Of the many unusual (from a traditional perspective) chemicals finding their way in to modern cosmetics and skin care are fluorinated oils. A quick search regarding the development and uses of these specialty oils finds us looking at synthetic fluids commonly associated with air-conditioning. So how do oils used in such a dissimilar industry to beauty find its way in to cosmetics and skin care?
To understand why fluorinated oils are used in cosmetics we need to look at the properties of these oils. There are different types of fluorinated oils and the specific type of this article is the perfluorinated oils or perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
Perfluorinated oils are essentially silicone based fluids with oil like properties. One of the types of fluorinated oil used in cosmetics was patented by Daikin industries (Japanese Air-conditioning giant) who use PFCs in refrigeration as an alternative to CFCs. It was developed primarily due to its low temperature properties and (Fluorinated oils do not change viscosity at temperature extremes) higher density than water.
Perfluorocarbons are more importantly an inert and non-flammable alternative to Hydrocarbon oils.
These key properties of being inert, having no smell and colour, non-flammable, non-corrosive, low viscosity and hydrocarbon free along with low toxicity and short retention time in the body also makes them a good candidate for cosmetics, particularly in the use of make-up and skin care.
Fluorinated oils and other materials such as silicones obtain their properties by treatment with Fluorine: the most chemically reactive and electronegative of all the elements. Fluorine's large electronegativity and small atomic radius gives it remarkable bonding characteristics, particularly in conjunction with carbon.
Flourines properties are most recognised in the production of low friction plastics such as Teflon, (non-stick surfaces) and in halons such as Freon. (airconditioning fluids)
In cosmetics, fluorine-modified oil and silicone derivatives exhibit high water- and oil-repellency to provide cosmetics, which wear, long (increasing usable daily life span) and have a good feel on use.
Some powders used in cosmetics are also flourine treated, and the use of the fluorinated oils solve the oil repellency problems encountered with non-flouronated oils such as vegatable and mineral oils. Flouronated oils also exhibit low water absorption properties, another desirable feature for an oil in make-up.
One of the more interesting fluorinated oils is perfluorodecalin. This high purity perfluorocarbon is chemically and biologically inert, and its ability to dissolve (or physically carry) gases, (and more specifically oxygen) makes it especialy useful in medical and skin care applications.
PFD can in fact, dissolve large amounts of oxygen, (100 ml of perfluorodecalin at 25C will dissolve 49 ml of oxygen under certain conditions) and this property has seen it used in a wide variety of applications from an artificial blood called Fluosol to a component of storage mediums for organs and tissues for transplant.
Oxygenated perfluorocarbons administered in emulsions are known to increase surface oxygen concentration but without the need for a pressure chamber. Consequently, they are extremely useful for repair of scar tissue, leg ulcers and radiation burns. The same effect has been used to grow cell cultures.
As a development of the medical applications, perfluorodecalin is now used as an ingredient in several cosmetic and skin care products, where its ability to dissolve and carry gasses such as oxygen is belived to revitalise skin and help reduce wrinkles.
It is also lipophobic and hydrophobic forming a third phase which facilitates emulsion formulation.
Typical concentrations range between 5 20% depending on the type of formualtion, and it can be found in a wide variety of products including face & neck creams & gels, eye contour products, oxygen masks, and hair care. (Where its non-greasy and ability to prevent sebum build up is useful as a detangling agent)
As with many compounds and chemicals used in skin care products, the claims of what miraculous feats can be achieved is often driven by the marketers imagination and not the science.
There have been claims that some formulations containing as little as 6% perfluorodecalin can increase oxygen pressure in the skin by 100%. In one particular advertising statement, there is a claim that Perfluorodecalin delivers Pure Oxygen for rapid cell function. There are references to clinical trails and studies, however no specific details are provided.
In another brands marketing information, references are made to Perfluorodecalins role in gasotransportation, along with ensuring the 'aeration' of skincells. In another product, perfluorodecalin was listed in the ingredients as being a oxygen substitute. If all of this is factual, then Perfluorodecalin is indeed a highly benificial ingredient. However.....
While it is easy to get quite enthusiastic about Perfluorodecalin because of its medical successes as an artificial blood, we must understand that it does not actually contain any oxygen in its molecular structure. (it comprises of 10 Carbon atoms and 17 Flourine atoms)
Perfluorodecalin can indeed move oxygen, and this is facilitated by a process known as passive diffusion.
Passive diffusion takes advantage of gasses' affinity to move from areas of greater concentration to areas lesser concentration until it reaches a state of equilibrium.
In the human body, oxygen moves from the lungs (high concentration) to the blood (low concentration). Then, once the blood reaches the capillaries, the oxygen moves from the blood (high concentration) to the tissues (low concentration). The claims of the skin care marketers imply that the oxygen is taken or transported from the atmosphere (high concentration) and delivered through the bilayer membrane to lower levels of the epidermis. (Low concentration) This happens to a certain degree due to the passive diffusion characteristics of the oil, however while it is true that perfluorodecalin does indeed dissolve gases,(one of it's benificial properties) these gasses include carbon dioxide and nitrogen, so unless the perfluorodecalin in the formula is already fully saturated with oxygen, (or being applied in a pure oxygen envirionment) there are the obvious questions on how can it deliver pure oxygen to the skin surface.
