“We met with dermatologists and they were surprised to see us,” admitted Celeste Lutrario, VP-global R&D, Burt’s Bees. “The dermatologists didn’t know the amount of science and research behind our products. They view us as a lip balm company, but when we talk to them about some of the research we’re doing they become very interested.”
That’s because some of the company’s research is delivering outstanding results. In a study conducted by an outside testing company, and supported by Burt’s Bees Inc., a single treatment of Burt’s Bees natural lip balm rapidly and persistently improved lip hydration and repeated use of Burt’s Bees natural lip balm improved barrier function, too. According to study results, improvement in barrier function was accompanied by clinical improvements in scaling, roughness, rosiness and overall lip condition and that these improvements persisted for at least three days following discontinuation of treatment. Researchers also advised that investigations of the mechanism by which the lip barrier responds favorably are warranted in order to develop appropriate lip care practices and products.
Another study gauged the effects of Burt’s Bees formula on dry skin. In a four-week study, skin hydration, barrier function and pH all improved. According to researchers, this improvement was associated with rapid and sustained reductions in dryness, erythema, pruritus and discomfort. Visual improvements in skin topography were associated with improvements in skin physiology and symptoms. Researchers concluded that nature-based whole formulas provide improvements in skin physiology, clinical symptoms and the appearance of dry skin.
There was also new information about sensitive skin. Another study found that Burt’s Bees nature-based whole formula products for sensitive skin improved and sustained skin hydration and subject-perceived benefits. Facial Cleanser sustained baseline levels of hydration and produced no evidence of dehydration. Overall, Burt’s Bees nature-based products for sensitive skin were well-tolerated and maintained skin health in a self-perceived sensitive skin population.
“We aren’t just looking at fine lines and wrinkles, we’re looking at how the skin looks better, its texture, radiance and other attributes,” explained Lutrario. “Do our products help with skin sensitivity, rosacea and redness?”
Finally, Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin regimen was compared with a Cetaphil regimen by clinical evaluations in 120 subjects with sensitive skin defined as atopic dermatitis/eczema, rosacea and cosmetic intolerance. According to the company-sponsored study conducted in Durham, NC, Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin and Cetaphil regimens were equivalent in improving skin barrier function. Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin regimen maintained skin hydration in sensitive skin population and improved all investigator-graded and subject-rated efficacy measures from baseline when compared with the Cetaphil regimen.
Investigator-graded efficacy assessments demonstrated improvement in the rosacea group sooner than in the cosmetic intolerance and atopic dermatitis/eczema groups. By week four, all conditions using the Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin regimen demonstrated statistically significant improvements over the Cetaphil regimen. Researchers also concluded that Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin and Cetaphil regimens both improved tolerability at 4 weeks, but only Burt’s Bees improved redness.
“We formulate differently than everyone else,” asserted Lutrario. “Dermatological patients are requesting more natural products.”
That’s a request that’s become more common in the past eight years, she recalled.
“People are aware of wellness and how what they eat impacts how they feel,” said Lutrario. “It has transitioned from food to skin. The skin is the largest organ. The healthier the ingredients you put on your skin, the healthier your skin will be. Eat well and put good ingredients on your skin.”
Care for Skin
During her 32-year career at companies such as Avon, Elizabeth Arden and Chanel, Lutrario has been witness to a raft of changes in how the beauty industry views skin. She noted that when Anew arrived on the scene, chemists and consumers became focused on the role that inflammation can play in reducing fine lines.
“Everyone moved away from the care of skin,” she recalled. “I’ve been at Burt’s Bees for 12 years. I wanted to care for skin again.”
Lutrario’s timing is perfect. Right or wrong, more consumers than ever are interested in product ingredients. They scour the internet in search of the next bad actor, regardless of the lack of science behind the claims, which explains how terms like parabens and SLS get banned from formulas.
“They don’t know a lot, but they will look it up (online),” she noted.
At the same time, consumers are coming around to the notion that natural ingredients can work as well as synthetic ones, and in some cases, they can be better for skin due to their nutrient levels. Lutrario noted most synthetics are in formulas to improve their texture. As a result, most formulas have no nutritional value to the skin, not so with many natural ingredients such as antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
“They each have their own nutrient profile that keeps skin healthy,” she explained. “Our research is proving that our products are helping to make skin healthier. Most of our products are 99% natural.”
In fact, Burt’s Bees has three goals when it comes to formulating:
• Made with natural ingredients (except preservative when needed in certain formulas for safety of product);
• Three-year shelf life; and
• Must feel as good as it looks.
All three are equally difficult to achieve and are inter-related, according to Lutrario.
“We can’t do one without the other,” she explained. “It is tough to make a product that is 100% natural. We average 99% natural.”
Burt’s Bees chemists are still searching for an effective natural preservative, too. For now, the company relies on phenoxyethanol.
Those goals are built on the four pillars of skin care philosophy:
• Balance skin cycle;
• Nature as laboratory;
• Nutritional profile; and
• Whole formula.
The first involves getting the skin back to its 28-day cell renewal cycle. That means using ingredients and developing products that promote a healthy barrier. The second acknowledges that everything skin needs can be found in nature. The third, calls for using plants with a high antioxidant profile, creating products with great humectant qualities and high EFA levels for moisturization.
“We are trying to feed skin,” she reminded Happi.
Finally, the whole formula concept acknowledges that while each component has a specific benefit, they must be balanced in order to create a texture that leads to a delightful experience for the user.
Before products even get to the lab, Burt’s Bees personnel make sure that all of its ingredients are responsibly sourced. While some suppliers were initially frustrated with all the tracking involved, over the years, more companies have gotten on board with the program. It’s all part of Burt’s Bees goal of creating skin caring formulas, at a time when more care is critical.
Lutrario noted that 70-80% of people think that they have sensitive skin. Furthermore, incidence of rosacea continues to increase. Burt’s Bees executives say that natural ingredients such as clary sage, cotton extract and sunflower oil hold the key to creating products that soothe troubled skin.
“We are promoting skin health and not just fixing a problem,” asserted Lutrario. “Healthy skin is incredibly beautiful. As an industry, we have lost the idea of what healthy skin looks like.”