My forehead feels tighter and the horizontal lines are visibly fading. Three weeks into my test of Dermophisiologique's Mineral Structura ($130) face cream (brought to us by the creators of the amazing Iron Cream Face Mask) and I am impressed. Billed as ideal for dry, flaky skin, this has enough heavy duty mineral salts and liposomes to be a boon for 50-something skin.

The real super hero in Dermophisiologique Mineral Structura could be calcium. Calcium is just as critical to the health of skin as zinc. Researchers in Japan (albeit sponsored by Shiseido) demonstrated that calcium is less concentrated in aging skin and the skin barrier function becomes more fragile.

The rest of the minerals here all play useful roles. Magnesium stimulates the skin to ensure that healthy elasticity is maintained and moisture levels remain normal. The Dead Sea has loads of magnesium, hence its reputation for improving the function of the skin barrier. It also helps with the regeneration and healing of damaged skin cells and is a natural anti-allergen. Zinc is a wound healer and astringent. There have been claims that zinc improves skin elastin, but the evidence is not very convincing.

Copper's pedigree is, on the other hand, impressive. Another wound healer, copper is a skin repairer par excellence. Theoretically, it is possible since copper peptides promote the degradation of abnormally large cross-linked collagen (the one found in scars and, to a lesser degree, in wrinkles). They also stimulate the production of ‘regular’ collagen found in normal skin. In one small study of about 20 volunteers, copper peptides stimulated collagen production in the intact skin. In fact, in that study copper peptides produced a stronger stimulation of collagen synthesis than tretinoin (Retin A, Renova) or ascorbate (vitamin C).

Similarly, studies have shown that the topical application of manganese can reverse the effects of phytodamage.

Mineral also contains hydrolized glucosaminoglycans. Fibroblasts also produce other skin structural proteins such as elastin (a protein which gives the skin its ability to snap back) and glucosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs make up the ground substance that keeps the dermis hydrated. Hyaluronic acid is a glucosaminoglycan constituent that occurs naturally in the human body up until the age of 30, after which levels start to decrease. Gingko biloba helps to prevent capillary fragility and helps to boost collagen formation and create fibroblast, which makes it ideal to use in rejuvenating skin care products. It furthermore increases the creation of fibroblast collagen. A 2003 study also suggested that ginkgo may effectively halt de-pigmentation and aid in re-pigmentation as well. Ginkgo is also one of several plant extracts that can provide a natural sunscreen.

Nerds' corner: I was curious as to why so many of the ingredients were twinned with the acronym PCA (magnesium PCA, calcium PCA and so on). This stands for Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid. It is based on the amino acid proline which has the ability to mix with water and act as a moisturizer. All PCA derivatives tend to promote hydration.

Dermophisiologique is an Italian brand that isn't well distributed in the US, so the best I can do is direct you to my esthetician, Ildi Pekar (she will ship products anywhere).


Water, corn oil, glycerin, olive fruit oil, cetyl alcohol, steareth-21, C10-18 triglycerides, stearic acid, steareth-2, peanut oil, polyquaternium-7, yeast extract, hydrolized glucosaminoglycans, ginkgo biloba, centella asiatica, echinacea, magnesium pca, calcium pca, zinc pca, manganese pca, copper pca, fragrance, lecithin, tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, citric acid, dimethicone, allantoin, triethanolamine, capryloyl glicine, grapefruit extract, sodium benzotriazoyl butylphenol sulfonate, tributyl citrate.