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Chiral Skin Care
By: Shyam Gupta, PhD, and Linda Walker
Posted: November 5, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
The left-handed and right-handed molecules usually have different physical, chemical and biological properties.
Consumer awareness of evolving new ingredients and technologies for skin care continues to expand, and some ingredients have changed the scope of modern skin treatment products—the introduction of alpha and beta hydroxy acids and retinoic acid, for example. The blend of these ingredients with others to address, among other applications, antiaging, hyperpigmentation and acne concerns and problems brought about the age of cosmeceuticals.
As part of this age, chiral skin care appeared via several niche professional brands in the late 1990s. It coincided with the growing employment of chiral technology by the pharmaceutical industry. Skin care has been slower to embrace chiral technology, largely because the concept is more difficult for consumers to understand. However, as skin is the largest organ of the body, the imperative for chiral assessment in skin care is inevitable. The recognition of the biological importance of chiral ingredients and their applications in skin care and other topical products will be explored, and specialty skin care brand owners may uncover new opportunities in the information—along with new business opportunities and partnerships with their product development teams, ingredient suppliers and clinical testing laboratories.
What is Chirality?
All organic natural materials must contain carbon atoms, and each carbon atom has four hands arranged in a three-dimensional manner. Two hands (solid lines) are on the sides, one is in the front (heavy line) and one is in the back (broken line).
Each hand must be connected to another hand, which can be another carbon (C), and/or an element selected predominantly from hydrogen (H), oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N). Sugars, carbohydrates and hydroxy acids contain C, H, and O; amino acids and proteins contain C, H, O, and N, for example. Sulfur (S) and phosphorus (P) atoms are present in lesser number of natural compounds.
If at least two elements attached to any single carbon atom are identical, these organic materials are called achiral. Again, illustrated in Figure 1. If none of the elements attached to any single carbon atom are identical, the organic materials are called chiral.