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Inflammaging: Changing the Face of Skin Care

Noureddine Mriouah January 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
Inflammaging: Changing the Face of Skin Care

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The skin care industry is fast approaching a watershed moment in the treatment of aging skin. Increasingly, scientific evidence suggests that many of today’s trademark treatments may actually exacerbate the conditions they’re designed to treat in the long term, thanks to a phenomenon known as inflammaging. This previously unknown consequence poses a challenge to product developers who must adapt their formulations to meet shifting consumer demands or risk losing their shares of the market. As the concept of inflammaging goes mainstream, it may result in a widespread change in the professional skin care industry, transforming everything from the ingredients that professionals use to the methods by which they use them. (See Tips to Address Inflammaging in the Treatment Room.)

Understanding inflammaging

First coined by University of Bologna professor Claudio Franceschi, PhD, more than a decade ago, inflammaging began as a theory linking underlying inflammatory changes to the causes of most age-associated diseases. Since its inception, research continues to present convincing evidence taking this concept from theory to fact.1–3

The term “inflammaging” is used to describe the aging phenomenon induced by chronic, persistent inflammation. Most people are familiar with the visible inflammation that can be seen on the surface of the skin, with redness representing a sign of infection, irritation or discomfort. However, inflammation can also be invisible. All skin—and certainly weakened or aged skin—is subject to inflammation, even at low intensities. It is this underlying inflammation that ultimately exhausts the body’s defense system, dismantling key youth-sustaining skin structures, and resulting in collagen and elastin degradation, as well as a breakdown of the skin’s barrier function.

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Tips to Address Inflammaging in the Treatment Room

Choose your acids wisely. Avoid acids of small molecular size, such as glycolic acid, that can penetrate the dermis. Instead, choose acids of larger molecular size that work in the epidermal layer, such as lactic, malic, pyruvic and tartaric acids.

Support the skin’s barrier function. After exfoliation, reinforce the barrier function by protecting the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) to guard against transepidermal water loss (TEWL). This can be achieved through the use of certain ingredients, including ceramides, squalane, fatty acids, phospholipids, amino acids, lactates and pyroglutamic acid (PCA).

Use anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients. Soothe and replenish the skin with ingredients that counteract irritation and inflammation. And, since oxidation is an age-accelerating side effect of inflammaging, make sure you pack the skin with protective antioxidants. See Popular Ingredients to Combat Inflammaging for a list of recommended ingredients.

Protect your results. Inflammaging can worsen with prolonged sun exposure, so be sure to end every treatment with a sunscreen application of SPF 30 or higher.

Popular Ingredients to Combat Inflammaging

  • Aloe vera
  • Allantoin
  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • L-ascorbic acid
  • Beta glucans
  • L-bisabolol
  • Blue agave
  • Boswellic acid
  • Catalase
  • Copper peptides
  • L-glutathione
  • Green tea
  • Magnolia bark extract
  • Omega-3 and -6
  • Resveratrol
  • Spin trap
  • Superoxide dismutase
  • Tamanu oil
  • Tocopherols

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