Last week, I attended a fascinating tour of Avon's research facility led by Glen Anderson, the head of research and development for skincare. Amongst the many surprising things that I learned was the astonishing fact that Avon is 125 years old (does that make it the oldest cosmetic company?), 50% of the 300 plus scientists at Avon are women (yeay!) and Avon prides itself on being the first to have patents on retinol, AHAs and vitamin C. Now Avon claims to have unlocked the key to aging with the development of Avon Anew Reversalist.

I'll come back to the Anew Reversalist serum and night cream in a future post and - watch out for it - Dare To Try It. For now, I'll try to explain the breakthrough discovery behind it. It starts with the understanding that wrinkles are the result of micro injuries and the Avon team realized that they needed to get under the skin of the repair process. After reviewing 30,000 genomes, the team discovered that there is a key molecule that is responsible for skin repair and is called activin.

Avon's scientists then assumed that activin must decline as we age. Much to their surprise, they found that activin remains fairly stable with age. Eventually, they discovered that the thing that does decline is the IGF1 growth protein that stimulates activin. Having worked that out, they set about creating an active, which Avon is calling Activinol, to do the job of IGF1.

It almost an anticlimax to see that Activinol is basically two plant extracts, sesbania grandiflora and amorphophallus capanulatus. Sesbania has been studied in India as an antioxidant, The flowers of sesbania are edible and Amorphophallus is a putrid smelling plant that is also called elephant yam and was shown in a study on mice to be an analgesic. Recent research suggests the seeds contain antioxidant flavenoids although mostly it seems to function as an antibacterial. I wasn't able to find anything about it in relation to skin growth or wound healing.

Oh, by the way, a souvenir from the tour is my own personalized lab coat. Very cool.

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