Topical skincare products are essential for beautiful skin. The emphasis on improving skin quality and appearance always used to be the most prominent approach to skincare treatment. Injection-based procedures have recently become more popular, however, topical skincare products remain the first choice due to their price, convenience, and wide product range. At the same time, only a limited number of topical skincare products such as FEY Cosmetics are capable of making a visible difference in the skin.
Thanks to the latest advances in skincare science we now have products that are able to improve skin appearance and quality within weeks, days, or even hours. Then what makes some products more eﬀective than others? The answer is simple: it’s all about the delivery system.
"A delivery system" has lately become a major point of consideration in beauty products. if your skincare product does not have a proper “vehicle”, which delivers the active ingredients into the dermis, the product will not work.
Let's see what the "captains" of skincare industry say about the importance of delivery systems in the cosmetic products:
“You can buy an $800 product, but if it’s not getting down there [into the dermis] it’s not going to be effective,” says Barbara Broas (1), the national aesthetician for Le Métier de Beauté. “Many products just hit the surface of your face, but when you get deep down you’re going to actually correct what’s going on before it surfaces."
Essentially, delivery systems are what gets the active ingredients in your skin care deep into the dermis, so that they can actually penetrate and work their magic. “An ingredient may be active in a test tube, but in the real world it needs to be applied to the skin without causing irritation, penetrate through the outer skin layer, and remain stable and active when it reaches its target,” explains Joshua Zeichner (2), MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Just as important as the active ingredient is the technology involved in stabilizing that active and allowing it to do its job in the skin.”
Dr. Rocio Rivera (3), the director of scientific communications for L’Oréal Paris Skin Care:“Think of the delivery system as a food-delivery service trying to deliver ice cream from Central Park to Union Square at 5 p.m. on a Monday," she says. "The vehicle (taxi, bus, motorcycle, subway) and route taken (FDR, Fifth Avenue) are all crucial to ensure proper arrival at the destination, but so is the temperature in the car so the ice cream is not liquid by the time it reaches (if it ever does) its destination. This is a very good example of how the vehicle and the conditions at which the active ingredient is delivered (temperature, pH, how much time does it take to arrive at the correct component of the skin) are key to ensuring maximal efficacy."
Our skin is designed to protect the body from foreign irritants, which makes it hard for any delivery system to work. Numerous compounds (i.e. phospholipids, liposomes, and several proteins) have the ability to penetrate the epidermis. These substances have been used for years to increase the penetration of topical cosmetic products. The vast majority of cosmetic products manufacturers have been focusing on glycols, mostly propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and polyethylene glycol.
Glycols are considered the most advanced delivery vehicle. Being relatively small molecules while having a high affinity to water, glycols can be quickly absorbed by the skin and deliver other ingredients into the dermis. Looks good at the first sight, however, several negative aspects having to do with glycols were recently brought to public attention.
According to the Cosmetic Database, Propylene Glycol is considered a moderate hazard ingredient associated with a number of medical concerns, mostly related to allergies, immunotoxicity, irritation and enhanced skin absorption. The National Library of Medicine and Material Data Sheet classifies Propylene Glycol as an irritant compound, which is slightly hazardous in case of skin or eye contact. Patients with eczema should use products containing Propylene Glycol with caution. This questionable compound can also enhance the penetration of other ingredients, chemicals, and toxins into the dermis as an absorption enhancer, increasing the potential for irritation. The general recommendation is not to apply Propylene Glycol to damaged or burned skin.
See Hyaluronic Acid: What are its Benefits for Your Skin for more information.
Hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan or HA) is a natural biopolymer. It is a so-called non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan, which is composed of two repetitive derivatives of glucose. The most important characteristic of hyaluronan is the fact that its fragments may have a different molecular weight, and therefore completely different biological properties.
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our body. It is contained in various body parts and fluids, however, about half of it can be found in the skin. In skin dermis, hyaluronan is a core element of the inter-cellular matrix, that enables nutrition and other functions of fibroblasts, cells responsible for the production of skin proteins (mainly collagen and elastin). Hyaluronic Acid is known to play an important role in topical products, especially in moisturizing and improving skin elasticity.
It is also known that hyaluronic acid has a limited ability to penetrate the epidermis. This is one of the reasons why most topical skincare products that contain hyaluronan are overall inefficient.
It took a while before researchers have realized two significant facts. 1: the known benefits of hyaluronic acid have to do with its high molecular weight. 2: the inefficiency of so many topical hyaluronan-based skincare products is also related to high molecular weight HA; hyaluronic acid fragments of high molecular weight are simply too large to penetrate the epidermis. While providing some skin smoothing action, such products lack the long-lasting effect.
In their recent fundamental study, a number of German and Czech researchers have reported the outstanding ability of small molecular weight HA to be delivered into the dermis. Based on the combination of biophysical spectroscopic and imaging methods, the researchers were able to shed light on the penetration behavior of hyaluronic acid, topical delivery of a model protein BSA, and underlying mechanisms. The experimental data has confirmed that low molecular weight HA is able to overcome the epidermis. The study results demonstrated the penetration enhancing effects of low molecular weight HA for the model protein BSA in intact skin.
The enhancement effect was most likely based on an interplay of skin hydration, interaction with keratin structure, and protein−hyaluronic acid co-transport, aiding the transport across the stratum corneum, as well as the skin absorption of the hyaluronan itself. Moreover, the researchers showed low molecular weight hyaluronic-facilitated penetration confinement resulting in a localized epidermal absorption (stratum corneum and viable epidermis) of proteins in the barrier-disrupted skin. Thus, low molecular weight HA hydrogels seem to be potentially excellent delivery systems for a barrier-deficient skin.
Another study performed by one more German group not only clearly demonstrated the beneficial effects of hyaluronic acid on the skin. They showed how these effects can be controlled by varying the molecular size. It was again found, that low molecular weight HA provides better penetration abilities in comparison to a larger size HA. The different molecular properties of high and low molecular weight HA have generated different in-vivo effects with pronounced moisturizing and elasticity-enhancing abilities shown for high molecular weight HA as well as a noticeable reduction of wrinkles demonstrated by low molecular weight HA.
The increased activity at decreasing molecular weight can be explained by the more efficient skin penetration of the smaller hyaluronic acid molecules. This data demonstrates that topical application of low molecular weight HA improves skin functioning and provides anti-aging effects, which can be achieved by strengthening its penetration abilities based on decreasing the molecular size.
Using the most recent scientific data showing that low molecular weight hyaluronic acid is the most natural delivery vehicle, FEY Cosmetics has developed the next generation of hyaluronan-based topical skincare products.
Depending on the intended indication, FEY Cosmetics has carefully selected the types of hyaluronic acid fragments and experimentally found the most optimal ratios of high and low molecular weight. See FEY Cosmetics: What Makes it Different from Other Skincare Brands? for more information.
Notes 1, 2, and 3: Link
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