Antioxidants for skin health join the ingestible beauty trend in the form of functional foods and beverages, powders, liquid shots, etc.

Ginger. Schlueter, Assistant Editor

June 8, 2018

8 Min Read
Antioxidants Reign Supreme for Skin Health

When asking people how they are doing, a typical response is “Ugh, I’m so busy!” The notion of constantly being busy has become a symbol of high status in American culture; however, this on-the-go lifestyle also means skin is constantly and consistently being exposed to oxidative environmental stressors, such as ultra violet (UV) radiation, natural ionizing radiation, pollutants and chemicals. This exposure contributes to premature skin aging signs, such as pigment stains and wrinkles, but use of antioxidants to combat such damage is a scientifically proven strategy for skin health.

“More consumers are interested in products with premium ingredients backed by research to care for their skin both topically and from the inside out,” said Sébastien Bornet, VP global sales & marketing at Horphag Research.

Topically Applied Antioxidants

Traditionally, the delivery format for beauty products is via direct application to the skin evidenced by numerous creams, moisturizers, serums, etc., on store shelves. It is also an easy and known application to consumers, as various media outlets show commercials of people rubbing concoctions directly onto their faces and bodies. Shaheen Majeed, worldwide president, Sabinsa, said popular formats include creams, foundations, facial moisturizers and lip products.

However, a limitation to topical formulations is “antioxidants break down when exposed to light and air, so it’s important to make sure the products are packaged in opaque and airtight, or air-restrictive containers,” said Mal Evans, Ph.D., scientific director, KGK Science. She also suggested avoiding jar packaging to prevent ingredients from losing effectiveness once opened.

“New delivery formats such as nanocarriers are also being considered to avoid or reduce photodegradation as well as improve percutaneous penetration,” Majeed said.

It is reported that topical application of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) prevented photoaging by penetrating viable layers of the epidermis, reducing the level of oxidation measured by weak photon emission, furthermore reducing wrinkle depth.1 CoQ10 also showed protective effects against cell death induced by several reactive oxygen species (ROS) in keratinocytes, epidermal cells that produce keratin, but only when its cellular absorption was enhanced by pretreatment of the cells with highly CoQ10-loaded serum.2 Therefore, CoQ10 showed efficacy to prevent some effects of photoaging.

Resveratrol is a potent polyphenolic antioxidant found in red grapes, red wine, nuts and fruits such as blueberries and cranberries, with emerging research showing it can act as a potent antioxidant for the skin,” Evans said. According to research, it functions as a dual antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals and increase intrinsic antioxidant capacity.3 A topically applied proprietary blend containing 1 percent resveratrol, 0.5 percent baicalin and 1 percent vitamin E showed significant improvement in fine lines and wrinkles, skin firmness, skin elasticity, skin laxity, hyperpigmentation, radiance and skin roughness over baseline in 12 weeks.3 Evans concurred that when applied topically, resveratrol helped protect skin’s surface4, and helped rebuff negative environmental influences5, making it a valuable ingredient for skin rejuvenation.

“Vitamins are considered to be both ‘antioxidants’ as well as ‘skin friendly,’” said Golan Raz, head of global health division at Lycored. “Vitamin A supports skin cell production and growth6; vitamin C plays a role in collagen synthesis7; and vitamin E decreases free radicals, slowing the aging process of the skin.”8

In a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled, left and right arm comparison study of 36 elderly subjects with a mean age of 87 years and residing in two senior facilities, topically applied vitamin A improved fine wrinkles associated with natural aging.9 A topical 0.4 percent vitamin A lotion or its vehicle was applied to either arm up to three times per week for 24 weeks. Using a scale of 0=none to 9=most severe, along with biochemical measurements from skin biopsy specimens obtained from treated areas, there were significant differences between vitamin A-treated and vehicle-treated skin for changes in fine wrinkling scores.

Ingestible Skin Health

Currently trending in the skin health segment is ingestible skin care, beauty from within and the inside-out approach, all of which point to the consumption of certain ingredients with the promise of helping the skin become healthy or healthier from inside the body. Ingestible applications include supplements, such as tablets and gummies; powders; liquid shots; functional foods, such as bars; and

“There are two main groups of molecules involved, one which is oil soluble and the other which is water soluble,” Raz explained, speaking about ingesting antioxidant ingredients. “For the oil-soluble group, the most common delivery system is softgel capsules; for the water-soluble group, tablets and two-piece capsules are common.”

The following antioxidants, scientifically proven to assist with skin health, are being used more in ingestible skin health applications.

Glutathione, a tripeptide made of three amino acids—cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine—acts as an antioxidant, free radical scavenger and a detoxifying agent.10 “This antioxidant is popular in the United States for immune health protection as well as in South East Asia as a skin whitening agent, although new research is being conducted on skin health,” said Elyse Lovett, marketing manager, Kyowa Hakko U.S.A., Inc.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel, three-arm study, healthy female subjects were equally randomized into three groups and took glutathione (as Setria® Glutathione from Kyowa Hakko) or placebo orally for 12 weeks.11 Melanin index, wrinkles and other relevant biophysical properties were measured and blood samples were taken for safety monitoring. The study concluded that melanin index and UV spots of face and arm tended to be lower than placebo and a tendency toward increased skin elasticity was observed in those taking glutathione.

