Epidermal Growth Factor for Skin Regeneration

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Although the search continues for the proverbial fountain of youth, advancements in skin care have resulted in progress toward its discovery. One such development was the founding of epidermal growth factor (EGF) in 1986 by scientists Stanley Cohen and Rita Levi-Motalcini. The duo received a Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work, which opened the door for understanding how cells communicate with each other during cellular growth. This forever changed the landscape of skin rejuvenation, particularly for the skin care formulators wise enough to recognize the power of EGF.

A lab-derived oligopeptide, EGF is an age-prevention ingredient that supports cell renewal and wound repair. It has potent regenerating properties, making it valuable for age prevention and age reversal of the skin. EGF is a vital protein found in the fibroblast cells of the dermal layer, and it works to stimulate cells to produce collagen.

How does EGF work?

As an essential part of skin regeneration when trauma has taken place, EGF works by attracting cells to a wound site in order to begin the repair process. The vital protein is released by platelets during the inflammation stage of healing, then attracts cells to the injured area. These responsive cells, known as osteoblasts, process EGF, speeding up wound-healing, allowing the skin to repair itself evenly and quickly.

As EGF is applied to the skin, tissue regeneration begins. The protein supports cell renewal by assisting in the synthesis of proteins and increasing circulation, mitosis, the number of fibroblasts, the accumulation of collagen and blood-vessel formation.

The production of natural EGF significantly slows when ultraviolet (UV) light is present, hindering the body’s ability to repair itself. Because the skin is constantly subjected to UV rays during the daylight hours, topical growth factors become useful tools in reversing the harmful effects of these rays.

Research has also shown the potent regeneration powers of EGF to enhance the effects of peel therapy treatments and microdermabrasion. Because the protein works in synchronicity with the natural renewal process, it helps rebuild the skin from a healthy, well-nourished foundation, following any acid, enzyme or microdermabrasion treatment.

Beyond age reversal, EGF also supports acneic skin. When skin lesions are treated for bacteria with various active topicals, including benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, salicylic acid, retinol or resorcinol, the skin is broken down. Growth factor rebuilds and heals the skin—an essential step in any skin care regimen.

Preparations and benefits

Growth factor formulas first hit the market in the early 1990s and today, EGF is a more prevalent ingredient regarded for its powerful regenerating properties. It’s not just the levels of growth factor that matter, it’s also the science that goes into the blending of other ingredients to magnify its effects and ensure the preparations meet the needs of specific skin types.

EGF can be used for a variety of in-spa and at-home treatments. Consider recommending it to clients after peels, alpha hydroxy acid services or microdermabrasion treatments because it will help rebuild the skin and provide nourishment. For clients who have experienced injectable-filler procedures, EGF’s potent regenerating properties will boost the age-reversal effects of the procedure by stimulating the cells to produce collagen. If a client’s skin becomes irritated during a treatment, EGF helps instantly calm and soothe the skin, and for clients with oily or acneic skin, a growth-factor gel can work as a daily moisturizer and protector because it absorbs quickly and helps heal lesions. Also, clients with aged or photodamaged skin can use EGF to help regenerate the skin and increase the effects of age-reversing spa treatments.

Discuss the benefits

By pinpointing exactly what your clients’ needs are, you can recommend a specific EGF formula for them. Educate them on how EGF works, discuss its benefits and integrate it into a total system to maintain proper skin health for each client.


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T Fuwa, M Hiral, S Iwakawa, Y Kiyohara, F Komada and K Okumura, Improvement of wound healing by epidermal growth factor (EGF) ointment, J Pharmacobiodyn, 14 1 47–52 (Jan 1991)

R Emory, P Nassaux, RP Schaundies, AE Seyfer and HL Wray, Intracellular processing of epidermal growth factor by early wound healing cells, Surgery 187 1 69–73 (Jan 1992)

A Kupferman, HM Leibowitz, S Morello Jr and M Stern, Effect of topically administered epidermal growth factor on wound strength, Arch Ophthalmol 188 5 624–29 (May 1998)

LB Nanney, Epidermal and dermal effects of epidermal growth factor during wound repair, J Invest Dermatol 94 (May 1990)

Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Clinical Enterprises, has focused on keeping EGF ingredient in the forefront for more than 17 years. She is also an author and internationally known speaker with more than 30 years of esthetic experience.

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