Skin care – the promise of glycans


Glycans, a term used to refer to polysaccharide, oligosaccharide or the carbohydrate portion of a glycol conjugate, are the latest anti-ageing wonder ingredients. Found on the surface of skin cells, glycans work as keys to cells to ensure messages are transmitted in a targeted manner. By re-establishing cellular communication they are said to help restore skin\'s youthfulness. But do glycans deliver the effects they promise?

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Looking at the latest trends in skin care ingredients would make us believe that glycans are the new peptides in anti-ageing. Dr Katerina Steventon reviews the evidence to see whether these compounds are able to deliver the groundbreaking anti-ageing benefits they promise

Facial skin care in Britain is expected to generate about £1bn revenue in 2012. Despite the recession, market research company Mintel estimates that 90% of women use a daily moisturiser and sales are growing at 4% a year. The discerning and affluent consumers of today are prepared to spend money on high tech skin care provided they are offered evidence that the products work and make a visible and measurable difference. It is the only way to keep consumers interested in investing in skin care and for big companies to keep a revenue stream that allows them to make a large investment in research.

The announcement of a big skin care launch usually provides a successful marketing strategy that brings momentum, heightened expectations and a waiting list of pre-order consumers. Ahead of its launch, more than 5,000 British women pre-ordered the Yves Saint Laurent Beauté Forever Youth Liberator range in their quest for the latest anti-ageing skin care miracle. The company was reported to say: “This is one of the most amazing scientific breakthroughs we have discovered in relation to anti-ageing. The products are set to be the holy grail of anti-ageing for many women given their proven efficacy. Glycobiology is opening up a whole new area of possibilities when it comes to skin care.”

Skin care research has advanced rapidly in the last ten years, also harnessing technology developed for other scientific purposes and in other healthcare fields. All large skin care manufacturers have their portfolio of signature active ingredients. YSL parent company, L’Oréal, Groupe has promoted glycans in its skin care brands as the new generation of actives that could revolutionise the anti-ageing industry. L’Oréal invests £545m a year in 3,400 scientists working in 18 research centres across the world. It says 20 years of research contributed to the new product launches.

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