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JMC Scientific Consulting Ltd

Egham, GB

In the world of topical cosmetics, great products can only come from strong robust science. Without a thorough understanding of how products interact with the skin, how can the consumer be expected to make informed decisions about what’s right for them? My aim is to ‘demystify’ the world of skin measurement and provide new ways of both measuring and looking at skin.

I offer technical consultancy in the field of skin measurement, including the design and construction of custom imaging solutions, technical research and writing for internal documents and external publishing, and conference attendance and training.

I currently have a wide variety of skin measurement equipment such as Corneometer (hydration), Skicon (hydration), Sebumeter (oiliness), TEWL (skin barrier function) and Chromameter (colour) along with a wide variety of photographic equipment, for visible, infra red, ultraviolet, and UV induced... Show more »

In the world of topical cosmetics, great products can only come from strong robust science. Without a thorough understanding of how products interact with the skin, how can the consumer be expected to make informed decisions about what’s right for them? My aim is to ‘demystify’ the world of skin measurement and provide new ways of both measuring and looking at skin.

I offer technical consultancy in the field of skin measurement, including the design and construction of custom imaging solutions, technical research and writing for internal documents and external publishing, and conference attendance and training.

I currently have a wide variety of skin measurement equipment such as Corneometer (hydration), Skicon (hydration), Sebumeter (oiliness), TEWL (skin barrier function) and Chromameter (colour) along with a wide variety of photographic equipment, for visible, infra red, ultraviolet, and UV induced fluorescence imaging.

Recent Publications

  • “Understanding the effects of topography on skin moisturization measurement via two-dimensional capacitance imaging”, JM Crowther, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2017, epub ahead of print.
  • “Evaluation of the ROS Inhibiting Activity and Mitochondrial Targeting of Phenolic Compounds in Fibroblast Cells Model System and Enhancement of Efficiency by Natural Deep Eutectic Solvent (NADES) Formulation”, Durand E, Lecomte J, Upasani R. Chabi B, Bayrasy C, Barea B, Jublanc E, Clarke MJ, Moore DJ, Crowther J, Wrutniak-Cabello C, Villeneuve P, Pharmaceutical Research, 2017, 34(5), 1134-1146.
  • “Spectrophotometry of thin films of light absorbing particles”, Binks BP, Fletcher PDI, Johnson AJ, Marinopoulos I, Crowther JM, Thompson MA, Langmuir, 2017, 33(15), 3720-3730.
  • “In vitro permeation and disposition of niacinamide in silicone and porcine skin of skin barrier-mimetic formulations”, T Haque, JM Crowther, ME Lane, BC Sil, DJ Moore, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2017, 520(1-2), 158-162.
  • “Molecular concentration profiling in skin using Confocal Raman Spectroscopy”, JM Crowther, PJ Matts, in Textbook of Aging Skin, 2nd edition, Eds. MA Farage, KW Miller, HI Maibach), 2016, 1171-1188.
  • “Chemical ultraviolet absorbers topically applied in a skin barrier mimetic formulation remain in the outer stratum corneum of porcine skin”, T Haque, JM Crowther, ME Lane, BC Sil, DJ Moore, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2016, 510(1), 250-254.
  • “Evaporation of particle-stabilized emulsion sunscreen films”, Binks BP, Fletcher PD, Johnson AJ, Marinopoulos IA, Crowther JM, Thompson MA, ACS Applied Material Interfaces, 2016, 8(33), 21201-21213.
  • “Evaporation of sunscreen films: how the UV protection properties change”, Binks BP, Brown J, Fletcher PD, Johnson AJ, Marinopoulos IA, JM Crowther, Thompson MA, ACS Applied Material Interfaces, 2016, 8, 13270-13281.
  • “Understanding effects of topical ingredients on electrical measurement of skin hydration”, JM Crowther, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2016, 38(6), 589-598.
  • “Method for quantification of oils and sebum levels on skin using the Sebumeter”, JM Crowther, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2016, 38, 210-216.
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Custom Scientific Photography
Starting at $100.00 per hour

Custom imaging solutions designed and built to suit your needs. Experienced in UV, IR, visible and fluorescence photography. Wide range of Canon and Nikon equipment available for prototyping. Equipment available includes Canon EOS 5dsr (standard, and monochrome multispectral converted), Canon EOS 7D UV camera, Nikon D810 UV... Show more »

Custom imaging solutions designed and built to suit your needs. Experienced in UV, IR, visible and fluorescence photography. Wide range of Canon and Nikon equipment available for prototyping. Equipment available includes Canon EOS 5dsr (standard, and monochrome multispectral converted), Canon EOS 7D UV camera, Nikon D810 UV camera, Asahi Ultra Achromatic Takumar 85mm lens, wide range of UV, visible and IR filters, Canon EOS 65mm MPE macro lens. Training available on digital photography and scientific imaging, and skin photography. Please contact for pricing as discounts are available depending on expected duration of work.

