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  • The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 2 – Replenishing the Barrier with Exotic Plant Oils

    Chia Seeds and Camellia JaponicaThe use of plant oils in skin care has been around for decades, however, in the past few years our understanding of how these phytochemicals (AKA plant chemicals) affect our skin has been enhanced by numerous research studies. As a scientist with a PhD in plant biochemistry and a passion for the skin care industry, I am forever searching the globe for new exciting plant actives that can be used to treat the skin.

    Now that we know the causes that can lead to loss of lipids from The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 1 – Why Does the Skin Need Them, we can address many of these signs with scientific expertise provided by nature in the form of phytochemicals. As you might expect, I have a few new favorite oils that we have been studying at The International Dermal Institute that have the ability to replenish the skin’s natural barrier lipids for optimized skin health.

    Let’s take a closer look at these oils and how they may be used to treat the skin.

    Camellia Japonica Oil

    Camellia japonica is often called the “Rose of Winter” and is a member of the tea family. It is a small flowering tree native to Korea and Japan. It is one of the native plants grown on Jeju Island famous for its unpolluted, clean environment. Closer examination of this oil reveals it is a rich source of critical membrane lipids or fatty acids including oleic, linoleic and palmitic acids. In laboratory studies it provided twice as much antioxidant protection than Vitamin E, Grapeseed Oil, and/or Rosehip Oil. Studies using human fibroblast cells demonstrated an increase in collagen synthesis when treated with a low concentration of the oil (0.001); as the concentration of oil applied increased (up to 0.1%) so did the stimulation to collagen synthesis. Most importantly, studies on human subjects using a 2% Camellia Japonica Oil topically applied to the face showed a reduction in wrinkles as measured by laboratory instruments and observations by trained clinical technicians and patients.2

    Camellia Japonica Oil also inhibited pro-inflammatory mediators3 and was more soothing than Bisabolol in erythema induced tests. Likewise, it provided lipid barrier properties that showed an inhibition in TEWL, helping to maintain skin hydration levels.

    Overall, this esthetically pleasing, lightweight plant oil soothes irritated/sensitized skin, maintains hydration levels by reducing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) and helps stimulate collagen production to fight aging skin.1,2

    Chia Seed Oil

    In addition to Camellia Japonica Oil, the seed oil derived from the plant Salvia hispanica, otherwise known as Chia, has proven to be a new addition to the arsenal of active plant oils available to the cosmetic formulator. Chia Seed Oil is rich in antioxidants that help quench free radicals and omega-3-fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce inflammation.

    Salvia hispanica is a member of the mint family that is often used as a food supplement for energy—and was once known as the Mayan running food. It is grown primarily for its seeds that contain from 25% to 40% oil that are rich in omega-3 linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acids. Both essential fatty acids are required by the human body for good health, and cannot be artificially synthesized.

    Researchers in Korea reported that a topical application of a cream containing Chia Seed Oil for 8 weeks led to significant improvements in skin moisture, skin thickening and crusty lumps in patients with pruritis caused by end-stage kidney disease and also in healthy patients with xerotic pruritis.4 Pruritis is an unpleasant skin sensation that produces a strong urge to scratch, and it is a characteristic symptom of some systemic diseases such as advanced kidney disease. Xerotic pruritis is a form of the condition that includes redness, dry scaling and cracks in the skin.

    Tamanu Oil

    Lastly we have Tamanu Oil, extracted from Calophyllum inophyllum seeds from the Ati tree of the South Pacific. Traditionally Tamanu Oil has been used to combat a range of skin problems and is highly beneficial as an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. The oil contains unique calophylloids that reduce stinging in skin and helps to control the growth of the acne causing bacterium, P. acnes.

    French researchers working with leprosy patients were the first to study the skin regenerating properties of Tamanu Oil. It has been used to heal stubborn and severe wounds with very good success. More specifically, scientists have identified the xanthone compounds in Tamanu Oil that have been credited for its anti-inflammatory activity and ability to reduce swelling and irritation with topical application.

    From a study conducted in 2002, participants applied a product containing Tamanu Oil to aged scars twice daily for nine weeks and saw improvement, so even older scars can benefit from Tamanu Oil regenerative properties.5

    Tamanu Oil is also excellent for individuals with acneic skin, as the mild antibacterial properties of the oil work consistently and without irritation to minimize growth of acne causing bacteria on the skin. The moderate antimicrobial activity of Tamanu Oil has been compared to antibiotics like amoxicillin. The actives, canophyllol and canophyllic acid, have been identified as the specific agents in the oil that provide the antibacterial activity.

