The University of Orléans, a driving force for cosmetics research

[Article paru dans le magazine Expression Cosmétique N°69 – Mai/juin 2021] Since 2015, the University of Orléans has led with its partners the University of Tours, the CNRS, Le Studium and Cosmetic Valley, a structuring project for cosmetics research known as Cosmétosciences and supported by the Centre-Val de Loire region. This programme, which is based on the expertise of the territory’s laboratories, has made it possible to assist 40 collaborative projects. Here is a snapshot of the skills possessed by the University of Orléans’ two laboratories.

Support for cosmetics research from the Centre-Val de Loire region

Institute of Organic and Analytical Chemistry (ICOA) UMR 7311

Its mission is to identify new bioactive molecules that could have cosmetic applications using its internal skills: molecular modelling, the synthesis of new organic molecules, enzymology and extraction from plants using the most effective separation techniques and mass spectrometry analysis.

Analytical Strategies, Affinities and Bioactive ingredients (SAAB)

  • The development of methods for the extraction, structural characterisation and dosage of natural or synthetic molecules in complex combinations (plants, cosmetic products, biological matrices).
  • Statistical and chemometric data processing.
  • Coupling of extraction/separative/mass spectrometry techniques.
  • Microfluidics and microemulsion.
  • Development of innovative methods enzymatic inhibitor screening.
  • Study of achiral and chiral recognition mechanisms for a rational development of separation techniques.

The Woody and Field Crops Biology Laboratory (LBLGC) INRAE USC1328

It proposes technologically innovative solutions:
  • Set-up and scale-up of biotechnological and/or innovative sourcing based on in vitro culture and active aeroponics with optimisation of culture conditions (elicitation with light, stimulation through exudation, etc.), taking care to enhance and conserve local flora.

  • Development of green plant extraction methods that use agro-solvents such as NaDES coupled with modern methods such as ultrasound or microwaves.

  • Objectivation of the extracts via its dedicated technical facilities (in vitro and in cellulo tests of initial intentions: antioxidant, anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, etc.) and green formulation.

For a long time, plants were the main source of active products, with beneficial effects on health and well-being. While the golden age of chemistry saw the development of synthetic molecules, the return to natural products has increased the need to explore the unique potential of plants, which has again taken a central place at the heart of cosmetic ingredient sourcing. To meet this increasing demand, the cosmetics industry must continue to innovate in order to guarantee the effectiveness and the safety of its products. With regard to the impact on the image and also to comply with increasingly strict regulations, this sourcing from plants has to be eco-friendly. Throughout our research projects such as CosmétoPop, MariLine, ValBioCosm, InnoCosm or else Pieric, funded by the CosmétoSciences programme, emblematic plants drawn from the natural biodiversity of the Centre Val de Loire region, such as milk thistle, flax and black poplar, are taking centre stage in cosmetics. Thanks to the development of biomanufacturing processes, a constant supply of phytochemically uniform, contamination-free biomass can be guaranteed. Their active molecules are extracted using eco-friendly processes and biosourced solvents that limit the ecological impact. Furthermore, the safety of active ingredients is controlled using innovative methods developed in the framework of the Excel project. Our work therefore offers prospects for the production of active ingredients for cosmetic formulations that are ‘green’, effective and safe.