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Anyone who has gone through the stress and discomfort of raw, irritated skin knows the relief that comes with slathering on a creamy lotion. Topical creams generally contain a few standard ingredients, but manufacturers know little about how these components interact to influence the performance of the product. Now, researchers report the first direct glimpse of how a cream or lotion is structured on the molecular scale, and it's not quite what they expected.
The researchers will present their results today at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition.
Stability - Properties - Cream - Structure - Delaram
"The long-term stability and clinical properties of a cream are determined by its fundamental structure," says Delaram Ahmadi, the graduate student who performed the study. "If we can understand the chemical microstructure of the cream and relate that to the structure of the skin, then perhaps we can better repair the compromised skin barrier."
One of Ahmadi's research advisors, David Barlow, Ph.D., adds, "We wanted to improve the science around cream formulation so that companies could more rationally formulate them to get exactly what they want. The most significant thing we found is that the textbook picture of the structure of a cream is very naïve."
Formulators - Structure - Emulsions - Measurements - Barlow
Formulators have mostly inferred the structure of these emulsions based on indirect measurements, Barlow explains. But his group took a direct approach, with Ahmadi analyzing the cream using X-ray and neutron scattering techniques to determine how the ingredients were dispersed. Ahmadi and Barlow are at King's College London, and their co-investigator, Jayne Lawrence, Ph.D., is at Manchester University.
Cream is usually thought of as stacks of lamellae, or membranes, composed of surfactants and co-surfactants that maintain oil droplets dispersed within water (or vice versa). To reveal a cream's true structure, the researchers started with an aqueous cream formulation from the British Pharmacopoeia that contains two co-surfactants...
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