It is more and more often seen, the whiteness of its petals displayed on the labels of cosmetics, providing our skins with the active ingredients of the formulae. White lily, sea daffodil, sand lily … for averaging complexion, and very trendy and technical claims of whitening, without any loss of the poetic power of the flower. Thus … Sweetheart, let us see if the lily, which in our cosmetics enters the fray, is able to fulfill its purpose, and is beneficial to our complexions …
As for many cosmetic innovations nowadays, this one originates in Asia. Or, more rightly, it has been developed for the strong Asian market before being used also in Western formulae. Over there, lily products are convenient to all the skins, in constant demand for whitening. Here, they are adapted for the needs of mature skins, from 40 to 50, when they get age spots and lose their radiance. Indeed, this market is also promising, as can be thought when looking to the number of ranges recently launched with these claims.
From white lily … to white lily
Lily flower or bulb extracts have been present in our cosmetics for some years. Lilium candidum flower extract and Lilium candidum bulb extract are renowned for stimulating cell renewal and for their anti-inflammatory properties that help fight redness. They are also used to lower the volume of the bags and the color of the dark circles around the eyes. The labels claim they are also soothing or regenerating. That is why they are often found in eyes contour cares (First Time-Fighting Eye Contour, by Orlane, Wrinkles Puffiness and Dark circles Repair cream, by Edenens, Elixier Eye firming fluid, by Tautropfen …), but also in global-action anti-ageing cares (Addiction - Night & day Face Oil, by Absolution, Divine Youth range, by So'Bio étic …).
Lily, a plant and a natural product, is logically especially present in organic cosmetics.
Coslys brand uses also the lily totum (Lilium hybrid flower extract, Lilium candidum flower extract), thanks to its high content of polyphenols, vitamins, anti-oxidants and flavonoids, in its range of face cares.
However, it is a new kind of lily that is arriving in force nowadays in the cosmetics innovations. If some sales points call it also a white lily, others are more precise, and display it as a sea daffodil (also known as sand daffodil and sand lily), Pancratium maritimum extract, after its official name, flourishes in formulae, with only two claims, but significant ones: anti-spots and complexion radiance.
An active ingredient that looks great
The flower is beautiful, and its story is no less: thus, from the very beginning, lily comes with everything to please the marketing departments.
Pancratium maritimum, the sea daffodil, is a species of bulbous plant native to the Mediterranean region, but can be found also, in Europe, in the Hoedic and Houat Britanny islands. It establishes its roots in sandy soils, in which they have the peculiar ability to go deep, as a means of protection against strong winds. Its flower, a pure white, opens only at dusk, thus, being away from the hot sun radiation and preserving its fragility. A wonder of adaptation to the natural environment, to assure its survival…
Nevertheless, this is not the end to the story: the active ingredient, by itself, is able to attract formulators.
While already used in the NatuRoyale anti-ageing range, by Annemarie Börlind, it has been available in France in June 2012 for the first time in the White Lumination range, by Phytomer, whitening products claiming the use of this sea daffodil extracts (note that the Research & Nature Department of this company, CODIF, markets also the Neurolight.61G, an aqueous extract of Pancratium maritimum, which is at the core of this range).
Then, almost at the same time, in February and March 2013, Algotherm, with its AlgoBlanc CX+, and Melvita, with Nectar Bright, focus on the anti-spots and complexion radiance action of Pancratium maritimum.
True, it is never alone in its action.
Phytomer adds a whitening algae, Dictyopteris membranacea, and vitamin C for the radiance.
Algotherm adds two algae, Dictyopteris membranacea and Phormidium persicinum, a cyano-bacteria, as well as vitamin C.
Melvita has patented a five-white-flowers complex, comprising sea daffodil, daisy, wild daffodil, wintergreen and white lupine.
However, even if not alone, its action has been checked and documented.
The root cause for spots
The best way to understand the course of action of the lily is to look at what is called melanogenesis (the process after which melanin, which produces the spots on the skin, is synthesized), and how brown spots are produced.
“The spots,” as per a CODIF explanation, “come from a group of cells, which produce pigments as an answer to a repeated skin stress. The p53 protein is, since decades, defined as THE protein marker of stress. Its expression is enhanced in case of an intense cell stress. However, as the p53 protein role is essential to the cell survival, it is inconceivable to modify its expression. Nevertheless, it has been recently demonstrated that p53 directly controls the expression of a protein called POMC (for pro-opio-melanocortin complex), involved in the melanogenesis activation.”
It occurs that Pancratium maritimum extracts emphasize the inhibition of the POMC expression; this allows for the inhibition of the activation, and stops the over-production of melanin, the source of the brown spots. It is the more efficient that it works also on the nervous transmissions through which melanocytes communicate with the keratinocytes to transfer the synthesized melanin to them. Thus, it diminishes the quantity of melanin exported up to the surface of the brown spots.
For its part, Melvita looks at the expression of the genes implied in melanogenesis. Its patent is based on the identification of plant active ingredients that stimulate the expression of two micro-RNAs.
“Micro-RNAs are small ribonucleic acids, recently identified as key elements of the regulation of the expression of genes,” as explained by the organic products' manufacturer. “Their embedding on an RNA blocks the gene in command of melanogenesis. This prevents the production of the relevant protein, and makes it as if non-functional.”
Thus, lily is active prior the spot production, to prevent them to appear and to limit their expansion. As the skin is constantly renewed, this implies, as time goes on, a diminishing surface and color intensity of the existing spots.
Lily and its metrics
What can one wait from lily?
Phytomer, for its Neurolight.61G (rated at 1.5%; two applications a day) has released the results of a clinical study on 15 volunteers who had brown spot on their hands.
• After 42 days: an 18.9% decrease on average, and up to 634 % of the surface of the brown spots.
• After 84 days: a 24.8% decrease on average, and up to 61.1% of the surface of the brown spots.
• After 84 days, whitening of the brown spots by 121 % on average, and up to 61.5%.
• After 84 days, the difference of color brown spot/skin is down by 11.6% on average, and up to 53%.
Melvita presents the results of a scoring test on 27 women, following a care + serum treatment.
• Immediately: reduction of the brown spots size by 11.8%.
• After 28 days: reduction of the brown spots size by 46.4%.
• Immediately: reduction of the brown spots intensity by 20.6%.
• After 28 days: reduction of the brown spots intensity by 46.6%.
Algotherm, for its part, claims a reduction of the melanin production of up to 41%, thanks to its AlgoBlanc complex.
These results are impressive, and can be seen by a naked-eye, but they go the other way as soon as the treatments are stopped: the melanogenesis process, no longer hindered, goes back to its original level.
Time, and use by female consumers in real conditions, will (or won’t?) confirm these encouraging figures.
However, the trend is there: it seems that this beautiful white lily, which, further, is well tolerated by skins, and without any undesirable effect known, up-to-now (unlike many whitening active ingredients), has a promising and radiant future.