As head dermatologist of research and development for science-driven skincare brand Dermophisiologique since 1998, Carolina Redaelli has patented seven molecules for products of topical use. After receiving her Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Milan, she specialized in dermatology and completed postgraduate work at the Agora’ School of Aesthetic Medicine. She has lectured at Ecole Dynamique in scientific and medical training and serves as a freelance researcher in the dermocosmetic field. I spoke with the doctor on her work with Dermophisiologique (of which we’ve most recently reviewed and recommended the brand’s Cleansing Milk and Xomega Body Cream) to create products that restore the skin’s natural physiology and incorporate chemicals that benefit – rather than harm – the epidermis.

Could you tell me a little bit of why, how and when the company began?

Headquartered in Italy, Dermophisiologique has been lead since 1982 by current President and CEO Loretta Pizio. Loretta, one of the best-qualified estheticians in the sector for over 30 years, was a client of the company before she became the owner. In collaboration with our medical staff, she follows in person each step in the process, from the selection of raw materials of certified origins to the creation of our products in Italian laboratories by continuously studying new formulation to guarantee high performance.

What was the philosophy of the company going into starting a new skin care line? How is it different from other skin care lines?

Our initial philosophy has remained constant during all these years of operations. This philosophy can be found in the name of the brand: Dermophisiologique, which means that our products and treatments aim always at improving the skin’s natural physiology. Our continuous scientific dermatological research has contributed further to fulfill our mission by improving daily the performance of our products and guarantee visible immediate results to our customers.

We follow two approaches in formulating a new skin care line:

1. If there is a particular exigency in the market for a specific product our new line will be primarily designed around our customers’ current needs. For example, in 2007 the major concept of bio-molecular medicine (the science behind anti aging) was that of treating the skin at a cellular level. Consequently, we came up with Bioage, a new line of skin care products that acts as a cellular repairing. 2. If pharmaceutical research introduces a particular active that is widely accepted for its efficacy, we’ll formulate a product with that active based on its precise function. For example, when the antibiotic function of the burdock was discovered, we formulated Sebostop line, which has it as the main active.

In general, our new skin care lines are always formulated in an innovative way, completely different from the previous ones in terms of texture, emulsion, and perfume, in order to offer to our final customers a product that actively treats the skin’s problem while the emulsifier treats the type of the skin. This has always been the challenge of Dermophisiologique since the beginning of its operations.

These days it seems like many brands are going back to all natural ingredients. What kinds of chemicals are still in Dermophisiologique and what makes these useful for improving the skin’s natural physiology? What chemicals do you still believe are essential to cosmetics and what positive effects can they have for problem skin?


Our product is eudermic and uses substances that aim at the skin’s well-being and health, by restoring its normal physiology at a cellular level. It’s important to understand the difference between chemical and biological. All is chemical, even blood, sweat or saliva.

As animal products are not used in our cosmetics, that leaves us to choose between vegetal and chemical substances. Dermophisiologique uses botanical actives  - plant extracts, flowers and herbs from EU countries. Or we use biotechnological and chemically synthetic substances that substitute for animal products.

Botanical substances: natural extracts of many types; essential oils from different plants such as burdock, centella asiatica, blueberry, lily, algae, chamomile, ivy, and birch; vegetal oils for creating the lipid phase of the product or oily products such as olive oil, corn oil, sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil; and vegetal butters such as that of karite’ and coco. From these lipid substances , emulsifers are extracted that serve to create the emulsion. Dermophisiologique emulsifiers are derived from olive and coco.

 

Substances of botanical or biotechnological origins: i.e all the substances that serve to moisturize the cornum that are derived from oils and vegetal butters; fruit acids; soy and red clover isoflavones; algae mucilage; chamomile, aloe, linden; enzymes derivative from plants such as papaya; and sugars such as saccaride isomerate.

 

Substances of chemical origin: Dermophisiologique uses synthetic amino acids that are not derivatives of animal proteins; carnitine uses the desamina to neutralize the product Ph instead of using a harmful substance as the soda, it uses solar filters of chemical synthesis that combines to physical filters to get the right SPF. Also there are amino acids that stimulate the cellular metabolism or solar filters that protect the skin.

What chemicals do you NOT use in Dermophisiologique’s products, and why?

Those that we consider harmful for the skin or not eudermic are: a) mineral oils derived from petroleum such as paraffin, vaseline, petrolatum (they impede the passage of other substances that create comedones); b) synthetic colorants that can cause allergies; c) perfumes with allergenic substances; d) preservatives such as parabens, Katon G; and e) I PEG or polyethylene-glycols.

I noticed there are several patented ingredients in Dermophisiologique’s products that help with various skin types. What are patented ingredients like ATiPenergy® and Pentalpha ® made of? Are they made of chemicals or natural ingredients? Can you describe their functions and benefits?

AtiPenergy is a phytocomplex of vegetal origin formed by six substances derived from plants. It aims at stimulating the secondary cellular messengers and therefore the cycle of adenylate- cyclase (AMPc).

Penthalpha is also a vegetal phytocomplex formed by six vegetal derivatives especially acids and vegetal enzymes that particularly aim at blocking the 5 alpha reduttasi while reducing sebum production.

How much of a role does medical science play into the creation of these cosmetics?

The medicine is very important in developing a cosmetic product, as it is based on a deep knowledge of the skin’s physiology and pathology, and is able to identify what characteristics the product should have in order to improve a particular problem of the skin. It leads to a superficial moisturizer that brings water to the corneum stratum (such as saccharide), or a deeper moisturizer like hyaluronic acid , or a melanin production blocker that works on the tyrosinase enzyme and Melanogenesis. Medicine identifies the physiologic or biological deficit or the pathogenesis, and guides the formulation of the cosmetic product in choosing the ingredients.

What kind of research is done to test these chemicals and their affectiveness?

As mentioned above, our products are made up of ingredients that have certificates that prove and guarantee their purity, provenance and processing, according to regulations. Once the product is formulated it should pass the following series of tests: challenge test, patch test, stability, epidermis penetration, university lab tests for efficacy, and nickel tests.

In terms of topical application, what kinds of things should people buying common cosmetics be on the look out for in terms of carcinogenics and absorption into the skin?


Among the preservatives, the following cause a skin’s sensitization:

  • Methylchloroisothiazolinon, and Methylisothiazolinone, known also as Kathon and Triclosan

  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, and Quaternium-15.

  • Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Phenethyl, Alcohol, Sorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Penthylen Glycol and Capryloyl Glycine.

  • Synthetic dyes

  • Among the lipids, mineral oils are absolutely to be avoided, for their occlusive effect. They impede the TEWL (Trans Epidermal Water Loss, or better the physiological skin’s respiration) and the penetration of actives, making the cosmetic ineffective and causing irritation and blackheads. In INCI, mineral oils are indicated as Vaseline, Paraffinium Liquidum, Petrolatum, etc.

  • In emulsifiers and surfactants, which are present in detergents, Sodium Laureth Sulfate reduces the skin lipids making it more irritable, while Monoethanolamine (MEA) and Diethanolamine (DEA) form nitrosamines that are carcinogenic substances.


My last suggestion is to use sunscreen products always.