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Unilever Sri Lanka’s first virtual scientific symposium

Updates professionals on cosmetic ingredient safety

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A scientific symposium themed ‘Science in the Service of Consumer Protection’ was held recently, with the intention of creating a platform for local and global experts in the field, to exchange multidisciplinary scientific expertise on methods to ensure the safety and sustainability of the fast-growing cosmetic categories. Organised by Unilever Sri Lanka, the symposium sought to facilitate the sharing of accurate and factual scientific data to co-create healthy discussion in the interest of enhancing the quality and consumer safety of cosmetic products.

The forum, which had an audience of over 50 attendees, featured an elite panel of speakers who shared their vast experience and knowledge with the audience. The symposium saw sessions conducted by Prof. Ravindra Fernando, Senior Professor – University of Colombo, on cosmetic ingredient safety and global standards for cosmetic product safety; Dr. Carl Westmoreland, Science Director – Unilever Safety & Environment Assurance Center UK, assessing the safety of cosmetic ingredients with next generation risk assessment and mechanistic safety science; Prof. Nikolai Denkov, Department of Chemical & Pharmaceutical Engineering, Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy – Sofia University, Bulgaria, discussing the scientific aspects of soap composition; Scientist Ray Boughton of Delphic HSE UK, explaining the safety of cosmetic ingredient exposure; and Meena Rajan, General Manager, R&D Category Design, Skin Cleansing Bars – Unilever, sharing some new technological advancements in skin cleansing, which is the largest cosmetic product category and has been instrumental in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Moderators at the conference were Dr. Vibhav Sanzgiri, Vice President, Research & Development, Skin Cleansing – Unilever and Dr. A. Sivakumar, General Manager, Regulatory Affairs, South Asia & Global Home Care – Unilever.

Discussing the safety of ingredients used in the manufacture of cosmetics were Dr. Vibhav Sanzgiri, Prof. Ravindra Fernando, Dr. Carl Westmoreland, and Scientist Ray Boughton. They shared an in-depth analysis on how cosmetic safety assessments are conducted day-to-day to comply with regulations, how next generation risk assessments are conducted without animal testing, the benefits of using this method, and how a margin of safety calculation is carried out.

Prof. Nikolai Denkov, spoke on the different types of soap components, how these different components play a different role in foaming and foam stability, the effects of soap types, and the soap ingredients that support mildness to the skin. During this session it was explained with scientific data that the quality of a soap bar is determined by several parameters and not just by Total Fatty Matter (TFM), which is the common belief.

With soap being a category with a 5,000-year history, it has evolved over the years to deliver more consumer benefits. Meena Rajan elaborated on some of these new advancements such as the evolution of the category into liquids from bars and the optimization of fatty matter in soap bars through alternate structures through the introduction of alternate structurants, surfactants and other benefit agents to cater to the evolving needs of the modern consumer such as offering greater skin care and protection from germs and skin pollutants in an environmentally friendly manner.

The symposium was well appreciated by the audience comprising experts in this field, including academics, professionals and students. Based on the resounding success of this event, Unilever Sri Lanka envisages hosting this event annually, to contribute to the scientific dialogue on these subjects.