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Phytoplankton: The New Frontier for Stress-Relieving Cosmetic Ingredients

Contact Author Patrice Andre, Ph.D., LVMH Parfums & Cosmetiques; Anne Humeau, Ph.D., SOMAIG; and Laurent Sousselier, Ph.D., Naturactiva
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The skin suffers various stresses such as UV radiation, aging and aggressions that disrupt its normal function. Traditional cosmetic answers are found either in vegetable, biological or biotechnologically derived ingredients. A new diversified, sustainable and ecological source is now available: phytoplankton (a unicellular microscopic alga). Various phytoplankton extracts have been found to relieve skin stresses and restore skin homeostasis.

Phaeodactylum tricornutum belongs to the Diatomophyceae order widely found in coastal waters. The lipidic fraction is obtained by a treatment with a mixture of water and alcohol under alkaline condition. The fatty acids are purified by extraction and molecular distillation. The extract offers a unique fatty acid profile. The key constituents are unsaturated fatty acid C16:1, C20:5, C22:6. Phaeodactylum tricornutum protects and repairs age- and UV-induced damage to proteins.

Aging and protein oxidation: Proteins are among the major targets for oxidative damage (in addition to DNA and lipids) and the build-up of potentially harmful oxidized proteins is characteristic of aging and leads to cellular dysfunction and senescence. The correlation between photo-damage and protein oxidation is also well-established, because there is increasing evidence for the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in skin upon UV exposure.

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Until now, besides using anti-oxidants and sunscreens for protecting the skin, no other protection was available. However a new line of defense can be established by modulating proteasome activity.

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