Elastin is the elastic protein that puts the spring in your skin — and you won’t be surprised to hear that it declines with age. Unlike collagen, for which there are many stimulating ingredients, elastin is much more difficult to target. But the good news: Improving your skin’s elasticity is not impossible. So I decided to hunt down some products that promise to replenish or protect elastin to increase the existing selection in our store.
After much research, I looked for products with ingredients proven to encourage elasticity, including copper, soy, tetrapeptide-17, white tea, rose, sea lettuce, and TT2. It proved to be a challenge, but after many hours I turned up some very interesting new potions and lotions for Truth In Aging testing.
MDRejuvena Rejuvaphyl Rejuvenating Complex ($150)
One of the most researched ingredients backed with decades of clinical data is copper peptides. Copper is the key mineral in lysyl oxidase, an enzyme that weaves together collagen and elastin. Frustratingly, it’s hard to find in good cosmetic formulations. However, I recently came across a brand called MDRejuvena that is based on a copper complex which releases slowly into the skin. I had just started testing one of their products for redness relief when I noticed that the Rejuvaphyl Rejuvenating Complex is a serum with copper and soy protein. The genus name for soy is actually glycine, one of the amino acids naturally found in elastin.
Osmia Active Gel Toner ($58)
A study of numerous botanical extracts concluded that white tea takes the lead, followed by rose extract, when it comes to restoring elastin. Unlike green tea, which is made from mature tea leaves, white tea is made using the tender, uppermost buds and new leaves. It inhibits elastase — something elastin doesn’t like — by 180 percent. There are plenty of products with white tea and rose that just don’t excite me, but Osmia Active Gel Toner caught my attention with organic white tea, rose of Jerico and heavy-hitters such as gluconolactone. An intriguing product, it seems to be more of a gel-serum than toner.
Osmia Nectar Vital Rose Drops ($98)
Bulgarian rose androsehip stand out in this organic essential oil serum with only eight ingredients. Although not part of our elastin quest, I like that prickly pear is included in Osmia Nectar Vital Rose Drops, as it’s chock-full of of antioxidants.
Skin 2 Skin Anti-Sagging Renewal Serum ($72)
Tetrapeptide-21, commonly referred to as Tego Pep 4-17, is supposed to increase skin elasticity. You can find it in Your Best Face Restore Night Treatment Serum ($130 in the shop), and I wanted to see if I could find it in anything else. It isn’t very common, but I found it in Skin 2 Skin Anti-Sagging Renewal Serum. The Skin 2 Skin line also has some elastin-boosting white tea-based products.
Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk ($65)
You’ll also find Tetrapeptide-21 in Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk. A member of the Truth In Aging community recently tested the treatment and found it to be “firming over time.”
Simply Natural Sea Elastin Face and Neck Cream
I’ve heard of marine collagen, but not sea elastin. Turns out, similarly to marine collagen, it’s typically hydrolyzed and derived from fish. However, in the case of Simply Natural, they seem to referring to algae extract and not elastin per se. The connection to my quest seems a bit vague, so I may pass on this one.
Repechage Vita Cura Opti Lift System ($56)
Still on the marine theme, I was very interested to discover sea lettuce (ulva lactuca) is used for its hydrating and firming effects. But there’s more: It contains an extract of aosine, an enzyme that neutralizes elastase, which is responsible for the breakdown of elastin in the skin. Repechage Vita Cura also has a strange yet innovative-sounding “instant-lifting” ingredient made from almonds.
Mila Moursi Firming Cream ($170)
The elastase enzyme attacks structural proteins (e.g. elastin), so ingredients that inhibit it are a good thing. There is a peptide, known as TT2 (trifluoroacetyl tripeptide-2), that does just that and as a result reduces sagging and slacking. I haven’t found it many products so far — a notable exception being E'shee Clinical Esthetic Alpha and Omega Gene Therapy Eye Cream ($284 in the shop) — so I was pleased to come across Mila Moursi Firming Cream with soluble collagen, as well as soy.
Stay tuned for product reviews, or let me know your favorite for improving elasticity and tightening sagging skin in the comments below.