If you sell beauty products in your boutique or spa, it’s probably safe to assume that you discuss antiaging products with your customers on a regular basis. But have you ever stopped to really think about what antiaging is—and what antiaging products you should be recommending to your clients? Here we delve deeper to examine the antiaging skin category, which is expected to continue to drive beauty sales.
The variety of symptoms associated with skin aging is the best argument as to why your customers need products that are just as varied as the ingredients within. One product will hardly address all signs of skin aging—and this is good news for us retailers and spas! When recommending the right antiaging products, it is important that you and your customers understand the term antiaging itself, which is a bit of an oxymoron. We can’t “anti-age,” or even stop the aging process. What we can do, however, is help slow down the signs of skin aging (see the following page for signs to watch for).
To help set the right expectations, it is essential to understand the difference between chronological aging and environmental aging. Chronological aging is written in our genes, and no topical product will be able to reverse this natural process. Environmental aging, on the other hand, is aging that is accelerated by our lifestyle and our environment. This is the type of aging that we can impact using antiaging products. Sun exposure, with its ultraviolet (UV) radiation, is the main environmental stressor to avoid in order to slow down environmental aging (think avoidance of sun and wearing products containing SPF). Other factors that will contribute to environmental aging include smoking and air pollution, to name a couple.
Oxygen is essential to the life of aerobic organisms, but in turn, its metabolites represent a potential threat to all living organisms. Indeed, as oxygen is consumed (which is how we stay alive), free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species, are formed as a natural byproduct. Exposure to UV radiation also causes these free radicals. In the skin, free radicals induced by UV radiation cause damage to DNA and proteins, and destabilize the membranes of keratinocytes, leading to premature aging of the skin cells. In short, oxidation equals aging.
When exposed to UV radiation, the skin undergoes changes resulting in inflammation, photoaging and various skin disorders. Skin photoaging is accompanied by symptoms such as wrinkling, loss of elasticity, increased skin fragility and slower healing of wounds.
The skin uses antioxidants to protect itself from the damage of these various free radicals. While we all have naturally occurring antioxidants within our bodies, they often are not sufficient to be effective and are fast depleted. Herein lies the usefulness of exogenous antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules that help neutralize, or prevent the formation of, free radicals. Some anti- oxidants are synthetic (for example, idebenone), while a multitude of antioxidants come from plants. Let’s look at a few plant antioxidants in more detail.
How to Use Them for Antiaging: Green tea, rosemary, grapes and tomatoes are four of the most common plants studied for their direct antioxidant activity on the skin.
1. Green Tea: Green tea contains four major antioxidant flavonoids—epicatechin, epicatechin-gallate, epigallocatechin and epigallocatechin-3-gallate. These molecules have the ability to neutralize a number of the most harmful free radicals.
2. Rosemary: Rosemary also contains various anti- oxidants, in particular, phenolic diterpenes: carnosol and carnosic acid represent over 90 percent of the antioxidant properties of rosemary extract. These lipophilic molecules neutralize lipid free radicals, thereby enabling the reduction of lipid peroxidation and inhibiting oxidative damage to skin surface lipids. This all contributes to a more even skin tone and a brighter complexion.
3. Grape Seeds: Grape seeds are a major source of resveratrol. Resveratrol inhibits lipid peroxidation induced by UVB radiation, and significantly decreases UVB-induced skin thickness and oedema.
4. Tomato: Tomato is rich in lycopene, a widely studied powerful antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic carotenoid. Lycopene neutralizes lipid radicals, reduces lipid peroxidation and prevents erythema caused by UV radiation on the skin.
You may have heard about iron in the media in the context of anemia (which is caused by a deficiency of iron). While many have discussed the various ways of ensuring appropriate iron intake, whether through diet (by eating red meat and various fruits and vegetables) or through daily supplementation, few realize that there is a dark side to iron—namely, excess iron.
Excess iron is involved in a number of diseases, which all have an oxidative component (whether cardiovascular, brain or muscle diseases) as well as in premature skin aging. Indeed, free iron is involved in the Fenton chemical reaction that leads to the production of the hydroxyl radical, one of the most harmful free radicals.
The management and prevention of excess iron can be done through the use of topical iron chelators to prevent photodamage and premature skin aging; this is an interesting approach to skin care. Neutralizing free iron helps to minimize its involvement in the production of free radicals, thus promoting the skin’s youthful look.
How to Use Them for Antiaging: Research has shown that quercetin and myricetin (two types of polyphenols) have iron-chelating properties, meaning that they minimize the formation of free radicals stimulated by excess free iron and UV light. Key sources of quercetin and myricetin include blueberry extract and grape seeds.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells characterized by self-renewal (they multiply to produce new stem cells) and by differentiation. Upon exposure to tissue-specific biochemical signals, they turn into tissue-specific specialized cells. They play a key role in tissue development and regeneration, and represent an ideal model for understanding tissue proliferation and differentiation.