    And finally, the xanthones and coumarins found in Tamanu Oil are potent antioxidants that inhibit the breakdown of cell membranes from free radicals. Consequently, this oil can help to counteract aging caused by UV-induced free radicals.

    Harnessing the power of phytoactive ingredients is one of the best ways to restore a compromised skin barrier to replace intercellular lipids that have been depleted from aging, environment, and the many other factors. And with the overwhelming amount of research on these oils and their phytochemical components they are prime candidates for incorporation into your favorite skin care products.

    Reference:

    1. Akihisa T, et al. Chem. And Pharm. Bull. Tokyo 45:1023-2016.

    2. E. Jung et al. Effect of Camellia japonica oil on human type I collagen production and skin barrier function. J. Ethnopharmacology 112 (2007) 127-131.

    3. S. Kim et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Camellia japonica Oil. BMB Reports 2012: 177-182)

    4. Se Kyoo Jeong, et al. Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers. Ann Dermatol. 2010 May; 22(2): 143–148.

    5. A. C. Dweck and T. Meadows. Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) – the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 341–348, December 2002

  • The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 1 – Why Does the Skin Need Them?

    Phyto Replenish Oil Puddle

    Lipids, or natural protective oils, are essential for maintaining the integrity of all living matter due to their ability to form a barrier between the living cell and the outside world. In human skin, lipids are used as building blocks for membranes and fulfill specific functions such as preventing desiccation (a state of extreme dryness) by forming a barrier and preventing evaporation of water.

    More specifically, the outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum (SC), constitutes the main barrier to the movement of substances into and out of the skin; it consists of corneocytes (SC cells) and several different types of lipids, such as ceramides, sterols and free fatty acids. These lipids that make up the barrier lipid layer of the stratum corneum are expelled from cells during the process of keratinization in the epidermis. When the barrier lipid layer is disturbed, this can lead to pathological diseases such as ichthyosis, psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.

    Aging also has an effect on the composition of SC lipids. Studies have shown a decline in ceramide and sterol components with an increase in fatty acid composition in aged skin.1

    Seasonal changes have also been shown to impact SC barrier lipids which leads to dryness, roughness and increased trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) while a reduction in ceramides generally leads to an increase in skin sensitivity and irritability2. Likewise, diet and the products we apply to our skin can impact the barrier lipids. Alcohol, acetone, harsh surfactants, AHAs, BHAs and retinoids can strip lipids giving that taut skin feeling which is often associated with increased dehydration, wrinkles, sensitivity and premature aging.

    Unfortunately, nothing good results from having a compromised lipid barrier layer. Therefore, the challenge to the cosmetic formulator is to create an esthetically appealing formula that helps replenish those critical lipids to the epidermis. The most important property of lipids in skin care is their ability to restore the barrier lipid, promote moisturization, smooth skin texture as well as, a visual reduction of the signs of dryness. Restoring the barrier lipids not only inhibits TEWL, it helps keep the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) inside the cells where it is needed to keep cells hydrated and enzymes functioning normally.

    Fortunately, when we are young our skin can restore its natural barrier lipids after an insult such as exposure to alcohol, soap or chemical peels. The time required for barrier lipid recovery varies according to age; in young individuals 50-60% of the barrier lipids are restored within 12 hours with full recovery taking about three days. However, in older adults complete recovery can take over a week. Depending on the condition of the skin this can lead to dehydration and additional sensitization.

    The most obvious possibility for recovering the skin barrier function is by replacing the intercellular lipids in between our keratinocyte cells. Studies measuring TEWL as an indicator of barrier integrity have demonstrated that the barrier function can be restored with the application of skin type lipids.

    Understanding the science and the physiological processes behind the barrier lipids of the SC as well as how we can optimize their functionality is something we have studied extensively at The International Dermal Institute; we have looked at the effects of adding various plant or phytolipid complexes to the skin in order to optimize hydration, reduce sensitivity and enhance the health of the skin.

    Read Part 2 of this blog series to learn about the latest plant oil ingredients, also called phytochemicals, that help to restore the natural barrier function of the skin.

