Insights / Beauty & Science
”Epigenetics will be the big trend, not only for haircare but also for skincare”
On how the latest science changes beauty from within
12 Apr 2023

Who are you?

— I’m the chief scientist at Olaplex, now presenting Lash Bond Serum after five years of development.

We saw the brand launching almost ten years ago, do you remember what it was like back then?

— When it came out, I was not part of the company but the entire industry was watching Olaplex and its bis-amino (bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, used to rebuild broken hair disulfide bonds, Ed’s note) technology to come up with other, similar ones. We now have some other technologies in the industry that mimic bis-amino but more when it comes to replenishing hair. Bis-amino is still the number one in rebuilding disulfide bonds and now, for me, being part of Olaplex and having access to this type of technology is a pleasure.

How has consumer behaviour when it comes to bond building changed over the years? Are the consumers demanding more and more, so that it’s a challenge to cater them?

— I think the consumers now understand better, Popescu notes. In the beginning, Olaplex was the first player and it was difficult for them to position because it was almost like a new category. Now, the consumer is more aware of damage in general and I feel that this is a technology of the future. We also have something in our pipeline — it’s the next generation of this kind of technology that synergistically will work with bis-amino which will take it to the next step.

Tell us more!

— I don’t know exactly how much I can say but it’s still within protection and repairing. We started with it a long time ago, but it takes a lot of time for development, studies, and testing. In 2025, I think that we’ll be able to come up with something on this.

What’s the most interesting science that you’re working with?

— My passion is epigenetics (the science behind the fact that environmental factors can affect the expression of genes) and I believe epigenetics will be the big trend, not only for haircare but also for skincare. I feel that in our industry, it’s easier to prevent than to repair and we are very much focused to come up with this prevention. It’s also about repairing but prevention is what probably will be the future of our industry. 

What makes it so exciting?

— We have access to new molecules and new methodologies. And the consumer is even more aware of wellness and taking care of themselves. After all, in reality, when it comes to aging, 80% of aging is coming from outside and the chronological part is only 20%. And the consumers start to understand better and better that things like lifestyle, protection, and the way you take care of yourself matter more than the genetic part.

In your range, how do you use epigenetics and how will you use it?

— We have some molecules right now available in the industry. Epigenetics play a very important role in anti-ageing in general. We are now working with a couple of biotech companies to come up with the next and future generation of molecule within this area. We will definitely be able to play a very big change in the cosmetics industry using this type of technology, where we in the aging category industry can see a shift in terms of efficacy and definitely in terms of the way the consumer regimen will be.

Will it be difficult to explain epigenetics for the end consumer?

— I don’t think so because, as I said, people, especially after the pandemic, are more aware of well-being. We’ve noticed that everywhere, even in the fragrance category, where we see fragrance with benefits in terms of mind relaxation. Well-being is a big trend. And if you start to use this type of technology, you can slow down the aging and reverse certain centerpoint of it. In my opinion, it’s more effective than what we have now in the industry — and it will become even more effective, says Popescu. She adds:

— I don’t want to be bad here but I really believe that the cosmetics industry should change a little bit in the way we are doing certain things, such as how we formulate, how we position ourselves, and the way that the claims are done. The regulation in the cosmetics industry should be better. Now, everybody has access to it — but not everyone is a scientist…

The Lash Bond Serum that you mentioned is a new segment for you. What have you created?

— It contains a proprietary technology, a special peptide blend, where we’ve worked together with a very famous biotech company, specialising in peptides. This peptide is a synthetic peptide. And the mechanism of action starts faster than any other peptide that we have in the industry. We noticed this in our study, we measure against other lash serums, with benefits which usually start after four weeks. We actually saw exactly the same pattern and our benefits are even better and faster. It also includes our bond-building technology, the bis-amino. Developed nine years ago, it’s still a bit of a mystery for us — we continue to find new applications! The technology was developed initially for bond-building in the keratin structure in the hair to recreate the broken disulfide bonds. But in reality, we noticed that bis-amino is playing a very important role in skincare. We did a couple of in vitro tests specifically for skincare where we actually proved the specific mechanism, targeting specific gene expressions. And one of the mechanisms that we are extremely proud of is the keratinocytes stimulation, which is also the reason that we are using bis-amino in the product; to have a healthier stratum corneum (the top layer of the skin) around the eyelash follicles.

Lavinia Popescu.

Three takeaways

— Prevention will grow bigger than repairing for haircare.

— The biggest post-pandemic shift in consumer behaviour is the rise of well-being.

— Epigenetics will be the next big trend, for both haircare and skincare.