Skin Elasticity: Combining Nutrients Is Key

Why consumers should be applying topicals, taking supplements and eating the right foods.

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With the global skincare market at an estimated $121 billion in 2016 — and estimated to reach $154 billion by 2021 — it is clear that consumers all over the world care about their skin’s appearance (1). The increase of skin product customers may be attributed to a shift in demand. Not too long ago, shoppers may have looked to skincare products when they had problematic skin or when experiencing the effects of aging, such as wrinkles and age spots, but today’s consumers seem to have one objective at hand: preventative measures. Shoppers are no longer buying anti-aging products once they begin to see spots and wrinkles; they are using them earlier in life to delay the process.

Industry is not only seeing a demand for topical treatments, but for dietary alternatives like nutricosmetics too. Now, shoppers aren’t looking to simply use one under eye night cream before bed and call it a day. Nor are they satisfied with only taking a multi-vitamin in the morning. No, they want to mix and match their options to attain the best possible results and have the best skin possible. According to Tim Mount, CN, CCMH, director of education, NeoCell, Irvine, CA, consumers are taking notice of the long-term effects supplements can provide, but still want to have the instant results serums and lotions can give too. To validate this notion, he points to a 2008 Age of Naturals Pink Report, which says, “72% of women who buy external beauty products are also interested in beauty from within supplements.”
While consumers are searching for the fountain of youth in a bottle or in the form of a pill, what they are ultimately trying to achieve is to retain their skin’s elasticity.

Replenishing
Collagen. The skin is our body’s largest organ and is made up primarily of collagen and water. Mount describes collagen, which is a protein, as a “matrix of fibers” that creates a firm and plump appearance by retaining moisture. As the skin goes through its life cycle, it slowly loses elasticity and water retention capabilities — as early as in our 20s — causing the skin to sag, wrinkle and spot as it loses nutrients, like collagen, that our bodies naturally produce. Topically applying collagen to the skin helps “lock in essential hydration,” says Linda Miles, director of marketing, president, Derma E, Simi Valley, CA, while Mount recommends a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, which rebuilds the skin’s collagen matrix from the inside out, therefore adding elasticity. Elastin, meanwhile, is another protein that works with collagen to give skin that “snap back quality,” points out Rob Maru, product innovation specialist, Reserveage Nutrition, Boca Raton, FL.

Peptides. Peptides are (long or short) chains of amino acids, the building blocks of collagen within the middle layer of the skin’s dermis, points out Catie Wiggy, director of product development and brand management, MyChelle, Louisville, CO, who is also a licensed master esthetician. “When collagen deteriorates, peptides can signal to your skin that it was damaged and needs to produce collagen,” she explains. For this, Wiggy recommends products that are formulated with concentrated peptides. Mellisa Baylis, president, Mellisa B Naturally, Medford, NJ, agrees on the importance of peptides, referring to them as  “the keys” to delaying the aging process and promoting skin elasticity. Peptides, she says, have the ability to protect the skin from damaging enzymes, which age the skin, adding that, peptides help to keep the skin smooth-looking, which is essential for skin elasticity. According to Baylis, inflammation is another attribute for skin aging, pointing out that the skin can become inflamed in the same manner organs do. For this, she points to products that include lucama fruit, which can help the skin from becoming inflamed.

Vitamin B3. Also known as niacin, this nutrient supports the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer, to retain moisture. This is particularly important for consumers suffering from dry and flakey skin. Niacinamide — the amide form of niacin — “has the ability to increase lipid synthesis and provide antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory benefits,” says Wiggy. MyChelle and Derma E both formulate products containing this nutrient, which also aids with signs of aging by “improving [the] epidermal barrier function, inhibiting skin pigmentation, and smoothing the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles,” says Miles. This, according to her, is because it has the “ability to stimulate fibrolasts and collagen, both of which help visibly firm skin.”

