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Troubleshooting Fine Lines and Wrinkles: What are they? And how can plant-derived ingredients help?

Troubleshooting Fine Lines and Wrinkles: What are they? And how can plant-derived ingredients help?

What Causes Fine Lines and Wrinkles?

Fine lines and wrinkles are a normal part of aging that, unfortunately, most of us have, or will develop at some point in our lifetimes. The medical term for these creases in our skin is called rhytids, or rhytid for singular. Unfortunately, the greatest determining factor of their formation lies within our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which is completely out of our control (at least for the time being). We’ll touch more on this later…

Luckily, premature fine lines and wrinkles have other causes strongly associated with our habits, age, and lifestyles that we have some control over. With a few lifestyle adjustments, patience, and dedication we can significantly slow the course of their progression and even reverse their appearance through various ways, including plant-based applications. Some of the more common and treatable causes of rhytids are listed below — plus one partial myth (keep reading to find out which one).

 

Here’s the list:

  • Age
  • Persistent facial expressions
  • Exposure to UV light and sunlight
  • Dehydration
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Smoking

 

 Age:

With age, the dermis layer of our integumentary system (skin) will begin to thin due to slower division of fibroblast cells (the most abundant cell in this layer). As previously discussed in another post of this 7 part article, fibroblast cells synthesize most of the macromolecules that make up the extracellular matrix, including collagen, elastin, reticular fiber, and hyaluronic acid. These matrix macromolecules are largely responsible for maintaining our skin’s structure, elasticity, and hydration. Once the matrix begins to break down — or fragmentize — the structure and integrity of our once supple skin sadly begins to loosen and collapse (fig.1) [1].

Due to this inevitable process, our skin forms “weak spots,” or rhytids (loose, baggy, wrinkled skin). In addition, natural moisturizing oils (sebum) produced by our sebaceous glands — through a process called holocrine secretion — gradually begin to decrease after the age of 20 in most people (fig. 6) [2]. This decline in sebum production (which protects and hydrates our skin), along with the loss of structural collagen and elasticity via elastin, may contribute to and exacerbate the progression and appearance of rhytids as we age.

 

It is important to note that sebum loss alone does not play a major role in age related fine lines and wrinkles, however, it helps moisturize and protect our cells from damage, thus creating the appearance of fuller, smoother, and more hydrated looking skin. This is important and has major implications as a “role player” when considering collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid’s direct effect on our skin’s structure, health, and durability.

Sebum is composed of triglycerides, fatty acids, wax esters, squalene, and cholesterol — all which help protect, moisturize, and prevent transepidermal water loss [3]. It is not a major contributor alone when considering premature rhytids, but sebum does have its role when considering other factors also at play, as mentioned above.
According to a study published by PubMed, sebaceous secretion of sebum starts relatively low in children (high in newborns though) but increases dramatically in males during their pubescent years (due to increased androgen production, namely testosterone) and continues its climb into early adulthood where it finally peaks at around 20 years of age [2]. From this age forward, until a male’s eighth decade, sebum production levels remain relatively steady. After this period however, there seems to be a sharp decline in which sebaceous secretion of sebum generally stabilizes for the remainder of a man’s life [2].
Sebaceous secretion of sebum in women follows a similar path, as described in men, however, once women reach menopause (average age in the US is 51), they gradually begin to lose production of this oil [2]. This gradual decline will continue until their seventh decade in which case sebum secretion levels remain mostly unchanged for the remainder of their lives as well [2].
When comparing the natural progression of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles throughout each decade of our lives, there appears to be a correlation between the subsequent loss of sebum production and the degree to which the appearance of rhytids become more pronounced and noticeable with age.

 

The chart below is a hypothetical representation — based on estimates of known trends — between males and females and the association between wrinkle appearance as a function of time vs decreased production of sebum associated with age:

 *

*The grey line used in the graph “Appearance of wrinkles” is a trend line representing the progression of wrinkle appearance in both men and women at various ages. These data points are only estimates based on general information and trends obtained through various articles and scientific publications. This graph is meant to explain a correlation, as described in its title and is meant as an example. It is not data obtained from a real study, or specific source, and should not be interpreted in any other way, other than showing the generalized relationship between the factors described above.

 

Although age related fine lines and wrinkles are inevitable, there are steps we can take to significantly reduce the progression and severity of their appearance. We cannot underestimate the power and efficacy of many of the plant-derived ingredients already discussed in previous sections of this article. Some of them will also be suggested for rhytids as well. Additionally, I will introduce and suggest several new plant-derived ingredients that we have not covered yet that can work wonders for your skin and its appearance (most of which my partner and I use ourselves). With that said, let’s tackle these skin problems once and for all.

Before getting into the details, however, it is important to cover the rest of the list of common and treatable causes of fine lines and wrinkles. Ladies and gentlemen are you ready? Let’s go!...

 

Persistent Facial Expressions:

Persistent facial expressions (which I know all too much about) are something many of us do without realizing. What many of us also do not realize is that they can have permanent and detrimental effects when considering skin appearance. So, regarding unnecessary expressions, and for the sake of premature aging, I can simply tell you, “just don’t.”

