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Hemp cellulose makeup could rival conventional cosmetics

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A team from China’s Sichuan University has created a liquid cosmetic foundation based on cellulose from hemp stalk, which the researchers say brings several improvements over conventional makeup.

Made from hemp cellulose nanocrystals, the substance replaces ingredients such as mineral oil and titanium oxide that are common in such beauty products. The hemp-based foundation helps reduce skin barrier damage because removal does not require harsh cleansers needed to clear conventional foundations; such cleansers can lead to skin issues such as sensitivity and rosacea.

‘Important role’ envisioned

“It is imperative to find a new alternative material that avoids the skin barrier damage caused by excessive cleaning,” the research team said in a study about the formula. “With the natural emulsifying and stabilizing characteristics, hemp cellulose is going to play an important role in cosmetics, besides food production and the packaging industry.”

While hemp seed oil and extracts from hemp flowers are widely used in cosmetics and health products, and natural micro-fibrillated cellulose from other plants is more and more common in makeup, the Sichuan University initiative may be the first potential application of cellulose from hemp to the health and beauty sector. The development was first reported this week by Cosmetics Design-Asia.

Key advantages

While demonstrating adhesion similar to the conventional foundation, the hemp formula maintained stable gloss and uniform colors for nine hours, the researchers said. Analysis also showed the hemp foundation’s performance matched the conventional foundation in coverage of facial pigmentation and acne.

The scientists said dermascopic observation of tests on human subjects showed the hemp-based foundation left less residue behind compared to conventional foundation when simply wiped with a cotton pad. The hemp foundation was also observed to remain on the surface of the skin while the conventional foundation penetrated into the dermis, or second skin layer, risking damage.

Finally, because of the absorption effect of cellulose, the act of clearing the hemp-based foundation also removes excessive oil and air pollutants on the skin surface, similar to the manner in which cellulose acts during digestion and metabolism in the intestine, the researchers said.

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