Cosmetic manufacturers are delving into the biological mechanisms of skin aging deeper than ever before. This is thanks to some serious medical-grade technologies as well as holistic thinking.
Beauty circulation: For example, this year, Shiseido announced the launch of its over-the-counter touchless Skin Visualizer device to measure and visualize the condition of skin’s “beauty circulation.”1 According to the company, beauty circulation refers to the elements of beauty that are circulating in the skin. In a survey conducted by the company in 2019, people around the world described ideal skin as healthy and vibrant. As such, the device measures conditions that contribute to this state; i.e., radiance, resilience and suppleness, and fine skin texture/smoothness. The level of each condition is visualized as part of a total Ultimate Triangle Score, from which product recommendations are made.
Shiseido’s Ultimune Serum is one such product whose formula was updated based on “The Lifeblood” concept, which focuses on this idea of beauty circulation and the need for an individual’s beauty to be constantly renewed. The product incorporates the company’s ImuGenerationRED Technology, reportedly to protect skin’s present and future condition and to bring about lively and radiant skin that is bright, resilient and smooth.1
Skin glycation index: While Shiseido’s visualizer is a consumer-facing tool, on the R&D front, a research team at LG Household & Health Care in Seoul has developed and validated a facial glycation imaging system (FGIS) to assess skin’s glycation index (SGI).2 The FGIS illuminates and captures images of the face and calculates advanced glycation end product (AGE)-related autofluorescence and total skin reflectance to obtain the SGI.
The work was validated against a volar forearm skin autofluorescence measurement device in a clinical study of 36 healthy Korean women. Cheek elasticity was negatively correlated with cheek skin glycation. Also, age was significantly correlated with forearm and cheek skin glycation indices. The researchers concluded these results showed that AGEs are likely to have a significant correlation with loss in skin elasticity and that the FGIS device can be useful to indicate the in situ degradation of AGEs in the clinical assessment of anti-glycation cosmetics.2
SSL-RNA and “biological age”: Kao Corp. also has skin in the game of anti-aging research. At two recent scientific meetings, the company presented its skin surface lipids ribonucleic acid (SSL-RNA) monitoring technology, which can be used to determine a “biological” (rather than chronological) age of skin.3 This work was honored at the symposium of the Japanese Society of Cosmetic Chemists with the best presentation award.
As Kao explains,4 aging is a phenomenon closely related to a decline in physical functions over time. The degree and symptoms vary even among individuals of the same chronological age. From these observations, the concept of measuring skin’s biological age emerged. To make such assessment, the company built upon existing work. Previously, Kao had discovered the presence of human RNA in sebum and designed its SSL-RNA monitoring technology to analyze changes to predict atopic dermatitis in adults and young children. RNA expression patterns were found to vary from day to day depending on health conditions and the environment.
Kao utilized this technique to assess changes in RNA for aging. SSL-RNA samples were taken from 134 women 20 to 59 years of age and physical attributes of the skin were quantified using instruments, visual evaluation scores and quantitative data of skin components. The company then designed a predictive model for 99 attributes of skin and body conditions based on the information collected. The team employed AI to learn the patterns of correlation among SSL-RNA expression, age information and measured data of ~90% of these women. AI was then used to predict the skin conditions of the remaining ~10% of the women based on this information.
Results revealed that 86 of the attributes for skin and body conditions—including moisture levels, skin transparency (visually evaluated) and glycosylation of stratum corneum proteins—could be predicted with high precision based on SSL-RNA expression and age. Thus, SSL-RNA, in combination with machine learning, was used to derive a biological age that more strongly reflects the degree of skin aging than chronological age.4
Vascularized full-thickness skin model: L’Oréal has taken it so far as to re-create the substrate itself—after some 40 years of skin research engineering. While not the only skin model in the R&D space, L’Oréal’s is said to more accurately mimic real human skin, which will allow researchers to better understand its interactions with the interior of the body via the bloodstream.
According to Sacha Salameh, Ph.D., and co-authors,5 the full-thickness human skin model has a mature epidermis and three tubular structures with angiogenic “sprouts” that can be perfused associated with a complex microvascular network. The integrity of each compartment was successfully confirmed by histological immunofluorescence analysis to compare with normal human skin. This work was honored with the Applied Research award during the International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) 31st IFSCC Congress.6
- Grabenhofer, R. (2021, Aug 17). Shiseido Skin Visualizer measures ‘beauty circulation,’ Ultimune Serum supports it. Available at https://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/research/biology/Shiseido-Skin-Visualizer-Measures-Beauty-Circulation-Ultimune-Serum-Supports-It-575115121.html
- Behrens, M. (2021, Sep 2). Researchers develop facial glycation imaging device. Available at https://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/research/techtransfer/Researchers-Develop-Facial-Glycation-Imaging-Device-575230971.html
- Kao (accessed 2021, Sep 9). Skin Surface Lipids–RNA Monitoring Technology: Assessment of variations in individual skin aging: By estimation of “biological age,” based on Skin Surface Lipids-RNA. Available at https://www.kao.com/global/en/news/rd/2021/20210825-001/
- Grabenhofer, R. (2020, No 16). Kao predicts 86 changes in skin with age, menstrual cycle and more. Available at https://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/research/methodsprocesses/Kao-Predicts-86-Changes-in-Skin-with-Age-Menstrual-Cycle-and-More_573088431.html
- Salmaeh, S., Tissot, N., … Breton, L., et al. (2020). Perfusable vascularized full-thickness skin model for topical and systemic applications. Proceedings of the IFSCC Congress 2020, Yokohama pp 341-348.
- L’Oréal (2020, Nov 2). L’Oréal R&I presents the first vascularized reconstructed skin model during the International COS... Available at https://www.loreal.com/en/press-release/research-and-innovation/l-oreal-ri-presents-the-first-vascularized-reconstructed-skin-model-during-the-international-cos/