The act of constantly frowning, squinting, contorting your face and even continuously rubbing your skin will break down the tissues containing collagen and elastin responsible for that supple looking appearance. The result of this repeated breakdown within the extracellular space of these areas will create weak spots similar to what we see in aging. The result: fine lines and wrinkles.

Of course, things are easier said than done, so this will take patience and practice…find your zen and connect. It can be done. Plus, the good news is that these rhytids can be treated with topical ingredients that we will soon discuss.

 

Exposure to UV Light and Sunlight:

UV light, whether in the form of sunlight, or via lamp, can be damaging to our skin. There are several wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation responsible for cellular damage. UVA and UVB are the most dangerous to us because of their high energy content. UVC  - while having shorter wavelengths than both UVA and UVB - cannot easily pass through the earth’s atmosphere, therefore, we are never exposed to it (with the exception of welding torches, mercury lamps, etc.).

Generally speaking, the shorter the wavelength, the more energy light has. UVA has a wavelength range of approximately 315nm-400nm while UVB exists within the range of 280nm-315nm. Oddly enough, while UVA rays hold slightly less energy than UVB, they are able to penetrate deeper into our skin (even reaching the dermis). This is due to less “scattering” once these photons make contact with the surface of our integumentary system. Because UVB rays have more energy (due to shorter wavelengths), they scatter more easily, thus having a greater impact on the outer layers of the epidermis, such as the stratum corneum. Lastly, because our skin cells contain mostly water, and UVA is more easily absorbed by this molecule, we can see why this would also contribute to UVA’s deeper penetration than UVB.

 

How does this apply to premature fine lines and wrinkles in our skin?

 

Due to UVA’s penetration into the dermis, it can affect the DNA and RNA in our fibroblast cells within the extracellular matrix. In addition, free radicals are formed when atomic oxygen and these photons combine [4]. This produces highly reactive and unstable free radical derivatives, such as superoxide, hydrogen peroxide and the extremely oxidative hydroxyl [4]. Through the process of oxidation, these free radicals damage our cells responsible for skin integrity and structure (such as fibroblast cells) [4].

 As we recall, fibroblast cells are responsible for synthesizing and secreting structural, elastic, and hydrating molecules, such as collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Once these free radicals impair our cells’ ability to produce these molecules, the extracellular matrix begins to fragmentize causing our skin to become weaker and break down, thus, fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear.

While UVA is associated with rhytids (fine lines and wrinkles), UVB is mainly responsible for surface damage, such as sunburns and certain cancers. So, does this mean we need to stay away from the sun? Absolutely not. Does it mean we need to expose ourselves in moderation and wear sunscreen? Yes. Is the sun good for us when limited? Yes, very much so.

 

Dehydration:

We can all agree that drinking water and staying hydrated is good for our health and necessary for survival. In fact, we will only survive one week without water, as opposed to three weeks when deprived of food. Water is important for keeping our cells hydrated. Additionally, being that our cells constitute a large portion of our bodies, and the fact that we are made up of approximately 60% water, it is safe to say that H2O molecule is essential for our survival. Regulation of proper levels of water and solutes (water-soluble salts) through diffusion and osmosis within our cells is what helps keep us alive.

Because water moves from low areas of solute concentration to areas of high concentration, it will always try to establish a balance, or equilibrium, within and outside the semipermeable phospholipid bilayer of our cells (cell membrane). This is called osmosis (movement of water through a semipermeable membrane). If there is a major imbalance, our cells will either dehydrate, or become overhydrated. Take, for example, the following scenario: If the outside, or extracellular space of someone’s cells have excessively high concentrations of solutes (called a hypertonic solution), then water will pass through their cellular membranes and out of their cells. If enough water passes out, their cells become dehydrated, resulting in loss of volume, or cell shrinkage. Contrary to this process, if the extracellular space of this person’s cells have excessively low concentrations of solutes (called a hypotonic solution), then water will pass opposite through their cellular membranes and flow into their cells. This can potentially result in overhydration and possibly cytolysis (a condition in which cells burst due to excess water).

Aside from a plethora of other factors, the health and survival of a cell, relative to water intake, is contingent upon variables such as osmotic pressure between hypertonic and hypotonic solutions inside and outside of its semipermeable phospholipid bilayer. In other words, water is most beneficial to cellular survival and proper function when relative hydrostatic pressure (equal water pressure or volumetric rate) has been established at the junction of our extracellular and intracellular space (the cell membrane, aka phospholipid bilayer). In this scenario, the inner and outer portion of these cells are isotonic, meaning, they are equal in their solute concentration.

 

What does this mean and how does it apply to fine lines and wrinkles?

