Spotlight – How Actives and Formulations Affect the Biomechanical Function, Feel, and Firmness of Skin

photograph of Reinhold H. Dauskardt

Dr. Reinhold H. Dauskardt
Ruth G. and William K. Bowes Professor
Departments of Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Department of Surgery, Stanford School of Medicine
Palo Alto, CA, United States

Dr. Dauskardt and his research group work on integrating new hybrid materials into emerging technologies for medical, nanoscience, and energy technologies. He is an internationally recognized expert on the biomechanical function and barrier properties of human skin including the role of mechanical forces on regeneration processes in cutaneous wounds. He has won numerous awards including the Henry Maso Award from the Society of Cosmetic Chemists for fundamental contributions to skin science in 2011.

His group's research on the biomechanical properties of human stratum corneum has helped establish a new biomechanical framework for understanding the function of human skin, its "feel", firmness, and cosmetic appearance. They have demonstrated how biomechanical properties play a central role in skin damage processes like chapping and cracking, and regenerative processes during wound healing and cutaneous scar formation.

Working over the last 15 years, their research group has developed and validated a suite of new quantitative models to precisely characterize and understand the role of actives and formulations in skin care products on the biomechanical function of human skin. By characterizing from molecular length scales to the level of the tissue itself, they demonstrate how the role of actives and their formulations can be quantitatively understood, modeled, and, ultimately, predicted. They have also been able to provide new insights into the effects of damaging exposures, including dry environments and solar UV radiation, on the biomechanical properties of skin. This represents a new quantitative approach to characterize and model the fundamental biomechanical function of human skin.

Techniques include quantitative cohesion measurements, drying stress profiles in selected environments, digital image correlation to assess skin strains, and mechanical fatigue analysis. Mechanical characterization is complimented with highly accurate spectroscopies for characterizing the diffusion of actives and moisture through the stratum corneum. They have assessed the response of stratum corneum to a variety of actives and formulations including cleaning treatments, a wide range of cosmetic formulations, peeling agents, skin tightening products, vitamins, and aging. Taken together, these results have allowed the development of quantitative models to predict the effects of exposures and active species on skin biomechanical function, feel, and firmness, along with insights into the perception of treatments experienced by consumers. Dauskardt and his group interact with a wide range of researchers in academia, research laboratories, industry, and clinical practice.