A primer on emerging anti-aging technologies.ANTI-AGING creams and treatments are a big business these days because everyone wants to look good and ultimately, feel better. Whether we like it or not, looks do count!
Appearance has become an obsession for women and men, and this concern only intensifies as they age. Sales of anti-aging products are predicted to grow by 35% between 2004 and 2009, reaching $2.4 billion by 2009, according to Euromonitor. Total skin care product sales are forecast to grow 6% to $7.5 billion in 2009.
Consumers scan the internet, print and TV media to learn about all sorts of new anti-aging technologies, raw materials, botanicals and new delivery systems, all allegedly offering health and beauty enhancing benefits and compelling product performance claims. The FDA is primarily concerned with safety. So if the product is safe, the companies have a lot of liberty in terms of their exaggerations and their ability to promote and advertise their products, which has many of the companies making claims that are just not true.
What Consumers Want
We have all heard that consumers are well educated and very demanding, but is this really true? Let us also see how well informed they are. We get our answer in a survey sponsored a year ago by the Society of Dermatology Skincare Specialists (SDSS). It asked American women who use skin care products to answer a few simple questions about skin care, including identifying which types of ingredients they should use to treat common skin concerns such as dark spots, fine lines/wrinkles around the eyes or inflammation and bruising. Age, level of education and household income did not seem to matter; the results were poor all across the board.
According to Susanne Warfield, executive director of SDSS, the survey demonstrates that women who do not go to a skin care expert, such as a dermatologist or a licensed aesthetician, may be using wrong products, which may actually be making their condition worse. This survey also showed that U.S. women may be wasting money, as they spent an average of approximately $28 per month (or $336 per year) on skin care products that they rarely or never use because they are not right for them.
This column examines anti-aging science in three broad categories: technologies, new actives and botanicals. Let's start with some of the newest ideas in anti-aging technology.
Shock Chill the Skin: Talk about cold cream! Ice-Source is a new French cream featuring rapid refrigeration packaging that drops the product's temperature from 22[degrees]C to 2[degrees]C in two minutes. The low temperature enables the cream to enter the skin better, creating a mini face-lift effect that lasts for eight hours. According to the manufacturer, the high-speed cooling causes the molecular retraction of a natural lipid inside the cream, which can penetrate deeply into the skin. Once the cream equilibrates to body temperature, the lipids regain their initial structure and fill the wrinkles by pushing them toward the skin surface.
The face, now smoothed and plumped, seems to have undergone an instant lifting. This product sells for $350 for 22 ml and is suitable for just a few topical applications. Ice-Source may produce temporary botox-like effects, but botox injections provide months of wrinkle relief and cost only a bit more.
But just how can refrigerating a cream make it fast absorbing? Actually, when frozen, the emulsion ingredients can barely be rubbed into the skin, making it unlikely that it would even get past the epidermis. The only temporary benefit of sudden cooling is constriction of blood vessels which result in transient skin tightening, and hydration which may have a short term beneficial effect. Neither is comparable to the effects produced by injected botox. Furthermore, it is possible that sudden change of temperature could induce redness which could be a real problem for those with rosacea.
Ozone Exposure: Chronic ozone exposure damages skin, but a brief exposure offers therapeutic benefits. G.Valacchi and colleagues published a study in British Journal of Dermatology (2005,153(6): 1096-1100), in which they found that a progressive depletion of antioxidant content occurrs in the stratum corneum, which may lead to a cascade of effects resulting in an active cellular response in the deeper layers of the skin. Using an in-vivo model, they have shown an increase of proliferative, adaptive and pro-inflammatory cutaneous tissue responses.
In the same study, the authors investigated topical application of ozonated olive oil in several kinds of skin infection (including sores, diabetic ulcers, burns, traumatic and surgical wounds, abscesses and skin reactions after radiation). They observed an excellent cleansing effect with improved oxygenation and enhanced healing of these conditions.
Delivery Systems: B&P Company and Peter Passalacqua have developed a facial skin treatment known as Immune Perfect. When the product is applied to the skin, the caramel colored emulsion becomes clear and allegedly immediately penetrates the skin without residue, according to the manufacturer.
Cellulite: FDA has granted a 510(K) pre marketing clearance to Syneron's VelaSmooth medical device. It offers an effective treatment for those seeking a medical solution to cellulite. It is powered by Electro-optical synergy (ELOS). According to Tina Alster, a clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University, VelaSmooth incorporates a combination of technologies enabling deeper heating and mechanical manipulation of cellulite in a non-invasive manner. It is only sold to physicians for use by trained professionals under their direction.
Oral/Tropical: Keratec, a New Zealand biotechnology company, has developed two new natural raw materials: Cynergy TK, a topical active, and Cynergy NK, an oral supplement. Both are used simultaneously for synergistic effects. They contain keratin extracted from New Zealand sheep wool. Keratin, a structural protein, is a main constituent of hair and skin and has cell strengthening and softening properties.
UV Damage Control: Helioplex is a patented complex that stabilizes avobenzone, an important UVA protectant. Unfortunately, the longer avobenzone remains on the skin and is exposed to UV radiation, the more it degrades, reducing the sun protection it affords. By stabilizing the ingredient, Helioplex provides enhanced UV protection, which is a major anti-aging benefit.
Heliocare capsules, manufactured by Ivax Dermatologicals, contain fern plant extracts which help stabilize the DNA in the cells and provide some protection from UV damage. Heliocare should be taken as a vitamin supplement--although users must still apply sunscreen, wear protective clothing or minimize exposure altogether.