Well, not much…

 

While dehydration will certainly draw water from our cells, as described above, causing them to lose volume and shrink, it does not mean what you see in the mirror are true rhytids. What you see are called dehydration lines, caused by an imbalance effectuated by water diffusion out of your cells due to higher levels of solutes existing outside of the intracellular space. This can give the appearance of wrinkles due to volumetric water loss, but once you grab that cup or two — or three — of H2O you’ll begin the process of diluting those solutes and reestablishing equal hydrostatic pressure. Once equilibrized, via osmosis, your cells will rehydrate and “plump” up, thus, reversing those dehydration lines. In other words, dehydration does not cause true permanent fine lines and wrinkles in the way that age related extracellular matrix degradation does. Anyway, just drink water.

 

 

Verdict: Some truth, but mostly myth.

 

Sleep Deprivation:

Ah yes, sleepless nights. You know, that all too familiar feeling of finally falling asleep thirty minutes before you have to wake, and throughout the day all that runs through your mind is, “get back home so I can go to bed early?” Except, instead of doing what you know you need to do, you stay awake late again? Yep, been there many times…

Well, as guilty as some of us are, when sleep deprived there will be problems, one of which is our appearance. And to be honest, our looks should be the last of our worries when it comes to the effects of sleep deprivation. However, since we are discussing skin problems, we’ll focus on those fine lines and wrinkles as a consequence of not frequenting dreamland enough.

It is no secret that sleep — or lack thereof — has major consequences regarding our health. What we sometimes do not realize is the degree to which a proper night’s rest impacts our lives. On average, there are generally 4 to 6 sleep cycles per night [5]. The average sleep cycle lasts anywhere from 70-100 minutes (during the first cycle) to its longest of 90 to 120 minutes, however, durations change with age [5]. Each sleep cycle is made up of four separate stages which is divided into three Non-REM stages and one REM stage as follows:

 

 

During each stage, our bodies are undergoing different processes as summarized below:

  • Stage 1 (N1) is considered a “slow down” or “dozing off” period where we haven’t fully relaxed, but our brain activity is beginning to slow (you know, that, “I think I’m about to fall asleeeeee….” feeling?).

 

  • Stage 2 (N2) is when we enter a state in which our muscles relax, temperature drops, breathing slows, heart rate drops, and, as disturbing as it might sound, our eye movement stops. At this point our brain activity has significantly slowed for the most part.

 

  • Stage 3 (N3) is known as “deep sleep.” We spend most of our time in this state for at least the first half of our night’s rest. However, as more complete sleep cycles pass, we transition into longer periods of stage 4 (REM) where we eventually spend most of the last one-third of our time in [6].

During stage 3, the body is very relaxed while our heart rate, breathing, and temperature decrease even further. While in this state our brains produce patterns called “delta waves,” which are the slowest brain waves we will produce during any stage of a cycle. Stage 3 is also called “delta sleep” or “short-wave sleep (SWS)” due to our particular state of brain activity. Deep sleep is perhaps the most important part of each cycle, as our bodies begin to repair, grow, and strengthen the immune system. See where this is going in reference to those fine lines and wrinkles?

 

  • Stage 4 (REM, or Rapid Eye Movement) is the final stage of one complete cycle. During stage 4, activity in the brain begins to pick back up as we enter what is called atonia. Atonia is the state, or condition, of total muscle paralyses, except for eye movement and muscle contractions related to breathing. Like the name says (Rapid Eye Movement), our eyes can move very quickly, or shall we say, “very rapidly.” Dreams in this stage are usually more memorable due to increased brain function and it is, for the most part, the final stage before we wash, rinse, and repeat throughout the night (albeit each cycle becomes shorter the closer we get to that...darn alarm clock!).

 

Oh yeah, sleep, cellular repair, fine lines and wrinkles…

 

As we recall, collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid are all major constituents of the extracellular matrix, which is responsible for our skin’s structure, elasticity, and appearance. Within our fibroblast cells each of these macromolecules are made by proteins formed by amino acid chains produced by ribosomes (particles that synthesize protein) that can be free floating or within the endoplasmic reticulum (membranous structure within the cytoplasm of a cell where ribosomes can attach). Sound confusing? I’ll simplify below:

 

Remember stage 3 of the sleep cycle, where bodily repair, growth and immune system bolstering occur?

When our cells need to repair themselves, they essentially prompt what is called ribosomal RNA (rRNA) to form ribosomes which ultimately synthesize amino acid chains that form proteins. These proteins are needed by different parts of the body, including fibroblast cells, for repair. Once our fibroblast cells have been repaired, they can synthesize macromolecules again such as, collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid that make up most of the extracellular matrix.

Considering a major role of the extracellular matrix is directly related to our skin’s structure, health, and appearance, we see why keeping fibroblast cells repaired from free radicals and other damage is important. When we sleep properly, we enter stage 3 where this repair occurs which essentially enables our fibroblast cells to produce more of the above-mentioned macromolecules. Basically, sleep repairs fibroblasts which then produce more collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid — all responsible for keeping skin vibrant and supple.

In addition to the role that sleep has on cellular repair, it also helps with blood circulation. Remember in an earlier post of this 7 part article when I mentioned sleep deprivation, blood flow, dark circles and bags? To refresh, when blood flow is limited, due to sleep deprivation, our bodies focus on channeling whatever properly oxygenated blood we have to major internal organs, and not our skin.

