Welcome to C.R.E.A.M. 2.0 Development (Long-Term Test)
Congratulations, and thank you for making it to the Final Round of C.R.E.A.M. 2.0 product testing. We apologize for the delay in this round; we have some fantastic news. We were supposed to send out Round 3 before Christmas, but our Preservative Challenge Test Results came in, and we weren’t expecting the results. (We’ll explain this below) This final round is the “long-term test,” where we’ll ask you to test C.R.E.A.M. 2.0 for three weeks. We’ve made some final exciting changes to C.R.E.A.M. 2.0, but before that, let’s give you a breakdown of the feedback we got from the second round.
Regarding preference, it was an equal split between the two versions. We noticed some reactions with the MC version (3%). About 2% noticed pilling in both creams. 1.5% noticed breakouts in the non-squalane version, while 3% noticed more in the Squalane version. These numbers are really low, but we still need to perform Human Repeat Insult Patch Test (HRIPT) and Non-comedogenicity testing to the final formulation. Regarding texture, we hit the right spot, as many people find it to be the right amount of thickness. Some minor issues that a few people found were the smell, the tackiness and the finish.
We’re sending out this round in a bottle, so we think it would lessen the scent that the packets intensify. We have lessened the tackiness, but with 7.5% Glycerin and 5% Panthenol, we think it is not as tacky as it could have been. Some people find the finish a little matte, while others find it shiny. People are looking for that temporary dew that you get in the morning. We know that product perception is important because sometimes, you have to see it to believe it. We hope that in this last version, we achieved to make it less matte, but not too shiny and with a dewy finish.
So what exactly are the changes?
- Increased barrier repair even more (explained in a lab note later)
- Added 1% Colloidal Oat. We managed to finally add Colloidal Oat. We were hesitant at first because we weren't sure of its effect on barrier repair and that it can impact our preservative system. It is an awesome soothing agent and skin-protectant so we're glad that we were able to incorporate it. In addition, we noticed that it gives a slight oaty scent which tones down the stronger scent of 6-Paradol.
- Increased D-Panthenol to 5% without increasing tackiness. It was previously at 1% but a lot of you were requesting this to increase so we did.
- Optimized texture and finish. After pushing the limits again to Barrier Repair, we optimized the body further to be more substantial but the addition of Colloidal Oat and increased D-Panthenol thinned it out a little bit. If those two weren't added, it would have been a really thick cold cream. We're actually pretty happy with the balance in the body and texture and I know we can't please everyone but we think this is a major improvement in texture compared to C.R.E.A.M. 1.0
- Self-Preserving. We sent out varying concentrations of preservatives for Preservative Challenge Test to figure out the least amount of preservatives we needed for the formulation. We also included a no-preservative sample as a positive control. We were surprised that even the no-preservative sample passed the Challenge test, so we had to reformulate the Round 3 batch. High humectant content led to low water activity + some of the active ingredients that we use (Bisabolol, Paradol, etc. ) have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity, which surprised us as well. We’ll explain this further in a lab note.
Step 1: Use C.R.E.A.M. 2.0 (Long-term test), twice a day for three weeks
Step 2: Perform the “Sebutape and D-squame measurement.” Record your results and calculate the difference between your before and after results. (E.g. Sebutape: decrease by 1, decrease by 2 etc.)
Step 3: Click here for the "Long-term testing Survey". You will be entering your Sebutape and D-squame results here.
- October 7: We started sending out the sample kits
- November 14: Deadline for Round 1 feedback
- November 22: Sent out Round 2
- January 13: Sending out Long-Term Test
Aqua, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Panthenol, Pentylene Glycol, Behenyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Decyl Glucoside, Polysilicone-11, Isosorbide Dicaprylate, Arachidyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Bisabolol, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide NP, 4-t-Butylcyclohexanol, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Allantoin, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Palmitoylethanolamide, Cholesterol, Myristic Acid+, Hydroxystearic Acid, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Avenanthramide, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Tocopherol, Lactic Acid, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Laureth-7, Potassium Sorbate*
Barrier Repair Soothing Liquid Crystal Emulsifier Silicone Gel
Note: *Potassium Sorbate is the preservative present in Oat Extract and it is present in 0.005% in the final formulation.
+: Myristic acid turned out (quite shockingly) the best Non-Essential Fatty Acid for Barrier Repair. It is present at 0.13% in the formulation.