The reality is of course, that due to the laws of physics, Perfluorodecalin can not transport or deliver more oxygen than it is surrounded by. Perhaps a little creative pseudoscience is employed by some skin care marketers?
Whatever the claims, Perfluorodecalin in skin care formulations does indeed have beneficial properties, but perhaps not so earth shattering and efficient as some assert. Research continues.
Other variations typically used in cosmetics as skin conditioners, hair de-tanglers, solvents etc include: Perfluoromethylcyclopentane, Perfluoroperhydrophenanthrene, Perfluoro-1,3-dimethylcyclohexane, Perfluoromethyldecalin, and Perfluoroperhydrobenzyltetralin.
Typical perfluorocarbon properties
- Odourless, colourless, non-volatile, low viscosity liquids
- Non-sensitising, Non-irritant Non-greasy
- Refreshes and smoothes the skin
- Enhances the appearance of tacky and sticky final products
- Can be used in colour products for enhanced colour endurance
- Creates a third phase emulsion and acts as a co-emulsifier
- Creates a thin film application with basic water proofing properties
- Creates transient gel structure
- Does not interfere with the normal function of the skin
PFCs are recognised as extremely potent greenhouse gases, and they are a long-term problem with a lifetime up to 50,000 years.
PFCs are one of the classes of compounds regulated in the Kyoto Protocol.(The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)
Most of the PFCs creating the greenhouse warming potential however, are from industrial use such as aluminium smelters.
The vow volume use in skin care and medical applications have no reported effect on the environment to date.
About the Author
Ralph Hill is technology writer, illustrator and editor for Virtual Beauty Corporation. He has a background in science, electronics and electro-mechanical devices, but enjoys researching and writing on a myriad of skin care related topics including cosmetic chemistry and anatomy & physiology.
Considering the state of poor, inconsistent aesthetics education in many under-graduate schools here in the United States, we feel that it is imperative to offer as much post-graduate advanced education as possible.
The bottom line:A skin specialist (esthetician, nurse, PA, medical professional) requires an advanced understanding of the underlying causes of skin conditions. They should be armed with enough information and training to perform safe, effective, preventative and remedial skin care without placing the skin into a more vulnerable state though poor diagnosis resulting in over-processed skin. Advanced technologies such as light therapies, microcurrent, chemical exfoliation and cosmeceutical systems appear daily at the doorstep of the esthetics and medical industry. They are barely recognized or properly utilized due to lack of understanding and education. It begins with insightful understanding of each skin cell and the biological effects of the new technologies. It also commences with the knowledge of developing correct skin management protocols that encompass the correct modalities.
Consider the following:
The status quo Many states require minimum training in esthetics. It is unnerving enough to realize that many offer a mere 250 hours in esthetics. This scarcely teaches a student how to perform a basic facial with an understanding of how to choose a correct product for their client!
The present picture of education in the U.S. As an educator, I am a proponent of ensuring that we protect the future of this industry through increasing our standards in both admissions and substantial curriculum delivered by qualified teachers and state-of-the-art education facilities. This should begin through an interview process of prospective students so that they are properly qualified as future estheticians. Not everyone qualifies for becoming a nurse, Physician assistant or medical student.
The need for standardization Returning back in history within the U.S., a post World War II war-torn European era brought brilliant skin therapists out of those countries and into North America.
Esthetics requires self-regulating It is a dermal and aesthetic science and one that supports wellness, dermatology, plastic surgeons, and preventative medicine in the areas of pre and post surgical care, skin cancer, anti- aging, and stress reduction. Beauty therapists (estheticians) are viewed and honored in other parts of the world where they are recognized through a worldwide governing body called CIDESCO. This honorarium is barely understood in North America outside of its own circles.
Are our current curriculums supportive enough to meet the demands of this sector of esthetics and spa? And what about skin care manufacturers? A more daunting issue is the fact that skin care manufacturers have bigger challenges on their hands when they are trying to sell their products. That is why education began to appear at trade shows back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It behooved those earlier manufacturers to place emphasis on education if they were ever going to reduce their liability of selling to a poorly educated esthetician or medical skin specialist. It is also why a few leading industry journals were born years ago that brought credentialed and spa experienced writers to provide education in a media format.
Furthermore, while there is always a high level of emphasis on sales in skin care companies, I also can also attest that without education, sales will plummet due to lack of product use knowledge and the science that surrounds it. Nevertheless, the market can be competitive. The esthetician, your customer, can soon be off looking for another product manufacture who offers post-sale support and education. We have to work together and not segment ourselves through competition and poor (or no) education. We have to collectively do business in a more effective and industry-supporting way where everyone is an advocate of the other, especially when sharing education.
