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Active Complex Anti-Aging Eye Cream Shows Promise


A recent study found that subjects reported an improvement in elasticity and firmness, with decreased fine lines and wrinkles after 8 and 12 weeks of use.

Woman using eye cream | Image Credit: © Angelina - stock.adobe.com

Image Credit: © Angelina - stock.adobe.com

As the extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a pivotal role in periorbital skin aging, cosmetic ingredients with the capability to rejuvenate the ECM present a rational approach in the formulation of effective anti-aging eye creams.1 A recent study found a novel eye cream formulated with the active complex (yeast/rice fermentation filtrate, N-acetylneuraminic acid, palmityl tripeptide-1, and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7) effectively addressed aging concerns in the periorbital area such as wrinkles, lowered elasticity, and lowered hydration.2


The study utilized human skin fibroblast (HSF) cells that were cultivated until they reached exponential growth phase, then incubated with fetal bovine serum. After being left overnight, the medium was replaced with serum-free samples containing RFF, peptides (palmitoyl tripeptide-1 and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7), and AA complex. After24 hours of incubation, researchers stated CCK-8 solution (Beyotime Biotechnology Co.) was added to assess cell viability by measuring absorbance at 450 nm after a 2-hour incubation period.

Anti-aging Evaluation

The study wrote that HSF cells in the exponential growth phase were cultivated in fetal bovine serum for 24 hours. Active complex(containing 0.25% RFF, peptides (0.0002% palmitoyl tripeptide-1 and 0.0001% palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7), 0.1% AA) was applied and the medium was incubated for another 24 hours. The total cellular RNA was then extracted, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to measure the mRNA expressions of collagen type I (Col I A1), collagen type III (Col III A1), collagen type IV (Col IV A1), elastin, and fibronectin.

Collagen and Elastin Synthesis Evaluation

HDF cells were cultured on glass coverslips overnight before being treated with the active complex for 24 hours. After treatment, researchers wrote that the cells were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde, washed with PBS, and incubated overnight with specific antibodies against human Col I A1, Col III A1, and elastin. After further washing with PBS, the study stated the coverslips were incubated with fluorescently labeled secondary antibodies at room temperature. Following additional PBS washes, they were then mounted on microscope slides with DAPI and sealed. Fluorescent staining was observed using an Olympus fluorescent microscope, and Image J software was used to quantify fluorescence intensity.

Clinical Trial Parameters

Researchers stated that 37 women, aged 20 to 55 years old, were recruited for this clinical trial. During the study, they were instructed to apply the eye cream to one side of the periorbital area twice daily (designated the treatment side, with the other side serving as control), both in the morning and evening, constantly for 12 weeks. Several biophysical techniques were used to assess the clinical skin parameters.

The study also had dermatologists perform a comprehensive visual and sensory assessment, focusing on the periocular condition of each subject. Evaluations were conducted at 4, 8, and 12 weeks, with indicators such as outer eyelid drooping, under-eye wrinkles, crow’s feet, periocular elasticity, firmness, and fullness. Participants also completed self-assessment questionnaires regarding the effectiveness and safety of the eye cream at baseline, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks.

Laboratory Results

Researchers found that all samples involved in the cell viability trial exceeded 90%, indicating to them there was no toxicity to human fibroblasts. Furthermore, they reported that the active complex containing RFF, peptides, and AA could “significantly” promote fibroblast proliferation compared to the untreated control.

After 24 hours of treatment, researchers reported that mRNA levels of Col I A1, Col III A1, and Col IV A1 increased by 1.8, 2.5, and 2.8 times, respectively. They wrote that elastin mRNA expression in treated human fibroblasts increased approximately fivefold compared to untreated controls. Additionally, fibronectin mRNA expression, crucial for ECM structural integrity, increased by 1.6 times with active complex treatment.

Researchers found that the treatment “significantly” increased Col I and Col III expression in HDFs, shown by enhanced red fluorescence compared to the control. They noted that elastin expression also improved after treatment with the complex, and quantitative analysis confirmed an enhancement in Col I, Col III, and elastin expression.

Clinical Results

During the clinical trial, the study found that applying the cream for 2 weeks resulted in a 5.8% increase in skin hydration on the treated side compared to the control side. Researchers also wrote that hydration further increased by 14.1%, 20.9%, and 28.1% after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of using the eye cream, respectively. Researchers also found a 7.3% increase in collagen density on the treated side compared to the control side after just 2 weeks. The study wrote that extended use of the cream for 4, 8, and 12 weeks resulted in additional collagen density increases of 17.5%, 20.0%, and 55.0%, respectively. Finally, the study found a “significant” improvement in skin elasticity after 4 weeks of use. Researchers wrote that the eye cream effectively promoted collagen production and reduced fine lines and wrinkles in the periorbital region after 12 weeks of use.

Through the clinical assessments, the study found an improvement in aging indicators, such as outer eyelid drooping, under-eye wrinkles, crow’s feet, periorbital elasticity, firmness, and fullness, after 8 weeks of use compared to the control side. Researchers noted that as the duration of eye cream usage increased to 12 weeks, the results became more pronounced. Dermatologists evaluating participants throughout the study reported no adverse events.

After 4 weeks of use, most subjects in the study reported improvements in skin glossiness, moisture content, brightness, and roughness. They also expressed “high satisfaction” with the cream’s effectiveness in improving elasticity and firmness, with decreased fine lines and wrinkles after 8 and 12 weeks of use. Not only did all participants report mildness and comfort when using the cream, but those with sensitive skin noted a reduction in burning, itching, stinging, pruritus, and tightness.


The study concluded that the eye cream demonstrated “exceptional” rejuvenation of the periorbital skin by enhancing ECM components. Researchers wrote that in vitro studies indicated promotion of the synthesis of collagen, elastin, and fibronectin, while the clinical results showed improvement in hydration, reduction of wrinkles, and increased skin elasticity. They suggested that further studies should incorporate a double-blind, placebo-controlled design for further verification.


  1. Pilkington SJ, Belden S, Miller RA. The tricky tear trough: A review of topical cosmeceuticals for periorbital skin rejuvenation. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015;8(9):39-47.
  2. Yang F, Zhang X, Wang H, et al. Comprehensive evaluation of the efficacy and safety of a new multi-component anti-aging topical eye cream. Skin Res Technol. 2024; 30:e13790. https://doi.org/10.1111/srt.13790
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