Yusuke Sauchi, senior manager of global sales, marketing, KOHJIN Life Sciences, spoke to the various applications of glutathione, identifying “supplements, beverages, food and cosmetic” products.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is another ingestible antioxidant and is made from bio-fermented lactic acid bacteria. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study over a 12-week period, 120 mg/d of HA (as Hyabest® (S) LF-P from Kewpie) was orally administered, or placebo, to a group of 60 Japanese male and female subjects ages 22 to 59 who had crow’s feet.12 Skin luster and suppleness significantly improved with HA consumption.

“The absorbed low molecular weight of orally taken hyaluronic acid is lowered, broken down and absorbed inside the human body,” explained Keiko Kuriyama, marketing, and Yuji Sato, sales, both overseas, fine chemical division of Kewpie Corporation. “It increases fibroblasts and promotes synthesis, suppressing and inhibiting skin photoaging, as a potential possibility.”13

Possible delivery formats include powder, capsules, tablets, beverages and gummies, according to the Kewpie team.

Lycopene, the red pigment from tomatoes helps protect skin from UV exposure, Raz said. He referred to a placebo-controlled, double-blinded, randomized, crossover study of 65 healthy volunteers who were allocated into four treatment groups and subjected to two weeks of washout.14 Participants started with active treatment and were switched to placebo or vice versa. Blood samples were taken during washout and treatment phases for assessment of carotenoids, such as lycopene. Conclusion from the study showed, “lycopene from tomatoes together with phytoene and phytofluence [two other carotenoids found in tomatoes] can protect the skin from UV damage,” Raz said.

Delivery methods of lycopene could include functional beverages and foods such as bars and cereals.

Though not a direct antioxidant, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is recognized for the structural integrity of the skin. Sulfur from MSM (as OptiMSM® from Bergstrom Nutrition) is necessary for disulfide bonds and proper cross-linking of collagen, explained Tim Hammond, vice president of sales and marketing, Bergstrom Nutrition. This was recently proven in a published study of juvenile male mice consuming MSM daily for eight days, confirming the donation of sulfur in-vivo as absorbed by the small intestine and the MSM incorporating into proteins.15

“Use of MSM topically and orally provides the synergistic effect of continuous support from the outside and bolsters internal processes leading to long-term benefits,” Hammond said.

Bornet said French maritime pine bark extract as Pycnogenol® from Horphag has been shown in research to increase skin’s hydration and improve elasticity. Twenty healthy, postmenopausal women were supplemented with Pycnogenol for 12 weeks.16 Before, during and after supplementation, the women’s skin condition was assessed using biophysical methods, such as ultrasound and visioscan analyses, as well as biopsy. Tolerated well in all volunteers, Pycnogenol significantly improved hydration and elasticity of the women’s skin.

Carotenoids, specifically dietary beta-carotene, is used for improvement of facial wrinkles and elasticity, Evans noted. This was shown in a randomized study of 30 healthy female subjects over age 50 who received 30 and 90 mg/d of beta-carotene respectively for 90 days.17 Baseline and complexion of each participant, facial wrinkles and elasticity were measured objectively. The study concluded 30 mg/d of beta-carotene supplementation prevented and repaired photoaging.

Ellagic acid, a naturally-occurring polyphenol in pomegranate (Punica granatum), is yet another antioxidant demonstrating skin care benefits, Majeed said. In a double-blind, placebocontrolled, in vivo study, female subjects ages 20 to 40 were divided and randomly assigned to three groups: high doses (200 mg/d of ellagic acid), low dose (100 mg/d of ellagic acid) and control (placebo).18 Each group received test foods for a duration of four weeks. The results confirmed ellagic acid protected the skin against UV irradiation-induced pigmentation, and improved the “brightness of the face” and “stains and freckles,” stated in the study.

Consumers are familiar with antioxidants in the forms of creams, lotions, serums, etc., as well as taking supplements in the form of capsules, tablets, etc. However, for brands to get a strong foot hold in the ever-changing beauty market, embracing ingestible beauty with new delivery forms—bars, cereals, beverages, powders, liquid shots, etc. is a must along with “formulating with good solid ingredients backed by science,” Lovett concluded.

For a list of references, email [email protected]

About the Author(s)

Ginger. Schlueter

Assistant Editor, Natural Products Insider

Ginger Schlueter joined the Natural Products INSIDER team as an assistant editor in 2017. She began her professional career as an English teacher, but soon transitioned into journalism to follow her true passions—writing, editing and interviewing professionals. Her first journalistic position was in the security industry and now, she is thrilled to embark into the exciting world of health and wellness, which has always been a topic of research and interest in her life. Ginger graduated from Midwestern State University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and from National University with a Master’s degree in English.

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