What I Learned At The World Congress of Dermatology

29th August 2023

The World Congress of Dermatology is the Olympics for skin experts and dermatologists. While medals may not be handed out on fancy podiums, the innovations on show are certainly the gold standard, as every four years the leading lights in dermatology assemble to reveal the very latest research in skin health and appearance. This year, the congress was held in Singapore, with the theme ‘Dermatology Beyond Borders’. These are the five biggest things I saw that are likely to transform the future of skincare…


1. Diverse research is finally happening

Considering this year’s theme, the importance of research for the benefit of people across the world was emphasised at every turn, especially considering reports that as little as 1% of research is currently truly inclusive. That’s why Galderma’s sensitive skin symposium included over 10,000 participants across five continents, acknowledging that common skin concerns can present differently across skin tones. The findings highlighted something unexpected too – self-declared darker skin tones reported the highest levels of very sensitive skin worldwide. It’s likely to power new research and product development that could help solve sensitivities across the board.


 2. One day we might actually reverse ageing

Estee Lauder Companies has been investigating how we can roll back the years on cellular ageing for over three decades, and its most recent research, which was presented at Congress, has taken things one step further. Continuing to focus on sirtuins – clever signalling molecules that suppress inflammation and support healthy cell operation – the company suggested that by targeting multiple sirtuins at once, deep-set fine lines, dullness and acne marks could be a thing of the past. While it’s right to be cynical about whether skincare can ever make a 60-year-old look 25, the findings have made lead scientist Dr. Nadine Pernodet, PhD, confident enough to say that the ability to reserve skin ageing isn’t far away.


 3. Exosomes are everywhere

The Tweakments Guide has already detailed the recent buzz around exosomes, including their positives – the signalling molecules help facilitate skin repair – and the controversy – plenty of ethical concerns. Yet, you couldn’t move through the exhibition rooms without bumping into multiple stands and experts marketing their exosome-based formulas for use in clinics. That the global dermatological world is so on-board with the ingredient demonstrates that the results you can achieve are suitably impressive. Still, it remains to be seen whether plant-based alternatives or another solution makes exosomes’ use for skin rejuvenation in the UK more mainstream.


 4. Hormones are taking centre stage 

For decades, skincare has focused on targeting the visible signs of skin concerns  – whether that’s breakouts, hyperpigmentation or dryness. Now, there’s a shift occurring, especially within women’s health, focusing on targeting any underlying conditions that might be causing these conditions first. Tapping into an area that has been woefully under-researched, L’Oreal unveiled its large-scale study into how hormones impact skin and scalp health, surveying 20,000 women across 20 countries. The research is set to transform how we consider the influence of menstrual cycles, irregular periods and menopause in the prevalence and treatment of skin and scalp conditions.


5. AI continues to cause debate 

From face-scanning technology for tailored skincare recommendations, to ‘robot injectors’ that promise more precise toxin injections, artificial intelligence is certainly powering exciting technological advancements in aesthetics. However, at the World Congress of Dermatology, many presentations also emphasised that it’s not all blue-sky thinking. One speaker warned that it is best to think about current AI as like “having an assistant from Harvard who lies all the time”. It’s certainly smart tech but is currently built on incomplete and often biased data, meaning there’s a long way to go before we can trust it completely.


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