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Understanding Inflammation: The Root Cause of Skin Aging

By: Rhonda Allison
Posted: April 1, 2014, from the April 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Understanding Inflammation: The Root Cause of Skin Aging

Centella asiatica

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There are a number of stimuli that induce inflammation including burns; overexposure to UV rays; stress; toxins, such as pollution and smoking; trauma; alcohol; immune reactions; and infection by pathogens and foreign bodies, such as dirt and debris. Inflammation caused by free radicals induces degradation of cells and reduction of collagen production. Throughout time, this inhibits the body’s ability to naturally repair itself, which, in turn, causes visual signs of aging. With the skin constantly being barraged by free radicals, it’s important to eliminate as many opportunities for exposure to these as possible. This includes limiting sun exposure, reducing stress, increasing sleep and not smoking.

Taming inflammation

With inflammation at the root of many of skin’s greatest challenges, it becomes necessary for skin care professionals to shift from just addressing the issue at hand and dive one level deeper in order to treat the inflammation or source of inflammation. This is where anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich ingredients become your greatest allies.

Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients should not only be a part of a healthy diet, but also a part of a healthy skin regimen. Topicals known to inhibit inflammation, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), reactive oxygen species (ROS) and glycation include the following.

  • Arnica—It speeds wound-healing and reduces inflammation.
  • Centella asiatica—This is a herbaceous plant that’s a powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • Epidermal growth factor (EGF)—Composed of 53 amino acids, EGF is a protein that heals skin injuries and stimulates cell proliferation.
  • Ergothioneine (L)—It is a potent antioxidant and naturally derived amino acid.
  • Fructooligosaccharides (D-beta)—It is produced enzymatically from sugar beets and boosts skin immunity.
  • Glucosamine HCI (D)—It provides anti-inflammatory and antiglycation support.
  • Glycine soja—This MMP-blocker has amino acids that promote collagen and elastin synthesis.
  • Omega-6 essential fatty acids (linoleic and oleic acid)—These provide anti-inflammatory skin-building benefits.
  • Peptides—These proteins work to activate tissue growth factor (TGF) and collagen production.
  • Plantago lanceolata leaf extract (plant stem cell)—It reduces inflammation.
  • Saccharomyces, Rosmarinyl glucoside, gallyl glucoside, caffeyl glucoside—This complex regulates major inflammation factors, and is a pure active ingredient obtained by the enzymatic modification of natural plants.
  • Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid)—A potent antioxidant and collagen-builder, vitamin C protects against photodamage, neutralizes ROS and supports wound-healing.

Others include butcher’s broom, cinnamon, D-alpha tocopherol, green tea, L-glutathione (tripeptide), resveratrol and Thermus thermophilus ferment extract. Because these support the reduction of free radicals and inflammation, they lend themselves to be an ally against glycation. Keep in mind this is a short list of ingredients and the products that contain them.

A healthful, low-inflammatory diet rich in antioxidants will also support overall skin health. Advise clients to look for these antioxidants, both in food and skin care formulas:

  • Vitamin A—carrots, kale, spinach, pumpkin, liver and cantaloupe;
  • Vitamin C—camu camu, broccoli, brussels sprouts, guava and citrus;
  • Vitamin E—olive oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, oats, tomatoes and carrots;
  • Bioflavonoids—citrus, berries, onions, tea, red wine, dark chocolate, sea buckthorn; and
  • Polyphenols—berries, tea, dark chocolate, walnuts, peanuts and pomegranates.

Protection is key