Skin care – inside outside

Croda recently launched a holistic approach to skin care, introducing both topical application and nutritional supplementation to provide a complete skin rejuvenating package. Bhaven Chavan introduces the concept

Croda recently launched a holistic approach to skin care, introducing both topical application and nutritional supplementation to provide a complete skin rejuvenating package. Bhaven Chavan introduces the concept

A new holistic approach to skin care, introducing both topical application and nutritional supplementation, focuses on Echium plantagineum seed oil – RevitElix for the topical side of the regime and RevitElix Nutra for the nutritional side. Echium plantagineum seed oil provides proven dermal regenerating benefits and enhanced antimicrobial defence activity alongside added anti-inflammatory protection, all from a 100% naturally derived source.

One of the first visible signs of skin ageing is the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is caused principally by UV exposure leading to the destruction in the skin’s dermal support network. This network is composed of numerous structural proteins and includes fibrillin-1, pro-collagen-1 (the precursor to collagen) and decorin. These provide the backbone and scaffold that is required to have smooth and wrinkle-free skin.[1]

Looking good

With RevitElix the aim was to determine whether topical application of this blend of polyunsaturated fatty acids had any influence on the levels of the identified dermal scaffold markers. A two week study was conducted on healthy but clinically photoaged volunteers where they topically applied 5% of the material three times under occlusion. In addition, an untreated occluded control site was also included. Biopsies were taken of the sites and immuno-stained (study carried out by The University of Manchester, dermatological sciences research group, School of Translational Medicine). It was observed that with just three applications, all the structural proteins monitored increased significantly when compared to the untreated site (figure 1), demonstrating the potential of this material in slowing down and reversing the signs of skin ageing.

RevitElix leads to a significant increase in fibrillin-1, pro-collagen-1 and decorin levels within the skin when topically applied on three separate days under occlusion in comparison to the control

So how does this translate in actual perceivable benefits? After 28 days application of either 5% RevitElix or a vehicle from a simple formulation it was shown that the depth of the main wrinkle on the skin decreased on volunteers by an average of 31% and that the overall roughness of the area decreased by 24% (figure 2). This dramatic benefit was a direct result of an increase in fibrillin-1, pro-collagen-1 and decorin as identified in the previous study. Upon completion of these studies it was concluded that the natural unique blend of polyunsaturated fatty acids present in RevitElix was a potent stimulus in regenerating and preserving the skin’s youthful look.

The number of microbes we encounter on a daily basis is extraordinary. They are present everywhere from soil, water and food in addition to the human body itself. It is amazing to think that we are not infected on a day to day basis and this is a testament to the function of the skin and the human body. The three main reasons for us not being constantly infected are due to the skin’s natural barrier (epidermis), the presence of commensal microflora (good microbes on the skin making it difficult for bad ones to inhabit) and the skin’s innate immunity system, the first line of defence against infection.[2]

The innate immune system evolved over two billion years ago and is the primary defence mechanism for plants and animals. It consists of peptides including defensins and cathelicidins that are able to react and coordinate a physiological response to invading pathogenic organisms.[3]

Topically applied RevitElix results in a 30% reduction in wrinkle depth and 25% reduction in the average roughness of the skin

There is quite a lot of literature indicating that fatty acids themselves have direct antimicrobial activity.[4] Due to the nature of fatty acids and their mechanistic properties within cells, there was reason to infer that RevitElix had the potential to induce antimicrobial peptide levels within the skin, giving rise to a heightened natural defence barrier and ultimately ‘healthy skin’.

Studies were carried out over a two week period on healthy volunteers who applied on three separate days 1% of RevitElix under occlusion. An untreated occluded site and vehicle site was included to act as a control. The target identified was b-defensin-2, a natural skin peptide that has reported antimicrobial activity against E.coli, P.aeruginosa, Candida albicans and S.aureus.[3] When the performance of the test material was compared to the untreated control and also the vehicle, it was seen that with only 1%, a significant increase in b-defensin-2 levels was detected (figure 3). Due to the biological activity fatty acids exert, it was postulated that this observed increase was due to a receptor induced increase in the defensin peptide. Ultimately, this equates to skin that is healthy and protected from daily microbial insults, keeping it fit for another day.

There is a wealth of literature indicating the benefits of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on inflammatory diseases.[5,6] Due to the reported anti-inflammatory properties, RevitElix was investigated to assess whether it had any potential within this field.

Human b-defensin-2 levels are significantly increased in comparison to the vehicle and control upon topical application of RevitElix

The target looked at was a potent pro-inflammatory marker, prostaglandin E2. This target is released under numerous circumstances including during sun exposure and is one of the triggers that leads to the formation of sunburn. Using full thickness skin substitutes (fibroblasts plus keratinocytes), prostaglandin E2 levels were determined with the addition of different oils including RevitElix upon UVB light exposure. The data shows that blackcurrant, borage and marine oil have no or very weak anti-inflammatory activity. However, RevitElix demonstrated excellent anti-inflammatory activity when compared to the control (figure 4). The use of this material is ideal in skin calming preparations including aftersun products and also in conjunction with other treatments for inflammatory skin disorders.

