Why the Beauty Industry Should Pay Attention to Vaccines

And it is not just because they keep us disease-free. It’s the adjuvants.

Vaccines and skincare share one thing in common. Both try to get bioactive compounds into hard to reach places.

Vaccines need to get into our immune cells in order to be effective. The bioactive compounds, be they messenger RNA, attenuated viruses, proteins, etc, will not enter our immune cells on their own. They need to be formulated to penetrate the cell walls.

And in the world of vaccines, they call these formulation ingredients adjuvants.

Yet these adjuvants cause many of adverse reactions associated with vaccines, such as anaphylactic shock. This especially true when the adjuvant systems are developed from PEGs and cationic lipids with known toxic side effects.

That is why there is so much interest in the new Novavax vaccine: it uses a novel adjuvant system called Matrix-M, created from saponins extracted from Quillaja saponaria Molina bark. Matrix-M has proven to be less toxic than other adjuvants and there is hope that the Novavax Covid vaccine will have less side effects. Could this all-natural delivery system turn Novavax into the hero of the Covid-19 pandemic?  We will soon know that answer.

What can the beauty industry learn from all of this? Our skin, especially the outer layer,  can be thought of as one giant cell wall. We need our cosmetic actives to penetrate that outer layer in order to become bioavailable — like vaccines. And we need to do that penetration safely.

Actera hears from beauty companies and product developer who share a common frustration: “Our product was formulated with X% active ingredient, yet consumers are not seeing the benefit.” Imagine the destruction in brand equity that comes from promising incredible skin activity and yet nothing happens.

It is time to change the conversation around active ingredients, especially for brands who want to offer transformational skin benefits. Start by maximizing bioavailability (not weight percent!). Like vaccines, skin care can only be effective if we get the active to the right place at the right time.

Check out Actera’s bioavailable actives for ways to make that leap.