The Future of Personal Care Spray Development

Written on: February 1, 2024 by Amanda Rountree

This paper was originally presented at the Southern Aerosol Technical Association (SATA) Fall Meeting.

In a world inundated with pressure to keep up appearances both in person and online, we see a massive desire for those who want to look their best, and rightfully so. Focusing on beauty and personal care is my area of expertise and I have developed all types of products from head to toe to address many consumer concerns. However, I know that personal care products can only go so far. There are various factors impacting our biology: lifestyle, nutrition, sun exposure, pollution, hormones, personal care products, medication, region, gender, age, ethnicity, genetics and other miscellaneous factors that have yet to be robustly researched.1 Those categories, broadly defined, can impact our perception of the efficacy of the products we use. In my lifetime, I’ve already seen tremendous advancements in biology and technology. My interest in what the future of science holds has led me to focus on four specific marketing topics: biohacking, artificial intelligence (AI), epigenetics and the microbiome.

Biohacking is experimentation in an attempt to improve the condition of the body and mind by utilizing tools such as technology, medical intervention, nutrition, practices and chemical substances. In short, it is how to be one’s best superhuman self. It is commonly referred to as a “hack” to improve sleep, athletic ability, diet or appearance, for instance. Examples include taking cold showers or using skin care products utilizing plant stem cells that tout all types of benefits.

Buzzworthy “health” trends, whether they carry merit or not, are at the center of popular discourse. Even if these do not produce results, at the very least, they are well-received due to their placebo effects. Hopefully, the public is only considering trying low-risk suggestions from this burgeoning realm.

In terms of personal care, these biohacking methods have proven to hold water based on recent studies in facial massage, fabric osmotics and cold therapy.

There is compelling evidence to show some cosmetic benefits of facial massage. In a study, 3D computed tomography (CT) was employed to scan each participant’s pre- and post-facial massage. The CT scans detected changes attributed to the massage’s lifting and tightening effects.2 Product development of aerosol sprays to aid in gliding hands and tools during the massage process is needed in this relatively untapped market segment.

Fabric osmotics is new to the lingo-sphere, yet is a time-honored concept. Fabric osmotics harnesses the power of aromatherapy by connecting scents through fabric rather than through the air. The best example is the experiencing of a beneficial scent via pillows or blankets. A study of healthy, young adults found that lavender oil may have positive effects on objective and subjective sleep quality.3 The spray industry is already accustomed to creating fragrance sprays, but fabric osmotic can further serve as a great supplement to improve and maintain appearance, as sleep is vital to health and wellness.

The final biohacking trend—cold therapy—is the most recognized and popular. From cryogenic chambers to cold showers, some wish to freeze their age, literally. Not everyone may be ready to take the plunge into cold therapy, but studies have shown certain benefits. Targeted approaches are an effective, safe and non-toxic alternative to popular wrinkle-reducing treatments when practiced in moderation and with consideration of temperature and contact with the skin.4 Creating aerosol products to use in conjunction with the latest facial tools, ice globes/rollers, or even for recovery after cooling treatments, should be considered to complement this “brisk” trend.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) taking over is not just the plot of the 2004 movie I, Robot. For those unfamiliar with the concept, AI is a machine’s ability to think and learn. AI performs in many situations, such as self-driving cars, chatbots, algorithms, virtual assistants and facial recognition. Additionally, a blossoming segment exists within personal care applications. Concepts such as beauty try-ons, safety modeling, hair/skin analysis and product recommendations have been at the forefront of “technology meeting biology.” Possibilities are rather exciting, especially as augmented reality (AR) comes to prominence as the latest development in interactive technology.

Some personal care companies supplement their product lines with a side of technological advancement. For example, Ninu Perfume is an AI-powered app offering 100+ different fragrance options in one spray bottle.5 The dosed and mixed scents can vary depending on the time of day, weather and user tendencies.

La Roche-Posay Spotscan is a free tool that uses dermatologic precision to evaluate facial acne. Spotscan recommends products from the La Roche-Posay line based on facial analysis.6 Its AI uses thousands of examples of acne from various ethnicities, enabling it to analyze a wide variety of participants.