    References:

    1. Lipids in Skin Care Formulations p 279 in Cosmetic Lipids and the Skin Barrier. ed T. Forster, Marcel Dekker. 2002

    2. DiNardo et al. Contact Derm. 1996; 35:86-91

  • Using Skin Microbes to Lighten Pigmentation

    DH Diglucosyl Gallic Acid conversion

    Whether you like it or not, the human body is inundated with millions of microorganisms that live in a mutualistic relationship with us—in other words, each species benefits from the activity of the other. Many of the bacteria that cohabitate with us humans are not harmful and actually serve a purpose. Take for example the bacteria that live in our gut; these microbes help us digest and process our food. If something happens to our natural gut microflora, such as often occurs after a course of antibiotics that kill good and bad bacteria, our digestive system can be thrown off. We might supplement our diet with probiotics to help restore balance to our gut. Like our gut, our skin is also home to billions of microorganisms often referred to as the skin microbiota.

    The skin microbiota is continuously communicating with our epidermal cells, generating metabolites and stimulating physiological processes. Recent studies have demonstrated that the skin’s microbiota can activate specific cosmetic compounds converting them into biologically active molecules on the skin’s surface. Diglucosyl Gallic Acid, also known as Trihydroxy Benzoic Acid alpha-Glucoside (THBG) is an example of a patented molecule that when topically applied to the skin is partially converted into another form, Trihydroxy Benzoic Acid (THBA) by the skin’s microflora. THBG and THBA work together to lighten skin pigmentation and even out skin tone. Together, these two molecules not only inhibit free radical formation, which could result in hyperpigmentation, but more importantly they help stop melanogenesis. Both THBA and THBG molecules are effective at reducing pigmentation spots, as well as helping to control formation of new spots.

    As scientists continue to study the skin’s natural microbiota, it is quite apparent that studies will no longer just focus on the relationship of microbes to skin disorders and disease but will now venture into a new realm; we have just scratched the surface of understanding how our skin’s natural microbial populations can be used in conjunction with topically applied molecules to address specific skin conditions.

  • Black Magic: The Key Benefit of Activated Charcoal

    Dr. Diana HowardOver the past few years numerous products have been introduced into both the skin care and health care markets that feature activated charcoal as a main ingredient. As the Vice President of Research and Development at The International Dermal Institute I am often asked, is this just a fad or is there any real science behind this trend? In order to answer this question I need to explain exactly what activated charcoal is and how it works in these types of products.

    Let’s start with the obvious question…What is charcoal? Charcoal may be derived from peat, coal, wood, coconut shells, or petroleum that is burned to form a lightweight mass of carbonaceous charcoal. When we refer to “activated” charcoal it means the charcoal has been reheated, often to extremely high temperatures, which creates thousands of micropores that increase the surface area of the charcoal.

    Adsorption Power

    The activated charcoal, with its increased surface area, can readily adsorb substances onto its surface. This differs from absorption where one substance is incorporated into another; think about a sponge absorbing water—the sponge becomes saturated with the water through and through. In adsorption, molecules adhere just to the surface of the activated charcoal. Suppliers of activated charcoal use special manufacturing techniques that yield highly porous activated charcoals with varying surface areas; it is not uncommon to find that one teaspoon of activated charcoal can have a surface area of as much as 10,000 square feet. That’s a lot of adsorption power!

    While the skin care industry has just seen the merits of activated charcoal, the medical community has known about the adsorption power of charcoal for years. Entire books have been written on the subject of the medical uses of activated charcoal to adsorb toxins or poisons in humans and animals. As a matter of fact, even the Red Colobus monkeys of Zanzibar have learned about the health benefits of using activated charcoal.

    I learned firsthand about the power of charcoal when one of my dogs ate something poisonous and the vet pumped her stomach with activated charcoal to adsorb the toxins; fortunately the activated charcoal along with the adsorbed toxins are readily eliminated through the dogs digestive system. In a similar fashion activated charcoal filters are used to adsorb odorous or colored substances from gases or liquids; a common household example is charcoal water filter often found in refrigerators and freezer ice makers. Bear in mind that once all of the sites on the activated charcoal are filled it’s time to replace your filter.

    Activated Charcoal in Skin Care

    In the skin care industry, cosmetic chemists have found that activated charcoal can readily adsorb oils, toxins and impurities from the skins surface. One of the most effective forms of activated charcoal is Binchotan charcoal derived from Ubame Oak trees from the Kishu region of Japan. Binchotan charcoal is activated by burning oak branches at extremely high temperatures for several days and then rapidly cooling them. It is known as the highest quality activated charcoal and is often used to purify drinking water. Because it is such a clean, odorless charcoal it is also used in high end Japanese restaurants that use charcoal fires in tableside dining.

