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The Three Lines of Skin Defense

By: Sabine Malley, Cliff Milow, Evan Murphy, Kristen Presti, Katherine Spetrino and Zsolt Szabados
Posted: May 29, 2014, from the June 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

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As our epidermis (top layer of skin) ages, cellular communication decreases and, consequently, so does cell proliferation and eventually epidermal thickness. Cosmetic ingredients such as yarrow extract have shown the ability to improve intracellular communication via neuropeptides, which are responsible for the proliferation and differentiation of skin cells. This activity results in the acceleration of epidermal renewal and the improvement of epidermal thickness, therefore providing surface rejuvenation. Enhancing these critical cellular processes results in a reduction in wrinkles, an improvement in softness and radiance, and a refinement of pores.

Skin aging also leads to the breakdown of the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ), which is the primary source of mechanical support for the epidermis. As the skin ages, the epithelial basement membrane at the DEJ becomes flattened and the epidermis loses its anchoring, which causes capillaries to weaken and leak. Not only does the interaction area between the dermis and epidermis break down, but the dialogue between these two compartments decreases as well. The epidermis becomes poorly nourished, thins, disorganizes and epidermal turnover is reduced.

Proteoglycans, essential components of the DEJ, are responsible for the self-assembly and stability of these basal membranes. For reinforcement of the DEJ, perlecan and dystroglycan (a proteoglycan and its receptor) are essential for the maintenance of the structural integrity of the skin. They also provide endothelial strength for proper skin nourishment. Research has shown specific plant extracts, such as Polygonum bistorta root extract, are able to upregulate the expression of these skin components, resulting in an amplification of skin radiance, a reduction in wrinkles and smoothing of overall skin texture. And by improving the structural integrity of the DEJ, skin homeostasis increases, thereby increasing radiance on both a biological and an optical level.

To achieve a complete architectural structure within the skin and improve its strength, resilience and volume, it also is imperative to stimulate key molecules located in the dermis. Research has proven the quality and functionality of these intracellular molecules is just as important as the quantity. Elastin functionality has been identified as a key player for improving skin firmness and elasticity, and dill, or Peucedanum graveolens, has been shown to stimulate a novel enzyme, LOXL, for proper assembly of elastin and restored functionality. This results in a visible 3D effect for improved facial contouring, increased elasticity and firmness, and improved overall smoothness and texture.

A Strong Line of Defense

One must protect the skin both inside and out from intrinsic and extrinsic damage that leads to premature aging. The three lines of defense that are essential for proper skin health include shielding against UV radiation, protecting the skin’s barrier integrity, and normalizing cellular processes to counteract damage. A truly fulfilling skin care formulation must address all three lines of defense to properly meet consumers’ needs and prevent skin damage and premature aging.

Sabine Malley is the marketing manager for sun care with BASF; Cliff Milow is technical service group leader for skin and sun care with BASF; Evan Murphy is a technical account manager with BASF; Kristen Presti is the marketing manager for active ingredients with BASF; Katherine Spetrino is the marketing manager for skin care with BASF; and Zsolt Szabados is a technical service specialist for skin and sun care with BASF.