See below for full explanation
- PPAR agonists (Advanced Barrier Repair Actives): 0.3% Palmitoylethanolamide, Hydroxystearic acids, Avenanthramides
- Glycerin + Petrolatum + Barrier Lipids (2.5% Ceramides, Cholesterol, Optimized Fatty acids)
- Multidimensional Soothing: 5% Dexpanthenol, 1% Colloidal Oat, 1% Glycyrrhetinic acid, 1% Bisabolol, 0.5% Allantoin, 4-t-Butylcyclohexanol, Standardized Ginger Root Extract and Oat Kernel Extract, Avenanthramides, and Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone
- Optimized Fatty Acid Complex: Myristic acid, 10-Hydroxystearic acid, 12-Hydroxystearic acid, Linoleic acid, Linolenic acid
Updated Ingredient Explanation
Sebutape and D-squame measurement
What prompted the update?
If you haven’t noticed already, we at Regimen Lab are always thinking about, researching, and testing how we can make better skincare. Whether it’s a completely new product or using the latest science and user feedback to improve our products, we are always looking to do better.
C.R.E.A.M. is a beloved product for so many of you, more so because it works than because you love the texture. Our goal with C.R.E.A.M. has always been to prioritize performance first, and optimize for texture second. With the first version, the main emollients used were Isostearyl Isostearate (ISIS) and Isopropyl Isostearate (IPIS), which are esters that promote the orthorhombic structure of barrier lipids in the skin. Ceramides, Cholesterol and some Fatty acids are incredible for barrier repair but in their raw form have really waxy textures and the drag is unbearable. To add to that, they are extremely hard to work with (the vast majority of formulations with these “break” - literally out of hundreds of variants, only a few emulsions remain intact). We knew going in that ISIS and IPIS are among the vilified fungal acne triggers in addition to their comedogenicity. Despite the low concentrations used and our testing phases finding no comedogenicity issues, people remain wary of these esters. We were trying to avoid Petrolatum and Silicones because Market research results suck XD. Anyway, we were happy with the barrier repair ability and the fact that the rate of acne and blackhead reaction is really low. Admittedly, the texture isn’t the greatest but it works really well, which was pretty much was our tagline before. LOL.
If you look into the study done by the group of Dr. Elias, the ratio that they tested were only varying combinations of Ceramides, Cholesterol, Fatty acids in 1:1:1:1, 2:1:1:1, 3:1:1:1, 4:1:1:1, and 5:1:1:1 combinations. However, what if there are other combinations that work better outside of these tested ratios? We formulated hundreds of these combinations: (3:2:1:1, 3:1:2:1, 2:3:1:2 etc.) and tested these out throughout these past two years, and we got really really interesting results.
The next thing we looked into was the effect of varying the Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) component in the ratio. In the study, the EFA used is Linoleic acid. However, we were curious if changing it would have an effect. We tested out different EFAs and other derivatives like ethyl linoleate, conjugated linoleic acid, alpha-linoleic acid, gamma linoleic acid etc. The results are again super interesting and will be discussed in another lab note.
The last one we looked into was the Non-Essential Fatty Acid (NEFA) composition. In the study, they used Palmitic acid, but we are curious whether changing this can have an effect. We tested a bunch of NEFA used in cosmetics and found new ones too. During this process, we came across fatty acids that also act as PPAR activators. In addition, we also tested long-chain and very long-chain fatty acids as well. Our results are surprising, and we are still analyzing our results as there is no correlation between chain length and barrier repair. We found out exactly what combination worked, but we don’t know yet why.
I knew I wanted to improve C.R.E.A.M. 1.0, but I knew it would take a long time to get it right. As soon as it launched, I was already in development mode to improve its texture. At first, I looked into the emollients that we could use, and there are a ton of emollients out there that feel nice, but they didn’t really do anything for skin hydration or barrier health. Basically, we tested a bunch of emollients in terms of their effect on the skin and honestly, it was disappointing as only Petrolatum showed clear benefits. Squalane didn’t do squat, which is a disappointment. So with these results, I started incorporating Petrolatum to replace the esters. The emulsion felt greasy and tacky, but the barrier repair is insane. We turned to silicone elastomers to improve the feel, and the difference is day and night.
The last one that we looked into was the emulsifier. We have our base formulation down, and we just need to test different emulsifiers to see which one can stay stable and carry a huge load of actives. Many of them broke, but two systems remained intact, which is a huge relief. Justina formulated tons of creams up to a point that her dreams involved creams too.
Advanced Barrier Repair
After optimizing the ratio of Ceramides, Cholesterol and Fatty acids, we looked into optimizing the right combination of Petrolatum and Silicones to boost the barrier repair. Up to this point, we’re looking at 3rd Generation Barrier Repair, in which the actives directly participate in the repair of the barrier. However, there’s a newer concept of advanced barrier repair where actives encourage the skin to accelerate barrier repair on its own.
Some actives in recent years have popped up where they are able to boost Ceramide levels in the skin. However, this isn’t really a great goal as there is more to barrier repair than just Ceramide levels. The process needs to be a synchronized process where the production of other barrier lipids needs to be increased, and their packaging into lamellar lipids is increased as well.
