In October of this year, Hemali Gunt, Ph.D., Head of Clinical and Scientific Affairs at personal care products company Burt's Bees, presented a trio of key research abstracts demonstrating the effectiveness of natural-ingredient product formulations in the skin care space at the Integrative Dermatology Symposium 2023. The abstracts examined different topical options that integrate botanical ingredients like natural plant oils and the brand's signature beeswax and provided data results into the products' efficacy to improve age spots, maintain a healthy lip microbiome, and balance the skin barrier for those with sensitive skin.
To learn more about the presentation, including key takeaways from each of the three abstracts as well as the potential impact of the data and conclusions on the cosmetics and personal care product industries, CosmeticsDesign spoke to Dr. Gunt for her insights. Dr. Gunt, a clinical scientist, has been part of Burt's Bees R&D group for over a decade and focuses her work on nature-based dermatological product formulation and development as well as safety and performance testing.
Topical treatment for age spots
The first abstract presented by Dr. Gunt at IDS 2023 covered a topical treatment "with a unique blend of botanicals containing Glycyrrhiza glabra, Curcuma longa, and Terminalia chebula improves the appearance of age spots in a multi-ethnic panel," she explained. "In this clinical study," she said, "we evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of a nature-based topical cream in reducing the appearance of age spots across different skin types and tones."
This 12-week study was significant because it showed "nature-based topical treatment can play an integrative role in the treatment of hyperpigmentation," she shared. In the study, "statistically significant reduction in hyperpigmentation was observed as early as week eight along with improved skin hydration," Dr. Gunt said, and researchers concluded that "overall, topical treatment with a unique blend of botanicals from Glycyrrhiza glabra, Curcuma longa, and Terminalia chebula was clinically safe and effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation in photodamaged skin in a multi-ethnic panel."
Lip treatment and the microbiome
The second abstract presented by Dr. Gunt at IDS 2023 examined the "impact of a lip care product with naturally derived plant oils, butters, beeswax, and turmeric extract on the lip microbiome [with] in vitro and in vivo examinations," she explained. In this study, she shared, researchers used "a combination of in vitro microbiological assay and clinical study to study the effect of a lip care product formulated with naturally derived plant oils, butters, beeswax, and turmeric extract on the lip microbiome."
The study was significant because "this work demonstrated that daily treatment with a lip care product containing natural plant oils, butters, beeswax, and turmeric extract helped maintain microbial diversity on human lips, which is important for maintaining lip health," she said. Researchers used in vitro assay to determine that "the influence of the product on microbial diversity was determined to be not disruptive," she explained, and added that "additionally, in a two-week clinical usage study, lip swabs were collected before and after use of the product followed by assessment via ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing which showed that alpha diversity (Shannon) was not impacted and there was no disruption of microbial diversity on product use."
Balanced skin barrier and microbiome maintenance
The third abstract Dr. Gunt presented at IDS 2023 focused on "maintaining a balanced skin barrier and microbiome in sensitive skin using a nature-based skin care regimen," she said. In this study, "we evaluated a nature-based skin care regimen (cleanser, serum, toner, and moisturizer) with bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative, to support a balanced skin moisture barrier and microbiome in sensitive skin populations," she explained.
This research was significant because "the results of this study indicated that a nature-based skin care regimen containing bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative, can play an integrative role in daily skin care in the sensitive skin population without disturbing the skin microbiome," said Dr. Gunt.
In the four-week clinical study, she shared, researchers determined that on the "female subjects with sensitive skin," there were "statistically significant improvements in skin hydration and barrier function along with visible improvements in all dermatologist-graded efficacy parameters." Further, she added, researchers concluded that "microbiome analysis showed no significant differences between baseline and week four, indicating there were no disruptions to the skin microbiome."
The significance of these findings for manufacturers and suppliers to the cosmetics and personal care product industries is that companies in these spaces "can use the takeaways from the abstracts Burt's Bees presented at IDS 2023 as a guidepost that showcases the power of nature-based products," said Dr. Gunt. This is particularly important as "today's consumers are more aware of, and more interested in, nature-based ingredients and products and these have gained use in dermatology for both cosmetic and medical purposes," she said.
Further, she explained, "new research and clinical studies such as the ones we presented help move the needle and provide assurance behind the safety and efficacy of nature-based skin care products with a variety of skin types and tones to address a range of skin conditions/concerns that can be applicable throughout the industry."
Burt's Bees future innovation
Moving forward, Burt's Bees will continue to work "to evolve and innovate our product portfolio to ensure consumers and practitioners are receiving effective and tolerable skin care regimens," Dr. Gunt shared, and "will continue to demonstrate the Proven Power of Nature for all through continued clinical studies."
"As the body of research surrounding the safety and efficacy of nature-based products grows along with the understanding of skin's composition, "she continued, "Burt's Bees will continue to work to address gaps in skin care science and solve problems for people with common skin concerns." In terms of the next steps for the company, she concluded, "we believe nature-based products have an integral role in positively impacting the quality of life and future work will be focused on uncovering and understanding it."