Issue: Q4 – 2018

People in the Know(de)

Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos

A clinical and research dermatologist with a special interest in problems associated with the skin, hair, and nails. 



Today, we provide you with the story of Dr. Zoe Draelos, an inspiring individual who has made an immense impact on cosmetology and dermatology.


“The cosmetic industry is really working on the basic human need to be your best self”

1.  What’s your story (how did you get into personal care, what do you love about being a formulator)?

I have always loved skin, hair and nails. Life took me to engineering, but I quickly found out I really loved the medical side of engineering, so I decided to go to medical school. l intended to be a cardiologist then one of my rotations was in a Dermatology Clinic and my love for cosmetology came back. I wrote my first book, Cosmetics in Dermatology, a few months after my residency.

Shortly after, when Upjohn needed someone to help them develop Rogaine, I got into hair and beauty. Since then, I’ve worked for many different companies because I realized there was a need to bridge the science of skin, hair and nail care with medical knowledge.

I now spend about 50% of my research time in the OTC space and beauty space developing and testing products, helping design formulations, envisioning new products, reinventing and repositioning old products and troubleshooting products that are not performing up to expectations. It has just been wonderful. All this has culminated in receiving the Maison de Navarre award from the Society of Cosmetic Chemists for my contributions to the science and art of cosmetic

“… this has culminated in receiving the Maison de Navarre award from the Society of Cosmetic Chemists for my contributions to the science and art of cosmetic.”

2. What is the most innovative project/or formulation you have ever worked on?

Some of the more interesting things I have worked on would be ceramides and the role they play in moisturizers. Right now, I am doing a lot of work with stem cell created ingredients and their ability to deliver novel effects to mature skin. In addition, I have worked on injectables, therapeutic moisturizers and a variety of devices that provide therapeutic benefits. It has also been fun to work on different concepts in skin care to improve appearance. 

3.  What is your biggest pain point and how do you think technology can solve the problem?

We don’t have really good anti-infectives. Antibiotics, both topical and oral, are very important but so are cleansing and antibacterials. The thought tends to be, “Oh I have an infection, I’m going to take an antibiotic and it’s going to go away.”  We take for granted antibiotics will kill the organism, but that’s probably not the future. We need a better understanding of the best way to clean and maintain the microbiome of skin. We need to find out if there are better ways of inhibiting organisms from growing and causing disease. It would be nice to harness the natural bacterial anti-infective mechanisms of fish and other organisms to prevent human infection.  Bacterial resistance is the biggest threat to human life worldwide.

4.  The floor is yours, what do you want people to know about you?

The thing I love more than anything else is being presented with a problem. I love reviewing information that seems to be disparate and incongruous and put it together in such a way to come up with something useful that’s going to help somebody somewhere. I think that’s why I love running a research lab and love research. 

For me, to be able to develop products and work hand-in-hand with new R&D projects is so great because people actually see the results of your research and that isn’t always the case in other professions. The cosmetic industry is really working on the basic human need to be who you are, have others see you as you want them to see you and express your own individuality. I think that is the essence of the skin, hair and nail care industry. That’s what I do and that’s my passion.

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