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How We Determine Optimal Clinical Percentages

By Manna Zel

Take a look at Youth To The People’s Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner. Right in its name, you’ll notice an optimal clinical percentage of 11% AHAs, a powerful combo made up of 8% lactic acid and 3% glycolic acid. As YTTP co-founder Joe Cloyes explains, each of YTTP’s PRO-GRADE VEGAN™ formulas are crafted with their own optimal clinical percentages in mind—the point at which the ingredients—which are heavily researched by scientists—perform most effectively.

“When you take a peptide, for example,” Cloyes says, “we’ll test it in serums, we’ll test it in lotions, we’ll test it in other bases to see how it performs the best and the optimal percentage for that. For Youth To The People, we take a lot of the research done at the labs and then bring it into our development philosophy.” When the lab designates what percentage of peptides or other ingredients are most effective in the formula, YTTP builds that knowledge into our PRO-GRADE VEGAN™ formulas. “We may decrease or increase the percentage of that ingredient to ensure it sits well with the other active ingredients that we have in the product,” Cloyes says. 

When it comes to determining optimal clinical percentages, Cloyes is quick to say that raising the percentage isn’t always going to make skincare more effective. 

“The higher the percentage doesn’t mean it’s more effective; it’s about the optimal percentage of each ingredient to ensure maximum effectiveness on the skin,” he says. “Your skin can only absorb so much. It’s like if you eat a huge meal, your body can only digest so much of it well. You’re only going to absorb so many nutrients at one time.”

As Cloyes’s cousin and YTTP co-founder Greg Gonzalez likes to say, “The death is in the dose.” Too much of anything isn’t helpful for your body. 

“You eat one orange and you feel good; you eat 50 oranges and you feel like going to the hospital,” Cloyes quotes Gonzalez.

YTTP’s product innovation team focuses much of their research on ensuring that YTTP uses the most effective percentages without wasting resources. When it comes to an ingredient like hyaluronic acid, for example, your skin can only effectively utilize a certain percentage to be hydrating, plumping, and effective, and for your skin to actually retain moisture. It comes down to how the skin digests the actual active. To understand optimal clinical percentages, Cloyes says it’s vital to understand how the ingredients, pH, and delivery system work together. When developing a product, various ingredients can alter the pH of the final formula.

“The pH is part of the rounded piece to developing the product, because the skin’s pH is at a certain level [around 4.5-5.5] and certain ingredients live better and act better in a different pH environment than the skin,” Cloyes says. 

But the delivery system, on the other hand, depends on the product—whether it’s a cleanser, serum, moisturizer, or mask.

“There are two deliveries. There’s the ingredients themselves and how they’re manufactured, which are then added to different emulsions. Some of them are raw as they are; some of them are encapsulated. Without any emulsion, they’re still encapsulated—and that encapsulation melts when it hits the pH of skin, so that’s why you formulate at a different pH,” Cloyes says. Other delivery methods, though, can be as simple as purified water for hyaluronic acid products, but it comes down to the goal of each product.

“There’s that element to all products you make—depending on the product and the end result, the goal will affect those mechanisms,” Cloyes says. “When products are formulated, there’s a purpose. We’re making skincare for a purpose.”

For more on our formulation philosophy, click here.