Versatile Biodegradable, Bioactive-Based Polymers for Topical, Cosmetic and Personal Care Applications

A. Structure of salicylic acid-based polymer and its degradation products.
B. Polymer degradation rates with different linker molecules.
C. Free ferulic acid in aqueous solution is unstable and turns brown after 10 days (left). Ferulic acid-based polymers are stable and aesthetically more pleasing in solution under the same condition (right).

Invention Summary:

Many cosmetically relevant bioactive molecules, such as salicylic acid, kojic acid, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, and sinapic acid, have been successfully incorporated into the polymers. These polymers are easy to synthesize, and have high drug loading (50-90% is the drug/bioactive by weight). They are fully biodegradable, and upon hydrolytic degradation release bioactives in a controlled manner over a period of several hours to a few months. The polymer degradation kinetics can be tuned by the choice of the linker molecules, depending on the desired release profile.

Rutgers scientists have developed a class of biodegradable and biocompatible polymers that chemically incorporate bioactive molecules, such as antioxidants and antimicrobials, in the backbone of the polymers for sustained release. The linker acids (e.g., glycolic acid which is widely used in skin care products) released upon degradation could also be functional for personal care and cosmetic purposes. Further, polymerization stabilizes the bioactives in products, prolonging the shelf-lives and making them aesthetically more pleasing. The salicylic acid polymers can be sterilized via e-beam and gamma radiation procedures for commercial purposes. Other than free powders, the polymers can be formulated into microspheres, hydrogels, electrospun membranes, coatings, and films, etc.

Market Applications:

  • Cosmetics and personal care
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Anti-aging
  • Acne treatment
  • Sun protection
  • Skin pigmentation reduction


  • Flexible in conjugating to a variety of bioactive molecules, including salicylic acid, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, & sinapic acid, etc.
  • Controlled and localized release of bioactives
  • Tunable dose and release profiles
  • Stabilizes bioactives/drugs
  • Versatile formulations
  • High biocompatibility and biodegradability
  • Efficient synthesis with high purity & the potential for scaling up
  • Possibility to incorporate other actives

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

  • Issued Patens: US 10,543,162, JP 6930918 
  • Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.
Patent Information:
Lisa Lyu
Assistant Director
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Drug Delivery
Personal Care, Cosmeceuticals
Polymers & Composites