Aging and the Skin
Aging takes a toll on the body and is often especially noticeable on the face. With time, the production of collagen (the substance that gives skin a firm texture) decreases. The quality of elastin (the substance that enables skin to spring back into place) decreases and the pull of gravity causes a little more sagging. Dead skin cells don’t shed as quickly and new skin cells are replaced more slowly. These factors cause the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
While the process of skin aging may start in a person’s 20s, the signs may not be visible until sometime in the 40s. One of the greatest contributing factors to premature skin aging is excessive exposure to the sun (or tanning beds). The UV rays speed the breakdown of collagen and elastin and can cause the development of spider veins, age spots and dry, leathery skin. Smoking also hastens skin aging. In addition, certain muscle movements (like smiling or frowning) can cause wrinkles to form on certain areas of the face (like around the corners of the lips or on the forehead). Another cause of wrinkles is sleep lines, which form on the side of the face normally placed against the pillow.
The Food and Drug Administration defines cosmetics as “articles intended to be rubbed, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body… for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.” Women (and men) have used cosmetics throughout history. The first commercial venture in cosmetics production was the California Perfume Company, started in 1886, with products sold under the name of Avon. Max Factor began selling cosmetics at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Revlon® was founded in 1932. The first sunscreen was developed in 1936.
Over the early part of the 1900s, the number of available of cosmetic products being sold increased greatly. The FDA became concerned about ingredient safety and established the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel to provide an unbiased review and safety assessment of the ingredients used in cosmetics. Between 1976 and 2008, the panel completed assessments of 1468 ingredients. Of those, only nine were found to be unsafe.
Developing Anti-Aging Cosmetics for the Face
Skin care products contain a number of different ingredients. The benefit ingredient in a product is one which produces the desired results. Some common “benefit” ingredients in anti-aging skin care products include: alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, botanicals (containing anti-oxidants, like vitamin C and E) and sunscreen.
Making a new skin care product follows a scientific process. Barbara Green, VP of Clinical Affairs for NeoStrata® in Princeton, NJ, says when a new product is first being planned, researchers must first determine how it will be used and for what purpose. For an anti-aging cream, for example, scientists may pick out an appropriate known benefit ingredient, or use a new ingredient that shows promise in lab testing. Then, that ingredient is mixed with some type of carrier (like an oil, gel or cream) to get the product onto the skin. Other products, like water, colors or fragrances are often also added.
Ronni Weinkauf, Ph.D., VP of Research and Development at NeoStrata, says it can take three months or more to develop a product. Then, the product is tested on a group of humans. The scientists will monitor the participants’ responses and look for unwanted effects (like irritation, unpleasant smell or undesirable consistency). Sometimes small skin biopsies may be done to ensure the product is having the intended effect on the skin. The investigators will also make sure the product formulation remains stable (i.e., doesn’t break down after a reasonable amount of time). Total time for development can be nine to 12 months.
For information on NeoStrata® products, go to the company’s website at http://www.neostrata.com
For information on skin care or cosmetic ingredients:
American Academy of Dermatology, http://www.aad.org, or http://www.skincarephysicians.com
Cosmetic Ingredient Review, http://www.cir-safety.org
Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics
The Personal Care Products Council, http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org
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