Thursday, 11 February 2016

Y13 Student Project Update: The Topography of the Skin

Effectiveness of Vitamin C on the skin’s topography
By Adam Waggott and Jess Shortland

During a placement at Unlilever Research and Development in Port Sunlight,we used an optical surface microscope. This was used to analyse the ‘topography’ (smoothness) of the skin. This sparked enthusiasm to create a cost effective method to test the topography of peoples’ skin. We use Parafilm (a stretchy plastic) to take an impression of the person’s skin. Then this can be analysed under a light microscope and ImageJ used to create a 3D surface plot of the skin.
\\CUC-SRV-FS02\LLS-StuHome$\09waggott.a\Documents\IMG_0475.JPGOur Extended Project Qualification is looking into whether vitamins actually improve the topography of the skin. For example, often vitamins are included in anti-ageing and hand creams, however we are testing whether this is just a placebo effect.
\\CUC-SRV-FS02\LLS-StuHome$\09waggott.a\Documents\IMG_0474.JPGWe will also analyse the consumer science psychology behind whether people think the arm the vitamin was placed on actually induced a feeling that that arm was smoother.
We predict the vitamin will score higher on a satisfaction scale compared to the control substance also the vitamin will show a smoother surface plot compared to the control substance. This will determine whether vitamin is effective as a dermatological ingredient for improving the quality of a participant’s skin.


  1. Adam and Jess, nice concise summary! I am really pleased to see you taking your ideas from the lab to Unilever. Which vitamins if any do you think might have an effect and why?
    Dave Hornby

    1. Most skin creams involve a multitude of different vitamins for example, Vitamins A, D, C, and E. For our trial we focused on one vitamin, 'VITA1', for the purposes of maintaining a blind trial we cant disclose the vitamin at this stage.

      As for why, we suspect that the vitamin may form an interaction with the skins surface which will in turn alter the topography. However, it is also evident that some of the improved topography may be due to the placebo effect.

      Adam and Jess