A new study has shown that using chemical imaging on skin provides precise information on the presence of substances, which can offer an opportunity to develop pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Conducted by Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, the new method replaces traditional methodologies of investigation, which use tape strips and urine or blood testing.

The new process analyses skin using laser or ion beams through a mass spectrometer. The results helps determine limits for harmful substances that may come into contact with skin.

“Chemical imaging is primarily used for earth sciences and cellular imaging. Its application in cosmetics formulation could reduce the number of experiments conducted on animals.”

This new technique is the outcome of research studies by Per Malmberg and Lina Hagvall who believe that the method will be ready for use within a year.

Hagvall said: “With pharmaceuticals, you often want as much as possible of the dose to be absorbed by the skin, but in some cases you may not want skin absorption, such as when you apply a sunscreen, which needs to remain on the surface of the skin and not penetrate it. Our method allows you to design pharmaceuticals according to the way you want the substance to be absorbed by the skin.”

Chemical imaging is primarily used for earth sciences and cellular imaging. Its application in cosmetics formulation could reduce the number of experiments conducted on animals.

Hagvall added: “Many animal experiments carried out by researchers and companies are no longer necessary as a result of this method. If you want to know something about passive absorption into the human skin, this method is at least as good. It’s better to do your testing on human skin than on a pig.”