A group of scientists hoping to understand how water absorption occurs on textured surfaces have stumbled across an explanation of how some skincare products might work. Their research was published earlier this summer in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.
Researchers from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and the University of California, Santa Barbara created a number of test surfaces fabricated from silicon to study what influences water absorption in both the Cassie-Baxter and Wenzel models. Among other things, they discovered that dissolved oxygen within a liquid partly determines how well that liquid is absorbed.
In the research paper that followed, the scientists say that their discovery lays the groundwork for creating the cosmetics and skincare products of the future. For example, a facial recovery oil designed to moisturize without clogging the pores could be formulated by taking into account the factors observed in the study.
What Influences Water Absorption
Some of the surfaces created for the study were meant to mimic human skin. The surfaces included built-in cavities with the same narrow entrances and specious interiors associated with human skin’s pores. The surfaces were then exposed to ‘bulk water’ and studied.
According to the researchers’ observations, the five factors that most influence water absorption on textured surfaces are:
- contact angle
- concentration of dissolved air
- liquid volatility
- surfactant types
- cavity geometry.
Of those factors, the amount of dissolved air in a liquid seems to be most important. Lower levels of dissolved air allow for a necessary exchange between the liquid and the surface, thereby facilitating better absorption. Volatility is also affected by dissolved air, so a skincare product designed around both should theoretically be more effective.
Nature Knows What It’s Doing
In light of the research data, it is easy to believe that something like Poethique’s all-natural facial recovery oil would be better for the skin than a synthetic product. Poethique and other all-natural skincare producers choose their ingredients based on the understanding that nature knows what it is doing.
It would be interesting to apply the UNIST and UC research directly to a selection of commercially available, natural facial recovery oils. Testing the oils according to the five criteria listed above might help to explain what makes them so effective. Perhaps their volatility and concentration of dissolved air are combining to do the trick. Or maybe it is something else entirely.
At any rate, future research into how cosmetics and skincare products work will undoubtedly lead to better products down the road. The more science understands about how the human body works in relation to the surrounding environment, the more companies like Poethique will learn about making safe and effective natural skincare products.
Special-Purpose Skincare Products
As for the researchers from UNIST and UC, they believe that what they have discovered should be used by manufacturers to create special purpose cosmetics. Two examples cited by the researchers are “pore-minimizing face primers and facial cleansers that remove sebum.” Reducing the amount of dissolved air in both kinds of products would allow them to penetrate the skin more quickly and deeply, thus reducing the risk of clogging pores.
The researchers also believe their findings could lead to skincare and cosmetics that reduce pimples and other skin conditions. They believe what they have learned could be put to use in making products that actually work to reduce visible blemishes. Finally, they believe their research draws a clear distinction between different kinds of cosmetics to the degree that they could be customized according to function.
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