The Paul Mitchell HairAI tool, created by FitSkin, analyzes the hair and scalp through magnification to evaluate client needs.7 The tool will then recommend hair products from the professional-grade assessment.

AI demonstrates how spray products can be cutting edge by offering a customizable product, an analysis, a virtual try-on or a clever algorithm.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of DNA sequence. Behavior, environment, medicine, aging, diet and development can affect health endpoints. Epigenetic mechanisms include DNA methylation, histone modification, chromatin remodeling and non-coding RNAs.8 A simple way to understand epigenetics is through the metaphor of a musical instrument—the body is a piano, DNA is the keys and epigenetics are the fingers that play the keys. One may have keys on their piano, but will their fingers play them? Epigenetics is merely an expression of those genes rather than an alteration of DNA (the piano keys).

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) revealed genetic factors and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) related to various traits. Research has found SNPs that relate to wrinkles, pigmentation, elasticity, sensitivity, oil content and hydration.9 The idea behind these SNPs is to predict phenotypes based on genotype information. Genotypes or genetic information from DNA that are flagged within the GWAS relate back to a phenotype, which is the outward appearance.

These studies equip spray formulators to create targeted products for someone’s genetics that tie back to their outwardly-presenting appearance.

The Microbiome
The microbiome has been a hot topic lately, especially with concerns about issues such as antibiotic resistance and overall health and wellness. In short, the human microbiome is the genome of all microorganisms that exist on and within the body. Microbes are ubiquitous in our atmosphere, and can be expected to be all over the body and specific to their location. The skin on the human body has three unique categories: dry, moist and sebaceous.10 Dry areas are best described as the skin on the top of the hands or forearms. Moist areas would be creviced regions such as the navel or armpits, which are prone to dampness. Sebaceous areas include the face, scalp and chest, which can often secrete oil. Of course, the face and scalp are their own microbiomes, given the complexity of the species that colonize those regions.

With current genetic testing, there are commercially available methods that gather information on the various regions of a person’s diverse microbiome. As with AI, be sure to read up on the fine print concerning privacy before entering discovery mode.

Within the same realm, certain organizations issue certifications if a product meets the “Microbiome Friendly” requirement.11 Expect this to become the next label claim requested from the consumer.

Working with the microbiome is not entirely complicated, even though studies of the human microbiome are still within their infancy. The focal point of a new spray product should be to maintain eubiosis, a healthy balance, rather than cause dysbiosis, which is disruption. While many factors could potentially and reasonably affect microbial activity on the body—such as changes in pH, temperature, UV exposure, salinity and water content within the skin—some of them have to be considered when formulating.

Thus far, science has shown the relationship between the microbiome, skin conditions and aging. For example, Staphylococcus hominis is found to be more common in people with smaller pores and good skin barrier function.12 This particular species produces antimicrobial peptides that exhibit activity against Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogenic bacteria.13

There are many more connections to be made in the microbiome; however, the discoveries are already compelling. There are boundless opportunities to take advantage of this growing science. In a way, we have already been working to cater to the microbiome, starting with pH-friendly products.

The spray market is seeing an influx of products considering each aspect of the microbiome. To illustrate, there is a probiotic foot spray that utilizes Lactobacillus ferments for odor elimination. Another example is a phage serum that targets an acne-causing bacterium (Cutibacterium acnes) by diminishing its population size and biofilms. These are just some of the revolutionary products on the market for fighting issues such as odor or acne caused by disruptive bacteria. Since there are few products in this domain, aerosols can easily jump further into the segment with additional effective products for the scalp, face and body.

Aerosol product development
These concepts help aerosol product developers to take a focused approach to the consumer by utilizing biology and technology to create effective and individualized products. As we continuously learn more and improve, we consistently discover new things to further our knowledge about biohacking, artificial intelligence, epigenetics and the human microbiome. Aerosol brand marketers should explore these advanced trends and markets. SPRAY


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6 Martel, Dr. P. La Roche-Posay Spotscan. link (accessed 2023-12-13).

7 Mitchell, D. Five Minutes with John Paul Mitchell Systems CEO Michaeline DeJoria. Cosmetic Executive Women . link (accessed 2023-12-13).

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11 Things to know about microbiome-friendly certification. MyMicrobiome – Certification. link (accessed 2023-12-13).

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