Hyaluronic Acid. Like collagen, our bodies also create hyaluronic acid (HA) in abundance, but over time, the amount that we produce also lessens. HA is distinctive from other
elasticity-promoting nutrients in that it can produce and lock in hydration, and thus, provide moisture. This then plumps and smooths the skin, decreasing fine lines. “Much like a grape dehydrating to a raisin, our skin’s external appearance can look rough and wrinkled,” says Mount. He points to research studies that show HA supplements have been “shown to effectively improve the look and feel of the skin after only 15 days of use.” According to Wiggy, HA also has the unique ability to shield the skin from environmental effects, such as pollution, by protecting the skin barrier. “[HA] is considered a very special nutrient because it does not just depend on pulling moisture from the environment,” says Baylis. “Due to changes in the climate or environment there may not be enough moisture in the air so the product will stop working. Whereas products with hyaluronic acid can pull water from its closest source which would be our own circulatory system.”

Vitamin C. This nutrient is especially important for the collagen synthesis (along with sulfur), as well as serving as a protectant from sun exposure and other pollutants. Wiggy says, “vitamin C is not only an essential internal nutrient for your body, but also contains some of the antioxidants proven to delay — and potentially reverse — the signs of external aging.” Vitamin C is also a detoxifier, aiding in oxidative stress. The antioxidant support also helps with balancing uneven pigmentation. Because vitamin C supports various different functions, enough daily consumption is particularly important for effectiveness.

Nutrient Guide

Vitamin B: Beef, clams, and fish
Hyaluronic Acid: Bone broth, root vegetables
Sulfur: Arugula, asparagus, bananas, broccoli, cheese, coconuts, eggs, garlic, kale, onions and walnuts
Omega-3: Cod, salmon
Protein: Legumes, nuts, meat

Miles explains, vitamin C “is known to support collagen health, helping to restore skin’s youthful resilience, texture and firmness, which are all key factors when addressing advanced signs of aging.” When shopping for vitamin C skin care, Wiggy recommends looking for “the three C’s.” A chirraly correct formula — which is the correct molecular structure that skin can absorb, recognize, and then utilize — combined with a concentration of 10% or higher.

French Maritime Pine Bark. Branded as Pycnogenol, by Horphag Research USA, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, this extract strengthens and rebuilds skin through its antioxidant qualities. It also binds with skin proteins, collagen and elastin and in turn binds moisture. Maru points to a clinical trial published in 2012 in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology that found French maritime pine bark to improve skin hydration and elasticity in women. Pycnogenol, he says, “enhanced skin elasticity by 25%, in addition to skin hydration by eight percent, and was especially noticeable in women who had dry skin from the start. They saw a much higher improvement at 21%.”

Merging Forces
Taking a collagen supplement when our body is no longer creating it in abundance seems to be the most obvious go to for skin elasticity support. Mount explains that collagen has been shown to “work at the cellular level more effectively than other nutrients to rebuild the collagen matrix within the skin. Since 75% of the skin is made of collagen, there is no more critical nutrient for skin elasticity than a hydrolyzed collagen supplement.”

Some, on the other hand, say even more important is to support the building blocks of collagen and elasticity with vitamin C, which provides a mixture of high antioxidant levels along with rehydration abilities. “Thousands of independent clinical studies show that vitamin C is the best skin care ingredient for promoting skin health, says Wiggy. “As humans, we don’t produce vitamin C on our own, so we must ingest it and incorporate it into our skin regimens,” she says, noting that the nutrient is a powerful ingredient for “anyone, of any age, and of any skin tone and type” because it provides overall skin support. Maru agrees, saying vitamin C is essential for elastin production, along with other natural silica from bamboo. He also points to research on antioxidants, such as French maritime pine bark and lutein, which provides environmental protection. “The best approach would be to combine ingredients that work together in a comprehensive manner…for instance, collagen for strengthening and providing a strong foundation, dermaval to inhibit elastin breakdown, along with ceramides which have been shown to support hydration by fortifying the lipid bilayer of the skin,” Maru explains.

