- Peptides: More than Transmitters and Hormones
- Preservatives in Skin Care
- Faux Corneotherapy: Buyer Beware
It was during research for my cosmetic chemistry book that I came across this article written by a Dr Hans Lautenschlger. It wasn't only this article that caught my attention but here was someone who had a similar mindset to myself about cosmetic formulations, I will be running a series of Dr Hans research and I believe that those of you I have trained in the Pastiche Method will be as excited as I am. Take the time to follow the links at the completion of this article.
My personal thanks to Dr Hans Lautenschlger of KOKO Kosmetikvertrieb GmbH & Co.KG for allowing me to print this article.
Peptides play a major role in the development of anti aging cosmetics. They occur naturally and are quite often found as messenger proteins and hormones. Also their degradation products, i.e. the amino acids are key players in the field of cosmetic skin care.Not only peptides but also their degradation products, the amino acids, play an important part. There are oligopeptides and polypeptides. Oligopeptides consist of a few and polypeptides of a multitude of different amino acid units linked together with an amide bond.
|Natural polypeptides with a molecular mass of more than 10,000 are also called proteins. They are classified into extracellular fibrous proteins of the connective tissue which are also called scleroproteins and globular proteins (spheroproteins).
The group of scleroproteins e.g. comprises the different collagens, elastin as well as the keratin found in hair, nails and horny layer. Silk proteins also belong to the group of scleroproteins.
Globular proteins are, among others, enzymes, albumin and hemoglobin.
For a long time proteins have been used as effective skin care substances especially in collagen and elastin products.
As skin care components, however, these substances are not able to perform their natural functions as due to their size and due to a lacking transport medium they are not able to find their way to the areas where they naturally occur.
On the skin surface, however, they generate a slightly tightening effect as the amide bonds link with the keratin of the stratum corneum by means of hydrogen bonds. Additionally, proteins most effectively retain water similar to amino acids and hyaluronic acid.
All purpose use
In technical respect, proteins like e.g. collagen serve as base substances for protein hydrolysates which, depending on the respective manufacturing process, contain protein fragments, i.e. oligopeptides or amino acid mixtures. Since the time when discussions about BSE and base substances gained from dead animals have been the focus of attention, protein hydrolysates have been extracted from vegetable sources as e.g. wheat proteins.
From the protein hydrolysates, condensates with fatty acids are produced which also contain amide bonds and which offer excellent skin care features like skin tightening and moisture-retaining effects due to the fatty acid residues and the lipophilic properties connected herewith.
Following the example of Mother Nature
Furthermore, there is a multitude of natural products with a long tradition in skin care whose effects depend on their protein content. In this context, mare's milk, colostrum, the first breast milk and specifically rich in proteins and antibodies, curd cheese and other milk products should be mentioned. Also thymus peptides which are supposed to improve the immune defense system on the one hand side and stop the skin aging process on the other hand, still retained their relevance. They are still on the market as components of high quality creams for the mature and atrophic skin.
Peptides originating from thymus, epiphysis, cartilage, liver, prostate gland, heart and brain tissue still are the object of intensive research.
The Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology in St. Petersburg (Professor Dr. Khavinson) has published a variety of different studies in this connection. These peptides have been synthetically copied and tested with regard to their use in cosmetic creams. Specifically reported in this context are their anti-oxidative effects, the increased skin hydration and an augmented oxygen adsorption in the surface skin layers.
Also very well known for some time has been glutathione, a tripeptide which contributes to the redox processes in the skin and is used in skin care as a radical scavenger. Also dimeric synthetic peptides (cysteine glycine)2 belong to this specific type.
|Hormone like peptides. Cytokines and growth factors like fibroblast growth factor (FGF), signal molecules which control a variety of different biological processes. They usually are produced in a biotechnological process with the help of gene manipulated bacteria and then liposomally encapsulated.
Unspecific oligopeptides. Soybean oligopeptides and oligopeptides resulting from hydrolyzed milk proteins are effective on the skin surface. During the partial degradation process free amino acids are formed which support the natural NMF.
Polypeptides. Poly-γ-glutaminic acid is an example for this substance class which has moisturizing effects.
Aquaporins are proteins which enable the penetration of water through the cell membranes.
About the Author
2009 Virtual Beauty Corp
We are hearing more and more about the potential dangers of preservatives in cosmetic and skin care products of late, and there are thousands of documents in circulation in print and on the web that confuse the issue by providing such a variety of conflicting ideas and data that people simply do not know who and what to believe.
