Cosmetic brands using biological engineering in their skin care products are taking steps to protect the skin from damaging toxins, a move that could be a step towards saving skin from cancer.
Elisa Dzugovic, chief executive of Elizabeth Cosmetics, says bioengineering can make products less harsh on skin and make products more effective at removing impurities from skin.
“Bioengineering is an exciting new science that has been around for a very long time,” she says.
“It has the potential to bring a lot of benefits to the cosmetics industry and also help people live healthier lives.”
Elizabeth Cosmetics has used bioengineering to improve the skin of its cosmetics and skin-care products since the late 1980s, when the company’s founder, Sir Elisa Dzyugovic – who died in 2013 – and her husband, Dr Elizabeth Zogrod, began experimenting with biotechnology.
It has helped cosmetics companies such as Elizabeth Cosmetic and Porefective Cosmetics use new technology to produce products with a more natural look, more resilient to the elements and a lower risk of dermatological damage.
Dr Zogdzovic’s interest in biotechnology began with a visit to London in the late 1970s to see a research institute called the National Institute for Biological Sciences (NIBS).
“I had the feeling that if I didn’t understand it, then I could probably use it and learn about it,” she recalls.
“I didn’t want to be a scientist and use it but just be part of the research and be fascinated with it.”
We were on a mission to find out what it was about biotechnology that was so important to people.
“Dr Zodzovic worked on a project to find an ingredient that would give skin a natural feel.”
So I went to the lab and they showed me the ingredients that they wanted to use in their own products,” she said.”
They had a formula that looked like the original formula from Elizabeth Cosmetics, but without the chemical changes.
“And I thought: ‘Wow, this is going to be amazing’.”
Dr Zogladovic was delighted to be given access to this new technology.
“The reaction of the skin was really positive,” she added.
“As soon as I opened the box, I was like: ‘Oh my goodness!'”
Bioengineers use a process called enzymatic digestion, which breaks down natural ingredients into compounds that can be easily used in cosmetics.
These are then chemically synthesised to form new ingredients and then put into a product, and the result is a product that looks natural and more natural than it does commercially available.
Elizabeth Cosmetica is currently testing bioengineered skin-lightening products and cosmetic products using biotechnology, including a moisturiser with a natural skin-pigment and skin cream with a bioengineering ingredient.
Elizabeth is currently using this bioengineer’s technology in the cosmetics division of Elizabeth Beauty, which has already developed skin-safe products.
“There are already two cosmetic products that have come out of this that have made it into the market,” says Dr Zogodzic.
“These are in the range of the Moisturiser which is a very lightweight cream and the moisturiser which has a natural pigment in it, and a lot more on the way.”
Dr Dzugsovic says Elizabeth Cosmeceuticals has used biotechnology to create a range of skin-lengthening, skin-conditioning and skin care treatments.
“In a few years, I believe we’ll have a whole range of products that are based on biotechnology,” she adds.
Elizabeth has developed bioengineers to help the cosmetics company to make products with lower toxicity to the skin.
A bioengineER is a machine that has the ability to make complex chemicals.
These chemicals are then used to make new compounds and then used in the products.
In the case of Elizabeth, Dr Dzogodovic and Dr Zoglodzos are working with biocompatible polymers that can withstand the chemicals and the elements.
“A lot of people will look at it and think: ‘Is that too risky?’ but it is definitely a step in the right direction,” Dr Dzyuksovic says.
“We have a long way to go before we can say that this is all there is to the field.”
Dr Elizabeth Zoglos believes that bioengineing is the next big thing for cosmetic companies.
“Biological products can be a very safe way of doing business, but they are also very expensive,” she explains.
“If we can use the biocarbon process to produce bioenginered products that cost a fraction of what they are currently costing, we are really on the right track.”