The precise mechanism by which this anti-inflammatory property arises is not known, but due to a unique blend of polyunsaturated fatty acids including essential fatty acids, it is believed these have the ability to partially inhibit inflammatory mediator production, resulting in the observed decrease.[7] So the benefits are considerable when this material is applied topically.

RevitElix decreases UVB mediated PGE2 release when topically applied to skin models

Inner strength

If your skin care regime requires a further boost, then RevitElix Nutra can also be integrated. It has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the skin’s natural barrier and also on collagen levels. This was demonstrated by carrying out a sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) challenge. The SLS severely disrupts the barrier and results in a dramatic increase in water loss through the skin. Dry skin panellists were used for this study because they already have a compromised skin barrier and therefore any benefits provided would be easier to detect.

Volunteers were randomly divided into two groups, one taking 2g of RevitElix Nutra on a daily basis and the other 2g of a medium chain triglyceride (placebo) for a period of 12 weeks. The skin was challenged with SLS at the start of the study and also at the end of the 12 week supplementation period. The results demonstrated that after 12 weeks’ supplementation, an increase in water loss for both groups was obtained by approximately 140% and 30% for the placebo and the test material respectively (figure 5).

Oral supplementation of RevitElix enhances the barrier performance of dry skin individuals

The overall decrease in barrier performance was attributed to the change in the season during which the study was carried out, autumn to winter, which is well known to make the skin more prone to damage. However, the benefit of RevitElix Nutra was clear due to the fact that the increase seen with the placebo was significantly higher than the test group. Furthermore the increase with the test material was not significant to the base value taken at the start of the study (p=0.077). This set of data clearly demonstrates the protective benefits provided by RevitElix Nutra on dry skin panellists.

It is postulated that the benefit observed on the barrier is due to the high content of essential fatty acids that could be contributing to the esterified ceramides 1 and 4 pool that is essential for normal barrier function.[8]

Another aspect studied with the nutra material was its influence on collagen levels within the skin. Again a placebo and test group was recruited taking 2g on a daily basis for 12 weeks. Collagen levels were measured in vivo at the start of the study and compared to levels at week 6 and 12. The results showed that when taken orally, the supplementation led to an increase in collagen levels within the skin by 5% at week 6 and that this increase remained for the remainder of the study (week 12). The benefit seen with the test material was significant to the baseline (figure 6).

RevitElix leads to an increase in skin collagen levels after six weeks oral supplementation and the increase observed was maintained for the remainder of the study

The studies carried out demonstrate that skin beauty and maintenance can be targeted by both oral supplementation and topical application with great benefits. RevitElix and RevitElix Nutra provide the skin with excellent rejuvenating and restoration properties and would be ideal to incorporate into skin care formulations and beauty from within supplements.

Dr Bhaven Chavan
Applications scientist,
Croda Consumer Care Europe, UK
tel +44 1405 860551
Fax +44 1405 861767

1. Sauemann et al, Age related changes in human skin investigated with histometric measurements by confocal laser scanning microscopy in vivo, Skin Research and Technology 8, 52-56 (2002)
2. Hata T & Gallo R, Antimicrobial peptides, skin infections & atopic dermatitis, Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine & Surgery 27, 144-150 (2008)
3. Niyonsaba F & Ogawa H, Protective roles of the skin against infection: implications of naturally occurring human antimicrobial agents beta defensins, cathelicidin LL-37 and lysozyme, Journal of Dermatological Science 40, 157-168 (2005)
4. Kabara J et al, Fatty acids and derivatives as antimicrobial agents, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotheraphy 2, 23-28 (1972)
5. Johnson M, Swan D & Surette M, Dietary supplementation with gamma-linolenic acid alters fatty acid content and eicosanoid production in healthy humans, Journal of Nutrition 127, 1435-1444 (1997)
6. Barham J, Edens M & Fonteh A, Addition of eicosapentaenoic acid to gamma linolenic acid supplemented diets prevents serum arachidonic acid accumulation in humans, Journal of Nutrition 130, 1925-1931 (2000)
7. Ringbom T, Huss U, Stenholm A, Flock S, Skattebol L, Perera P & Bohlin L, COX-2 inhibitory effects of naturally occurring and modified fatty acids, J Nat Prod 64 745-749 (2001)
8. Schurer NY & Elias PM, The biochemistry and function of stratum corneum lipids, Adv Lipid Rev 24, 27-50 (1991)

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