Lab Notes

Why we updated C.R.E.A.M.?

Why did we decide to update C.R.E.A.M.? Why did we decide to add Petrolatum?


It has always been an inside joke in Regimen Lab that I am never satisfied with the versions of the products we create. Science evolves so fast, and so too must products for the skin. However, this is always a constant battle as it is tough for people to find their Holy Grails, and it is pretty nerve-wracking when brands decide to update your tried and tested beloved products. In this lab note, I'll explain what prompted us to update our C.R.E.A.M.

Back in the day (2018), science-based skincare is still in its early beginnings. When we first formulated C.R.E.A.M., we had multiple versions. One of them had Petrolatum, and the other did not. Our testers preferred the version without Petrolatum mainly because of the fears of comedogenicity. It was a struggle because the science team knew Petrolatum is excellent for barrier repair. However, those years were when Natural beauty was at the peak of its heat. The non-petrolatum version won, but deep down, I knew we would see Petrolatum again.

One of the first landmark studies comparing Physiologic Lipids (Ceramides, Cholesterol, Fatty acids) with Petrolatum was done by Dr. Man Mao-Quiang and Dr. Peter Elias. In this study, they've shown that Petrolatum was superiour to Physiologic lipids immediately after barrier damage. Physiologic lipids were slow to kick in, but their barrier repair ability became more apparent at 4 hours, maxing out at 90% around 8 hours. In comparison, Petrolatum stagnated at around 50% and decreased at 8 hours, even lower than the negative control. Interestingly, when Petrolatum and Physiologic lipids were combined, the barrier was immediately repaired and surpassed barrier repair by Physiologic lipids alone.

(Adapted from: P. M. Elias and K. R. Feingold, Skin Barrier. CRC Press, 2005.)

We wanted to test out the real-world applicability of the study above as they were tested using acetone as a carrier. We decided to test C.R.E.A.M. versus Pure Petrolatum versus Cerave. The results follow the trend of the study mentioned above. As expected, Petrolatum showed the highest barrier repair at 2 hours but stagnated and decreased over time. Cerave (has Ceramides in optimized ratio + Petrolatum) surpassed C.R.E.A.M. in immediate barrier repair at 2 hours up to 6 hours. However, once the repair process kicked in, C.R.E.A.M.'s barrier repair ability shone at 8 hours with 90% repair.

Technically, anything that can accelerate barrier repair more than negative control is considered a barrier repair product. In this example, anything above the red line can be considered an "improvement" or "acceleration." However, if you think about it at those hours when the barrier isn't repaired, your skin is at-risk for inflammation and susceptible to damage. This here is the main reason why C.R.E.A.M. needed a boost in immediate barrier repair. We've exhausted all possible ways to improve immediate barrier repair through Petrolatum alternatives for two years, but nothing ever came close. (We'll discuss the optimization of emollients in another lab note)