Ready, Set, Active

November 23, 2009

Active ingredients are creating a new generation of more efficacious skin care products.

Ready, Set, Actives!

Active ingredients are creating a new generation of more efficacious skin care products.

Christine Esposito
Associate Editor

It all boils down to results. Consumers demand them, and today’s skin care products must deliver them. To meet the needs of a public obsessed with looking younger, formulators are exploring a wider range of ingredients to address skin aging. Finding the right combination of active ingredients can mean the difference between coveted status with consumers and the clearance bin.
Nu Skin’s new AgeLOC range rolls out next month.
Naturally-derived ingredients, antioxidants and peptides remain high on the list of must-have ingredients, and companies are also exploring anti-inflammatory and anti-glycation agents, too. Stakeholders say industry’s ability to harness the power of these actives (and back them with science) has led to a steady rise in efficacy levels.
“So much has changed over the last five years regarding skin care ingredients in terms of trends and technology,” noted Anne Marie Nelson-Bogle, assistant vice president, marketing for La Roche-Posay, a brand owned by L’Oréal.According Nelson-Bogle, natural and organic ingredients as well antioxidants and peptides continue to be some of the most innovative topical ingredients in skin care with scientific advances in extracting proteins and enzymes from plants.

“People want instant results,” added Emilia Karsh, founder of EMK Placental Skin Care, Beverly Hills, CA. “In order to fight aging, you need powerful antioxidants, anti-inflamatories and anti-glycation agents—and you really need the science behind it.”
Kinerase’s new Restructure creams contain LOXL Stimulator, a plant extract known to reinforce elastin.
“There has been a general trend towards actives with more specificity and a desire on the part of the market to have accompanying science backed data and results that are deliverable,” said Timothy Falla, vice president and chief scientific officer of Helix BioMedix, Bothell, WA.
A more discriminating customer base is driving those demands. “Consumers really want to know why—why are we using this ingredients and what do they do for my skin?” said Shannon Gallogly, national education and training manager for Decleor, Stamford, CT, which has recently added a neck and décolleté treatment and night creams to its lineup.


Who’s Using What…and Why

Key ingredients in Decleor’s neck and décolleté concentrate include aurone extract, which aids plumping action and increases skin density and volume, and inka/inchi extract, a natural plant oil that nourishes the skin without leaving a heavy residual and has an affinity with skin lipids that allows it to combat dehydration before it starts. Also incorporated are Bellis perennis extract, which helps regulate pigmentation, and barley malt extract, which support proteins, preserves collagen in the skin and helps eliminate sagging.

Decleor’s Aroma Night Regenerating and Wrinkle Firmness creams both feature euglena extract—a fresh water micro algae that has the ability to live and multiply in the presence or absence of life—as well as rare black orchid extract, which is high in sugars, natural amino acids and omegas and can strengthen the barrier of the skin by helping to protect the cells from external pollutants.

Specific to the Wrinkle Firmness cream is a micro patch complex that consists of corn saiko and serine. “Both of these help increase the production of support fibers in the skin, filling in fine lines and adding suppleness to the skin and eliminating the appearance of fine lines,” noted Gallogly.

Nu Skin is ready to unleash its newest weapon in the war against aging skin: a daily skin care system that reportedly transforms skin “to reveal a more youthful appearance in eight key areas beginning after just seven days of use.”

That’s a bold statement, but company officials are confident that the new ageLOC Transformation range will deliver when it rolls out next month.Like other companies, Nu Skin has been actively studying the link between genes and skin heath. But according to Helen Knaggs, vice president of global Nu Skin R&D, the direct-seller is taking a more encompassing approach centered on something called Youth Gene Clusters.

“We understand it isn’t about one gene, it is about how the genes interface together. Genes need to be up-regulated and down-regulated. We are taking a global view and looking at ways to influence that gene profile,” she told Happi.

The Provo, UT-based company has licensed proprietary technology to measure the progression of the aging process at the molecular level in individual organs, such as skin, and Nu Skin researchers have come to understand how to reset the activity of Youth Gene Clusters to a youthful state.

