Fine particles, exhaust gases, cigarette smoke, heavy metals… whether it be atmospheric or domestic, we are surrounded by pollution every day, and the damages it causes on the skin are better and better known. Driven by the Asian demand, anti-pollution claims in cosmetics are increasing, and there are countless new ingredients to justify them. Once again, the Paris edition of the In-Cosmetics show was a perfect example of this trend.
All major cosmetics laboratories have been working on this issue, sometimes with very ambitious research programmes (see our article, How pollution disturbs the skin , on this topic). And today, we know how to characterize the most harmful pollutants for the skin as well as their effects on it.
Which pollutants, which effects
Several types of polluting aggressions affect our skin on a daily basis. Here are the most targeted in cosmetics:
• Atmospheric pollution: carbon particles, heavy metals… derived from our cars’ exhaust gases and factories’ releases, especially particulate matter (or PM2.5, airborne particles with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres), but also sun UV rays…
• Domestic pollution: chemicals, cigarette smoke, but also the blue light emitted by TV, computer, smartphone, and tablet screens.
As cosmetic ingredient supplier Solabia points out, the pollutants which constitute our daily, inside and outside environment, are directly linked to public health issues and must be considered as important sources of cutaneous stress. The evolution of our lifestyles and the increasing urbanization amplify the risks, making the pollution one of the major sources of concern for beauty.
And this is no trivial threat. Another ingredient supplier,
, highlights its importance with figures:
• Today, there are 7.3 billion humans (8.5 by 2030, 9.7 by 2050), including 54% living in urban areas (66% by 2050)
• CO2 emissions have gone up to 34.5 billion tons
• 1.2 billion cars are on the road today (2.5 by 2050)
• 11 billion cigarettes are smoked every day
• 1,600 cities worldwide are reporting air pollution levels
On the first line, skin cells, their lipid and protein components but also their DNA are the targets of pollutants, generators of oxidation and inflammation. Dry skin, reactive and/or sensitive skin, acne, premature and accelerated aging are the consequences known for the pollution.
To deal with this issue, cosmetic ingredient suppliers have mainly come up with two types of solutions:
• The 'shields' that physically protect the skin, avoiding any contact with the surrounding pollution
• The fight against the effects of pollution, with antioxidant, anti-free radicals and/or anti-inflammatory substances.
They can be applied both on the skin and hair. Several of them were showcased at the Paris In-Cosmetics show.
Glycofilm® and Pollustop® by Solabia
It is an anionic polysaccharide of high molecular weight obtained by biotechnology, acting like a protective armour. According to Solabia , it acts ' immediately and physically to increase the skin capacity of skin protection by applying a “breathing” shield, which like a second skin will make screen for the penetration of pollutants and reduce the induced damages.'
Its effects were tested by Solabia, who claim:
• A protection against the carbon particles incrustation on the skin (+30% at 1%, +38% at 3%, +46% et5%)
• A protection against PM2.5 damages (intracellular oxidative stress, mitochondrial toxicity, lipid peroxidation)
• A barrier effect against heavy metals deposition, for example from cigarette smoke (95% of deposition limitation)
• A preservation from UV-induced inflammation and a optimization of solar protection (increase of SPF from 1 to 3 points), with an anti-free radicals efficacy of +76% on hair
• An increase of 37% of protection against the sulphates-induced cell toxicity (sulphates used in hygiene and household products)
Glycofilm ® (INCI: Biosaccharide gum-4, Phenoxyethanol) and Pollustop ® (INCI: Biosaccharide gum-4, 1,2-Hexanediol) have found applications in everyday protective skin and hair care, anti-pollution and anti-aging products, sun care.
Solapearls® by Solabia
Following the same principle, Solabia also developed pearlescent (SolaShield®) or matte (SolaShield® M) white pearls,
'customizable active ingredients
that are processed in 3 dimension
s.', in addition to Glycofilm® Calcium alginate – a polysaccharide of marine origin forming the 3G architecture – and pearlescent pigments – mica and titanium dioxide –, these pearls are designed to be incorporated to a customizable transparent serum, to become moisturizing, soothing for sensitive skin, lightening, correcting or perfecting, lifting…
Same targeted pollutants and anti-pollution performance as Glycofilm®, but with a design dimension easily highlighted with transparent bottle packaging (some of them are already on the market).
Exo-P™ by Lucas Meyer
This active is presented as a 'biomimetic protective exopolysaccharide'.
• Exopolysaccharide: it is obtained with a biotechnology process, which does not damage the natural resources and or disrupt biodiversity
• Biomimetic: it reproduces the Kopara ecosystem, constituted of microorganism mats found along atoll rims in French Polynesia, which produce unique exopolysaccharides to protect themselves from UVs, pH and salinity variations
• Protective: it has both an anti-adhesion and cleansing effect against PM2.5
Exo-P™ (INCI: Aqua, Butylene glycol, Alteromonas ferment extract) acts at two levels:
• Applied before the exposure to pollution, it forms a film on the surface of the skin to decrease the adhesion of pollutant particles (up to 83%)
• Applied after the exposure (for example in a cleansing product), it creates a mesh able to entrap particles and remove them from the skin (up to 82%)
In both cases, it prevents and reduces pollution-induced damages.
Lucas Meyer 's tests also proved a reduction in free radical-induced damages and a protection from heavy metals (from cigarette smoke as well as from fuel exhausts), for a more luminous and healthy-looking skin in only 7 days.
Pollushield™ by Lipotec
Same shield principle with this active ingredient 'offering two complementary effects: binding of toxic metals by a polymer with metal-chelating properties to prevent their interaction with the skin as well as a strong antioxidant action by a potent free radical scavenger to avoid oxidative damage within the skin.'
Several tests were performed by
to prove its effectiveness:
• In vitro , epidermal cells treated with the ingredient presented statistically significantly higher cell viability of keratinocytes in the presence of urban dust
• Ex vivo , the treated skin exposed to pollution preserved normal epidermal and dermal morphology and showed reduction in several markers of damage
• In vivo, a test was performed on female volunteers regularly exposed to air pollution in Beijing (China) and after 6 hours of exposure, the skin treated once with the active showed significantly reduced levels of metals when compared to the placebo, and its antioxidant capacity against damage was improved
Filmexel® by Silab
Another shied, presented by Silab as a biomimetic film-forming active ingredient that is eco-designed using an innovative IBPN (Interpenetrating BioPolymer Network).' Derived from plant starting materials, galactomannans of Caesalpinia spinosa, a South American shrub, and sulfated galactans of Kappaphycus alvarezii, a warm water alga, Filmexel® is a network of two interpenetrating biopolymers which forms on the surface of the skin a natural, protective and lifting film.
The results of the tests performed par Silab indicates that it:
• Exerts a non-occlusive barrier effect against pollutants, irritants and allergens
• Preserves the natural barrier function of the skin from deteriorations caused by a mechanical aggression
• Smoothes micro-relief of the body skin
• Immediately and durably attenuates wrinkles
• Improves the biomechanical properties of the skin
• Has a tensor effect perceived by trained and untrained volunteers
• Improves the overall appearance of the face (surface of skin pores; radiance)
• Ensures longer-lasting makeup wear
This 'second skin', beauty-booster and anti-ageing, is recommended between 0.05 and 1% for all face and body care, and make-up products.
Other solutions were also showcased at In-Cosmetics, in particular those that act, not as shields, but as intrinsic anti-pollution agents, by thwarting its effects and the biological processes it triggers. This is what the second part of this article deals with: Anti-pollution ingredients (2/2) .