“Dermatologists can’t get all their information from other dermatologists,” noted Dr. Stanley Levy, author and investigator of the Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin Study. “They need to be educated by industry and vice versa.”
Levy explained that there’s been a major shift in dermatology since he began practicing in the 1970s.
“Until the mid-1990s, cosmetic industry and dermatology didn’t mix,” he recalled.
But along came Dr. Albert Kligman and Retin-A, and dermatologists and cosmetic companies began to see opportunities to work together to improve patient/consumer outcomes. No surprise then that dozens of cosmetic companies exhibited their formulas during last month’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). At the AAD event in San Diego, the Burt’s Bees team unveiled its newest poster presentations revealing their latest findings on sensitive skin conditions, which is a growing area of concern; according to research, 50% of Europeans and Americans say they have sensitive skin; that percentage climbs to 70% of respondents in the UK.
“That’s self-assessment,” observed Levy, “but it’s real to them!”
The test results were really good for Burt’s Bees. Twenty subjects in each category (atopic dermatitis, rosacea and cosmetic intolerance) were given either Burt’s Bees or the No. 1 dermatologist-recommended skin care formula (Cetaphil). After applying either product for three weeks, subjects were professionally evaluated and those who applied Burt’s Bees had better looking skin. The nature-based regimen consisted of Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleanser, Sensitive Eye Cream, Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream and Sensitive Night Cream.
Specifically, the Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin Regimen clinically and statistically improved investigator-rated overall skin appearance by 34% with similar improvements in visual and tactile smoothness, clarity and radiance. Similar improvements were absent with the Cetaphil regimen, according to researchers. Improvements occurred in each skin condition. Overall appearance improved in subjects with atopic dermatitis/eczema by 38%, rosacea by 34% and cosmetic intolerance by 31%. The maximum improvement in subjects with any skin condition treated with the Cetaphil regimen was 11% (atopic dermatitis/eczema). Importantly, tolerability parameters did not worsen and most improved with the Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin Regimen. Both regimens improved epidermal barrier function in each condition as measured by transepidermal water loss where increases were seen ranging from 9-20%. Skin hydration improvements measured by corneometry with the synthetic regimen were greater; however, Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin Regimen maintained skin hydration and did not cause any dryness, according to the company. In a second study of 51 subjects with self- perceived sensitive skin, Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin Regimen was well tolerated and maintained skin hydration.
A Natural Alternative
With these results, and more on the way, Burt’s Bees researchers are confident that they have the data to convince dermatologists that there are natural alternatives to standard treatments. That’s important, insist company executives, as more patients ask for natural products to treat skin care problems.
“Our formulas help skin look better,” insisted Hermali Gunt, PhD, the lead researcher in all three studies. “Dermatologists have historically had reservations about natural formulas.”
Burt’s Bees formulas are billed as 98.9% natural. That percentage is expected to climb even higher in 2019, when the company starts formulating products with a natural preservative system. According to Gunt, patients have been asking their dermatologists for natural products for the better part of a decade.
Now, the derms have questions of their own.
“I teach young doctors, the next generation of dermatologists, who are very interested in natural formulas and have environmental concerns,” explained Levy, who is an instructor at Duke University. “The natural trend isn’t going away—it’s going to grow.”