While lack of blood circulation may have a larger impact on our periorbital dark circles, it also plays a role in our bodies’ ability to absorb our skincare ingredients, which, as we know can have a huge impact on those fine lines and wrinkles. As we can see, sleep is a major factor in the formation of these unwanted rhytids.

It is important to note that many people have sleeping disorders and is not always their fault. If you are someone who struggles with sleep, there are many things you can try, but from my personal experience, I eventually had to see a doctor.

 

The point: do whatever you have to do (in a healthy, non-destructive or dangerous way) to get the sleep you need and deserve.

 

Smoking:

 Quit if you can and if you haven't started, just DON'T!

First, I want to say smoking is a choice and it does not make you a bad person. We all have our vices in life. There is never a reason to look down on someone if they are a smoker. I always try to support anyone who is trying to quit. It is a hard habit to break and those who manage to do it deserve props. The benefits of quitting smoking begin almost immediately. If there are any readers out there trying to quit I will list a few resources below that hopefully help:

 

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/index.html

https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/get-extra-help/free-resources

https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/i-want-to-quit

 

So, how does smoking contribute to fine lines and wrinkles?

This will be a brief and straight to the point section before we move on to plant-derived treatments for these pesky rhytids caused by age and free radicals associated with our environment and habits.

One of the main ingredients included in cigarettes is the stimulant nicotine. Nicotine found in cigarettes is derived from the plant Nicotina tabacum. This plant produces leaves which are processed into and sold as part of tobacco products. Contained in the leaves of this plant are nitrogen containing chemicals that ultimately restrict blood flow to parts of our body including the skin via blood vessel constriction. As a result, oxygen and nutrient delivery are compromised resulting in the breakdown of the extracellular matrix. In addition, cigarette smoke is loaded with many toxins that act as free radicals. As discussed before, we know the effects of oxidation from free radicals on our skin appearance and especially those fine lines and wrinkles.

Unfortunately, the damage to your skin from smoking may not be reversed, but stopping now will limit the damage and allow you to preserve and prevent any further degradation of the structure, elasticity and appearance of your skin.

As mentioned above, smoking doesn't make you weak, less of a person or give anyone the right to judge you. You are human and you smoke. We all have vices. I drink soda and that is definitely not a good thing, but if we put our minds to it, and really want something, we can and will accomplish what we set out to do, including breaking habits. Life is about assessing what your wants and needs are, then making choices. YOU CAN DO IT!

 

On to treatments... 

 

How can we tackle the appearance of Fine lines and Wrinkles?

Luckily we can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by aging, habits, behaviors and the associated production of free radicals as discussed above. With that said, there are many traditional options available, and many of these work great, but, sometimes at a significant cost; a cost to your wallet, sometimes a cost to your appearance, maybe even deflating changes to your confidence and sadly, sometimes at the cost of your very own physical health.

Ok, enough of the doomsday talk. There is light, not all is bad and we have a lot to smile about. First, you are amazing the way you are. This needs to be established, accepted and embraced by every last person reading this before we move further. Period. Got it? Good, let's proceed...

Considering the above statements and the drive to iron out those wrinkles (can we literally just iron them out maybe???...sorry, corny joke, PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT) many of our dermatological wants and needs are highly responsive to plant-derived ingredients.

The ingredients that I am about to go over are scientifically backed, real-world tested, very safe to use when used correctly, and can have a significant impact on those fine lines and wrinkles (you know those wrinkles everyone frowns upon causing even more wrinkles?). I mean, wrinkles are almost synonymous with wisdom right? Are they that bad? Uh, I feel like I am going to wrinkle by just thinking about frowning, which, now I realize - by looking in the mirror - I actually am wrinkling after all because I am actually frowning, which in return makes me wrinkle more, which makes me frown more, which makes me wrinkle, which...AHH, JUST SMILE OK?!! At any rate, I want the cycle to stop and I want my wrinkles gone.

On a serious note, the truth is many of us want to look younger for various reasons, and there's nothing wrong with looking the way that makes you feel best in life. And I am here to tell you you can look and feel younger using plant-derived, safe options to choose from for those fine lines and wrinkles. And remember, this isn't speculation or any kind of sales pitch, this is backed by science and real world, in-vivo use over decades, centuries and more.

In addition to sleep, good nutritional intake and the other steps discussed above, incorporating the following ingredients into your skincare routine can have a huge impact on those fine lines and wrinkles over time (this will not be an overnight process despite what some companies claim).

Without delay, here are 4 plant-derived ingredients that can actually work wonders for the prevention, management and appearance of premature fine lines and wrinkles.

 

1. Bakuchiol (pronounced “buh-koo-chee-all”)

    Bakuchiol, the somewhat "new kid on the block," is a meroterpene phenol (compound having a partial terpenoid structure) and phytochemical found in the seeds and leaves of the Psoralea corylifolia plant (aka babchi plant). Although it does not resemble any of the retinoids in its structural composition, it seems to be completely analogous to retinol in its function and ability to fight fine lines and wrinkles. This amazing ingredient has all of the amazing properties and benefits of retinol and other vitamin A derivatives, but comes without the irritation or any other side effects often associated with active retinoic acid metabolites found in these products. Like retinol, bakuchiol is a very potent antioxidant that has been studied and shown to be just as effective as retinol in combating the presence and appearance of those pesky rhytids. 