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Biology
Physics
Skin
Optical Imaging
Canon EOS 5dsr
Monochrome camera
Asahi
Ultra Achromatic Takumar
Heliopan filters
UV photography
IR photography
Visible photography
Fluorescence photography
Macro photography
Canon 65mm MPE lens
Photography
In vitro
Insects
Plants
Analytical Method Development
Price on request

Need help defining a new method, or trying to translate your scientific needs in to executable experiments? I have over 20 years experience in the field of method development and experimental design. Please contact me for more details,

Need help defining a new method, or trying to translate your scientific needs in to executable experiments? I have over 20 years experience in the field of method development and experimental design. Please contact me for more details,

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Cosmetic and Personal Care Product Testing
Price on request

Clinical testing of skin care and hair removal products. I have over 15 years experience in designing and running in vivo topical cosmetic studies. I offer rapid testing of product behaviour with small scale exploratory studies using my extensive range of skin measurement equipment, and consultancy services for the design of... Show more »

Clinical testing of skin care and hair removal products. I have over 15 years experience in designing and running in vivo topical cosmetic studies. I offer rapid testing of product behaviour with small scale exploratory studies using my extensive range of skin measurement equipment, and consultancy services for the design of larger studies to reduce costs and increase your chances of success. Please contact me for further details.

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Monochrome Camera Imaging
Price on request

“Monochrome images, nothing new there, why should I be interested” I hear you say. Ok, but here’s the hook, the image from a Monochrome camera is not the same as a Monochrome image from a standard digital camera, and can offer significant advantages for scientific imaging. A bit more interested now?

In order to understand why... Show more »

“Monochrome images, nothing new there, why should I be interested” I hear you say. Ok, but here’s the hook, the image from a Monochrome camera is not the same as a Monochrome image from a standard digital camera, and can offer significant advantages for scientific imaging. A bit more interested now?

In order to understand why Monochrome cameras are different, it makes sense to briefly revisit how a camera captures a colour image. A bare silicon sensor responds to light and dark, not colour. A colour sensor is produced by putting an array of coloured filters (a Bayer filter) over the front of the sensor. These coloured filters allow light of different colours through to hit the sensor in different places which can then be interpreted within the camera to recreate a colour image. However there is a problem here – the resolution of the final image is compromised, in that an area which has a ‘red’ filter over it, only receives red light information, an area with a ‘blue’ filter over it only receives blue light information and an area with a ‘green’ filter over it only receives green light information. As each of these coloured pixels takes up finite space on the sensor, the final resolution of a colour sensor is therefore compromised compared to a monochrome sensor where each pixel would only be reading light or dark.

I’ve recently had one of my own Canon EOS 5DSR cameras converted to Monochrome by MaxMax (it is also now a multispectral camera capable of imaging UV, visible and IR – which I will discuss more in the future). At the time of writing this – August 2017 – it is the first of its kind outside of the US, and offer the possibility of extremely high resolution (>50 megapixel) monochrome, multispectral imaging. I will now be looking at potential skin imaging applications such as UV induced fluorescence of dry skin, melanin imagining, and high resolution portrait photography using it, as well as the occasional hedgehog photo of course.

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Skin Oiliness Measurement
Price on request

The skin produces its own natural oils called Sebum. These help provide a waterproofing layer to the skin, reducing water loss and drying, and also have some fungicidal properties. While Sebum is good for the skin, too much can be a problem and is linked with a tendency to form acne.

A number of methods exist to look at Sebum... Show more »

The skin produces its own natural oils called Sebum. These help provide a waterproofing layer to the skin, reducing water loss and drying, and also have some fungicidal properties. While Sebum is good for the skin, too much can be a problem and is linked with a tendency to form acne.

A number of methods exist to look at Sebum and oils on the SC. Some are complex and require extraction of the oils for analysis. However some can measure the oil level directly by watching how the oil soaks into a plastic film, making it transparent. This is the same affect that occurs when oil gets on greaseproof paper when cooking making it become see through. Techniques such as the Sebumeter, measure this transparency and uses it to deduce the oiliness of the skin.

As with most skin methods, no two devices are ever precisely the same in how they measure the water, and as such it is good practice to use the same device throughout a study, and to always do change from the original condition, and also to measure untreated sites of skin, to determine whether there has been any day to day change in the skin itself.

