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Science, R&D

Skin and hair science in the age of diversity

The last edition of the Jean Paul Marty Days, which was held in Paris, France, on December 4 and 5, 2018, under the auspices of the French Society of Cosmetology (SFC), questioned the scientific aspects of the inclusive shift taken by the cosmetics industry. Organised on the theme "The skin and its appendages around the world" with 26 conferences and several posters, the event gathered about 170 participants to discuss the scientific implications of skin, hair and nails diversity.

Several cutaneous models taking into account the diversity of the skin's (...)

Several cutaneous models taking into account the diversity of the skin’s characteristics have already been developed. (Photo: © Jacob Lund /shutterstock.com)

Although Caucasian skin is still the mainstay of many scientific studies, changes in the global population are reducing its prevalence, including in the most developed economies.

Skins models must be updated

As Paul Matts, Research Fellow at Procter & Gamble, pointed out, "in 2050, Caucasian skin will represent only 15% of skin categories, while high growth populations in Asia and Africa will be the majority. It becomes necessary to no longer consider Caucasian skin as central in scientific studies.

Such evolution is all the more necessary that the skin’s main characteristics differ according to ethnic groups. For example, the study conducted by Procter & Gamble on 250 subjects from five different ethnic groups showed that Indians and Latinos had more wrinkles than other groups, but that the wrinkles of Caucasians were deeper and therefore more visible.

Several companies have already taken into account the evolution of the distribution of ethnic groups and have adapted their models. Mauritius-based International Center for Pharmaceutical Development (CIDP), for instance, has developed an in vivo measurement system to assess the effect of pollutants on different skin types. "Measurements have shown that pollution has greater effects on Caucasian skins than on African skins," explains Véronique Newton, R&D Laboratory Manager of the CIDP.

For its part, BASF has developed an in vitro model reproducing the cell cycle of sebocytes and conducted a study that showed notable differences between sebocytes of Asian populations and African-American populations.

Other topics on nails, hair and eyelashes have been dealt through this same multi-ethnic approach.

Awarded scientists

In parallel to the congress and as in previous years, the SFC awarded several scientists for their work in skin or hair science.

The young researcher’s prize was awarded to Laura Sabatier of Paris-Sud University for her study demonstrating that the shape of the hair follicle is linked to the shape of the hair. The curlier is the hair, the more asymmetrical is the follicle structure.

For his part, Dr. Marek Haftek, research director at the CNRS Lyon, scooped the SFC Award for all its lifetime work contributing to a better knowledge of the skin and its functions.

In 2019, the Jean Paul Marty Days will be held on the theme "Skin and age".

Régine Frick

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