The question of real substance in these dangers or just the application of creative marketing by manufactures of natural products needs to be explored for us to make an informed decision.
Let's start by putting this whole preservative thing in perspective.
Preservatives are not only in our skin care, Cosmeceuticals, make-up and toiletries, but also in our food.
Common preservatives in our skin and hair products include parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol, tetrasodium EDTA (ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid) and formaldehyde.
Typical preservatives in our food are calcium propionate, Methyl and propyl parabens, disodium EDTA, BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene).
These preservatives are included in products to render them safer to use or consume by preventing and controlling microbial growth, thus increasing shelf life before and after end-user purchase. We are exposed to preservatives on a wider scale than we would like to think.
The reality is that many skin acre products (including many with animal and plant extracts) could have a more detrimental effect without the preservatives than with them.
It is estimated more than 90% of all personal care and cosmetic products contain one or more of the paraben family of preservatives, and with the time it takes for products to ship from overseas manufacturers via storage at your wholesaler/distributor to your shelves and finally your customers, months may have elapsed before the product is finally used.
With airtight packaging and controlled storage this is not as bigger problem as it used to be, however once opened, without some form of preservative, damage to the product from air, light and the growth of micro-organisms (eg, bacteria and fungi) can occur.
This could have a far worse effect on the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes than the presence of a preservative would. In a worst-case scenario, the product will start to go off and may even start growing potentially pathogenic organisms.
When talking preservatives, there are always questions about how much is actually in the product, and it is not uncommon to find poorly formulated, mass produced (read cheap) products with higher concentrations (up to the maximum permissible levels) than more modern, intelligent formulations.
The higher concentrations of preservatives in some products may well be responsible for the allergic reactions and other unsatisfactory client experiences, in fact it is reported that preservatives are the second highest cause of skin irritation in formulations. (Fragrance is the highest)
Products that contain animal by-products such as hydrolysed collagen will also logically require a good dollop of preservatives to keep the microbes under control.
One of the most potentially detrimental combinations is the use of high levels of preservatives in a formulation with penetration enhancers. The skins barrier
defence systems are there to provide a chemical barrier, so when used in purely cosmetic formulations (foundation and colouring agents) there is little chance of the preservative getting any further than the epidermis. In corrective skin care products this could be a different matter, and the preservatives could cause skin irritation due to them reaching greater depths. As previously mentioned this is not so much of a problem with intelligent formulations that require fewer preservatives.
Preservatives get bad press
In addition to claims that preservatives are responsible for causing allergies in susceptible people, (including dermatitis and other side effects) the bulk of concerns revolve around safety and toxicity.
Most of the negative press preservatives get refers to two common types of preservatives; Parabens (butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben) and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (2-bromo-2-nitropane 1-3 diol, DMDM hydantoin).
The attention parabens have received is related to very limited studies that distantly links them to breast cancer due to their weak estrogenic activity and their presence in breast-cancer tumours.
A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2002 evaluated the estrogenic activity of parabens in human breast-cancer cells, with the very technical findings of the study showing evidence of a weak estrogenic effect on cells in a way that could be problematic for binding to receptor sites that may cause proliferation of MCF-7 breast-cancer cells.
In this study, the parabens were administered to laboratory rats by both oral administration and hypodermic injection into the rats skin. (A far cry from topical application in the minuscule concentrations of cosmetics!)
Another widely quoted UK study that researched the use of paraben preserved deodorants identified parabens in breast-tumour samples supplied by 20 human patients, however there was no conclusive proof that the tumours were caused by the parabens, or even that the parabens were absorbed via topical application or via food intake!
It is important to understand that parabens are not the only substances that have estrogenic effects on the body. There are many chemical and herbal substances that facilitate estrogen-antagonistic activity, with botanical medicines such as phytosterols a typical example.
Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are less used in modern formulations, but still have an indistinct spectre of carcinogenic effects attached to them. This concern started back in the early 90s, when it was discovered that when formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (such as 2-bromo-2-nitropane 1-3 diol or DMDM hydantoin) are combined with amines (such as triethanolamine), a compound known as nitrosamine forms. It has been known since 1956 that nitrosamine (in its various forms) is a carcinogenic, however because the amount of preservatives used in cosmetics is so small, the problem was viewed as inconsequential for cosmetics users and no subsequent study has shown it to cause problems for people using personal and skin care products containing these formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
As with the parabens studies, the research relating to carcinogenic properties of nitrosamine was undertaken by feeding it orally to laboratory rats in a different concentration than would be absorbed by the skin.
Preservative free & natural preservatives?