    In skin care formulations, activated Binchotan charcoal adsorbs oils as well as pollutants and other superficial toxins from the skin’s surface. We know that masques can deliver dramatic benefits to the skin and charcoal masques have gained popularity among consumers, especially those with oily and breakout-prone skin. Combined with other actives, such as keratolytic sulfur, mineral rich volcanic ash, and exfoliating AHAs, one can optimize the results of using a charcoal masque for a wide range of skin care conditions. Rinsing this charcoal formulation from the skin readily removes the adsorbed substances from the skin to help purify, brighten and revitalize any skin condition.

  • Is Microencapsulated Retinol Better Than Ordinary Retinol?

    While there is no question that Retinol is indeed one of the most effective age fighting ingredients available in skin care today, there is often confusion surrounding the different forms available in cosmetic products. Unfortunately, as effective as pure Retinol is in fighting the signs of aging, the reality is that it is not a very stable molecule. It breaks down in the presence of oxygen and light so great care must be exercised when formulating with Retinol to ensure that the active Retinol is still present 6 months later. Cosmetic manufacturers will often use metal or glaminate tubes with a narrow needle nose delivery orifice to minimize exposure to light and air.

    With the numerous clinical studies supporting the benefits of Retinol in skin care products, we have sought ways to optimize using this unstable molecule. Microencapsulation is a process whereby Retinol is subjected to a laboratory process that encapsulates the active molecule within a microscopic capsule or sphere that not only protects the unstable Retinol molecule, it facilitates controlled release delivery and enhanced penetration through the lipid bilayer of the skin. This is the result of the microcapsule structure being constructed of multiple layers of lipid membranes surrounding a solid Retinol containing core that allows for an easier transfer of the Retinol molecule. At the same time the very nature of the capsule enables a lipid film to form over the skin’s surface to impede trans epidermal water loss (TEWL).

    Formulating with microencapsulated Retinol is also advantageous over the free form of Retinol in that it protects the Retinol from oxidation or spoilage and extends the shelf life of the product. The microcapsules break when they are applied to the skin so that the Retinol is at its most active when delivered. And due to the lipid nature of the microencapsulation it facilitates a controlled release delivery with better penetration through the barrier lipids of the skin.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Crazy for Cranberries

    Cranberries

    With the holiday season upon us I seem to have cranberries on the brain, so it should come as no surprise that one of my all-time favorite ingredients happens to be Cranberry Seed Oil. Why am I so enamored with the oil from this super fruit? When the fruit is cold pressed the resulting oil is rich in tocopherols, tocotrienols (Vitamin E) and phytosterols (plant sterols). Vitamin E is really a family of eight different isomers consisting of 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. The Vitamin E constituents found in Cranberry Seed Oils contain significant levels of alpha and gamma tocopherols and alpha and gamma tocotrienols. All of these isomers of Vitamin E provide excellent antioxidant protection and help to reinforce the barrier lipid properties of the skin.

    In addition, Cranberry Seed Oil contains high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids; including those that are essential to your health, such as the Omega-3 fatty acid also called alpha-linolenic acid. The 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 essential fatty acids gives Cranberry Seed Oil its excellent antioxidant activity and skin nurturing benefits, but also explains why this oil absorbs very nicely into the skin and helps it hold onto moisture by contributing to the skin’s structure and barrier formation. This moisturizing power of Cranberry Seed Oil makes it perfect for aging, rough, dry, and scaly skin.

    We all know that free radical damage and inflammation are two potent drivers of skin aging, so being able to address these two issues with a topical antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent goes a long way in preventing premature aging of the skin and repairing some of the existing damage. The high antioxidant potential of Cranberry Seed Oil makes it an excellent addition to any nighttime treatment product where it can help scavenge free radicals while promoting skin repair – as well as in daytime sun protection products to provide antioxidant benefits along with sunscreens for photoprotection of the skin.

    It’s no wonder cranberries are considered a super fruit! Not only do they provide topical benefits for the skin but they taste delicious, and provide similar benefits when consumed in our diet.

  • Experts Reaffirm Warning for Hydroquinone

    The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel recently completed another review of the safety of Hydroquinone as used in skin care and nail products. Once again they renewed their conclusion that, “hydroquinone is safe at concentrations of ≤ 1% for cosmetic formulations designed for discontinuous, brief use followed by rinsing from the skin and hair. Hydroquinone should not be used in other leave-on cosmetic products.” This has been the same story since 1994! What is it going to take to get the FDA to ban Hydroquinone whitening products (usually formulated at 2%) that sell at retail to consumers?

