Topical creams are at the forefront of cosmetics and skincare and while natural nutricosmetics remain in their shadow, they are gaining significant ground for their role in preventing the appearance of wrinkles and skin dryness and in tackling head-on the visible signs of ageing.
Nutricosmetics, or cosmeceuticals, are designed to provide the skin with nutrients which boost its antioxidant defence systems, improve its hydration, help it to self-renew and reduce the breakdown of tissues by stimulating cellular mechanisms in the dermis, the skin’s inner layer. They act in synergy with topically-applied cosmetics which essentially improve the hydration and appearance of the epidermis.
Key among the most effective nutricosmetics for protecting the skin from the ravages of time and for restoring its youthfulness and radiance are hyaluronic acid, ceramides, keratin, collagen and elastin.
is now a scientifically-approved ingredient which - at least in its optimally-bioavailable form - improves the appearance of skin, though it is worth noting that not all commercially-available forms offer such bioavailability.
One of its main properties is the ability to retain water, particularly in the extracellular matrix which plays a key role in the skin’s appearance, being responsible for its softness, smoothness and elasticity.
A study published back in 1994 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology
had discovered that hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge in retaining water in cells. This study had also revealed that ageing reduces the synthesis and presence of hyaluronic acid within the epidermis.
Its other functions include the delivery of nutrients, elimination of metabolic waste and wound-healing.
While it has a half-life of two to three weeks in cartilage, in the epidermis it is only a day at most. Therefore, in order to maintain consistent levels, it is essential to take daily hyaluronic acid supplements.
Despite its many benefits for skin health, hyaluronic acid supplementation is not always effective due to its molecule size. With a natural weight of between 1,200,000 and 1,500,000 daltons, it is a large molecule which does not easily cross the intestinal barrier and thus little or none ends up in the blood, dermis and epidermis.
Absorption of this molecule is only possible via a proprietary technique developed by Japanese scientists with the help of a specific, natural cleaving enzyme. The hyaluronic acid, extracted from rooster combs (Injuv® - a pure and very rich source of hyaluronic acid), is thus broken down into low molecular weight polymers which have high bioavailability, this effect being solely due to enzymatic action rather than heat.
This highly-absorbable form of hyaluronic acid has been tested in preclinical studies on women aged 22-65. Results clearly show that, at a dose of 37.8mg a day for 45 days, it hydrates the skin, particularly on the hands and face, restoring softness and firmness and thus reducing the appearance of fine lines and ageing.
Ceramides for dry skin
As we age, our skin and mucous membranes become drier which can cause daily discomfort.
Ceramides – which are sphingolipids that make up almost 40% of intercellular cement - form part of the essential components of the skin’s hydrolipid barrier and thus play a role in skin hydration. Ceramide concentration declines with age and skin becomes drier and more sensitive, tight and itchy. In clinical studies, LipoWheatTM – a patented whole wheat extract – has been shown to counter this by hydrating and improving dry skin. Its natural ceramides, which are chemically identical to those present in the skin, and DGDG (digalactosyl-diglyceride), another lipid essential for skin hydration, act synergistically to boost the dermis’ own properties and reduce dryness and roughness, making the skin visibly softer and smoother. Three placebo-controlled clinical studies as well as other research works have clearly demonstrated its antiradical and hydrating properties and its ability to restore elasticity and health to dry skin, after two to three months’ supplementation.
Keratin for beautiful skin, hair and nails
Keratin is a protein naturally present in the skin, hair and nails. For optimal absorption, it is essential to use solubilised keratin - Cynatine® - which has clinically-proven efficacy.
This revolutionary ingredient repairs and protects damaged hair and nails. In binding to the hair, keratin reduces the amount lost when it is washed, and improves its resistance and shine. It also makes nails stronger.
Studies using solubilised keratin have shown that daily supplementation:
- reduces fine lines and wrinkles through its zinc and copper complexes,
- promotes skin firmness and elasticity by improving moisture retention,
- reduces sensitive skin redness by blocking PGE2 production,
- improves the radiance of skin through its antioxidant properties and its ability to promote SOD and glutathione production.
Marine collagen and elastin
The dermis consists of not only water but also the large proteins elastin and collagen which are responsible for its elasticity and resilience. Like other components of the skin, hair and nails, production of elastin and collagen tend to decline with the passing years, resulting in sagging skin and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face and body. Alcohol, stress, cigarettes and pollution all exacerbate this natural decline so that by the age of 60, the skin has lost a third of all its collagen, for example.
Highly bioavailable forms of collagen and elastin, obtained from the skin of fish through an enzymatic hydrolysis process so as to obtain, like hyaluronic acid, a low molecular weight, together provide the skin with cohesion and elasticity.
These five nutricosmetics are highly effective at fighting the visible effects of ageing by truly nourishing the skin, hair and nails from within.
For maximum efficacy, it is advisable to follow a three-month course of treatment with these substances, either individually or together, at least twice a year, from the age of 40. They can also be taken on a daily basis, as a complement to appropriate cosmetic use and a balanced diet.