We know that any cosmetic or personal care product that is truly preservative free will usually have a short shelf and usage life. Even products that make claims (although exaggerated) about their natural content often utilise parabens as a preservative. They justify this because some parabens are classified as food-grade substances.
(A truly creative way of twisting the facts!)
With regard to natural preservatives, it is interesting to note that parabens actually do have a natural origin. Parabens are formed from an acid (p-hydroxy-benzoic acid) found in both raspberries and blackberries.
There are actually a number of natural organic substances with varying ability to inhibit microbiological growth in cosmetic formulations, and these are used in addition to, or replacing traditional preservatives to help satisfy a more green thinking consumer market.
The most obvious are essential oils, with Neem Oil, Vitamin E (d-alpha Tocopherol, Honey, Rosemary Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extract, caprylol glycin (a plant derived lipo-amino acid) and Sodium Hydroxymethylgycinate (organic preservative plant derived from the amino acid glycine) also used.
Despite some opinions that preservatives are toxins and the allegations of parabens being the cause of breast cancer and liver problems, we must be rational with the way that some of this adverse data is interpreted. It is so easy to take findings from an experiment or study and twist the facts to support a belief or agenda. Again, let us put the facts in to perspective.
In a majority of studies in to detrimental effects of chemical compounds, the dosage of the chemical is far higher than average exposure. Ingestion and injection methods are used to deliver the chemicals to the test subject. These methods deliver dosages hundreds if not thousands of times higher than would be normally experienced.
To date, there is no comprehensive research regarding the long-term effects of low-dose paraben use, and no one has yet evaluated whether it is the consumption of parabens or their application to the skin that is responsible for their presence in human tissue. There is also insufficient data to testify exactly what the presence of parabens in human tissue means.
With this knowledge, most of these toxic claims could be reasonably considered not applicable to cosmetics, as preservatives found in skin care are only used topically and not systemically. The concentrations of preservatives in formulations that have penetration enhancers still deliver far less chemicals to the body than ingestion, and to date there is no conclusive study to indicate these compounds reach the bloodstream.
What all the researchers who are studying the issue of toxic effects of preservatives agree on is that the information gathered to date is hardly conclusive and at best ambiguous. We must keep an open mind and in the absence of conclusive proof, do what we can to choose formulations that have more effect than side effect.
In Europe, the home of beauty and skin care products, European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (COLIPA) assert that parabens are hydrolyzed in the skin and that they do not enter the bloodstream.
Parabens are also not officially identified or listed as an endocrine disrupting chemical by any government or regulatory organisation in the US, Europe or Japan.
However with such interest and divided opinion regarding parabens, Americas FDA is conducting its own research to determine what this all means for human health.
We will wait for this report with baited breath!
About the Author
Ralph Hill is technology writer, illustrator and editor for Virtual Beauty Corporation. He has a background in science, electronics and electro-mechanical devices, but enjoys researching and writing on a myriad of skin care related topics including cosmetic chemistry and anatomy & physiology.
The late Dr Albert Kligman; the "father" of Corneotherapy would probably shake his head in disbelief if he were around today to see how his beloved Corneotherapy has been misrepresented by unscrupulous marketers of skin care products who freely use the term he conceived without following its core principles and ideology.
As predicted by Corneotherapy advocate and organic chemist, Dr Hans Lautenschläger in 2014; " the use of the idiom Corneotherapy has now been exploited for sales promotions in order to offer conventional approaches with more progressive and exciting labels", there are increasing numbers of manufactures and marketers who are looking to the reputation of Corneotherapy as a road to profit, without actually creating true Corneotherapy products.
As Dr Lautenschläger points out," Developments of this kind are unfortunate since they show that the main objective is to deceive consumers and misuse milestones of technology and scientific findings for commercial gain"
It is not uncommon for marketers of skin care and cosmetic products to "blur the lines" when specifying features and benefits to promote their offerings.
This is usually facilitated by inventing specifications or marketing terms in order to impress both resellers and consumers or hide shortcomings.
Domestic retail products from the major cosmetics manufacturers are the biggest offenders; with a growing number of the "untruths" being challenged in court, with subsequent retractions of the marketing claims the appropriate outcome.
It is a different story entirely however, when manufacturers and marketers simply ignore established prerequisites and qualifications required to be identified or labelled as a particular class or category of product in order to sell their merchandise.
So what are the core principles of what constitutes a Corneotherapy formulation?
The first thing that must be understood is that it is primarily dermatological in character rather than cosmetic.
