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Liquid Crystals and the Skin

By: Steve Herman
Posted: February 2, 2010, from the February 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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It should be noted that foam, while certainly not a requirement of an effective cleanser, is still a characteristic most consumers expect. And liquid crystal cleansers seem to have very limited consumer acceptance.

At this time, liquid crystal technology, as a whole, doesn’t really have the dramatic marketing impact of the latest super fruit or miracle peptide. The performance benefits may be significant, but the chemistry is hard to communicate to a consumer overwhelmed by numerous hard to interpret cosmeceutical claims. Still, particularly with skin care aimed at the intercellular matrix, the potential superiority of liquid crystal formulations over conventional emulsifiers deserves the serious consideration.


  1. I Kim, et al, Liquid Crystal O/W Emulsions to Mimic Lipids and Strengthen Skin Barrier Function, Cosm & Toil June (2009)
  2. C Froebe et al., Prevention of stratum corneum lipid phase transitions in vitro by glycerol—An alternative mechanism for skin moisturization, JSCC, Jan/Feb 51–65 (1990)
  3. S Friberg, Micelles, microemulsions, liquid crystals, and the structure of stratum corneum lipids, JSCC, May/Jun 155–171 (1990)

Steve Herman is president of Diffusion LLC, a consulting company specializing in regulatory issues, intellectual property, and technology development and transfer. He is a principal in PJS Partners, offering formulation, marketing and technology solutions for the personal care and fragrance industry. He is an adjunct professor in the Fairleigh Dickinson University Masters in Cosmetic Science program and is a Fellow in the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.