The Sebumeter can be used to measure things like how efficacious a cleanser is at removing the oil from the skin, it can also be used to measure the deposition of oils onto skin from a product, as well as how long they last there. These types of tests are used to develop “effectively cleanses your skin”, or “removes more dirt that competitor” types of claims.

There are watchouts when measuring skin oiliness. The devices are sensitive to how they are placed in contact with the skin, so the operator needs to be well trained, and familiar with the device being used. As they rely on contact with the skin, the presence of hair will cause them to give low values for hydration. As with all skin measures, the panelist need to be acclimatised in the room where the measurements are done so that they become used to the temperature. It also picks up signals from oils in products, so you need to take that into account when using products on the skin.

However even considering these watchouts it is a highly precise tool for measuring levels of oils on skin and is a valuable technical method.

I use a Sebumeter for my work on oil assessment, both for measurement of Sebum on skin, and for cleanser testing, and measuring deposition on skin from products.

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Colorimetry
Price on request

Skin Colour Measurement

Colour is a hugely informative aspect of skin – it tells us about irritation (looking at redness), presence of dirt or makeup and how well your cleanser works (colours from things other than the skin), and gives us information about tanning both UV induced and from sunless tanners. However its... Show more »

Skin Colour Measurement

Colour is a hugely informative aspect of skin – it tells us about irritation (looking at redness), presence of dirt or makeup and how well your cleanser works (colours from things other than the skin), and gives us information about tanning both UV induced and from sunless tanners. However its measurement is a complex subject – the colour of something depends on a number of things including what light it is being observed under. You’ll probably have noticed how early morning and evening light is often very flattering when taking photographs – it adds a certain quality of light to a picture. What’s going on here? In the morning and evening, the sunlight has to pass through more of the atmosphere, as the sun is lower to the horizon. The short wavelengths of light (the blue end of the spectrum) are scattered off dust in the atmosphere, and the resultant light is ‘warmer’ in colour, i.e. it is more red and orange. Another example is the difference between tungsten light (older style light bulbs), fluorescent strips lights, and daylight. The differences here are so striking that when film was being used to capture photographs different films were used under the different lighting conditions to correct for these different lighting conditions.

This is where it gets interesting. While it is possible to observe this when you are actually there the effects can be quite subtle, and it becomes more obvious when you look at a photograph in isolation from the situation. The brain has a certain degree of inbuilt compensation when looking at colours, so that irrespective of the lighting it can make sense of the world. For instance, grass is green, clear skies are blue, sunflowers are yellow etc, so when you are immersed in the environment the brain is experiencing the light directly and can perform to basic correction to make things look how they should do. However when you look at a photograph you are separate from it, and as such it is harder to make that correction, so often the colours look more exaggerated. It also helps explain why it is very difficult to objectively assess colour by eye, especially over a long period of time and under different conditions.

Given the colour that something appears can be changed depending on the nature of the light hitting it when you want to accurately determine changes in colour it is necessary to standardise the lighting conditions being used to make the observation. Not only that, but the angle which the light hits the subject, and the relationship between the person observing and the light source and the subject also has an impact, as such needs to be standardised. In skin assessment it is common to use lighting known at D65. This refers to Daylight (the D) at a colour temperature of 6500K (colour temperature refers to how hot something would have to be to glow at that colour). Basically this means that it mimics the type of daylight experienced at noon in the northern hemisphere.

When it comes to measuring the colour of skin, typically something like a colourimeter or chromameter is used. This applies standardised light to the skin, and measures the reflected light at a standard angle (typically 2 or 10 degrees). This standardisation allows changes in skin over time to be looked at, and even some degree of comparison between different studies. Although it should be stressed that no two devices are never precisely alike and it is difficult to draw many meaningful conclusions looking at studies performed with different devices. It is therefore common practice to use the same device throughout a given study.

These devices can be used to measure the skin colour directly (for instance when looking at irritation induced by washing with harsh soaps and surfactants), and also for measuring the colour of things which are present on the skin (such as make up or dirt) and how efficiently cleanser can remove these. To do this the colour measured is broken down into a set of numbers and parameters which can be used to describe the colour. There are a number of scales which have been defined to describe colour, however one which is typically used is the L*a*b* scale (pronounced L star, a star, b star). This breaks down the colour into three distinct groups – L* is a measure of lightness (white to black), a* a measure of redness and greenness (as a becomes more positive the skin is redder, and as it becomes more negative it becomes greener), b* is a measure of the yellow and blue components of the skin. The a* reading is very important being a direct measure of redness, it can split out the redness from all the other colours so this is very useful for irritation assessments. If a* is reduced after a given treatment then the skin would be less red. Conversely if a* has increased then it has become more red.

