In 2018, the market for wound care products represented € 94.5 million, or 12.6 million units sold, according to IQVIA, PharmaOne-Pharmatrend & Paratrend. This is a growing market to take care of so-called "fragile" skin. Definition, associated claims and testing protocols, our team enlightens you on this term.
Fragile skin: a new marketing term?
The adjective "fragile" would define an injured skin, burned or damaged by a surgical act. There is no real official definition, but the scientific community agrees to designate a skin on which lesions can easily occur.
According to Laurent MISERY, Head of the dermatology department of the University Hospital of Brest, "It is mostly a mechanical disruption of the barrier function and a deficit in the lipid layer. Normally inhibited by this barrier, the transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is accelerated and the skin becomes dehydrated."(Expression Cosmétique n°59, p. 138).
Confirmed by our Director Research & Development, Francis VIAL:
"As an interface between the body and the external environment, the skin plays a major role in protection and support. The outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum (SC), is the main mediator of this function. A fragile skin is characterized by an impaired barrier function, indicated by an increase in trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) and a decrease in water retention capacity, mainly due to the alteration of the inter / intracellular components in the SC. "
Fragile skin should not be confused with sensitive skin. If the latter is perfectly framed by a recommendation of the ARPP (French Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority), the fragile skin evolves in a more blurred frame. Remember that like any claim, it must be justified by evidence.
Moreover, the term "cica", often associated with products for fragile skin, can be accepted in cosmetics on the sole condition that it does not imply any healing action or property.
Fragile skin, claims and testing protocols
Many claims are now associated with fragile skin:
- "Accelerates the recovery of the skin barrier function"
- "Increases hydration and reduces transepidermal water loss"
- "Improves the skin barrier function"
- "Restores and repairs the barrier function"
- "Improves cellular regeneration"
- "Accelerates skin repair"
When our customers request for this type of claim, it is important to understand the mode of action of the ingredient or finished product, to establish the most relevant test protocol. Indeed, different "points of view" are possible, such as:
- the measurement of skin moisture, by corneometry or Moisturemap
- the calculation of transepidermal water loss
- the measurement of markers of the skin barrier integrity: biochemical exploration (fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides)
- the dosage of Natural Moisture Factors (NMFs): catabolites of Filaggrin, mineral elements (Ca, K)
- the analysis of the maturation of corneocytes
- clinical evaluation of desquamation intensity, by electronic microscopy.
It may also be relevant to associate this issue of "fragile skin" with an emotional axis, by associating a measure of the discomfort and tightness signs.
As a conclusion, this claim is particularly important to evaluate, both in terms of panelists selection and of the most relevant techniques to be defined. We are at your disposal to discuss such projects!