    As a quick refresher, antioxidants work by donating or taking up an electron to and from unstable free radicals. Free radicals seek out and "steal" or "scavenge" an electron from otherwise stable molecules to stabilize themselves, thus leaving the molecule it took the electron from damaged. This process is called oxidation and and if left unchecked can lead to wrinkles, skin disorders and more through various pathways. Antioxidants are very important in that once they donate this electron to the unstable free radical, the oxidation process stops, our cells heal, resume normal function and proliferate. Bakuchiol is an extremely effective antioxidant and is backed by enough science making it a wise choice for anyone and all skin types.

    A study involving the comparison of bakuchiol and retinol showed that after a 12 week treatment using this retinoid alternative, significant improvement was observed in fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, and skin elasticity [7]. In addition, significant reduction in photo-damage to human skin was observed [7]. Last, but not least, researchers in this study were also able to determine that bakuchiol had comparable effects on the stimulation of collagen production in fibroblast cells when comparing the two ingredient benefits [7].

    Another similar, but separate double-blind study involved 44 individuals who either applied 0.5% bakuchiol cream or 0.5% retinol cream twice daily for 12 weeks [8]. The researchers in this study used a high-resolution facial photograph and analytical system to observe the effects of both groups at weeks 0, 4, 8 and 12 during the course of treatment [8]. In addition, each participant was asked to complete tolerability questions related to skin irritation and redness and were monitored for pigmentation and reactions throughout the study by a board-certified dermatologist [8]. The results showed both retinol and bakuchiol significantly and equally reduced fine lines and wrinkles and hyperpigmentation [8]. However, the only difference between the two ingredients was that those who used bakuchiol had no irritation or side effects commonly associated with retinol use [8]. 

    Due to bakuchiol's powerful antioxidant properties, this ingredient is able to penetrate deep into the dermis layer of our skin (despite having a relatively large size compared to retinol) and fight free radical oxidation, resulting in healthy, fully functioning fibroblast cells.

    As we recall, fibroblast cells synthesize macromolecules such as collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, which make up the majority of the extracellular matrix. An intact and hydrated extracellular matrix keeps our skin from breaking down and creating the appearance of premature wrinkles.     

    As discussed above, bakuchiol is an amazing ingredient that I highly recommend for those with sensitive skin. It is very safe (check EWG.org site for safety score) and just as effective as retinol. This amazing antioxidant is known to stimulate a high skin cell turnover rate resulting in suppler, smoother and newer looking skin. My partner uses our Phytoretinol Serum product everyday and it has worked wonders. This is certainly an ingredient worth consideration for those who want to combat fine lines and wrinkles without the irritation of retinol.

     

    2. Retinol (vitamin A)

      Retinol, first introduced into skincare products in 1971, is one of the most widely used and known ingredients that has consistently and successfully been used to tackle acne, hyperpigmentation, skin texture and, you guessed it, fine lines and wrinkles to name a few. It is part of a class of chemical compounds called retinoids which are vitamers (vitamin derivatives) of vitamin A. In other words, retinol and other retinoids are derivatives of this antioxidant vitamin.
      There are many retinoids and varying strengths used in skincare, some of which are sold over the counter and some by prescription only. For the purpose of this article I will focus on over-the-counter and laboratory synthesized retinol only (our retinol is synthesized in a lab and not derived from animals).
      Like Bakuchiol, retinol possesses extremely powerful antioxidant properties that help boost collagen production, resulting in the reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is excellent at promoting new cell turnover, hydration and reducing the appearance of rhytids, but like any other ingredient it will take several weeks to months to see significant results, so just give it time. In the end, most users will look in the mirror and smile.
      The great thing about retinol is that it has the ability to penetrate deep into the dermis to fight free radicals, thus allowing your fibroblast cells to resume normal function and synthesis of the macromolecules we've talked so much about. You know, collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid that are largely responsible for the integrity and composition of the extracellular matrix within your skin? As we know, the extracellular matrix keeps our skin looking full, elastic and radiant, so including this amazing ingredient into your normal skincare routine may prove to be a choice you won't regret.
      Additionally, retinol may be used with bakuchiol to produce even better results. The two are able to work together as bakuchiol may help reduce inflammation and some of the common side effects associated with retinoids, such as irritation, drying, peeling and redness. Both ingredients are very powerful on their own and when combined they may form a synergistic and very efficacious effect. Despite certain claims, retinol is safe for most people and skin types when used correctly.
      When considering safety it is important to note that those with sensitive skin should use caution when using this product and those with certain skin conditions, such as rosacea, should avoid use completely (or follow guidance from their dermatologist when using), as retinol can be relatively harsh when considering its side effects.
      In addition, retinol may make your skin more prone to sun damage during treatment, so always use sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or a moisturizer containing zinc oxide. Actually, just use sunscreen anytime you go out. And, as always, consult with your dermatologist before use of this or any other product.
      First time users of retinol should start slowly by using only a few times per week (at night) to allow their skin time to adjust to the side effects they may experience. These side effects are normal and should likely subside and go away after a few weeks of use. As the effects lessen, users may add an extra night of application until their skin has fully adjusted, in which case they may use every night, or as directed by a dermatologist. 
      When choosing a retinol product look carefully at the ingredient list and packaging. Your container should be air tight such as a pump bottle or tube to prevent rapid degradation of the product. In addition, many companies will use forms of retinol such as retinyl palmitate and retinyl linoleate as primary forms within their ingredient list. While still effective, they are weaker than true retinol. At Picasso Skin our Retinol Renewal comes in an air tight acrylic pump bottle and uses pure retinol (not animal-derived, but synthesized) as its main source and is listed within the top 5 ingredients of our formula.
      Lastly, as stated above, consult with your dermatologist before using any form of retinol whether alone, when included in a product or in combination with other products. 

