Data for anti-aging skincare lags behind consumer interest

December 1, 2007

The antiaging skincare market continues to grow with topical and oral products containing novel ingredients being rapidly introduced. However, scientific evidence to demonstrate effects of these agents on the skin is often lacking.

Key Points

"There is a lot of research ongoing to determine underlying genetic causes of intrinsic aging in order to identify new targets for prevention and treatment, but only extrinsic aging changes can be modulated by existing anti-aging products.

"Companies in the skincare industry are staying up-to-date with research from other specialties and introducing anti-aging products with novel ingredients. Consumers are very aware of their marketing hype, but it is important to know that these products are being introduced without evidence of their benefits for affecting the skin," Dr. Baumann says .

"I often would start retinol treatment in patients with sensitive skin to acclimate them before switching to a prescription retinoid. The anti-aging skin effects of the retinoids are greater and occur faster than what can be achieved with retinol, but I know now that it may not be necessary to change the treatment," Dr. Baumann tells Dermatology Times.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants affect extrinsic skin aging by neutralizing the free radicals that promote degradation of collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin, and they are found in topical cosmeceuticals, oral supplements and a growing number of drink products and drink additives.

Although there is not enough information available to rank any individual antioxidant as superior to others, Dr. Baumann says that a combination approach, including both oral and topical products containing different antioxidants, is probably the best way for consumers to derive benefits.

She notes that among the commonly used antioxidants, the most efficacy data is probably available for green tea. However, in selecting topical products, consumers should pay attention to the level of polyphenols rather than to the green tea content itself.

"High concentrations of polyphenols impart a brown color to a product, and to avoid that change, many topical products are not formulated with enough polyphenols to be effective antioxidants.

"Patients should be advised to look for brands that contain at least 50 percent polyphenols and be told that the brown color is not a sign the product has degraded, it is actually a sign that the product has an adequate amount of polyphenols," Dr. Baumann says.

Newer antioxidants found in topical products include coffeeberry, which also contains polyphenols and has very high antioxidant activity. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is found more widely in both topical formulations and oral supplements, although it has limited oral absorption. At the University of Miami, research has shown that in very high concentrations, exceeding those found in cosmeceutical products, CoQ10 can cause the disappearance of advanced melanomas. In addition, there is interesting literature on the benefits of oral ingestion of CoQ10 for gum and heart disease, as well as for preventing statin drug-induced myopathy, Dr. Baumann says.

"More and more products are emerging containing antioxidants, and dermatologists should expect more patients to be asking about their effects. CoQ10 and other oral antioxidants probably play a role in the anti-aging armamentarium for skin, but a study to prove their efficacy would need to follow identical twins with the same environmental exposures long term, and that is unrealistic.

"However, knowing that antioxidants defuse the activity of free radicals that lead to aging, and recognizing antioxidants are unlikely to do any harm, I am of the belief, 'Why not?' - and more is probably better," Dr. Baumann says.