    Read the latest review for more details on the safety of Hydroquinone in cosmetics.

  • Grand Opening of New Dermalogica & IDI Learning Center in Atlanta

    More than 200 guests attended the new Dermalogica in Atlanta gala opening, located in the historic Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta, GA. Local stockists, professional skin therapists, students preparing for their licensing exams, skin care industry professionals and media from the area gathered at the 2,500 square foot space late January to celebrate the innovative new hybrid learning center; which merges consumer education, sales and professional training all under one roof.

    On hand for the celebration was Jane Wurwand, IDI & Dermalogica Founder and Chief Visionary, who welcomed the attendees with opening remarks and expressed enthusiasm for the importance of immersing retail customers with a brand experience — allowing them to see the professional in training and in action. “The professional skin therapist, not our ingredient formulations, is the hero in our industry,” she said. “Great products are important, but even the best formulations in the world will not help you achieve the desired results if you don’t know how to use them. We have brought the expertise of the skin care therapist out of the treatment room and into the spotlight! We’re very excited about our transparent business model, which invites the consumer to observe classroom learning and allows the consumer to be educated in the process.”

    Representing both The International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica, Wurwand was joined by Dr. Diana Howard, Vice President of Research and Development and Global Education, and Heather Hickman, Senior Director of U.S. Education. The Dermalogica & IDI team mingled with guests, who enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, gift bags, complimentary Face Mapping and product sampling at the Skin Bar. Hickman commented, “Everybody wins with Dermalogica’s hybrid approach. We are proud to give skin therapists the respect they deserve, and we are confident that customers will learn a great deal about their skin in the process.”

    The new Dermalogica in Atlanta learning center is located at 232 19th Street NW Atlantic Station, Atlanta, GA 30363 and currently offering classes. To view more photos, visit their Facebook page.

  • Dr. Diana Howard Live!

    Clients and celebrities are clamoring for today’s hottest ingredients like snail slime and chia seeds. But are they marvels of science, or marvels of nonsense?

    Find out what’s fact, fantasy, and fiction in skin care at our LIVE webinar featuring ingredient guru Dr. Diana Howard, Vice President of Research and Development for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica. Airing from our headquarters in Los Angeles, the event will stream in real time on our Facebook page on February 3. Get more information from Dr. Howard herself in this clip: http://bit.ly/1adqNzf.

    To join the event, simply log into Facebook at 10:00am PST and head over to our wall: http://www.facebook.com/dermalinstitute. Want to view with friends? To watch from your local IDI, or to join us for the live event at our headquarters, call 1-888-29-CLASS (25277).

    We look forward to meeting up with you then!

    *Please use this time converter if you are uncertain of when the event airs in your area: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.

  • Getting the Most out of Vitamins

    In the past decade, scientific studies have supported the use of topically applied vitamins in skin care products. At The International Dermal Institute, we have been researching how we can optimize the delivery of these actives into the skin. Knowing that liposomes, liquid filled bubbles made from layered phospholipids, could be filled with vitamins and used as a delivery vehicle, we wanted to see if we could maximize the use of this technology. Our research revealed that while liposomes provide enhanced delivery of actives into the skin, they do have a few limitations- one of which is the amount of vitamins that can be loaded inside.

    So you can imagine how excited we were when we found a more advanced liposomal structure that is the result of high pressure homogenization; this new, smaller type of structure enables a higher amount of actives to be loaded into the bubble and represents the next generation in liposome technology. When liposomes come in contact with our skin, the phospholipids, being very similar to the skin’s natural membrane lipids, allow the liposome to fuse with our skin’s membrane, delivering its contents. In the case of these newer liposomes, more actives can be delivered. We have found that they work very well with Retinyl Palmitate, (a derivative of Vitamin A), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (a stable derivative of vitamin C).

    When comparing these encapsulated vitamins vs. their non-encapsulated counterparts, studies have shown higher effectiveness with the encapsulated forms. For example, studies comparing collagen stimulation when an empty liposome is used, vs. free Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) and encapsulated MAP, show that MAP stimulates collagen almost three times more than empty liposomes; however, encapsulated MAP was over 25 times more effective than the empty liposome.

    This advanced form of technology enables cosmetic chemists to maximize the amount of actives delivered to the targeted site to optimize skin health. Look for more of these new advances over the coming years!