Anti-ageing skincare: then, now and the future

Alpha-hydroxy acids were just the infancy of the youth movement in skincare. Guy Langer investigates a host of promising new ingredients that will be hitting the marketplace in the next year

The ?big bang? for anti-ageing skincare began in the early 90s with the introduction of AHAs and BHAs — alpha hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids. These promised to enhance cell turnover, even out skin tone, smooth and firm skin, and make skin look perceptibly younger. Products like Avon?s Anew, Neoteric?s Alpha Hydrox and Lauder?s Fruition were best sellers in this category.

In the mid-90s, the use of topical vitamin C and derivatives offered the user an antioxidant free-radical scavenger, as well as an essential ingredient for collagen synthesis — the skin?s key structural protein. Topical vitamin C products were introduced in every distribution channel: Arden, Avon and L?Oreal in the mass market; Cellex-C and NV Perricone in the dermatological market; Avon and Shaklee in the direct sales market, JASON Natural Products in the natural market; and prestige brands like Estee Lauder and Lancome.

During this period, retinol and other vitamin A products also became popular to smooth skin, reverse sun damage and treat acne. These vitamin A products offered the consumer a cosmetic alternative to the prescription product Retin A, which is costlier and more irritating. Estee Lauder?s Diminish is a prime example.

In recent years, gentler alternatives to AHAs — like those utilising glucosamines — perform better with greater stability and less irritation. Barnet Products in New Jersey markets two raw materials employing glucosamine complexes, which resurface and exfoliate skin, firm both superficially and integrally, even out skin tone and increase collagen synthesis. UGL complex, which contains glucosamine HCl as well as yeast extract, algae extract and urea, has been in vivo tested on 20-30 subjects in five studies.

The Barnet ingredient, Dermox, utilises glucosamine HCl along with bamboo and pea peptide to enhance cell turnover; smooth skin; and boost the production of key skin proteins such as collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. Lauder?s product Idealist as well as Strivectin from Klein-Becker are excellent examples.

Strivectin is interesting because it contains both the resurfacing properties of glucosamine complex as well as peptides to improve skin?s appearance. Originally, Strivectin was developed for stretch marks, but it has become one of the most emulated anti-ageing skincare products in years.

Today?s trend: peptides
Another interesting area for anti-ageing skincare ingredients is peptide products. Peptides — combinations of amino acids linking together — form the building blocks of protein, which constitutes the vast majority of one?s hair, skin and nails. Claims for peptide products include boosting collagen, firming and toning skin, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. One early example is Neutrogena?s Visibly Firm line, which utilises copper peptides. Copper, a trace mineral, is complexed to amino acids for improved absorption and activity.

Neutrogena licensed Procyte?s patented peptide technology for boosting collagen synthesis and firming the skin. Procyte conducted tests demonstrating copper peptides? efficacy, and has presented this data at cosmetic industry meetings. P&G?s Olay Regenerist is a recent example — and the nation?s bestseller, with over $60 million in sales. Regenerist utilises a peptide of five amino acids called palmitoyl-pentapeptide-3, which was tested on more than 100 subjects in five independent tests in addition to P&G?s internal testing. P&G is studying the application of this and other peptides for numerous upcoming anti-ageing projects.

New technologies promise to deliver curare-like substances or hibiscus to minimise facial muscle contractions like Botox. Argeriline, another new peptide ingredient, is manufactured by a Spanish company, Lipotec, and is used in new dermatological and infomercial products marketed by companies like Guthy Renker. It promises to relax facial muscles, which exacerbate fine lines and wrinkles. Lipotec has done internal testing showing Argeriline to immediately improve the appearance of ageing skin.

Tomorrow: beyond peptides
In fact, anti-ageing products are increasingly marketed as alternatives to surgery or ongoing injections. Injectable hyaluronic acid, ie, Restalyne, has prompted the introduction of some new ingredients from Angelica keiskei and bamboo that stimulate the production of endogenous hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronidase inhibitors from licorice also are being evaluated to protect hyaluronic acid from degradation.

