Issue 24, 2023

Towards skin-on-a-chip for screening the dermal absorption of cosmetics


Over the past few decades, there have been increasing global efforts to limit or ban the use of animals for testing cosmetic products. This ambition has been at the heart of international endeavours to develop new in vitro and animal-free approaches for assessing the safety of cosmetics. While several of these new approach methodologies (NAMs) have been approved for assessing different toxicological endpoints in the UK and across the EU, there remains an absence of animal-free methods for screening for dermal absorption; a measure that assesses the degree to which chemical substances can become systemically available through contact with human skin. Here, we identify some of the major technical barriers that have impacted regulatory recognition of an in vitro skin model for this purpose and propose how these could be overcome on-chip using artificial cells engineered from the bottom-up. As part of our future perspective, we suggest how this could be realised using a digital biomanufacturing pipeline that connects the design, microfluidic generation and 3D printing of artificial cells into user-crafted synthetic tissues. We highlight milestone achievements towards this goal, identify future challenges, and suggest how the ability to engineer animal-free skin models could have significant long-term consequences for dermal absorption screening, as well as for other applications.

Graphical abstract: Towards skin-on-a-chip for screening the dermal absorption of cosmetics

Article information

Article type
10 Aug 2023
23 Oct 2023
First published
01 Nov 2023
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Lab Chip, 2023,23, 5068-5080

Towards skin-on-a-chip for screening the dermal absorption of cosmetics

J. Govey-Scotland, L. Johnstone, C. Myant and M. S. Friddin, Lab Chip, 2023, 23, 5068 DOI: 10.1039/D3LC00691C

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