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The Amazing Blueberry

February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Blueberries have made it into the consumer media and even popular advertising campaigns as a healthful fruit to eat. They are filled with antioxidants and are colorful, round and delicious. The V. myrtillus L. fruit, known as the bilberry, or blueberry, has powerful protective properties that have been known—and utilized—since the Middle Ages, and it has been described in literature since the beginning of the 20th century. Today, blueberries are claimed to be “the most powerful antioxidants of all.”1

However, there still is limited awareness of the potential benefits of blueberries to the skin. Several compounds—in particular, polyphenols, including anthocyanins and resveratrol, and iron chelators, such as quercetin and myricetin—have been isolated from the berries and leaves of the V. myrtillus L. plant and identified as beneficial to the skin. Blueberries exert various therapeutic effects, which essentially can be broken down into three categories: vaso-protective activity, or the protection of cutaneous capillaries; antioxidant activity; and iron-chelating activity for additional antioxidant and anti-aging effects.

Vaso-protective activity

Flushing, rosacea and facial redness are a result of the dilation of fine capillaries located just beneath the epidermis. Although there is no cure for rosacea, there are a number of preventive measures that enable better control of the symptoms and minimize facial redness. Any product that promotes the health of capillaries, delaying their dilation and eventual collapse, can contribute to the management of these symptoms.

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Positive Effects on the Skin

Activity

Molecule Effects

Action on the skin

Vaso-protective

Anthocyanins

  • Protect fine capillaries
  • Minimize facial redness

Antioxidant

Anthocyanins

  • Scavenge free radicals
  • Prevent premature skin aging
  • Inhibit lipid peroxidation
  • Rehydrate, increase suppleness
  • Prevent the production of elastase

Iron-chelating

Quercetin, Myricetin

  • Neutralize free iron
  • Prevent premature skin aging

Negative Effects on the Skin

Cellular
component

Damage caused by free radicals

Effect on the skin

Collagen

Degradation of collagen

Loss of suppleness and dehydration

Lipids

Lipid peroxidation

Citrin (yellowish) coloration

Mitochondria

Loss of capacity to produce energy

Lack of tonicity

DNA

Alteration of DNA

Premature skin aging and skin cancer

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