coat the skin with protective ingredients, while another capsule system carries vitamins C and E beneath the skin as a second line of defense. Another product, from German specialty chemical maker Evonik Industries, uses water droplets coated in silica to make a "dry water." When combined with a powder containing fragrances or vitamins and rubbed on skin or in hair, the water is released to form a cream that delivers the ingredients.
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