The ageLOC collection includes cleanser/toner, day and night creams and a serum, the latter of which Knaggs calls the “workhorse” of the line. During the development process Nu Skin created 100 formulations; the resulting ageLOC Future Serum, she said “contains a maximum concentration of actives using gene profiling.”

While Knaggs wouldn’t reveal the exact ingredients used, she said the proprietary botanical blend of actives enables the serum to address more signs of aging than any other single Nu Skin product.

Operation Glycation

In addition to UV rays, dermatologists have identified glycation—when sugar molecules naturally present in the skin adhere to collagen and elastin fibers, creating rigid bridges between fibers known advanced glycation end products (AGEs)—as a major cause of skin aging. Leading skin care companies are addressing this issue, including La Roche-Posay, which recently unveiled Derm AOX Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Radiance Serum, one of the first anti-glycation and antioxidation products in the mass market.

Derm AOX contains anti-glycation molecule Carnosine, which acts like a magnet by attracting sugar molecules to itself instead of to collagen fibers, thus helping to prevent the skin’s matrix from stiffening and maintaining skin’s suppleness. Carnosine, according to La Roche-Posay, is scientifically proven to inhibit the glycation process by 33%.

The formulation also includes Pycnogenol, a maritime pine extract with antioxidant action that is 20 times greater than that of vitamin C and 50 times greater than vitamin E. Scientifically proven to reduce oxidative stress by 49%, Pycnogenol neutralizes free radicals and helps protect skin cells from damage, according to the company.

Also tapping into carnosine is EMK Placental Skin Care, which has included this ingredient—as well as a botanically derived extract that is said to mimic human placental extract—in its new Supra Night Cream.

CellCeuticals Skin Care’s PhotoDefense Anti-PhotoAging Daily Skin Protector also targets glycation. It is formulated with Photoplex with exclusive Cellular EEQ (Excited Energy Quenchers) technology, which combats both UVA/UVB radiation and quenches both reactive oxidative species and glycation end products.

Target Populations

Formulators are also using actives to build treatments geared for specific populations. Helix BioMedix, for example, offers Striking Skin Care with SmartPeptides, a line of skin care solutions specifically formulated for menopausal and post-menopausal women.

Reduction in estrogen during menopause affects a range of skin functions including hair growth, pigmentation, elasticity and water-holding capacity. For example, Helix BioMedix reports that 30% of collagen is lost in the first five years after menopause with a 2.1% reduction per year over 20 years, which is associated with a decrease in skin thickness of 1.13% per post-menopausal year.

According to Falla, activities supplied to the skin by estrogen have commonalities with those supplied by wound healing agents. Further, reduced estrogen levels have been shown to have a significant negative impact on cutaneous healing.

“This being the case, we hypothesized that molecules capable of enhancing wound healing may provide a strategy for a non-hormonal alternative capable of providing benefit to peri- and post-menopausal skin,” he said.

The molecule the company zeroed in on was Heptapeptide-7. A key active in its Striking Skin Care Serum, it is a fragment of wound healing peptide HB107 that significantly increases the proliferation of keratinocytes, doubles the rate at which keratinocytes migrate and up-regulates the synthesis of collagen. The peptide’s primary target is the keratinocyte, which allows it to be readily delivered topically.

Helix conducted an 8-week clinical study in which Heptapeptide-7 was applied in the Striking Skin Care Serum twice daily to 32 female subjects with an average age of 54 who were selected for a presence of noticeable forehead wrinkles. Over the 8-week period, changes in forehead wrinkles and the skin texture were assessed using Visia CR and ImagePro software. At week 8, there was a statistical improvement in vertical forehead lines with 74% of women showing improvement. In addition, there was a statistical improvement in skin texture with 87% of women showing improvement, according to the company.

