By Jeff Murad, VP of Product Development
Our defining formulation principle at Murad is the Principle of Cellular Water™. This is the idea that as we age or undergo stress or disease, the cells throughout our body lose water through damaged cell membranes. The only way to make skin as healthy and beautiful as possible is to strengthen our cell membranes and ensure that every cell has its optimal concentration of water. Only then is skin truly receptive to targeted treatments for specific skin conditions, such as acne, wrinkles or photodamage. Because of this, hydration (through the use of moisturizers in particular) is an important factor for Murad when our New Product Development team creates formulas.
Traditionally, there are only two methods to hydrate the skin topically. One method is through the use of moisturizers that use humectant ingredients, such as Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin to attract moisture from the environment. These humectant ingredients are water-soluble.
The second method is through the use of emollient oils that sit on the surface of the skin and prevent water from seeping out—a process known as Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL). These emollient ingredients are oil-soluble.
As anyone who has made a vinaigrette salad dressing knows oil and water do not mix easily. Because of this, moisturizers are made in two containers. The first contains water and the water-soluble humectant ingredients, while the second contains the oils and oil-soluble emollient ingredients. Only then is an emulsifier added that allows the two sub-formulas to merge into a nice, elegant lotion or cream. Of all of these ingredients and ingredient categories I have listed, there is one that actually does nothing to keep the skin hydrated. Surprisingly, this non-hydrating ingredient (that is central to any good moisturizer) is the water itself. Without the presence of special molecules, water is unable to pass through the cell membranes in our bodies (including our skin cells). So the water in your moisturizer—the one that is the first or second ingredient (meaning it is at least 50% of your formula)—is doing nothing except solubilizing (dissolving) the humectant ingredients in the formula.
The question the New Product Development team at Murad was faced with was: how do we get that inactive 50% of the formula to become an active hydrator for the skin? To find the answer, we looked at skin biology. The cells in our bodies are actually able to move water around, but only through very specific methods. Deep within the surface of the skin, cells use special water channels known as aquaporins to move water in and out in a single file line. Closer to the surface, water molecules pair up with chaperones, known as osmolytes, that allow them to pass through cell membranes as needed. Looking at this process for inspiration, researchers at Murad discovered a unique blend of osmolytes and aquaporin stimulators we call RepleniCell®, that “activates” water to help transport and lock it into the surface layers of the skin.
Now, before we begin to manufacture any Murad moisturizer, we start with a tank loaded with water that has been pretreated with this RepleniCell® cocktail, rather than the standard water all other moisturizers begin with. Once all of the mixing is complete, we are left with a product that is not 50% active, but rather has the ability to be a full-performance hydrator for all of our skin.
By Jeff Murad, VP of Product Development. Dr. Murad’s son and VP of New Product Development Jeff Murad oversees product formulation and testing.