In the US, where more than 125 million people live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association, consumer research has found that dry skin is the leading personal care preoccupation.3 Fifty-three percent of women living in the US believe their skin to be dry and 39% of women and 20% of men currently use moisturizers to protect their skin.
Urban Living Affects Hydration
Whether skin appears dry or smooth and soft depends on the water balance in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin. When this layer is flexible, its plasticity allows free body movement without cracking or fissuring of the skin and it forms an efficient permeability barrier. Dry, itchy skin is a warning sign that the protective elements of the epidermis are not working properly.
In healthy, young skin and under favorable environmental conditions, hydration proceeds from the inside out and the underlying layers of the skin supply sufficient moisture to the stratum corneum. Skin becomes dry when the rate of desiccation is more rapid than the resupply from the epidermis.
In 2008, a multi-center study4 carried out in China investigated the effect of air quality on the skin by comparing subjects living in areas with differing levels of pollution. This research found that urban environments, where pollution was more intense, negatively impacted the skin’s condition and confirmed that consumers in these areas were more likely to complain about dry and sensitive skin. Moreover, according to the volunteers in these studies, indoor working conditions were also a major cause of excessively dry skin.
A Search for Targeted Solutions
The effects of extreme dryness leads not only to physical effects, like sore and irritated skin, but can affect confidence: it’s hard to feel positive when your skin looks dull and tired. What’s more, a sense that skin is under attack from the environment can cause feelings of vulnerability and concerns about skin health and protection. Therefore, there is a clear need for skin care solutions tailored to the needs of people living hectic urban lifestyles whose skin may be affected by outdoor and indoor environments.
Products that target problem areas and act quickly to provide intense hydration in both the short- and long-term are likely to be very popular with both men and women suffering from the urban skin condition.
However, resolving urban skin conditions is not just about having enough moisture, it’s about directing moisture to where it is most needed if it is to strengthen the skin’s natural defenses and prevent further dehydration. But how can we know we’re targeting the right areas?
Pictures Make Science Tangible
In June 2016, at the ISBS World Congress in Lisbon, DSM Lead Scientist Rainer Voegeli received the Johann Wilhelm Ritter Award for Innovative Skin Imaging for his presentation of a new methodology enabling the personal care industry to visualize the effectiveness of facial skin moisturization. Facial color mapping technology gives a complete picture of skin hydration. It is therefore an excellent way to provide scientific evidence that consumers can relate to and understand for themselves. It draws attention to skin areas with special hydration needs and thus helps meet consumer demands for effective hydration.
This methodology uses digital facial imaging technology to measure skin hydration on 30 pre-defined facial sites. The bio-instrumental data is then precisely linked to the corresponding facial positions and the data between the sites interpolated to obtain a value for all pixels of the image. Color maps are then generated that continuously display facial skin as high-resolution digital images, allowing more visual and thus easier interpretation.
The revolutionary facial color mapping technology had previously been used to compare facial skin hydration in four ethnic groups in the highly polluted city of Pretoria in South Africa. The study revealed that poor hydration in the nasolabial fold area and the center of the cheek was a problem common to all skin types.5
Relief for Urban Skin
Data for this study was collected in April–May 2017 with the aid of 94 Chinese women (35.0 ± 0.9 years old) who had been living in heavily polluted Beijing for at least three years. The volunteers were divided into three age and count matched groups. The study was randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled. After a conditioning phase of three days 0.8–1.0g of the test products (placebo, placebo with 1% saccharide isomerate or placebo with 3% saccharide isomerate) were applied twice daily (morning and evening) to the face after a standardized cleaning procedure. Measurements were taken as described above on the left side of the face at 30 predefined sites. The continuous skin hydration level was visualized using color scales based on Skicon-200 Ex* readings. The time points were baseline, 3 hours after the first single application and after 28 days of daily application.
Color mapping and hydration data clearly showed that after three hours excessively dry skin areas were already much better hydrated with a single application of 1% or 3% saccharide isomerate compared to baseline and placebo. Application of 1% or 3% of the active twice every day over a 28-day period further increased hydration of all facial areas (Figures 1–4).
A Powerful, Natural Moisturizer
The skin active tested in these facial mapping studies, saccharide isomerate, is a 100% natural bioactive. It consists of a unique, skin-identical carbohydrate complex which binds to the skin and is not washed off. The DSM product Pentavitin does not contain preservatives, it is Halal-certified and its ingredients are China-listed. It is also NaTrue-certified and approved by Ecocert and Cosmos.
Mechanism of Action
Healthy skin is rich in NMF, which is a natural blend of water-soluble compounds found only in the stratum corneum. However, because NMF is composed of water soluble components, it is easily leached from the cells through water contact (washing/showering/bathing), which is why repeated contact with water actually makes the skin drier.
Saccharide isomerate, in contrast, is uniquely bound at the corneocytes to the free amino group of lysine found in the keratin of the stratum corneum.6 This unique binding mechanism to the skin and scalp ensures that the active ingredient is not washed off but continues to improve hydration until removed by the natural process of desquamation.
Hence, saccharide isomerate supports stratum corneum hydration and water retention in the short term, leading consequently to improved skin barrier in the mid to long term. The skin feels more comfortable and the improved softness and smoothness eventually lead to a revitalized skin appearance. In addition, gene expression studies by DSM scientists have demonstrated that in vitro saccharide isomerate effectively stimulates genes which play a key role in skin barrier improvement, and thus strengthens the barrier function of the stratum corneum for added protection against urban stress.
Fast, Effective Relief for Stressed Skin
The stresses of urban living now rank alongside aging as causes of tired, dull-looking skin and dry skin conditions. Consumers living busy lifestyles need fast, effective, targeted relief for stressed skin. New technology developed by DSM enables consumers to visualize with ease the effects of hydration products on their skin. Its revolutionary facial mapping software generates high-resolution digital images in color, allowing visual and thus easier interpretation of hydration effects. This technology has been used to report and visualize the powerful hydration effects of the bioactive saccharide isomerate (Pentavitin from DSM).
Three hours after a single application of saccharide isomerate, excessively dry skin areas were already much better hydrated. Moreover, when used twice every day over a 28 day period, all facial areas benefited from the hydration power of saccharide isomerate, which has the ability to bring dry skin back to life and calm stressed urban skin. Unlike other ingredients, saccharide isomerate connects perfectly with the skin’s surface layers and does not easily wash off, locking in moisture and boosting the skin’s own hydration power.
In vitro, it stimulates key genes to improve skin barrier functions, and its unique binding mechanism to skin and scalp makes it suitable for leave-on and rinse-off products. As well as being supported by clinical data, Pentavitin is 100% natural, plant-derived, preservative-free and Halal-certified.
1. http://www.urbanet.info/world-urban-population/ [accessed 05 Mar 2018]
3. DSM Consumer Study, March 2014
4. M. A. Lefebvre et al; Consequences of urban pollution upon skin status. Int J Cosmet Sci 2016 Jun 5;38(3):217-23
5. R. Voegeli et al; A novel continuous colour mapping approach for visualization of facial skin hydration and transepidermal water loss for four ethnic groups. Int J Cosmet Sci 2015, 37, 595-60
6. G. Padberg; J. Soc. Cosmetic Chemists 23, 271-279, 1972
Dr. Volker Rosenberger, global marketing marager, skin care, DSM Nutritional Products Ltd. Email: Volker.email@example.com