It was established during Dr Kligman's work that a major prerequisite for Corneotherapy is that it protects as it supportively aids regeneration, and any formulation should possess properties that follow a dermatological criteria.
Any components in such a Corneotherapeutic skin care product should not affect skin regeneration or cause skin reactions, and so avoidance of many ingredients commonly found in cosmetic products is paramount for a Corneotherapy formulation.
• Perfumes - the number one allergen in skin care products
• Preservatives - the second most common allergen
• Mineral oil and non-volatile silicones - high concentrations are known to affect skin regeneration
• Emulsifiers - known to cause barrier disorders in many situations
We also know that Corneotherapeutic components should exhibit a physical structure that is skin-identical or skin-like physiologically and integrate easily into the natural skin balance.
This would immediately exclude many artificial components that have little affinity to the chemistry of the skin. Many artificial emollients and processing aids fall in to this category.
So why do these marketers think they can get away with ingredients such as Cyclomethicone, dimethicone , dimethiconol, phenyl trimethicone and the range of PEG's in a Corneotherapy product?
None of these ingredients fill the criteria of being physiologically similar to the human skin, however are used throughout the skin care industry in non-Corneotherapy products. Why?
Because they are hydrophobic, feel pleasant on the skin and have re-fattening properties. While the sensation of these ingredients on the skin is generally good, there is no endogenic regeneration occurring, and the skin cannot metabolize them.
Despite their popularity and acceptance is mainstream commercial (read high-profit) skin care, these ingredients, no matter how the marketers justify their inclusion in a formulation; are not part of true Corneotherapy.
So what other "popular" ingredients are being included in these faux Corneotherapy products?
Peptide complexes are perhaps some of the worst offenders, as these ingredients contain active agent cocktails that can be largely counterproductive in compromised skins, while also containing artificial preservatives.
Emollients and emulsifiers such as polyethylene glycols (PEG) and their derivatives are also non-Corneotherapy ingredients. They are used as emulsifiers or consistency agents, but need to be stabilized with antioxidants, making the formulation more complex than it really needs to be.
Mineral oil is another non-Corneotherapy ingredient that unbelievably considered acceptable by some formulators.
There is only one reason it is there: cost. There are other vegetable based hydrocarbons that have a greater affinity to the skin, can be metabolized and would do a better job on a long term basis.
A case in point is a product recently submitted by a concerned I.A.C. members client that is clearly marketed as a Corneotherapy product specifically for restoring barrier function on rough, porous skins.
All of the marketing that surrounds the range reads well; the basic principles of Corneotherapy are expounded, to the point where the buyer would certainly believe it is a true Corneotherapy range; Until you read the formulation.
Cyclomethicone (evaporate silicone), dimethicone (breathable silicone), ethylhexyl cocoate (emollient), dimethiconol (breathable silicone), phenyl trimethicone (breathable silicone), ceramide 3 (barrier agent), sphingolipids (barrier agent), jojoba oil (emollient), kukui nut oil (barrier oil), hazelnut oil (barrier oil), borage oil (barrier oil), evening primrose oil (barrier oil), rose hip seed oil (barrier oil), camellia sinensis oil (soothing), olive oil (lubricant), cherry pit oil (lubricant), sweet almond oil (lubricant), tocopheryl linoleate (moisturizing vitamin E), retinyl palmitate (vitamin A ester), cholecalciferol (vitamin D), ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C ester), PEG-8 (emulsifier), dioctyl succinate (emollient), octyldodecanol (emollient), tocopherol (vitamin E), tridecylstearate (emollient), neopentyl glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate (emollient), tridecyl trimelliate (emollient), lithospermum extract (red seaweed), bois de rose oil (essential oil), lavender oil (essential oil), geranium oil (essential oil), rose geranium extract (plantextract), rose geranium oil (essential oil), amyris oil (essentialoil), petitgrain oil (essential oil), vanilla oil (essentialoil), clove oil (essential oil),orange oil (essential oil), benzoinsiam absolute (natural fragranceconcentrate), lemon oil (essential oil), ylang ylang oil (essential oil), eucalyptus oil (essential oil), rosemary oil (essential oil), cedar oil (essential oil), ascorbic acid (antioxidant), citric acid (preservative),
Judge for yourself. Do you consider this to be an authentic Corneotherapeutic product?
For more information about Corneotherapy visit www.corneotherapy.org
The International Association for Applied Corneotherapy (I.A.C.) is a European based registered, non-profit association with purposes and objectives dedicated to the advancement of scientific research in the realm of Corneotherapy and related sciences such as dermatology, cosmetology, and corneobiology. Membership is global.