When reviewing human stem cells, there are two major categories: embryonic and adult. Embryonic stem cells are the more powerful. Embryonic stem cells have the extraordinary potential to form all tissues of the body. They can be found in early embryos (human embryos between zero and three to five days) and are also present in umbilical cord blood collected at birth.
Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated cells characterized by their combined capacity for self-renewal and differentiation. They can multiply to produce new identical stem cells and have a potentially unlimited proliferation capacity. Furthermore, upon exposure to tissue-specific biochemical signals, embryonic stem cells create specialized cells that may develop into different tissues.
How to Use Them for Antiaging: It is generally unpalatable to today’s consumer to use products that contain stem cells from human embryos, or even stem cells from other animals. As such, the cosmetics industry has turned to plant stem cells as more politically correct alternatives. Similar to human skin, plants contain stem cells that are located at their apical and root meristem. The meristems are composed of totipotent stem cells capable of generating an entire organism. They are found in those regions of the plant where growth takes place. There are nearly inexhaustible reservoirs of undifferentiated cells capable of self-sustaining and of providing precursors for differentiated cells. Finally, plant stem cell extracts have been shown to have anti-wrinkle effects.
“Skin photoaging is accompanied by symptoms such as wrinkling, loss of elasticity, increased skin fragility and slower healing of wounds.”
Retinol (also known as vitamin A) and its esters remain the gold standard in antiaging topical products. In the 1980s, retinoic acid was discovered for the treatment of severe acne. A positive side effect was also noticed, namely an improvement in the appearance of photoaged skin.
Retinol has been proven to effectively stimulate cell turnover and increase the skin’s natural collagen production. But, retinol is as aggressive as it is effective, which has led the cosmetic industry to embrace retinol derivatives and esters, including retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde and more.
How to Use Them for Antiaging: Tretinoin was the first retinoid approved by the FDA to treat wrinkles by increasing the skin’s collagen production—and remains available by prescription only. Over-the-counter retinoids are products that you can recommend to your customers, which include products based on actual retinol, retinol derivatives or esters.
It is important to note that most retinol-based products should be used exclusively at night because they can cause photosensitivity to the skin. And, a sunscreen must be applied every morning when using a retinol at night. Even in the case of lower doses or in its derivative forms, products containing retinol will most likely cause some irritation to the skin (mostly flaking). Retinol is not recom- mended for nursing or pregnant women.
Hyaluronan, also known as hyaluronic acid (HA), is a high-molecular-weight carbohydrate polymer found in all tissues of the body. The skin is where more than 50 percent of all of the HA in the body resides. Hyaluronic acid is important in cosmetics for two main reasons: The first is that it helps the skin maintain its moisture levels. The second is that as we age, HA becomes less available in the skin, and thus results in wrinkling and loss of volume. In the beauty industry, HA is known first and foremost as an injectable, used to increase volume in the face and in particular in the lips.
How to Use Them for Antiaging: Hyaluronic acid also has its place in topical products. Its key property is to attract moisture to the skin and to help the skin maintain its moisture levels—because it can absorb up to 1,000 times its weight in water (you can think of it as a sponge). As such, HA plays a key role in hydration. It is particularly recommended for oilier skin types that nonetheless still need hydration, and for sensitive skin types. You will often see both hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate (a salt derived from hyaluronic acid) listed as ingredients. Both are well tolerated and well absorbed by the skin. You may also come across verbiage that speaks to the size of the hyaluronic acid molecule. In general, smaller molecules will be more deeply absorbed into the skin; but, that does not make a larger molecule ineffective, particularly when speaking about hydration.
Probiotics are best described as strains of bacteria that are beneficial to one’s health because they protect their host and help prevent disease. Consumers associate probiotics with a healthy gut and better digestion. However, the health benefits of oral probiotics, whether in foods or as supplements, go beyond a healthy gut, and include helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, strengthen the immune system, increase energy levels and manage weight.
Probiotics are found in lactic-acid-fermented foods such as vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, dairy products (yogurt, cheese, buttermilk), soy products, tofu and even naturally fermented, unpasteurized beer.
How to Use Them for Antiaging: Data suggests that probiotics are useful in antiaging skincare products. The American Academy of Dermatology released an opinion paper in February 2014 on probiotics, stating that Whitney P. Bowe, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, believes that “skin prone to acne or rosacea has shown improvement with daily probiotic use, giving dermatologists reason to consider supplementing traditional acne therapy with a dose of this beneficial bacteria.”
More recently, in a study from last October, a team of scientists reported the topical benefits of probiotics in the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. The topical benefits of Lactobacillus plantarum HY7714 were investigated in a double-blind study involving 110 volunteers from 41 to 59 years of age, who had dry skin and wrinkles. The methodology and results of this study suggest that the benefits of the group using Lactobacillus plantarum experienced increased hydration of the skin and a reduction in wrinkles.
THE SIGNS OF AGING
While most of us think of fine lines and wrinkles, there are several other signs of skin aging, which can all be treated topically to some degree. These signs include:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Loss of skin firmness
- Enlarged pores
- Uneven skin tone and brown spots