Beyond Topicals and Supplements
Collagen is not easily digested and absorbed in its natural form, therefore a collagen supplement is the ideal way to get an adequate dosage. Because of this, Mount suggests, “combining a collagen supplement with citrus, berries, or red bell peppers in the diet is a tasty way to receive natural sources of vitamin C.” Still, Baylis points to sources of food that collagen can be found in, like fish, beef protein, tomatoes and certain greens.

In the spirit of mixing and matching for maximum results, getting nutrients from the food we eat is a simple and intuitive way to add another form of support from the inside out. We know that plenty of water in an essential source of skin hydration. We also know that fruits and vegetables are good for us overall, but more specifically, for antioxidants and vitamin C.

In addition to orange juice, Wiggy points to apples as a good source of vitamin C. She also recommends pumpkin seeds as they contain essential omega fatty acids, vitamin A, and a good blend of vitamin E, which also support hair and nails. Apart from detoxifying your inner organs, cranberries, whether through the whole berry or organic juice, she says, provide antioxidants, which eliminate free radicals that contribute to aging.

A Routine is Essential
Some topical creams promise vivid results within two weeks, while some supplements will start taking effect within a month, but neither of these methods are meant for the short term. In other words, creating and continuing a daily practice is the only way to maintain results. Miles stresses the importance of a daily regimen by recommending a combination that is “high in antioxidants and moisture to combat the free radical theory of aging.” She points to every day harmful free radical producers like “stress, UV light, radiation, smoking and air pollution” which damage skin cells causing aging signs like dry skin, wrinkles and spots. Antioxidants counteract these effects by stimulating collagen production.

According to Wiggy, consumers have a heightened awareness to protecting their skin from everyday pollutants. She also says having a consistent routine, that includes antioxidants along with sun protection is fundamental to keeping “[a] complexion free and clear, while supporting collagen and elastin.” For this, Wiggy recommends integrating a “combination of peptides, plant stem cells, antioxidants, and retinoids, that are designed to perfect, correct, and protect all skin types daily.”

Baylis, meanwhile, says exfoliating dead skin before applying any replenishing nutrient is essential, then “add back collagen and then stimulate collagen boosters such as peptides.” This is ideal because it “mimics our body’s ability to produce collagen.” She explains this is because “the peptide called progeline will slow down the enzyme called progerin which ages the skin and causes sagging and wrinkles.”

What’s Next In Skin Elasticity
Just as consumers are now creating customized concoctions to promote skin elasticity, soon they will be looking for the next big thing to take their skin care regimens to the next level. So what is on the horizon?

Maru points to Dermaval, a patent-pending all-natural combination of fruit and vegetable concentrates, as an alternative that is picking up steam. He references a recent peer-reviewed and published clinical trial in which 20 healthy subjects, were given a single 50 mg serving of Dermaval. The results showed a “statistically significant inhibition of glucose-induced elastase activity during a two-hour period following ingestion,” he says. Maru believes that when incorporating Dermaval into a healthy daily skin maintenance program, it can “help support a healthy response to daily activities that induce elastase.” This he says is in part due to the fact that Dermaval was specifically studied for “the inhibition of the enzyme elastase, which breaks down elastin.”

Wiggy points to another trend that is currently gaining traction: probiotics. While probiotic-filled foods and supplements have become all the rage for digestive support, Wiggy thinks it is only a matter of time before it takes over the skin care industry. This is because just like the stomach, “the skin has a microbiome (a mix of bacteria, yeast, and parasites) to keep it in balance,” she says. “We now understand the importance of consuming probiotic food, and dermatologists and scientists are starting to recognize the same benefits for the skin.”

References

  1. “Size of the Global Skin Care Market from 2012 to 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/254612/global-skin-care-market-size/, Accessed 2/3/17

Published in WholeFoods Magazine March 2017