P&G researchers were presenting their latest findings on what makes for “exceptional agers,”those lucky consumers who seem to avoid the sags and bags and dull skin tone that mark so many of us as we get older. The study, “Genetic and Lifestyle Factors Contribute to Youthful Facial Appearance,”was conducted by P&G researchers, as well as teams from 23andMe, Inc. and Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
As part of a Multi-Decade and Ethnicity (MDE) study, teams studied skin aging in women aged 20-74. Among the 155,000 responses obtained from unrelated women of European descent, about 7% (more than 10,800) were identified as “exceptional skin agers.”
Their perceived skin age was considerably lower than their chronological age, whether by self-assessment or assessment by others. According to P&G, in many cases, they looked more than 10 years younger than their actual chronological age. Further research found a unique skin gene expression fingerprint of approximately 2,000 epidermal genes related to cellular functions including DNA repair/replication, cell survival, response to oxidative stress, energy metabolism and barrier. While these genes can be found in everyone, the exceptional skin agers expression of these genes is significantly different from average or older-appearing women, according to the researchers.
Specifically, two genetic factors (SNPs) were significantly associated with the exceptionally youthful-looking skin phenotype. Both are located in or near genes IRF4 and DEF8 (the second SNP is in linkage with MC1R), according to researchers.
But, whether it’s in your genes or not, there are things women (and men) can do to improve their appearance as they age.
“It’s not just about your genetic makeup,”explained Frauke Neuser, PhD, P&G. “It’s about the choices that you make.”
Chief among them, of course, is the daily use of sunscreen. Individuals using sunscreen more than 90% of the time were 78% more likely to have exceptionally youthful facial skin, while frequent sunbathers were 35% less likely, according to researchers.
Dry skin is a problem, too. Subjects who often always have dry skin reduce the likelihood of exceptional facial skin aging by 30%. At the same time, those with a positive attitude are 30% more likely to have exceptionally youthful facial skin.
Researchers concluded that avoiding unprotected UV exposure appeared as the single biggest behavioural driver of exceptional skin aging, suggesting that UV damage is the main extrinsic factor of skin aging. According to the study results, lifestyle choices such as increased sun exposure due to infrequent sunscreen use may lead to molecular changes associated with accelerated aging appearance regardless of underlying genetics. Avoiding dry skin was also closely associated with successful skin aging.
Help Is on the Way
Avoid the sun and stay moist are good—but P&G went further and identified a specially prepared extract of Ceratonia silique (carob). When formulated into skin care products at 3% use levels, this carob seed extract improves the appearance of crow’s feet, as well as undereye lines and wrinkles.
“The carob seed extract stimulates cells to migrate more and heal skin,”explained Rosemary Osborne, PhD, Procter & Gamble. “This age-old ingredient, when combined with other materials, produces visible results faster.”
Those other ingredients include traditional skin care ingredients such as niacinamide, Pal-KTTKS peptide and olive oil. The combination of responses to these three ingredients was able to compensate for 65.7% of the genes that were decreased in expression in the older-appearing epidermis. But the addition of the carob extract to the formula boosted the coverage to nearly 80% of the genes.
A Body of Work
Procter & Gamble’s skin research is more than face-focused. P&G’s Karl Wei, PhD, explained how a body wash containing dual lipids of petrolatum and glyceryl monooleate improves the stratum corneum’s barrier function and skin surface biomarkers.
According to Wei, this advanced ultra mild body wash delivered significant improvements in skin appearance and barrier function as revealed by the traditional skin moisturization measures (dryness, corneometer hydration and TEWL). Furthermore, this advanced body wash delivered significant improvement in skin surface biomarker profiles; i.e., increased NMFs, reduced cytokines, increased keratin 1, 10, 11; reduced involucrin and increased total ceramides when compared to a glycinate and soybean oil emollient formula.
“We have demonstrated that our new body wash formula with mild surfactants can enhance NMF by 20% after just three weeks of use,”explained Wei.
During the AAD annual meeting, P&G also unveiled new data that showed a one-time use of new Head & Shoulders Clinical with selenium sulphide found seven days later reduced more than 90% of Malassezia irritants, which are the primary cause of dandruff and scalp issues.
From body wash to anti-aging to improving the scalp, P&G has consumers’skin care needs covered from head to toe, which made waiting in line worth it for all those dermatologists at the AAD annual meeting!