Scientist-Founder Lauren Otsuki Explains Subtopicals
When it comes to science, our resident guru makes it sound downright sexy. Here, she breaks down “multiphasic vesicles” (say that five times fast) and more...
Meet Lauren Otsuki, innovative scientist, girl-boss entrepreneur, and general all-around genius. Oh, and she also happens to be one of the founders of Ourself, and is responsible for some of our biggest breakthroughs. Who better to help explain the secrets of skin in ways the rest of us mere mortals can understand?
As Lauren often says, "Let's start with the skin." Remember that one of skin's primary functions is as a protective barrier that keeps outside stuff OUT. And evolution has ensured that skin is really good at this. So when it comes to skincare (which, no matter what ingredients you use, is definitely "outside stuff" when you apply it), the first challenge is getting it past the skin's formidable protective defenses.
Some traditional skincare products take a "fingers crossed" approach. They put a few ingredients in a formula, and hope that a proportion of them manage to sneak into skin. This works to an extent—certain hydration-related molecules and a few antioxidants like alpha lipoic acids are known to be absorbed without too much trouble—but it is highly inefficient, and totally ineffective when it comes to dealing with the larger molecules like peptides and long-chain hyaluronic acid that can pack a skin-transforming punch.
Facing this challenge, Lauren and her team dove into exploring ingredient delivery systems that could more effectively precision-target active ingredients. You may have heard of some of these, like liposomes and other kinds of encapsulation, and they were significant steps forward in their time. Fast-forward to now: Lauren and her fearless crew hit on a new delivery system so groundbreaking, it's patent-pending: the multiphasic vesicle.
Yeah, that's a mouthful, so let's break it down. "Vesicle" is a fancy science word for a vessel, like a container or pouch, which is a description of how it encloses the active ingredients. And each tiny, spherical pouch is "multiphasic" because it has multiple phases, or layers, which gives it exceptional stability and more targeted accuracy.
Now that we have a more efficient delivery system, the next trick is knowing where to go. No prob: because we can tweak the shell of the vesicles, we can precisely target where their contents are delivered. And the vesicles have a lot of cargo space: they can carry much larger, heavier (and more active) molecules than other common technologies, easily escorting peptides over 1,000 molecular weight onto the skin. "That is really the magic of the subtopical delivery system," says Lauren.
Okay, that’s a lot of delving into “delivery,” but you may be asking, “What have I actually ordered?” Yet another great thing about the multiphasic vesicles is they can carry almost any ingredient—for example they deliver heavy-duty hyaluronic acid in Ourself Lip Filler —and generate enhanced results. But Lauren is most excited about Intides™, the intelligent peptides she created and curated with her team.
Biochem Break: A peptide is a part of a protein. Think of a protein building up from scratch: atoms form into molecules, which join into amino acids, which link up to become peptides, which combine into proteins—which do a lot of the actual work in our bodies, like keeping our skin smooth and flexible, carrying oxygen to our brain, replicating our DNA, and on and on. There are a jillion different kinds of proteins, but collagen, elastin and melanin are specific examples that you've probably heard of when it comes to the beauty world. Getting back to peptides, scientists are learning how they go way beyond just being building blocks. These bossy bits love to order skin cells around, and they play an active role in telling cells to generate proteins and amp up performance in other ways, too. TL;DR: Class dismissed.
Another cool thing about peptides is that if, say, you are a brilliant chemist like Lauren, you can custom-engineer them for specific purposes (like for medical treatments, or for skincare). That's why Lauren calls her creations not just peptides, but Intides™—Intelligent Peptides—remember? Because they are developed to target specific issues, they’re highly effective once they are absorbed into the right area of skin—which gets us right back to our multiphasic vesicles.
It's this power to micro-target individual proteins in a precise location within skin that gets pretty next-level in the beauty sphere. In Lauren's words, "We are addressing what we believe are some of the most stubborn skincare concerns, including lines, wrinkles, loss of volume, sagging and hyperpigmentation. Many of these issues have not been adequately addressed in any kind of topical product to date, and we're really thrilled to introduce Subtopical™ skincare to the world." Stay tuned to find out if Lauren figures out how to deliver the actual fountain of youth through a multiphasic vesicle. (You never know with this one. She's smart that way.)