Glucose is a vital cellular fuel, but it can also can cause damage by randomly reacting with proteins and DNA. This process is called glycation and it can have negative consequences. Glycated enzymes often fail to work as well as they should or a glycated protein may lose its shape and become unstable. Scientists are beginning to more fully understand these processes and their contribution to aging and some cosmetic companies are honing in on glycation when formulating their antiaging potions and lotions.

Glycation leads to cross-linking, which is the formation of chemical bridges between proteins or other large molecules. A material that undergoes cross-linking usually becomes harder, less elastic and has a tendency to tear or crack. In the aging body, cross-linking contributes to hardened arteries, wrinkled skin and stiff joints.

An extreme example of damage done by glycation and cross-linking are some of the complications of diabetes which, incidentally, are in many ways similar to the aging process. According to Smartskincare.com, research indicates that the most common type of glucose-based cross-links in aging tissues is glucosepane, a chemical bridge formed when glycated proteins react with certain amino acids of other proteins. Diabetics have about twice as many glucosepane cross-links as nondiabetics of the same age. Also, the levels of glucosepane correlate with age-related diseases.

Very little is known about how to inhibit glycation in the body; however, recent research suggesting carnosine as a potential anti-glycation agent seems promising. Test tube experiments have shown the dipeptide to effectively protect proteins from cross-linking, to protect cells from AGEs and to rejuvenate aging skin tissue. What makes it stand apart from other antioxidants is its potential ability to fight against, not just oxidative damage done by free radicals, but also damage done by sugar-related glycation. Carnosine shows up in many antiaging cosmetics, including Olay's Regenerist.

A company called  Wellness Formulations has launched an antiaging cosmetic range called Dermal Renu that features not only carnosine, but three additional ingredients that it claims help control glycation: pueraria mirifica extract, plantago extract and green tea extract.

Pueraria mirifica also goes by the name of kwao krua and is a plant that contains high levels of phytoestrogen and is hence sold as a supplement that is supposed to enhance breast size. However, I did come across a Chinese study on rats that concluded that it can protect tissues against glycation. Similarly, Korean research supports the use of plantago.

Ingredients in Dermal Renu Dayshield

Purified water usp, dimethicone/vinyldimethicone crosspolymer, decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, sodium polyacrylate dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, c12-c14 pareth-12, trideceth-6, peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone, niacinamide, alpha arbutin, caffeine, ethoxydiglycol, dimethyl isosorbide, pueraria mirifica extract, plantago lanceolata leaf extract, camellia senensis leaf extract (green tea extract), chamomilla recrtita flower extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, creatine monophosphate, l-carnosine, isostearyl palmitate, polysilicone-11, glyceryl stearate, peg-100 stearate, isohexadecane, ammonia polyacrylatedimethyl taurate, allantoin, dl-panthenol, caprylic/capric triglycerides, tocopheryl acetate, sodium hylauronate, acetylhexapeptide-8, palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, sodium carboxymethyl betaglucan, porphyra umbilicalis, genistein, propylene glycol, glycerin, diazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, propylparaben, fragrance