      How to use our Retinol Renewal:

      • In the evening after cleansing and toning, apply 1 to 2 drops to entire face and neck or as directed.
      • Note: flaking may be experienced when using this product.
      • When using this product you should always use sunscreen and avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
      • Use caution when combining with other exfoliating treatments. 

       

      3. Niacinamide

        Niacinamide, (aka nicotinamide), is one of two forms of vitamin B3 and can be formed in the body as a derivative of niacin (the other form of vitamin B3, aka nicotinic acid). This water-soluble vitamin is also abundant in foods such as fish, yeast, meats, eggs, milk, green vegetables, beans and more. Additionally, it plays a critical role in the function and health of the cells in our bodies. This amazing ingredient has shown promise when considering a multitude of skin disorders and conditions such as (but not limited to), acne, eczema, hyperpigmentation, skin irritation, and, of course, those fine lines and wrinkles.

        Speaking of fine lines and wrinkles, niacinamide is somewhat limited in terms of research, however, the results of several studies are extremely promising, therefore, I have decided to include this as an ingredient to consider until the science says otherwise.

        In a double blind study involving females (average age of 50) showing signs of aging in the form of fine lines and wrinkles, researchers applied a 5% topical solution of niacinamide to half of their faces, but not the other, twice daily, for 12 weeks [9]. Using facial imaging and other forms of observations, results were obtained at 4 week intervals [9]. The results showed significant reduction of wrinkles, improvement in hyperpigmented spots, redness and skin sallowness (yellowing of the skin) on the treatment side of their faces, but not the other [9]. Additional findings showed that skin elasticity improved and participants generally tolerated the treatments well without irritation or any significant complications [9].

        In another similar double blind study involving 30 healthy Japanese females, researchers also used a split face approach to observe changes in fine lines and wrinkles in the eye areas over time [10]. Each participant applied a 4% solution of niacinamide on one side of their face and applied a control cosmetic (not containing niacinamide) on the other side for 8 weeks [10]. Researchers recorded results using doctors' observations and photographs based on guidelines set forth by the Japan Cosmetic Industry Association and also by determining the difference between skin roughness using skin replica [10]. The results showed a staggering improvement in 64% of the subjects when compared to the control solution applied to the other side of their faces [10]. Wrinkle reduction was significantly reduced well below pre-application levels when niacinamide was used [10]. In addition, only one participant experienced noticeable irritation to this vitamin treatment, further indicating that it is well tolerated by most [10].

        Niacinamide helps protect our skin as an occlusive through the formation of a protective barrier on our stratum corneum preventing transepidermal water loss. In addition, this awesome vitamin complex has been shown to inhibit photocarcinogenesis (in simplified terms, the creation of cancer cells via certain wavelengths of light, such as UV rays from the sun).

        Additionally, and most importantly, its most powerful characteristic when combating fine lines and wrinkles seems to be related to its association with NAD(H) and NADP(H) that act as strong indirect co-antioxidants in these reduced forms, but, unfortunately these electron carriers naturally produced in our bodies decrease with age.

        To understand what the above statements mean we first must discuss oxidized NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is a coenzyme (enzyme that binds to other enzymes to help with reactions). NAD+ is formed by its precursors niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide riboside and others. In our bodies, NAD+ is responsible for two major functions: 1.) It assists in turning nutrients into energy within our mitochondria via Krebs cycle (aka citric acid cycle), which ultimately produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate) responsible for cellular energy, and 2.) It helps proteins regulate numerous cellular functions, including cellular repair.  

        What does this mean and how does it apply to fine lines and wrinkles?  