“Few active ingredients have been specifically developed to address the fundamental biological effects that reduced estrogen levels have on the skin; lack of cell proliferation and migration and reduced matrix production. In primarily peri- and post-menopausal skin these bioactivities have been delivered by Heptapeptide-7 and translated into a slowing and even reversal of the signs of skin atrophy characteristic of a reduction in estrogen level,” Falla concluded.

Obagi Medical Products, Long Beach, CA, is targeting another group—the 14 million Americans who suffer from rosacea—with Rosaclear, a new therapeutic system that leverages a combination of cosmetic, OTC and prescription products. According to Michelle Stringer, director of marketing, the Rosaclear system effectively meets the needs of patients suffering from facial redness by treating redness, flushing and inflammatory papules and pustules and reducing the appearance of redness and blotchiness.

In addition to Rosaclear’s cleanser and Metronidazole Topical Gel USP, 0.75%, Obagi offers Hydrating Complexion Corrector, which relies on anti-inflammatory agents such as licorice, aloe, lavender and sea whip to help reduce redness while soothing and calming skin. Light-reflective minerals like mica reduce the appearance of redness and protect the skin’s barrier, according to Obagi.

Be Firm with Them

When it comes to firming products, skin care marketers have found that it can often be an uphill battle when it comes to consumer confidence.

“Consumers are often skeptical because they feel they haven’t seen noticeable benefits using other firming products in the past,” said Jennifer Smoot, director of marketing at Kinerase, a unit of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Aliso Viejo, CA

Working with leading formulators to deliver firming that users can see and feel, the company has rolled out two products that specifically target elastin. New Kinerase Restructure Firming Cream and Kinerase Restructure Firming Eye Cream contain LOXL Stimulator, an innovative plant extract known to reinforce elastin to lift and firm skin.

“As we see more and more advancements in cosmetic ingredients, scientists and physicians are looking at the skin and its components in new ways to understand how we can reverse the signs of aging by working on different mechanisms in the skin,” said Smoot. “Kinerase Restructure is an excellent example of this—focusing on stimulating the LOXL enzyme and forming new, stronger elastin instead of just building more collagen, which has been the focus in recent years.”

The Restructure duo also contains multi-action peptide complex of SNAP-8, Argireline, and Leuphasyl. SNAP-8, a neuro-peptide that reduces appearance of expression wrinkles caused by repetitive facial expressions by 34.98% compared to 2.99% with placebo, has been used as a topical alternative to Botulinum Toxin A. Argireline is an advanced hexapeptide that has been shown to act on the SNARE (Soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive fusion proteins Attachment Protein Receptor) complex, which has been shown in the laboratory to stimulate muscle contraction via neurotransmitter release, according to Kinerase. Leuphasyl is a pentapeptide that has been shown to work synergistically with Argireline for an improved anti-wrinkle effect.

Additionally, Kinerase incorporated Trylagen, a combination of peptides and proteins shown to increase the synthesis of collagen types I, III, and IV to provide a better cohesion and stabilization of collagen fibers as well as anti-collagenase activity, reducing the potential for collagen degradation. The Restructure Firming Eye Cream also contains AC DermaPeptide Lifting, described as large peptides extracted from Prunus amygdalus dulcis, or sweet almonds, which are known for their softening and soothing properties.

The Next Wave

While skin care experts pointed to the tremendous strides skin care science has made during the past decade, their eyes are on the next surge.

“Today’s skin care technology represents a quantum leap over the past years,” said Scott Premo, chief executive officer of CellCeuticals, Los Angeles. “As we continue to gain a better understanding of the ‘genetics of skin aging’ ingredients will become more targeted at specific genes known to regulate cellular response and activity,” he said.

For Smoot, close connection with leading suppliers keeps Kinerase on the leading edge of technology.

“We are continuing to work with top ingredient manufacturers to get these breakthroughs to market as quickly as possible when these discoveries are found,” she said.

Those discoveries have been coming fast and furious.

“With technology moving at a record pace, who knows what other innovations tomorrow will bring,” said Nelson-Bogle of La Roche-Posay. “It is a very exciting time to be in this industry.”