Chirality In Skincare
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
One of the more exciting developments in the skincare industry, has been the implementation of chiral correction in skincare formulations.
First, let's get into what Chirality actually is, and what it means for a molecule to be Chiral.
Not all molecules are chiral - only some. If a molecule is “chiral”, it has a left and right side, each known as an Isomer. These two sides of the molecule are mirrors of each-other - think of a left and right hand. They are the same in their makeup, but they have different qualities. Sometimes the differences between two isomers of a chiral molecule are extreme - we can look at the Thalidomide disaster as an example of this.
Thalidomide was a medication prescribed for pregnant women between 1957 and 1962, intended to reduce morning sickness. When taken during the first trimester of pregnancy however, the drug prevented proper foetal growth and as a result, thousands of babies were born with severe birth defects. The drug was pulled, and rigorously examined to determine the cause of the birth deformities. What was discovered, was that the molecule of Thalidomide was chiral. It's right isomer was highly toxic, but the left was safe and effective. Unfortunately, the drug was formulated with a 50/50 mixture of left and right-handed molecules before this was realised.
We are now able to determine harmful or toxic isomers of molecules, and remove them to create formulations that are enantiomerically pure, meaning they only contain the left or right isomers of a molecule. This process is called “chiral correction”, and initially was predominantly used in the formulation of pharmaceuticals, but was later adopted by the skincare industry.
In skincare, using chirally correct ingredients means formulations are more effective, and less likely to cause irritation and adverse reactions.
All of the skincare products we retail and use in our professional treatments, are formulated with chirally correct ingredients.
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