Other new ingredients to look for in the next 12-18 months include:

Optical diffusion ingredients: These cosmetics, such as certain polymers, particles and silica, blur wrinkles and imperfections, albeit temporarily. KOBO Products in New Jersey and Rona/EMD in New York are among the companies marketing these raw materials. These are included in new anti-ageing products to give an immediate improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. These compounds ?trick? the viewer by diffusing and scattering light. Lipo Chemicals offers an optically active particle of a fluorescent whitener coated with a polymer to minimise the appearance of imperfections. Some products integrate these cosmetics with functional cosmeceuticals, which tend to take a longer period of time to begin working.

UV protection: Some prestige brands like Lauder?s ReNutriv, and many direct sellers, like Nu-Skin, employ botanical extracts delivered in liposomes containing enzymes that assist in repairing and protecting nuclear DNA from UV radiation. These extracts are derived from plankton and microflora, which contain the DNA repair enzymes photolyase and endonuclease. Barnet Products markets these two ingredients as Photo-somes and Ultrasomes and derives this technology from the photobiology and pharmaceutical industries. AGI Dermatics has tested the pharmaceutical version called Dimericin as a skin cancer treatment.

Pollution protection: Related areas of interest are the botanicals and marine extracts that protect skin and hair from pollutants, ozone, pesticides and even cigarette smoke. Induchem of Switzerland manufactures a botanical complex of fumitory extracts called Unicontrozon, tested to protect the skin from ground-level ozone. A 1993 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science showed that ground-level ozone destroys vitamins C and E in the skin. Induchem tests demonstrate protection to both skin and hair. Both virgin hair and colour-processed hair are also damaged by ozone. Therefore, both color and environmental protection for the hair is an interesting novel application of this compound.

An early use of Unicontrozon is in Costco?s Kirkland signature hair care brand for environmental protection. New anti-pollution and environmental protection ingredients from seaweed and yeast were introduced in the last year or so and are currently being evaluated in formulations. The marketing of daytime outdoor products will include emphasis on these types of ingredients in addition to the standard UV filter and an antioxidant.

Mitochondrial optimisation: A new area of interest is mitochondrial protection and optimisation. Mitochondria are the cell?s energy powerhouses. New technology promises to optimise cellular energy, protect mitochondrial DNA and extend cell life. AGI Dermatics in New York introduced a liposome of a DNA repair ingredient, OGG1, which protects mitochondrial DNA from ultraviolet radiation. The subject of mitochondrial DNA protection was of great interest at the June 2005 Society of Cosmetic Chemists meeting in Las Vegas and promises to offer marketers of anti-ageing another tool in their repertoire.

Aged skin solutions: New strategies for firming and sculpting aged skin include marine products to boost lipolysis, reduce fat storage and inhibit adipocyte maturation; and a buckwheat wax to block the synthesis of fats. In the 90s, slimming and ?thigh cream? products were usually based on methyl xanthines like caffeine, aminophylline and theobromine.

Now companies are touting sculpting and remodeling using various seaweed derivatives. Whereas the emphasis before was on boosting cyclic AMP and therefore fat metabolism, now it includes reducing the formation and storage of fat. Inhibiting fat cell or adipocyte differentiation reduces the ability of the cell to store fat. A novel seaweed called Scopariane from CODIF in France has been in vitro tested to show this effect.

Clearly, sales of anti-ageing cosmeceuticals will continue to enjoy robust growth. The science of ingredients continues to be more complex and sophisticated. Before-and-after pictures and aggressive marketing claims promise even better and faster visible results while carefully treading the grey area between cosmeceutical and drug claims.

The key will be to promise rapid results from naturally derived sources with compelling test data while guarding against making actual drug claims and engendering regulatory scrutiny. Simply phrasing the claim as ?improves the appearance of wrinkles? — not ?reduces lines and wrinkles? — successfully phrases the claim without making a drug claim. The next few years are sure to dazzle with a myriad of new and exciting ingredients in their quest for youthful-looking, healthy skin.

Guy Langer is vice president of marketing for DD Chemco and an authority in cosmeceutical product development, ingredient technology, sourcing, formulation and marketing.
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