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Lab Test Equipment Update

Posted: December 5, 2006, from the December 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Cosmetrics is a data system that visualizes and measures living hemoglobin, melanin and collagen up to 2 mm under the surface of the skin in vivo. It is powered by Astron Clinica’s SIAScopy IV, a skin visualization and measurement tool used by the medical profession to detect skin cancer. The system provides an accurate portrait of the skin’s structure by channeling these views and measurements into programs that can be used for clinical trials, product testing and validation processes, thus shrinking the work and costs involved in proving the effects of skin care products on hemoglobin, melanin and collagen. When the scanner illuminates the skin, some of the light is reflected and scattered from the surface. The remainder is transmitted into the top layers of the skin. Varying fractions of the incoming light then are absorbed by the melanin in the epidermis before entering the dermis, where they are absorbed by the hemoglobin in the blood vessels. Scattering also occurs in the dermis when the light interacts with the collagen, resulting in a portion of the light being re-emitted back to the surface. Scans are produced by interpreting the combination of wavelengths. Users are then presented with generated scans and statistics for interpretation.

“(The software) is also managing the data, so it does the statistical analysis for you,” said Brooking. “The computer looks at all the scans, and can provide evidence for product claims, particularly with proliferation or skin whitening and age spots. It is possible to measure color and size of age spots.”

Sun damage, caused by skin deterioration due to UV exposure, manifests itself in both hemoglobin and melanin. By evaluating these two chromophores, this damage can be measured over time, while creating a baseline for comparison of product effectiveness. This software also determines whether melanin is in the top layer of the skin or whether it has moved deeper into the tissue, which can determine skin treatments effectiveness.

The Mexamèter MX 18 from Courage and Khazaka Electronic GmbH, also measures the melanin content and hemoglobin level through a probe that emits three specific light wavelengths. The receiver measures the light reflected by the skin, and the melanin is measured by specific wavelengths chosen to correspond to different absorption rates by the pigments. For the hemoglobin measurement, specific wavelengths are used, corresponding to the spectral absorption peak of hemoglobin and to avoid other color influences. The results for both parameters are immediately shown as index numbers. This device measures differences in the skin in vivo, allowing for the mapping of melanin and hemoglobin levels over time. These devices document changes in the sizes of spots and in heterogeneity of pigmentation, subsequent to and after application of skin care products.2 Both devices show a correlation on the spotted skin, as well as a reduction over time in the color of the treated spots and a reduction in color of unspotted treated skin.

Both of these testing applications allow measurement of skin pigmentation and collagen, thus giving labs a scientific testing method to verify the effectiveness of cosmetic and personal care products. The color of the skin and overall evenness can be measured, thus showing an increase or decrease in the signs of skin aging below the surface. Additionally, these tools can monitor the progress of treatments for acne, skin cancer and other skin conditions. Products then can be fine-tuned earlier in the development stage through measuring small changes unseen to the naked eye. At the same time, these measuring devices allow scientists to validate product claims using a repeatable testing standard.