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Integrative Chemistry applied to materials for Cosmetics: “nouvelle cuisine” in old pots?


University of Waterloo (ON), Chemistry Dept & Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology
200 University Avenue W, Waterloo N2L 3G1 (ON) Canada


Integrative Chemistry is a way to look at materials, not from the synthesis point of view, but from the final expected functionality. As a result, a specific function can require a material that will exhibit several functionalities, along with a complex hierarchical structure. Achievement of this functional and structural complexity, requires that the whole synthesis process has to take advantage of several assembling “driving forces”, and building units, in order to possibly “integrate” them into a one-pot synthesis process. More specifically, the combination of material precursors with the highly dynamic structure-directing agents found in soft matter, allows for an infinite structure design from the same precursors, a very important feature in cosmetics where the need for rapid and innovative “containers” is pushed by marketing issues, whereas the choice of initial reagents is limited by safety and health regulation.

From the material chemist's point of view, developing innovation in cosmetics can be a hurdle as many regulations and safety concerns make the use of new components problematic. In parallel, there is a balance between the need for new components with cosmetic effects, and the impact of branding. As a result, material research in cosmetic is a fine balance between being innovative with the final product, and being conservative with the initial components.
In addition, as cosmetics are commercial products that must fit with customer expectations, it can be difficult to decide whether they choose a product for the content or for the flask... The content must be efficient enough, but limited in the selection of components, and the "flask" can be as attractive as possible, but cannot lie on the final content activity.
As chemists and physico-chemists aware of these concerns, we must change the flask, but at another scale. As an example, being able to incorporate well-known active components into small porous entities will allow for a controlled release/delivery and/or a synergy between the liquid/cream and solid phases.
It results that, as for other domains re ...

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