        Now that we know what NAD+ is, we need to know its relationship with niacinamide, NAD(H), NADP(H) and fine lines and wrinkles. As referenced above, niacinamide, along with other B vitamins, are used to make NAD+ during Krebs cycle. During this cycle NAD(H) is formed from NAD+ by the addition of a charged hydrogen atom (H+) plus two electrons, thus neutralizing, or stabilizing  the molecule (NAD+ & H+ plus two electrons ultimately cancel the charge and render the molecule neutral). NAD can exist as both an oxidized form in NAD+ that can accept a hydrogen atom, or its reduced form NAD(H) which is able to reduce and donate a hydrogen (H+) atom and two electrons. As discussed before the reduced forms NAD(H) and NADP(H) are strong indirect co-antioxidants that assist in keeping our cells safe from oxidation of free radicals, which we know all too well are associated with cellular damage and wrinkles. 

        So where does NADP(H) and niacinamide stand in all of this? 

        To simply the process, NADP(H) is formed when the oxidized NADP+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) accepts a hydrogen atom and two electrons to become the reduced form NADP(H). In its reduced form it is able to donate a hydrogen atom and respective electrons. These electrons in particular are able to "reduce" (or "donate" themselves to) a free radical, therefore stopping the oxidative process. 

        To simplify further, niacinamide makes NAD+, which in return makes reduced NAD(H) by gaining a hydrogen atom (H+) and associated electrons (2e-). In addition, niacinamide also assists in the formation of oxidized NADP+, which ultimately forms the reduced NADP(H) molecule via the same mechanism [adding/gaining a hydrogen atom (H+) and two electrons]. Both reduced forms of NAD(H) and NADP(H) are very powerful indirect co-antioxidants that help form direct antioxidants. Direct antioxidants stop oxidation from free radicals, which protects our fibroblast cells responsible for producing the macromolecules needed to keep our skin looking supple, elastic and new. 

        One of our top selling products is currently receiving rave reviews, and for good reason. Our product formula for Peptide Moisture Illuminator (absolutely loaded with vitamin C, Niacinamide, vitamin E, Peptides, and much, much more) is a product I can't stop talking about. My partner and I, plus other customers absolutely love the ingredient profile of this silky, hydrating and anti-aging crème. I can't say enough about it and I apologize for ranting and raving so much. This is definitely a staple in my collection and I, personally, along with my partner have witnessed significant results over the months. Leave all the biochemistry aside and let this product do all the complex hard work for you. I love it! 

          

        4. Vitamin C

         

        Vitamin C, aka ascorbic acid, is one of the most potent antioxidants used in skincare. It is known for its ability to promote collagen production and may help defend against UV damage from the sun. This powerful water-soluble ingredient has also been used to tackle hyperpigmentation, wounds, scars, and of course, fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C can be found in kakadu plums, cherries, guavas, kiwis, broccoli, papayas, camu camu, and, of course, citrus fruits to name a few. Vitamin C is abundant in many foods and this is a good thing.

        This powerful antioxidant can be very efficacious in reducing the appearance of those fine lines and wrinkles and can work in multiple ways. So far, many of the ingredients we have covered primarily work against premature aging and photo-damaged skin via their free radical fighting properties. We know that antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals rendering them stable, resulting in repaired and healthy fibroblast cells responsible for new and supple looking skin. Vitamin C works through this same pathway, however, it has an additional trick up its sleeve. Due to its highly acidic nature this powerful ingredient "activates" our skin cells to heal themselves, thus, it promotes the production and synthesis of collagen (which, as we know is largely responsible for new and supple looking skin).

        Additionally, some forms of this amazing ingredient may have occlusive properties that prevent transepidermal water loss, therefore, for most people, this proven nutrient should have a solid place reserved for it in any skincare routine. When considering it's ability to protect and promote collagen production (via its antioxidant and acidic properties), protect against UV damage (which also contributes to wrinkles), its ability to help keep the skin hydrated (depending on which derivative used), this awesome ingredient may serve as the coup de grace to those fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, it's safe for most people when used correctly. What more can we ask for?

        A study involving 60 healthy female participants (of various ages) involved applying a vitamin C cream to their faces over the course of 60 days [11]. Researchers measured the effects on skin rejuvenation and collagen synthesis. Images were recorded and observed at 40 and 60 days post application to determine the anti-aging effects of this powerful nutrient [11]. The results of this study showed that vitamin C is extremely efficient in cellular rejuvenation and collagen synthesis [11]. In addition, these findings were equally observed in all age groups with almost no side effects [11].

        When searching for a vitamin C product I recommend looking for ascorbic acid (aka L-ascorbic acid), which is generally the most potent and stable form used on human skin. This form of vitamin C is great at penetrating deep into the skin and does not need to be converted into true vitamin C before working its magic like other derivatives do.

        Last, but not least, do you ever see vitamin C and vitamin E paired together in products? If you do that is because the two work synergistically together to pack a real wallop against free radicals responsible for fine lines and wrinkles. Remember α-Tocopherol (α-Toc) from our second article? Yep, vitamin C and α-Toc are great friends that definitely have you in their best interest. If you haven't read our second article on periorbital dark circles and eye bags, feel free to take a look and read about the relationship between these two vitamins.

