Thursday September 20, 2012
Clarin’s reformulated anti-ageing serum
By SHEELA CHANDRAN
An effective use of plants and intensive research have resulted in a reformulation of a well-loved serum for better and more youthful-looking skin.
WHEN French skincare brand Clarins launched its ground-breaking anti-ageing Double Serum (DS) in 1985, it quickly developed a cult following among skin-savvy women around the world. Some described it as a “miracle serum” while others sang praises of its efficacy in slowing down the march of time.
Despite the dual-phase serum’s unrivalled popularity, Clarins has constantly strived to improve its formula whenever there’s a new discovery from the botanical world. In the past 27 years, there have been seven transformations in the serum’s formulation.
The latest – Double Serum Total Age Control Concentrate – is by far the most sophisticated serum created by the French family-run luxury cosmetics skincare company headed by Christian Courtin-Clarins, Clarins’ group supervisory board president, and his younger brother, Dr Olivier, group managing director.
Christian views the serum as being ahead of its time.
“When my father – Jacques Courtin-Clarins – founded the company in 1954, we were one of the very few companies that relied on plant extracts. Now, beauty brands that have turned to herbal ingredients are a dime a dozen. Our plus point is that we’ve been working with plants for years and have over five years advancement compared with competitors,” explained Christian to a group of Malaysian journalists during the launch of the Double Serum in Paris recently.
Christian, who joined the family-owned business in 1974, added that being the pioneer French skincare label with a passion for plants has certainly worked to the company’s advantage.
“This is especially so in formulating products that focus on the curative effects of nature combined with science,” said the charming Frenchman who considers the serum as one of his favourite Clarins’ skincare products.
The updated version of the famous, dual-action formula stimulates the five vital functions responsible for skin’s youthful beauty: hydration, nutrition, oxygenation, protection and regeneration.
Power of plants
To perfect the formulation, head of Clarins’ Laboratories, Eric Gooris, and his team researched for over two years to unearth suitable and potent ingredients for their secret beauty mix. Researchers mobilised the resources of science and went through with a fine-tooth comb to uncover the potential of over 200 extracts of fruit, seeds, leaves, sap and roots. After countless lab tests, the list was narrowed down to 20.
“Our new serum contains more active ingredients, including extracts derived from Peruvian organic green banana and lemon thyme from Europe. Comparatively, green (unripe) bananas have specific properties compared to ripe bananas. It produces good results for collagen synthesis and skin firmness.
“Lemon thyme helps to synthesise Emilin-1, a key in the body’s elasticity network production. It helps to reinforce dermal network fibres,” said Gooris, adding that the serum also contains plant extracts derived from marshmallow root, kiwi fruit, hop flower, green tea leaf and organic macadamia oil.
The friendly scientist said that only one ingredient – maritime pine bark extract – from the previous serum, has been retained in the new formulation.
“Pine bark extract has efficient qualities to help improve cell oxygenation,” said Gooris, adding that Clarins had undertaken over 300 trials to define the right formula. (The process included determining the potency of each extract and compatibility with other ingredients).
Double Serum was formulated using biomimicry – bio (life) and mimicry (copy) – which is a scientific approach to observe the workings of nature, and then applying them to cosmetics. Clarins researchers relied on this method to produce the serum with a similar composition as hydrolipidic film on skin.
Hydrolipidic film is characteristic of oily skin that has a tendency to look shiny due to the mixture of sebaceous (oil) glands and sweat glands. By imitating this combination, researchers were able to create a product that unites water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients.
“Biomimicry is best described as a copy of hydrolipidic film on skin. We know the composition of hydrolipidic film on skin and formulated a cosmetic copy of it. We managed to produce a serum with a similar composition as hydrolipidic film,” said Gooris, who has been with Clarins since 2001.
The serum, which comes with two separate phases – hydric (water) and lipidic (oil) – is presented in side-by-side vials to enable the impossible combination of water and oil soluble ingredients with no risk of incompatibility or recourse to emulsify.
To preserve the power of water- and oil-soluble ingredients, each vial has a separate pump dispenser, ensuring the two formulas are only mixed upon application and always in an ideally balanced ratio – 1/3 lipidic and 2/3 hydric.
“The ratio was perfected to mimic that of hydrolipidic film on skin. The texture of the serum is lighter as it contains less lipidic elements. The formulation is tailor-made for Asian women living in humid and warm climates, who prefer light, oil-free products with easy-to-absorb texture.”
Texture-wise, the serum has the lightness of a gel combined with the comfort of a cream with a fresh fragrance developed by an Asian perfumer.
As to why the need to have two separate vials (oil and water base) instead of an emulsion, Gooris explained: “Some active ingredients work well in oil and others, water. It is not recommended to have a classic emulsion with so many active ingredients. There’s a risk that these potent plant extracts could react and cause more harm than benefits. It is better to insulate these potent ingredients in separate phases.”
For young and mature skin
Unlike most anti-ageing products which are predominantly targeted towards mature women, Double Serum is suited for women from age 25. Although the concerns of women with younger and mature skin are different, Gooris explained that the serum is able to cater to various parameters, ranging from skin tone, radiance, less visible pores to wrinkles.
“Women have different skin concerns. The serum targets five vital functions. For younger skin, it can be effective to boost vital functions such as protection and regeneration. And for mature skin, the serum helps with oxygenation, nutrition and hydration,” said Gooris.
Tests studies conducted among 50 women in Asia for a month came back with impressive results – 90% of women judged Double Serum as being more effective than their usual serum, while 98% said their skin felt firmer and more elastic; 94% of women said their wrinkles appeared reduced while 92% acknowledged they had less visible pores.
The key question is, should women complement their regular serum with Double Serum? And do women with different skin care concerns (example: whitening and hydration) need to use their moisturiser with Double Serum?
Gooris advised against using two serums simultaneously as it might be too strong for the skin. Instead, he advises women to use serums and moisturisers with specific needs at different times of the day.
“It is acceptable to apply serum and cream, but never two serums together. Generally, a serum is water-based and doesn’t contain oil. Skin needs to be energised with products that have a combination of oil and water.
“If you have dark spots and dry skin, you can use a whitening serum (to target dark spots) and enhance it with a moisturiser with hydration properties during the day. At night, try to use Double Serum. Alternatively, you can apply Double Serum in the morning and/or night before using your regular moisturiser,” he concluded.