Dermocosmetics are what stressed skin needs. People with sensitive, very dry, mature or diabetic skin — require cosmetic care products that do not contain irritating perfume or allergenic ingredients.


Imagine the following typical day: You rush from one appointment to the next, subjecting your skin to dry air from heating systems in the morning and an overdose of UV light during your lunch break, and in the evening you put on heavy makeup for the theater. It’s clear that your skin will be stressed. In addition, you might be eating too much sugar, salt and fats and not enough fruit and vegetables, and giving your skin the wrong kind of care. All of these factors result in demanding skin. But even people who seem to be doing everything right, who take care of their skin and pay attention to what they’re eating, may have sensitive skin that causes problems. This kind of skin reacts quickly even to small irritations and lapses of attention. 

Dagmar Kleefeld

Cosmetic Active Ingredients Unit

“Sensitive skin tends to develop redness, dryness, and a feeling of being stretched too tight,” explains Dagmar Kleefeld, who works in the Cosmetic Active Ingredients unit at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. She points out that dermocosmetics is a very broad field. “Skin that is mature, oily or strongly pigmented, or that tends to break out, is also considered sensitive. And diseases such as diabetes can make the skin so sensitive that it requires special care products,” she says. Experts make a distinction between sensitive skin that is basically irritable and skin that is irritated as the result of an acute reaction to an external influence.

Dermocosmetics to the rescue

Dermocosmetics help sensitive skin regain its balance by providing precisely targeted care. The ingredients of dermocosmetics are adapted to the special requirements of these various skin types. Targeted skin care is certainly justified in view of numerous tasks that skin, the largest organ of the human body, has to perform. Around two billion skin cells protect the body from UV radiation, pathogens, cold and heat, and drying out. “The skin is a huge organ that also removes toxins from the body. It’s involved in many of the body’s reactions,” explains Kleefeld, who has a doctorate in biology. The skin is equipped with millions of nerve cells that enable us to exercise our sense of touch, be aware of the temperature, and feel pain. The top layer of skin, which is only 0.1 millimeters thick, forms a horny layer that protects the body from pathogens. Sensitive skin tends to develop cracks in this layer that make it easy for germs to enter. The result is inflammation. Because its protective function is impaired, the skin soon feels tight and as if it were burning.

“Nowadays we’re seeing more and more patients with sensitive skin,” reports Melanie Hartmann, a dermatologist at the DermoCosmetic Center in Hamburg. “Of course people’s awareness of skin problems has also grown. People want to have attractive skin — skin that isn’t reddened and doesn’t look irritated.” The thing that sensitive skin usually needs most is moisture. Warm and dry air from heating systems, sunbathing, stress, and dust all dry out the skin. “In addition, sensitive skin is also overly sensitive to fragrances and chemical preservatives. The skin reacts strongly to peeling products that contain fruit acids or retinol, and it’s ‘insulted’ if the protective barrier function is interfered with even further,” says Hartmann.    

Consumers want to be able to trust the products they use. That’s why it’s important for manufacturers of cosmetic products to apply the highest standards to their work. And that begins with the choice of raw ingredients.

dagmar kleefeld

Cosmetic Active Ingredients Unit

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Less is more

Consequently, the top priority is to help acutely irritated skin by restoring this protective function. The first step is to avoid everything that would make the skin even thinner. “Instead, we recommend products that contain dermocosmetic skin care ingredients,” says Dagmar Kleefeld. She adds that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, with its expertise in pharmaceuticals and chemistry, is the right partner for companies that need cosmetic active ingredients in the field of dermocosmetics. “Consumers want to be able to trust the products they use,” she says. “That’s why it’s important for manufacturers of dermocosmetic products to apply the highest standards to their work — and that begins with choosing the right raw ingredients for their cosmetics. These raw ingredients should have low allergy potential and be multifunctional. And it goes without saying that the active ingredients have to be ultrapure.” Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s portfolio of cosmetic active ingredients has expanded greatly in recent years in order to meet its customers’ need for excellent and effective cosmetics.

This portfolio includes products such as RonaCare® Ectoin, a substance discovered in microorganisms that live in the desert and enables them to survive under extremely dry conditions. Products containing RonaCare® transfer this effect to dry skin and other skin conditions. The antioxidant RonaCare® AP, which captures free radicals, strengthens the skin’s natural protection system, and also stabilizes its UV filtering function, and RonaCare® Cyclopeptide-5 are two more highly effective cosmetic active ingredients in Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s cosmetics portfolio. The active ingredient RonaCare® Cyclopeptide-5 is especially beneficial for older sensitive skin. It’s a peptide that improves skin regeneration by binding to certain receptors on the skin cells. Among other functions, these receptors also connect the cells with one another. The peptide mimics the communication between cells, initiates new syntheses of elastic fibers, and thus makes it possible to strengthen the skin’s structure.    

Melanie Hartmann

Dermatologist at the DermoCosmetic Center in Hamburg

It’s better to have fewer active ingredients that have more functions than a lot of active ingredients that obstruct one another.

melanie hartmann


DermoCosmetic Center Hamburg

Finding the right product for your sensitive skin

“Multitasking active ingredients like these are the future of cosmetic products that are targeted at sensitive skin types,” says Dagmar Kleefeld. Thanks to multitasking active ingredients, the skin doesn’t need to be exposed to additional creams and lotions. Melanie Hartmann, agrees, “It’s better to have fewer active ingredients that have more functions than a lot of active ingredients that obstruct one another.” For example, RonaCare® Ectoin protects cells from drying out and helps the skin to retain moisture longer. It also stabilizes the natural structure of proteins, nucleic acids, and biomembranes, and thus protects the skin from the damage caused by UV radiation, fine particles, and allergens. RonaCare® SereneShield, another innovative cosmetic raw material from our dermocosmetics portfolio, targets blemished skin. It readjusts the skin’s microflora, reinforces blemished skin, and helps to reduce any redness that might occur. Eusolex® UV Pearls® is a product that protects the skin from damage due to sunlight in an especially gentle way. Because of their physical properties and stability, the UV filters from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, are gentle enough even for children’s skin.

“Once you have found the right care product for your sensitive skin, you should stay with it rather than experimenting any further,” says Dr. Hartmann. Naturally, even the best cosmetics can’t fight the signs of a stressful daily life. So if a consumer not only finds the right care products but also switches over to a healthy diet and occasional rest periods, he or she is well on the way to more attractive skin. After all, there’s a reason for the saying “The skin is the mirror of the soul.” Dermocosmetic active ingredients from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, can help to make this mirror image an attractive one.    

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