How are we going to meet the education needs of a growing industry? It is important that we collaborate with top educators to bring in unbiased education with proven curriculum and methods. It is also imperative that they possess the scientific background and teaching experience to deliver the material accurately and scientifically. And it is important that follow-up with continuing education become part of the plan. Is education profitable? Yes, it CAN be very profitable. Just take a look at the growing number of junior medical colleges who focus on medical careers and who have also placed esthetics in their course offerings. Take a look at the sales of companies who place great emphasis on this aspect of their company.
Perhaps its time for a company with education know-how to partner with leading skin care and education companies to offer a well planned post-graduate curriculum that brings consistency in information. Ultimately, it produces a more congruent, educated group of individuals who love their profession and want to make a difference. The benefits are far reaching and indeed support what is possible for our future.
Alexandra J. Zani is a licensed esthetics instructor in the state of South Carolina. She has been a hands-on esthetician both in private practice and in a medical setting. A former corporate esthetician and product development manager for a leading private label manufacturer, Zani's specialty is in skin aging research, product development and treatment protocols.
She was lead author for Miladys Standard Comprehensive Training for Estheticians, published in 2003, and guest author for the chapter on Peels in Advanced Professional Skin Care Medical Edition, by Peter T. Pugliese, M.D. (2005).
Advanced Skin Analysis is the book for the skin treatment therapist of the new millennium, taking therapists on a journey of discovery and revision of their chosen profession.
With a complete update of the anatomy & physiology of the skin, Advanced Skin Analysis shares the relevant discoveries about the skin over the past decade and presents them in an easy to understand, informative manner that links structure and function to various skin conditions.
Using diagnostic indicator references with colour photographs, therapists can quickly and accurately diagnose a variety of skin conditions with confidence. Subsequent treatments will be more effective than ever before, as prevailing conditions will be identified and treated in priority order.
Rich, diagrammatic illustrations and colour photographs populate this groundbreaking book with over 220 pages written specifically for skin treatment therapists who want to take their careers to the next level of professionalism.
Written by Australasia's leading skin care technical educator with over 30 years of industry experience covering all aspects of professional and paramedical skin care, Florence Barrett-Hill is a sought-after professional trainer with over 10 industry-related qualifications and a passion to share her knowledge. This book is a distillation of the renowned Advanced Skin Analysis postgraduate training course that has been taught in Glabally over the past twenty one years. This course is now available online in a distance learning format.
Review by Terry Everitt
First impressions when flicking through the book is the rich, clear and colourful artistic diagrams and the plentiful use of white space, making the book uncluttered. Uncluttered, yet well researched anatomy, physiology and biochemistry information. It is not however an anatomy and physiology book, the information is mere background for the important points being made.
The point is that to effectively care for client concerns, a complete and in-depth consultation must be undertaken.
Acne to vascular, with a huge amount inbetween, gives insight into the skin condition – its presentation and variations. Each topic is given the same template for consistency and clarity.
The skin condition – the ‘what and why’ of it, followed by the ‘diagnostic indicator charts’ dealing with the visual and consulting evidence under the subheading of colour, secretions and texture. This is then broken down to causes, primary and secondary effects and the resulting characteristics.
This is not a ‘how to do a facial’ book – it is an invaluable reference to base underpinning knowledge in better caring for the skin care client.
Florence Barrett-Hill has been around skin care and it shows (in the nicest possible way) – using years of expertise, Florence has not written a book about beauty – this is a book about serious skin care and the advancement of effective and rational based skin analysis of client concerns.
You will be fortunate to have this book on your shelf as a valuable reference material to be used each day in your professional workload.
Review by Dr Des Fernandes
Changes in the atmosphere have had dramatic effects on our skin, and have resulted in more frequent skin problems. Beauty therapists have now got an opportunity, as Skin Care Therapists, to help maintain skin health and restore damaged skin.
We are going to have to rely on professional therapists to treat sun-damaged skin and reduce the risk of developing blemishes, rashes, keratoses and skin cancers. However, a major problem exists: many beauty therapists might be unaware of skin physiology and how this impacts on skin treatments.
Many therapists have followed procedures that have minimal scientific basis in which doctors and the public place little credence. This concerns me, as I believe beauty therapists should be called Skin Care Therapists who have an important role to play in maintaining and restoring skin health. I have therefore always encouraged a symbiotic relationship between doctors and therapists.
Making healthy skin is hard work and doctors are under enough pressure treating medical conditions. They therefore cannot dedicate sufficient time to that skin care whereas skin care professionals routinely can and do.
The fact is that some beauty therapists are insufficiently trained to honour that role. Beauty therapists and training schools must raise their standards to a significantly higher scientific level, in order that they can be recognised by the medical profession as indispensable to clients.
When I heard about the professional seminars run by Florence Barrett-Hill I recognised that she was taking beauty therapy into the realms of scientific skin care. My respect and admiration for her understanding and praxis has grown immensely since meeting her.
She is meeting the challenging task of creating scientifically aware skin care therapists in New Zealand and in the rest of the world by creating www.beautymagonline.com. I believe she provides the most informative and effective schooling for therapists in the world.
Flo, as she is called, has synthesised a wealth of knowledge on skin analysis and treatments gained from careful and intelligent observation. As you read this book, your professional expertise will be exponentially enhanced.
Available from Virtual Beauty Corporation