Botanical Extracts to Restore Barrier Repair


By Katherine Tomasso, YON-KA Paris

Biologists call the outer protective covering of plants and animals, their integument; we call ours skin. This beautiful sensory organ has a number of physiological and chemical functions. It protects, regulates temperature, and synthesizes various biochemical compounds including sebum, sweat, glucose, lipids, keratin and melanin.

The Importance of Skin’s Barrier—Upholding its Immunity and Resistance

The stratum corneum is the outermost cornified layer of the epidermis that functions very differently from the germinative/basal and differentiating layers. It forms the major protective barrier of the skin, which is the epidermal permeability barrier. This barrier accomplishes a unique set of critical defensive functions that extend beyond holding water and electrolytes in the body, while keeping microbes, foreign molecules and toxins out. The skin’s barrier also helps maintain its hydration levels and diffuses the damaging effects of oxidative stress to our cells and tissues.

The epidermal barrier is an integral part of the skin's overall immunity and resistance capabilities. Maintaining its precious balance is especially crucial for the exceptional needs of mature, hormonally imbalanced skin. Understanding the structure, function and ways to maintain the integrity of the epidermal barrier is vital because it is the key to preserving healthy, glowing and youthful looking skin.

In the 1980s, the work of Dr. Peter M. Elias showed that intercellular space is the key to upholding barrier function. He models stratum corneum structure as bricks (corneocytes) and mortar (the lipid containing intercellular spaces). The use of any product or action that strips away the lipid barrier will also allow skin’s precious moisture balance to escape, and it becomes vulnerable to further damage. Dr. Elias’ research has also shown that the skin’s ability to resist permeation is not related to the thickness of the skin, but rather to the amount of lipids found in the skin.

The Lipid Bilayer and NMF (Water-holding Capabilities of the Stratum Corneum) of the Epidermis

The lipids for barrier function are synthesized in the keratinocytes of the epidermis and extruded into the intercellular spaces during its transition, forming a system of continuous membrane bilayers. Because there are two types of lipids, this layer is referred to as a lamellar lipid bilayer. This lipid bilayer plays a major role in maintaining the barrier properties of the skin and is analogous to the "mortar" in the brick and mortar model. The lipids that coat the cells of the stratum corneum are also water-repellant; not only do they hold our body water inside, but they also allow us to loll for hours in bathtubs or to swim at will, without drowning though our skin.

Affecting the water-holding capacity of the stratum corneum, the skins natural noisturizing factor (NMF) components absorb water from the atmosphere and combine it with their own water content, allowing the outermost layers of the stratum corneum to stay hydrated despite exposure to the elements. Because NMF components are water soluble, they are easily leached from the cells with water contact, which is why excessive contact with water makes the skin dryer.

The integrity of the epidermal barrier is upheld by maintaining the balance of lipids and moisture which keeps its diverse functions working optimally.

Epidermal Barrier and Mature Skin

Advanced aging results in gaps in the lipid bilayer and compromised NMF. External factors, including UV rays, stress, pollution and nutrient deficient diets, will hasten the effects. Consider that the stratum corneum in an 80 year-old individual contains 65% less epidermal lipids than someone just 25 years of age.

This lipid shortage leads to increased sensitivity to these environmental factors, and the skin has a reduced regeneration/repair capacity and loses its water retention properties. These changes lead to excessively dry, rough and dull skin which loses its plumpness and density. Also, its imperfections linger due to the skin’s reduced healing and regeneration capacity.

YON-KA Paris Natural Ingredients to Restore Barrier Repair

The Age Exception category of products from YON-KA Paris offers skin a new life force thanks to exceptional natural ingredients. Now joining the Cellular Code Serum within this category is the new Excellence Code Cream, a global youth cream featuring a rich complex of botanical ingredients that work in concert to protect the epidermal barrier, redefine facial contours, and promote a bright and even-toned complexion.

