October is probably my favorite month— not just because I love Halloween, the trees are transformed to rich color palettes and the cooler weather is great for bonfires, but also because football season is in full swing; American football, that is. (Go Chicago Bears!) Sure, it’s a skull-cracking and often brutal sport but the players are conditioned for it, at least to some extent. That’s one reason for training camp. Taken to an extreme, and paraphrasing Nietzsche, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
While football isn’t as pretty as cosmetics, some cosmetics are training the skin to put up a tough defense—via hormesis. This 19th century concept is based on the idea that high levels of something that produces harmful biological effects produces beneficial effects at low doses, and it has surfaced in today’s mainstream anti-aging and repair skin care products. Exemplifying this concept is a blend of glycolipid-coated liposomes and ornithine. Here, the blend is shown to induce a transitory stress to initiate adipose tissue growth and fill the plump aspect of the face that is lost with aging.
Electrical stimulation is another stressor that can induce hormesis and provide other skin benefits such as reducing inflammatory response and UV-induced damage, and increasing elastin and collagen expression. Described is a clinical study of a zinc and copper complex designed to generate bioelectricity, which is shown to improve signs of photoaging in the eye area.
Like football players, the skin can only take so much abuse before it breaks down but unlike the players, skin doesn’t get a time out. Therefore, compromised or sensitive skin must be treated gently with mild cleansers, the design and testing of which are described.
Whether putting up a strong offense or defense, history has taught us that fighting against nature is a losing battle; thus the success of products that trigger skin’s innate abilities topically. If only our players were so easily inspired.