Similarly, Sun Pill reportedly protects the skin against sun damage. But dermatologists are less than enthusiastic about these daily sun protection pills that work in conjunction with sunscreen lotions.
Night Creams: These overnight creams are said to work their magic while you sleep, but do they really work? Yes, says Richard Glogau a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Glogau maintains that without the environmental distractions and with cells' natural ability to renew during the night, the right treatment can help make the complexion look fresher and brighter.
Another study found that the skin temperature increases during sleep and that warmer skin absorbs more of a skin care product's active ingredients. Consumers are advised to choose a night cream that is packed with vitamins to maximize the benefits. These include Almay Antiaging Night Concentrate, Clinique Repairwear intensive night cream, Lancome Renergie Night and Sally Hanson Nighttime Heal Repair ointment.
Facial Stimulators: These devices are based on the medically-unproven hypothesis that electrical stimulation of facial muscles improves tone, and hence reduces the signs of aging.
But according to a research study conducted by Sam Most of University of Washington Medical Center's Cosmetic Surgery Center, there was no detectable improvement in signs of facial aging from the use of facial stimulator devices.
Muscle relaxant: Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) has entered a category dominated by peptides. According to the manufacturer, Freeze 24-7 contains GABA which produces visible reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, without side effects. It is not however known how soon the beneficial effect is produced or how long it lasts.
Polypeptides: R3P Cream is formulated with three polypeptides, sugar derivative, green tea, white tea, grape seed, shea butter and olive oil as skin emollients and moisturizers. This peptide-based cream is said to boost collagen and elastin formation to improve skin texture, clarity and tone. But the manufacturer won't say how long the consumer must wait to see results or how long they last.
Glucosamine: Best known for treating arthritis, it is recognized for stopping the formation of new age spots and also helps fade the existing ones. According to Alexa Kimball, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, these findings on glucosamine may impact the way dermatologists treat UV related skin damage in the future.
Amino acids: Many skin creams contain collagen, which supposedly nourishes the skin and reverses the signs of aging. But collagen is not absorbed through the skin and hence does not increase the production of collagen. Applying collagen cream may make skin look firm, but this may be due to hydration that could be achieved by any moisturizer.
The question is, how you deliver collagen to the skin? Saverio Diognardi, a professor of internal medicine and gastroenterology, has researched the skin's ability to absorb amino acids. He discovered that, with the right vehicle, amino acids form a functional cluster that gets absorbed deep into the dermis, sending a message to fibroblast cells to stimulate collagen production. Collagen is a large, fibrous protein that keeps skin supple and smooth. Clinical study results showed remarkable reduction in the depth of wrinkles and rejuvenated skin.
Chelator: Believe it or not, your skin could develop problems if you drink tap water. According to dermatologist Dennis Gross, heavy metals and other impurities found in water can build up on the skin's surface. His Hydra-Pure chelating complex eliminates these heavy metals. In fact, Dr. Gross predicts that chelators could be as important as sunscreens for the complexion. Still, I wonder just how universal this problem really is? After all, don't most households have water purifiers or filters which remove heavy metals anyway? Furthermore, many of the products available on the market today already contain chelators, which are added in the product to enhance the efficacy of the preservative system.
Elastatropin: This product, from DermaPlus, Inc., contains Tropoelastin, a precursor to human elastin and a complex chain of more than 600 amino acids. Clinical studies showed a significant reduction in the onset of wrinkles and facial sagging. According to the company, the active compound enters into the outer skin layers, crosslinks with other skin proteins and expands the flexible backbone of the skin. The cream reduces the need for botox or cosmetic surgery and extends the life of previous procedure.
As most well known brands such as Olay Regenerist and Strivectin have less then 10 amino acids containing peptides, it would be safe to assume the product efficacy is comparable or better.
Revive skin: Kose Corp. recently reported that birch sap helps revive human skin and boosts its ability to retain moisture. However, Kos6 did not specify which fraction of the sap has skin-friendly effects. Sap was applied to human epidermal cells. Compared with untreated cells, the sap-enhanced cells showed more than a 100-fold surge in production of involucrin, a protein for forming cell layers, and a 50% increase in filaggrin, another protein that boosts skin moisture.
Body odor: Offensive body odor may be due to a certain diet or medical condition, but whatever the cause, Kanebo has come to the rescue. The company has developed Otoko Kaoru, a gum that contains geraniol, a fragrant component found in roses, that is also easily emitted from sweat glands. In theory, chewing this gum would leave consumer's bodies smelling like a rose!
Skin is the first organ that reveals the effects of aging. Antioxidants, chemical peels, exfoliators and collagen stimulants all boost, rather than replace, skin's natural activity. Additional research will provide plenty of new information. Of course, you cannot change your age, but biological aging can be delayed if the consumer follows a sensible diet, always protects the skin from sun and uses clinically proven anti-aging products.
NAVIN M. GERIA
NAVIN GERIA IS VICE PRESIDENT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR SPADERMACEUTICALS, MARTINSVILLE, NJ. HE HAS MORE THAN 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THE PERSONAL CARE INDUSTRY AND WAS PREVIOUSLY WITH PFIZER, WARNER-LAMBERT, SCHICK, BRISTOL-MYERS AND, MOST RECENTLY, LEDERMA CONSUMER PRODUCTS LABORATORIES. HE HAS EARNED OVER 15 U.S. PATENTS, HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN COSMETIC TRADE MAGAZINES AND HAS BEEN BOTH A SPEAKER AND MODERATOR AT COSMETIC INDUSTRY EVENTS. E-MAIL: TOKUHO02@VERIZON.NET.