• Núria Estapé, science journalist

    Hydrotherapy activates the skin’s protective function

    20 Dec Hydrotherapy activates the skin’s protective function




    Whether it takes the form of a purifying sauna or relaxing Turkish bath, hydrotherapy is an ancient ritual that has health benefits for the whole body. A frequent sauna often also improves the barrier function of the epidermis, as it helps block germs and increases hydration.


    The atmosphere in the dry sauna of the northern hemisphere or in the Turkish bath of the Mediterranean region, whether used for quiet repose or animated conversation, fosters deep relaxation of the body. Saunas have been used in Scandinavia and Russia since 2500 years ago and Turkish baths have witnessed the passing of numerous civilizations. Their potential for repairing skin cells are only beginning to be known. Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    “Halal” cosmetics for Muslims

    16 Dec “Halal” cosmetics for Muslims




    The cosmetics and personal care sectors are responding to a growing demand from consumers for eco-certification (organic, natural, free of animal experimentation). In recent years demand for the “halal” designation has also grown greatly, specifically from Muslim consumers who are concerned about the health and appearance of their skin.


    “Halal” is an Arabic word that means “permitted”, which is to say, legal according to the Sharia, or Islamic law. It is generally applied to meats and other foods, and most especially to chemical products and ingredients. Halal products must be certified as such by one of the 57 agencies in the world responsible for issuing these certificates. According to the Sharia, a halal cosmetic may not contain alcohol, genetically modified or irradiated organisms, ingredients of human origin or derived from animals prohibited to Muslims or any other product which could be harmful to consumers. Products should, moreover, be produced, packaged and stored in such a way that there is no contact with any “impure” elements. Muslims account for 20% of the world population and so represent a major consumer segment for leading companies in the sector, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Avon, which already manufacture halal products, and BASF, which supplies halal-certified ingredients. This growing sector is already annually worth some 5,000 million USD in sales.

  • Andrés Martínez, science journalist

    Ceramides, essential for the skin

    The ceramides are natural body components that have been demonstrated to be excellent moisturizers and a valuable ally against ageing and certain skin conditions. Given these properties, they are included in the formulations for many currently available cosmetic products.


    Ceramides are essential components of the outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, which acts as a barrier and helps keep the skin hydrated. The ceramides represent about 40% of the lipids (fats) in this layer (the other lipids are mainly cholesterol and fatty acids). Acting something like cement in a brick wall, the ceramides bind dead cells to each other and so slow down water loss and block penetration by harmful substances from the exterior. They also improve skin elasticity and cohesion. Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    The moisturizer as a vehicle for medication

    9 Dec The moisturizer as a vehicle for medication




    New Scientist

    It is not easy to penetrate the skin's protective barrier, as it is our defence against toxins and other external damage.  But the fact that certain components in moisturizers can cross this barrier could be used to deliver medication for certain skin disorders.


    US researchers have used regular shop-bought moisturizer as a vehicle to deliver anti-cancer particles to within the epidermis. The scientists prepared, and mixed in with moisturizer, gold cores surrounded by nucleic acid nanoparticles (siRNA) that targeted the genes responsible for rapid cancer cell growth. Once applied to the skin, the active ingredients proved to be highly effective. The simplicity implied by using moisturizers rather than liposomes or peptides for delivery opens up a new avenue for gene therapy to treat skin inflammations and melanoma.