GOOD ENOUGH FOR SPACE
Here’s how astronauts have inspired serums and moisturisers, says pearlyn tham
it’s been more than 50 years since Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to charter the unknown depths of space in his Vostok 1 spacecraft.
While humankind hasn’t built intergalactic cities or cultivated amaranth on Mars since, we are still fascinated with that expansive mysterious realm way out (or up) there. We are curious about what astronauts do, eat and wear in space.
During the 1960s fashion houses like Paco Rabanne and Courrèges prepped us for a future where we’d be wearing plastic shift dresses at space parties (it never happened). More recently, Chanel and Coach launched space travel-inspired collections; the former erected a rocket at the Grand Palais last year while the latter launched, not a space capsule, but a sold-out capsule collection filled with NASA emblems.
What about skincare? There’s a lot scientists can learn about how human skin behaves and changes in an outof-this-world environment and how lack of gravity can mean good or bad for your complexion. And you know it’s serious business when the space
agencies are themselves sponsoring studies on how human skin reacts in outer space.
For instance, about a decade ago, the European Space Agency was behind a human physiology experiment — aptly named Skincare — to learn more about hydration, water loss, excessive dryness and increased cell loss and ageing.
Space stations keep humidity levels very low to prevent mould and fungus from breeding. Such a dry environment is bad news for skin health and seasoned astronauts have spoken about how they experience dry, thinning skin in space.
In the Skincare study, researchers found that a trip into space resulted in decreased skin elasticity and density, and thinning of the topmost layer — concerns that most of us back on earth also associate with ageing skin.
Over in Asia, skincare giant Shiseido and the National Research and Development Agency of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency also conducted research using a closed-off isolation chamber training facility at the latter’s Tsukuba Space Centre, where researchers observed “an increased distortion in facial expression” on those who stayed in the chamber.
While these studies have not led to the formulation of skincare products directly, there are a number of brands in the market that have been well inspired by outer space.