Skin care brand Paula’s Choice recently held its second annual Skin Intelligence event to discuss everything from the future of ingredients to why skin care trends need to go away. Hosted virtually by beauty journalist Emily Dougherty, speakers included board certified dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman, Paula’s Choice Director of Skin Care Research Bryan Barron, Paula’s Choice Global Director of Skin Care Knowledge Deborah Kilgore, and Paula’s Choice Manager of Education and Applied Research Francesca Cambuli. Here, the top takeaways from the event.

Dishing on Disinformation

Misinformation as it relates to science is rampant due especially to messages on social media platforms. “When it comes to making smart decisions about skin, trends don’t, and shouldn’t come into play,” said beauty journalist Emily Dougherty. “Decisions should be made based on the latest clinical research.”

Francesca noted that she believes misinformation spreads so quickly because of the illusory truth effect, which is the tendency for the human brain, once we repeatedly hear or see something, becomes familiar and feels true. Case in point: sunscreen. “They have been under attack due to a misinterpretation of some studies that exist—but don’t accurately reflect real-world examples,” Paula’s Choice Manager of Education and Applied Research Francesca Cambuli, adding for example a recent study that showed some sunscreens can cause endocrine disruption. But the actual study involved an amount of sunscreen no person would ever actually apply.

How to combat disinformation? Francesca said telling the story via a variety of touchpoints can help. “We’ve had to adapt how we share our information to TikTok, etc,” Francesca said. “The tone is important, we never use a judgmental tone. We keep it honest and explanatory,” she added.

Leveling Up: The Future of Ingredients

Ingredients are front and center in product innovation, especially the evolution of hero ingredients and how old standards are getting next generation upgrades, such as ingredients peptides, retinols, and mushrooms. Bryan reported that several new peptides have been shown to influence the dermal-epidermal junction as well as stimulate collagen 4 and collagen 17. “This new kind of peptide is now being folded in a way that not only improves efficacy but also stability,” Bryan said.

“Retinol certainly is not going away and has more derivatives than we’ve ever had, which is exciting,” said Bryan. There are new ways to encapsulate and new ways to stabilize retinol, he added. New retinol delivery systems use calcium, vitamin E or other antioxidants to stabilize retinol and control its release, plus providing additional free-radical-fighting benefits. Retinyl propionate and retinaldehyde can match the efficacy of traditional retinol while being gentler.

In addition to mushrooms’ ability to protect skin from pollution and internal destructive enzymes that degrade collagen, recent research has found that mushroom-derived prebiotics and polysaccharides can speed wound healing. “More ingestible benefits have been found as well,” Bryan said. “We have more solid evidence than ever that mushrooms are an incredible class of ingredients for topical use and for ingestion,” he added.

Exfoliation Exonerated

Exfoliation is the skin barrier’s best friend—and there’s a difference between barrier damage and barrier disruption. Well-formulated chemical exfoliants don’t damage the skin barrier, but they do disrupt the bonds holding dead cells to the skin’s surface. Paula’s Choice Deborah Kilgore noted that “well formulated exfoliants really means gentle, fragrance-free hydroxy acids that are made in an optimal pH range of three to four, to ensure maximum exfoliation minus irritation.” Studies have shown that this mechanism strengthens the barrier by stimulating cell renewal as well as improving hydration. This is particularly true for the AHA lactic acid and polyhydroxy acid gluconolactone.

By Amber Katz