The uniqueness of Excellence Code Cream stems from Yon-Ka’s high quality requirements, its knowledge of plants and their use in skin biology, and a commitment to visible results. Excellence Code Cream offers a global solution for the exceptional needs of hormonally imbalanced, mature skin. With an ensemble of 94% natural ingredients, Excellence Code’s remarkable improvement in barrier strength is mainly due to its ability to activate epidermal lipid synthesis. Excellence Code Cream shows a five-fold efficacy that reinforces barrier strength and protects mature skin from the appearance of dryness, lack of tone, deep wrinkles, dark spots and dullness.

  • Proven action on wrinkles and firmness

    • Depth of wrinkles is reduced by 24%
    • Skin firmness is improved by 33%
  • Recovered brightness

    • Reduced dark spots intensity by 25%
    • More even skin tone by 66%
    • Brighter skin by 33%
  • Improved comfort

    • Skin is nourished and comfortable by 95%
    • Skin is regenerated and repaired by 81%

Let’s touch upon some of the natural, star extracts of this reparative, anti-aging treatment.

Immortality Herb

Known officially as Gynostemma pentaphyllum, this hardy climbing vine from the Far East flourishes even when untended, like some other members of the Cucurbitaceae family (family known for cucumbers, gourds and melons).

Traditionally used as a revitalizing and energizing herb in China, the plant is considered to be an elixir of youth. Similar to the adaptogenic (helps the body adapt to various stressors) plant Ginseng, it’s also known as 5 Leaf Ginseng or Southern Ginseng, and is revered as an “immortality” or “magic” herb throughout Asia.

As a skin care active ingredient Immortality Herb reactivates the synthesis of epidermal lipids by increasing LXR (Liver X Receptor), a lipid receptor which controls lipid production. In-vitro tests results demonstrated how Immortality Herb reactivated epidermal lipid synthesis by +39% which improved the integrity of skin’s barrier.


The Mediterranean plant Cistus incanus or rock rose grows in soils rich in magnesium and is well known for enduring harsh climatic growing conditions. The cistus is a straight shrub that grows up to 3.2-feet-high that produces pink flowers. Its plant extract is enriched in antioxidant polyphenols, including kaempferols, apigenin, ellagic acid and catechins.

The rock rose contains antioxidant polyphenols that neutralize endogenous and exogenous free radicals, and strengthen the reduced antioxidant defense system of mature skin. It’s also an excellent photo-protective molecule that inhibits the oxidation of skin lipids and protects DNA.


Onopordum acanthium is grown by a grouping of farmers in Auvergne, France. Commonly known as thistle, the plant is grown in compliance with ECOCERT standards for organic farming and harvest is done while preserving biodiversity and natural species.

To obtain the extract a water-ethanol process is used yielding active principals including sugar, flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones.

Thistle extract acts on keratinocyte differentiation to stimulate the optimal reconstruction of dry or damaged skin. It also helps the natural regeneration process for fresher, smoother and more radiant skin.

Regenerating Properties of Thistle

  • Used in the treatment of burns
  • Skin barrier recovery
  • Stimulates the healing process and epidermal regeneration
  • Collagen synthesis

In-vivo test results demonstrated how skin treated with thistle extract had 30% improved moisture retention and skin cohesion in just seven days.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil benefits include very high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats, phytosterols and antioxidants like vitamin E. Nourishing avocado oil is one of the most penetrative of all natural plant oils. Unlike most other natural oils, it is believed to penetrate through the epidermis and into the dermis layer of our skin. This results in extremely soft and deeply nourished skin. Due to its humectant properties that prevent drying and loss of the NMF its moisturizing effect is long lasting.

Treatment How-to: The Excellence Code Salon Treatment

Two treatments meet the requirements of all women. Check out the how-to in the sidebar! 

For more information on YON-KA Paris, please visit www.yonkausa.com or call 800-533-6276.


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