There is a term known as ΔE (pronounced delta E) which is an absolute measure of difference in colour between two samples. This takes into account changes can be used to measure the difference between a treated and untreated skin sample, for instance when looking at how well a cleanser has removed makeup. With this you would measure the colour of the skin before the makeup is applied, apply to makeup in a standardised way and the then remove it with the cleanser and measure the colour again. The ΔE between the skin at the start and after cleansing is a measure of how much difference in colour there is – the higher the ΔE, the greater the difference in colour from the untreated skin. Although ΔE gives you a difference in colour is does not tell you what the colour is – it cannot for example tell you whether the skin is more blue or more red. For that type of information you would need to look at the changes in L*, a* and b*.

There are watchouts when measuring skin colour. If the device is pressed against this skin too hard during the measurements it can blanch the skin (make it look whiter) or even make it redder. Training the operator and using the same person to take the measurements throughout the study is the best way to deal with this. Also as the measurement is done over a certain area (depends on the device but typically about 1cm diameter circle) anything in that area will have an impact on the colour measured. So it is important not to do the measurement over moles, scars or tattoos as these will impact the average measured colour. As with all skin measures, the panelist need to be acclimatised in the room where the measurements are done so that they become used to the temperature. Oh, and very important, try not to do your measurements in a room at the top of 3 flights of stairs, peoples skin tends to be slightly redder when they have walked up there.

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Skin Hydration Measurement
Price on request

Water is life – all life on earth requires water to survive. We are about 70% water, and it is a vital chemical to the correct functioning of the skin. Water helps keep the outermost layer of the skin (the Stratum Corneum or SC) flexible. Without water the SC becomes hard and brittle and prone to cracking and splitting. It is also... Show more »

Water is life – all life on earth requires water to survive. We are about 70% water, and it is a vital chemical to the correct functioning of the skin. Water helps keep the outermost layer of the skin (the Stratum Corneum or SC) flexible. Without water the SC becomes hard and brittle and prone to cracking and splitting. It is also necessary for the biochemical processes going on within the skin which help regulate its growth, and eventually how the outermost cells are lost.

We have to be careful with water though – just as too little of it is a problem, too much also causes problems. Too much water, or hyperhydration, results in swelling of the SC, and it becomes much weaker. Too much water also washes out Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF) from the skin which reduces its ability to hold on to water when it dries out again.

A number of methods exist to look at hydration within the SC. Most rely on changes in the electrical properties of the skin as a consequence of its degree of hydration. Dry skin has both a enhanced ability to storage an electric charge applied to it, and an increased electrical resistance to charge passing across it. Techniques such as the Corneometer, Skicon, and Dermal Phase Meter, look at these electrical properties and use them to deduce hydration status of the skin. The water of the SC can also be directly measured using devices such as Confocal Raman Spectroscopy, or Infra Red spectroscopy, however these are significantly more expensive and complex than the electrical measures, and as such are currently not as widely used (although they can most definitely be used to provide a more accurate assessment of water content).

As with most skin methods, no two devices are ever precisely the same in how they measure the water, and as such it is good practice to use the same device throughout a study, and to always do change from the original condition, and also to measure untreated sites of skin, to determine whether there has been any day to day change in the skin itself.

Skin hydration measures are used for measuring the efficacy of moisturisers, and also for testing the drying effects of cleansers. With moisturiser testing an area on the skin is marked out, and the baseline hydration state measured. A standard amount of moisturiser is applied to the skin in the marked out area (typically 2μl cm-2), rubbed in and allowed to dry. As most moisturisers contain water, if the area where the product has been applied is measured too quickly, the water in the product itself is detected, and gives a false reading of the skins hydration. It is recommended that atleast 30 minutes is left between applying the product and the first reading to give the water from the product time to evaporate. The site can then be measured over time to see how the skins hydration level changes after product application. These types of tests are used to develop “hydrates your skin for 24 hours”, or “more hydrating than leading competitor” types of claims. When looking at cleansers and how they can dry the skin, typically longer studies are done (up to 2 weeks) with regular product usage, and the hydration state of the skin measured at the beginning and end of the study.

There are watchouts when measuring skin hydration. As well as the issues with moisturisers as discussed above, the devices are sensitive to how they are placed in contact with the skin, so the operator needs to be well trained, and familiar with the device being used. As they rely on contact with the skin, the presence of hair will cause them to give low values for hydration. As with all skin measures, the panellist need to be acclimatised in the room where the measurements are done so that they become used to the temperature.

I use a Corneometer (one of the electrical devices) for the majority of my work on hydration, as I have found this to work well for moisturiser testing. However I have worked extensively on Confocal Raman Spectroscopy of skin which can provide direct measurement of water levels within the skin.

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