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Avoiding the Unavoidable

By: Sara Mason
Posted: August 31, 2010, from the September 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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But while science tries to catch up with consumer expectations, a realistic approach to the treatment of aging skin is to optimize the skin’s health and condition by ensuring ample hydration of tissues, stimulating collagen formation in the dermis and eliminating the triggers that lead to aging skin.

These include the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals, and advanced glycation end products (AGE)—as well as the stimulation of matrix metalloproteinase enzymes (MMPs) that break down collagen and elastin. When MMPs are activated, collagen production automatically shuts down. So if MMPs are turned off and a means of stimulating collagen formation is provided, one of the key triggers to aging skin can be countered. Likewise, providing antioxidants to the skin helps control ROS formation.

In the process of glycation, sugar that is naturally present in the skin adheres to collagen and elastin fibers, causing them to stiffen. With time, these sugar molecules create AGE—rigid bridges between fibers—causing the skin to lose its elasticity and wrinkles to set in.

“Skin that has started to show more advanced signs of aging needs more intensive treatment and protection,” says Patricia Wexler, MD, dermatologist who partnered with Bath & Body Works to create a skin care line. “Glycation is a natural aging process that gradually damages collagen-related proteins and causes skin to lose volume and contour, which leads to sagging and deep wrinkles.” Wexler’s Intensive 3-in-1 Day Cream SPF 30 is formulated with an anti-glycation complex specifically to target the effects of glycation and restore skin’s natural density and bounce. The advanced daytime moisturizer fights damage by visibly lifting, firming and smoothing the skin. Wexler’s products also claim to inhibit the production of all known 20 MMPs found in the skin. “MMPi20 technology wards off the natural breakdown of collagen and protecting the skin from environmental stressors and UV exposure in the most effective possible way,” she explains.

Antioxidant Repair The process of oxidation begins when free radicals, which are caused by external aggressors such as sun exposure, trigger the rapid production of ROS, which in turns leads to cell damage.