Retinol, vitamin C, Matrixyl and stem cells are a handful of anti-aging ingredients that most of us recognize and may even actively seek out. One of the things I like about testing new products is that there is invariably an ingredient or two that I haven’t come across before and need to research. Here are some of the more interesting anti-aging ingredients that have come my way. You might not have heard of them, but they are certainly worth getting to know.
Polygonum aviculare extract is in the reformulated Skin Nutrition Eye Reconditioning Serum ($100) that I have just started testing. This is “common knotgrass” and looks a lot like a weed that you would find on wasteland because it is a weed that you would find on wasteland. Not be dismissed though, this scraggy grass is robust and resilient and has been used by herbalists of yore to cure bronchitis and heavy menstrual flow. Recently, scientists have discovered it to have antioxidant effects, and research suggests that it is cytoxic enough to be considered for cancer treatments.
But there’s more. Humble knotweed may also be your new anti-aging best friend. Scientists claim that it “very efficiently” inhibits cathepsin G. You probably haven’t heard of this either. But know that cathepsin G is a nasty contributor to premature aging — it degrades elastin into fragments that stimulate elastase activity, and that, my friend, results in sagging skin. Thankfully, heroic knotweed is at hand.
Lutein is a carotenoid and can be found in marigolds. Although we don’t see too much of it in cosmetics, lutein may prove to be an indispensible source of skin protection. According to a Harvard research team, it may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer and skin damage. Research on lutein has also been undertaken by the University of Naples in Italy. The study involved female Italians aged 25 to 50 who were given a topical formulation and an oral supplement of lutein each day over a 12-week period. Apparently, hydration increased by 60%, elasticity by 20%, superficial skin lipids by 50% and lipid oxidation was seen to decrease by 55%. Sometimes the ingredients list of a beauty product will cite lutein, but otherwise look for marigold extract, which is, for example in La Vie Celeste Extra Rich Face Crème ($75 in the shop).
So you thought you knew all about plant stem cells? Well, this one is a little different. It is made by Sederma (the company that makes Matrixyl and other cutting edge anti-aging ingredients) and comes from Globularia Cordifolia, a kind of daisy. Sederma says that it mimics the body’s defense produced by “hormesis”. It seems that stress is good for you (bring it on, New York City!). Really. As scientists get to understand hormesis, there is a growing body of thought around the idea that mild repetitive stress has anti-aging effects. By mimicking hormesis, Resistem reduces micro-inflammation caused by toxins. Sederma says that Resistem protects the skin’s own stem cells and stimulates sirtuin-1 (an enzyme that contributes to the longevity of cells).
I first came across Resistem in BRAD’s Sublime Youth Creator Gel-Cream ($245) and more recently in Sciote OMNI Phyto-Cell Crème ($110) reviewed by our Truth In Aging community member, Kelly.
You might be tempted to dismiss oligosaccharides as some kind of synthetic sweetener or just another chemical in your pot of cream. They are carbohydrates and are getting some attention for their health benefits, such as helping digest carbohydrates. On the skin, they can help boost collagen and improve cell proliferation.
Chicory root is abundant in oligosaccharides, and Prana uses this source to provide a skin tightening ingredient (with a bit of instant gratification) in its eye serum, Precious Fluids ($135). Osmotics has also been experimenting with oligosaccharides and found a new one from a marine plant, and it has a cooling effect that has been put to good effect in the lovely Blue Copper 5 Cooling Moisture Mist ($35)
You have probably heard of copper peptides (they’re amazingly good at helping repair wrinkles and grow hair), but what about selenium peptides? Selenium is another trace mineral that is found in our bodies and is believed to be a powerful antioxidant. As a peptide in skincare, I came across it in Amarte Wonder Cream ($97) as “Biopeptide SC” made from saccharomyces/selenium Ferment. One of the things it can do is inhibit MMPs, a family of enzymes that break down the proteins that comprise the connective tissues in skin.
Marta Wohrle is an anti-aging skin care and beauty expert and the founder/CEO of Truth In Aging. Marta is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind anti-aging product claims.