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Glycation and the Skin

By: Kris Campbell
Posted: October 31, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Common symptoms of skin with glycation issues include premature aging, such as wrinkling and sagging; weakened elastin and collagen; and a reduced ability for skin to quickly rehabilitate.

Fighting glycation with skin care ingredients

How can skin care professionals fight the glycation process from damaging clients’ skin? Although clients are responsible for what types of foods they put into their bodies, skin care professionals can discreetly mention what is happening to their skin and why, and hope they make the right diet choices for themselves. Skin care professionals can also apply products with certain ingredients that help fight glycation damage. (Editor’s note: Clients must consult with their physicians before starting any supplement program.) Internal supplements that are known to fight glycation include carnosine, carnitine, pyridoxamine (a derivative of vitamin B-6), thiamine (vitamin B-1), alpha lipoic acid and benfotiamine. These internal supplements are becoming more common for external use as glycation-fighters in skin care products. Other interesting ingredients to look for include Paeonia albiflora extract (peony flower), Albizia julibrissin extract (Persian silk tree), niacinamide, blueberries and pomegranate.

When dealing with glycated skin conditions, it is essential to remember that the skin needs products that have anti-inflammatory ingredients and that will hydrate the compromised cellular structure of the dermis. Ingredients that are known to help inflamed skin include: tocopherol, Salix alba (white willow), glycyrrhetinic acid (licorice root), Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut), Olea europaea (olive), green tea and oat beta glucan.

Some ingredients that help hydrate the skin include hyaluronic acid, bilberry oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera and honey. Although every clients should be encouraged to use a SPF, those with glycated skin must wear a SPF daily. Daily use of an SPF product is essential to protecting the compromised skin of a client dealing with glycation issues, because the AGEs present make the skin more photosensitive.

In the treatment room

Professional treatments need to be adjusted to accommodate the fragile condition of glycated skin, and to provide effective transformation of the skin without causing inflammation or outbreaks. The phrase “do no harm” comes into play, because clients who have high amounts of AGEs in the body and may also be dealing with other health challenges are more at risk to have a reaction to a product, machine or treatment.