An interview with Michael Southall, a research and development scientist at Aveeno.
Happi: Tell us about the role the key ingredients in Aveeno skin care play in delivering efficacious products?
Michael Southall: Aveeno is a brand that is committed to developing breakthrough products with natural ingredients that are clinically proven to deliver real skin care benefits, leaving the consumer with healthier-looking, beautiful skin. The Aveeno Brand’s Active Naturals are ingredients derived from nature and uniquely formulated to optimize skin’s healthy, beautiful look. Aveeno uses only high quality ingredients—botanicals and herbs grown in ideal regions and climates, to produce beneficial Active Naturals extracts. Aveeno scientists use a three-step process to develop skin care products with Active Naturals. In step 1, the process begins with a worldwide search for botanicals and herbs with potential benefits in skin care. Our scientists, researchers and formulators screen thousands of natural ingredients in search of one that will prove beneficial in skincare. Further pre-clinical testing is performed on as many as 100 ingredients to show activity and stability of extracts. In step 2, extensive clinical testing is performed to ensure mildness and safety. Clinical testing is utilized to validate in-vitro results and document topical benefits of the Active Naturals. And finally in step 3, unique formulations are then developed with a focus on environmentally friendly and renewable sources.
Happi: Have there been any developments in processes—from sourcing to ingredient technology— that have improved the Aveeno formulations?
Southall: A central part of the Aveeno Active Naturals approach is that it is not enough to simply identify natural ingredients that have skin care benefits and then add them to our products. In order to provide an optimal benefit for consumers, we must find the best way to capture the essence of nature’s benefits and then deliver them, intact, to consumers through carefully designed skin care products. Aveeno scientists, working with researchers, universities, agriculture institutes and farmers around the world, screen and test natural ingredients to identify the few naturals that truly have the best benefits for skin and can be used in skincare products to help improve skin conditions such as dry, itching, red and irritated skin, and yet are gentle enough to use even on delicate skin and can be sustainably grown. But identifying the Active Naturals is just the first step, formulations have to be developed which can deliver the benefit of the Active Naturals to the consumer through the product. This often means Aveeno formulation scientists may develop many different formulations or modifications of formulations to ensure the beneficial properties of the Active Naturals are maintained in the product. This process can take months to years to get just right. For illustration both the Aveeno Positively Radiant products with Soy and the Aveeno Ultra-Calming products with Feverfew took two years each, and a team of formulation scientists to develop the right formulation for these products. While that is a big investment in research and product development, Aveeno is a brand that is committed to developing breakthrough product formulations with new and existing natural ingredients that are clinically proven to deliver real skin care benefits, leaving the consumer with healthier-looking, beautiful skin.
Happi: What are the major trends in skin care today in terms of consumer expectations for performance and aesthetics—and how does
Aveeno continue to deliver products that meet and often exceed these expectations?
Southall: Aveeno consumers in particular are very savvy, sophisticated and purposeful in their skin care choices. They are looking for skin care products with Active Naturals that deliver real skin care benefits, leaving their skin healthier-looking and beautiful. And at the same time they want a skin care product that looks good, feels good, smells good, and delivers an overall positive experience. To deliver on both promises—performance and aesthetics—Aveeno scientists invest years of research into each and every Active Naturals ingredient. We work to identify the best way to grow the botanicals, extract the beneficial properties of the plant, and preserve that activity in Aveeno products. For oat, it means sourcing from regions that provide an ideal environment for the oat to grow, well-drained soil and a cooler climate. The high quality oats are cleaned, de-hulled and then undergo a process of enzyme stabilizing. Within hours, the stabilized oats are pulverized into colloidal oatmeal, which is then stored in a temperature and humidity-controlled area. The results of these investments and dedicated processes in Active Naturals research, such as oat, are visible in the performance and aesthetics of our products, such as Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.
Happi: As a scientist on the front lines of skin, how much have you seen the industry change in terms of ingredient supply access, improved technologies from suppliers, improve capabilities to craft better products, testing?
Southall: Working on the front end of Aveeno discovery programs for naturals there has been a considerable shift in companies and suppliers developing natural ingredients. Every week we see new natural ingredients obtained from exotic regions or cultivated from extreme conditions like the arctic. One role that the scientists at Aveeno play is to differentiate the fact from fluff, to focus on the science and the natural ingredients, and not the story or the fad. By focusing on Active Naturals, those ingredients derived from nature and uniquely formulated to optimize skin’s healthy and beautiful look, Aveeno scientists can then follow high standards of ingredient selection, formulation and manufacturing, with unique processes that retain the strength and purity of the ingredients.