        Another effective form of vitamin C to look for is tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (oil-soluble derivative which is good for aging skin as well), however, I still prefer L-ascorbic acid for its potency, stability, purity and the fact that it is the most researched and widely used. There are other forms of this vitamin that work well such as Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbate, Calcium Ascorbate and Ascorbyl Palmitate to name a few. It really comes down to your skincare needs, budget, tolerability and preference, but pound-for-pound, L-ascorbic acid reigns supreme in my opinion.

         

        A word of caution:

        • Try to avoid using vitamin C with other acidic products, as significant irritation may occur.
        • Those with extremely sensitive skin should try to avoid use and/or high concentrations (we recommend speaking with your dermatologist first before use)
        • Those who are allergic should avoid use.
        • Store vitamin C products in dark, cool, dry and air-tight conditions to maintain potency and prevent degradation of product. 

         

        Several of our products are loaded with so many anti-aging ingredients including vitamin C, such as Citrus Fruit Revitalizing Mask (featuring vitamin C packed Camu-camu and vitamin E), Oligopeptide Restoring Eye Complex (featuring the world's most abundant source of vitamin C, Kakadu Plum), Peptide Moisture Illuminator (absolutely loaded with vitamin C, niacinamide, vitamin- E and much, much more), and finally Vita - C Antioxidant Moisturizer (featuring vitamin C and vitamin E plus more). These are all formulated with in-house botanical extractions and made with selectively picked ingredients by some of the leading cosmetic chemists in the industry. As I usually say, I will be biased, but my word is my word and I stand by it. 

         

        *As always we highly recommend speaking with your dermatologist before using vitamin C, or any product to determine safety. In addition, always follow the directions given by your doctor or on the instruction label. A general rule of thumb is to apply ingredients from thinnest consistency to thickest and make sure you use products that work well together. Skin sensitivity should also be taken into consideration as well when starting any new product

         

        Conclusion:

        When considering the battle against fine line and wrinkles there are many options to choose from. As mentioned before some work better than others, some work great alone, some better in combination, and, some, unfortunately are just marketing gimmicks. When combating fine lines and wrinkles Phytoretinol (Bakuchiol), Retinol (Vitamin A), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), and Vitamin C are all outstanding and proven ingredients for the vast majority of users to knock out those fine lines and wrinkles over time. Of course it is equally important to do your best to live a healthy lifestyle in terms of sleep, nutritional intake, stop smoking, limit constant facial expressions, and take every measure possible (in a safe way), to protect yourself from excessive sun and UV exposure (like wearing SPF).

        At Picasso Skin we put every effort possible into making sure our clients receive the best quality products available that are tested, safe, effective and free of parabens, FD&C colors, hydroquinone, sodium lauryl sulfate, and animal-derived ingredients. In addition, we limit our use of fragrance to very small amounts in only a few of our products.

        With the above mentioned statements, we believe our products stand out due to our selective sourcing of ingredients, the science behind the ingredients, our innovative formulas, real world experience and our partnership with our world class cosmetic chemists and manufacturer. The ingredients mentioned in this article are backed by science, have been used successfully by our clients and are considered safe by EWG.org and other reputable sites.

        Last, but not least, I'd like to end this third article by saying an increasing number of people are opting for plant-derived ingredients over other potentially harmful options. Sometimes these harmful ingredients are underhandedly hidden away in proprietary blends and alternate names by companies who prioritize profit over people. These companies (not all of them) can be very clever and misleading using sneaky names like "natural" and other marketing strategies to fabricate a false sense of security in the consumer. Many of these "safe" and "natural" ingredients are known carcinogens, toxins and unethically sourced, but not labeled as such. While profiting is a great thing in any retail business, it should never be more important than the safety and health of the very people putting food on your table. Transparency is a must.  

        Until the fourth article in our series of seven, thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment below. We welcome all comments, suggestions, etc. Additionally, if you would like an article written on a particular topic, please feel free to contact us at info@picassoskin.com, or leave a comment below. Thanks again for taking the time out to read...hope you enjoyed...see you in two weeks :)

         

         

        References:

        [1] https://www.intechopen.com/books/tissue-regeneration/the-role-of-extracellular-matrix-in-tissue-regeneration
        [2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/448169/
        [3] https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/dry-skin-a-to-z
        [4] https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.researchgate.net/figure/UV-generates-oxidative-free-radicals-UV-photons-interact-with-atomic-oxygen-to-promote_fig5_237095045/amp
        [5] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/stages-of-sleep
        [6]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956/
        [7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24471735/
        [8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29947134/
        [9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16029679/
        [10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19017042/
        [11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19017042/

         

        Next article: Blackheads (type of acne)
         

         

        Important: Always remain patient when undergoing any skincare routine. It may take weeks to months and even up to 6 months for some users to see very significant results when using over-the-counter products. We are not doctors or dermatologists and our advice is based off of scientific research, our own experiences, available and reliable literature, safety analysis and our customer experiences. Our recommendations are for informational purposes only, so always contact your dermatologist before using any product or starting a skincare routine of any kind. We are always here for you as we are a company who truly cares about our clients satisfaction. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any questions you may have. 

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