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Nutricosmetics: Feeding the Skin
By: Bud Brewster, Cosmetics & Toiletries
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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In collaboration with L’Oréal Dermatological Research, NRC scientists are actively researching nutrients that promote antiaging benefits. Research in this area focuses on the selection of ingredients and the understanding and control of nutrient bioavailability in plasma, skin or hair, and the demonstration of the bioefficacy of these nutrients taken orally:3
• Vitamin A (carotenoids) to maintain and repair skin tissue.
• Vitamin C to reduce the damage caused by free radicals and UV exposure. Over time, free radicals can damage collagen and elastin, the fibers that support skin structure.
• Vitamin E to lessen the skin effects of free radicals and UV exposure.
• Probiotics to improve recovery of the skin and cellular defenses after UV exposure.
• PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) to reduce dry, scaly skin. PUFAs play an important role in cell structure, barrier function, lipid synthesis, inflammation and immunity.3
Israeli Biotechnology Research Ltd. (IBR) develops innovative and proprietary natural active ingredients for the cosmetics, therapeutic and foods industries. Its vice president of business development and marketing is Liki von Oppen-Bezalel, who agrees that skin nourishment and protection could be delivered either via supplementation (oral intake) or topically (cosmetics). Each has its pluses and minuses.
“When beauty aids are delivered from within, they face several barriers—bioavailability, bio-distribution and delivery to the skin as the target organ, metabolism and degradation during the long journey from the mouth to the skin,” Oppen-Bezalel tells C&T magazine. “However, when these barriers are crossed and the active molecules are delivered to the skin, they enter from the inside and move toward the outer layer. They are still found in the deeper layers of the skin where they can do their work effectively.”
The other route of skin nourishment is from the outside, applying the ingredients topically. “Topical application of actives and ‘skin foods’ has the advantage of easy delivery and achieves effective levels of the materials even when they are applied in small quantities,” Oppen-Bezalel says. “However, topical application involves fast metabolism and degradation on the skin before getting to the place of action by either oxidation or enzymes localized in the skin that destabilize and degrade the actives. And in principle, any penetration to the deeper layers of the skin is an ambivalent desire, based on the definition of the term cosmetic.”
Oppen-Bezalel notes that discussion continues about the contribution to skin health and appearance made by various common food ingredients, such as coenzyme Q10, various fatty acids, flavonoids, polyphenols, vitamins A, E and C, minerals, some carotenoids and more. Furthermore, each has “pros and cons for either topical or oral application including stability, formulation issues, color, bioavailability and proven benefits,” she adds.