Interestingly, not everything that can enhance Ceramide levels in the skin is great for barrier repair. It doesn’t automatically mean that your skin is healthier. It could mean that your skin sensed damage, and it is releasing Ceramides to repair itself. Did you know that UV exposure also increases Ceramide levels? This is because oxidative stress is a signal for the skin to start repairing itself. Diesel engine particulates, which cause pre-mature aging through MMP damage, also increase Ceramides in the skin. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you should apply a diesel mask to your face.
There’s this one new concept that I want to introduce to you guys: Peroxisome Proliferator Activated-Receptor (PPAR). PPARs are nuclear receptors (like retinoid receptors) that regulate a lot of skin processes like Keratinocyte maturation, Barrier function, Anti-Inflammation and Wound-healing. Interestingly, Retinoids work by binding Retinoid receptors, which then translocate and heterodimerize with other nuclear receptors in the nucleus to exert biological effects. Guess which nuclear receptors they usually heterodimerize with? PPARs. For this reason (and for the anti-inflammatory, barrier boosting, and wound healing function), PPARs show potential in reducing the TEWL increase during retinoid usage. C.R.E.A.M. 2.0 is packed with different kinds of new PPAR-agonist, so it pairs really well with retinoid usage.
Soothing the skin is more than just applying a couple of ingredients and expecting it to reduce irritation. The first and most important thing to do in terms of soothing is to remove the culprit. The second thing is to ensure that everything you apply to the skin is non-irritating. For this new version of C.R.E.A.M., we assessed the possible sources of irritation and added new soothing ingredients by targeting specific signs of inflammation.
Redness is the first visible sign of skin inflammation. It is a complicated process, but it begins when the skin senses any form of damage. The first level of inflammation begins when those damaged cells release their preformed inflammatory mediators or cytokines, specifically Interleukin 1 (Il-1) and Tumour Necrosis Factor-a (TNF-a), which jump-start the inflammatory cascade. The skin then detects these cytokines, and neighboring cells release Il-6 and Il-8. These two cytokines are responsible for further amplifying the inflammatory cascade and creating new blood vessels. The second level of inflammation happens when lipid mediators are released. This is when shit gets real, as this release results in clearly visible redness, warmth, and erythema from more new blood vessels.
For C.R.E.A.M. 2.0, we’re targeting the first level of inflammation by inhibiting redness where it begins: Interleukins. Alpha-Bisabolol is especially great for inhibiting Il-1 and TNF, so we halt the redness from the get-go. We use two types of Bisabolol: Natural (-)-α-Bisabolol and Synthetic (+/-)-α-Bisabolol, which is a racemic mixture. These two also inhibit Il-6 and Il-8 to prevent the amplification of the inflammatory cascade. The second level of inflammation is targeted by 6-paradol (Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone), one of ginger's natural soothing actives and Glycyrrhetinic acid, the potent anti-inflammatory active in licorice. 6-Paradol and other actives in the standardized Ginger extract inhibit the release of lipid mediators (COX-2 and PGE-2 inhibition) to stop the progression of redness.
Itching is a defense mechanism that evolved from the need to get rid of insects (or other foreign stuff) on our skin. It can be triggered by many substances released by cells in the skin (both Histaminergic and Non-Histaminergic). Alleviating itch has been studied for centuries, as non-stop itching can drive someone insane. One particularly effective solution that has been used for centuries is Oat. Oats have a lot of components like lipids, polysaccharides and polyphenols. One particularly interesting polyphenol is Avenanthramide (Aveeno, Avene get it?). This group of polyphenols is credited for the anti-itch properties of oat, and because they are polyphenols, they also have some antioxidant properties. The disadvantage is that they are a bit unstable. Luckily, a more stable version is available in the form of Avenanthramide D (Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic acid). This synthetic Avenanthramide can relieve itching through its action on NK-1 and NF-KB receptors. We thought of adding Oat oil and Colloidal Oatmeal to the formulation, but we are worried that the lipids in Oat might interfere with the ratio. Don’t worry. We’ve saved them up for another exciting formulation.
Stinging and Burning are mediated by Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels. These receptors can sense heat, acid, inflammatory cytokines and other substances to relay a signal that the brain interprets as stinging. One of the most common TRPs is TRPV1 which is also activated by Capsaicin in hot peppers. In the new C.R.E.A.M. 2.0, we used 4-t-Butylcyclohexanol, a synthetic compound designed to regulate TRPV1 resulting in a decreased sensation of stinging. 4-t-Butylcyclohexanol was shown to be superior to Licochalcone A and acetyl dipeptide-1 cetyl ester in reducing stinging and burning in-vivo.