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What Is It: Pearl Powder

October 23, 2008 Reviewed by admin 1 Comment

According to founders Laura Kauffmann and Beth Hooper (both Licensed Acupuncturists and Board Certified Herbalists with Master's degrees in Traditional Chinese Medicine), She Essential Beauty's natural and
organic products are inspired by the beauty regimes of ancient Chinese empresses, and are made according to the principles and ingredients used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

I've been trying out their Facial Rejuvenation Set (available 11/25 for $125) for the past few days and so far so good. This set includes the washing grains, lavender toner and facial serum, all of which I'll be reviewing in a post next week.  But until then, I wanted to take a look at the keynote ingredient.

Their magic ingredient is Zhen Zhu powder, or Chinese Pearl, which, according to She, regenerates skin cells, heals wounds and acne, astringes the skin and tightens pores.

Back in the day, crushed pearls were either ingested or applied topically for specific anti-aging effects for the skin, plus a host of other beneficial total-body effects. Along with various amino acids and minerals, pearl powder is made up of calcium carbonate crystals and the protein conchiolin. Conchiolin is what gives pearls their rainbow-like luminescence, and is the primary source for this ingredient's anti-aging claims.

Practitioners of TCM believe that pearl powder can be effectively absorbed into the dermis to rejuvenate the skin; and there is some anecdotal research out there to support this.  As documented in the Journal of Cell Biology in 2006, conchilion acts like the protein keratin (which is found in skin, bones and hair), and has the ability to hydrate skin cells, promote skin cell metabolism, facilitate repair of damaged skin cells, and enhance peripheral circulation.

As reported in SpecialChem4Cosmetics, "Researchers who have worked to develop skin creams and other personal care products based on nacre [or, conchiolin] claim that various components of pearl can stimulate the metabolic activities of the genetic material in a cell, the DNA, and thus can promote and accelerate cell renewal. This action involving the function of DNA is similar to a starfish losing one of its arms. It has the ability to regenerate a new one to replace the one that was lost."

Truth be told, as Sensuke Konno, Ph.D., points out at Inside Cosmeceuticals: "scientific studies of pearl powder on the skin, to define and elucidate its bioactivity and biological significance, have not been fully performed. Such cosmetic effects/mechanisms of pearl powder thus require further studies and confirmation.

"Yet," she points out, "limited studies and available information on pearl powder may support its possible beneficial effects. It has been shown pearl powder slowed the development of melanin (pigmentation), reducing skin discoloration and lightening uneven skin tone. It markedly reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while maintaining smooth and firm skin, and also properly repaired sun-damaged or scarred skin."

Here's the hard evidence that I've come across:

Patents: A skin rejuvenating supplement composition for treating age spots, darkening of the skin, dry skin, calcium amino acid deficiencies, osteoporosis and eye site deficiencies. Nano Pearl Skin Cream.

Studies: 1. Tong ZH, et al. The anti-aging effect of pearl oyster shell powder (POSP). J Tradit Chin Med 1988 Dec;8(4):247-50. 2. Fujita T, et al. Heated oyster shell seaweed calcium (AAA Ca) on osteoporosis. Calcif Tissue Int 1996 Apr;58(4)226-30. 3. Lamghari M, et al. Stimulation of bone marrow cells and bone formation by nacre: in vivo and in vitro studies. Bone 1999 Aug:25(2Suppl):91S-4S.

  • February 20, 2014

    by Craig Kraffert, MD

    At Amarte, we are very interested in traditional skin care substances such as pearl powder that are referenced in traditional Eastern holistic medical texts including the Donguibogam. We incorporate pearl powder into certain Amarte formulations. Since this article was written, a new and very interesting scientific article on pearl powder has been published:

    This article serves as an interesting scientific study of pearl powder's hydration, antioxidant and brightening properties.

    Craig Kraffert, MD
    President, Amarte Skin Care

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