Fractionated melanin—a major advance in sun protection
Dr Zein Obagi describes the benefits of topical application of fractionated melanin, including protection against the damaging effects of high energy visible light
Facial skin is remarkable for its ability to reveal health or disease of the skin, as well as that of the other organs of the body. Genetics, environmental exposure, hormonal changes, and metabolic processes, alone or together, lead to changes in skin structure, function, tolerance, and appearance.
For profound beneficial clinical changes, skin must be treated on the cellular level with agents that target different layers and cells of the skin. My personal approach to the restoration and maintenance of skin health is based on the anatomical and physiological properties of the skin.
In any discussion of skin ageing, it is important to differentiate between biological ageing (chronological ageing) and photoageing that is a direct result of exposure to sunlight. Clinically, the appearance of photoaged skin is distinctly different from biologically aged, sun-protected skin. The most visible signs of biological ageing include laxity, paleness, smooth-to-fine wrinkling, deepening of expression lines, dryness, and general thinning. Bruising is more common and healing is slower.
In contrast, visibly photoaged skin is more yellowish in pigmentation with marked areas of hyperpigmentation, coarser and roughened in texture, more lax and more deeply wrinkled.
These differences are readily evident when comparing skin areas of the elderly that are usually covered, and thus photoprotected, with areas that have not been photoprotected. As a general rule, individuals with biologically aged, photo-protected skin appear younger than individuals with photodamaged skin who are of the same chronological age.
In biological ageing, most skin functions are slowed, and there is atrophy of tissues while, in photoageing, there is an increase in irregular activity with hypertrophy of certain tissues. Although exposure to UV radiation is the most important extrinsic factor in skin ageeing, other external factors such environmental toxins and infectious agents may also play a role.
Ongoing photoageing results in marked changes to both the epidermal and dermal layers that are distinct from those observed with biological ageing. Photoageing of the skin is broadly characterised by hypertrophy. Sebaceous glands become enlarged, and neoplastic growths are frequent.
In marked contrast to biologically ageing skin, the dermis of photodamaged ageing skin thickens and small blood vessels become dilated and deranged. The microvasculature collapses, showing only a few dilated, thickened, tortuous vessels. In addition, the number of hair follicles is reduced and hair thinning is more prominent than in biologically aged skin.
Excessive sun exposure causes significant changes in the epidermis. Melanocytes increase, enlarge, and become more branched. Keratinocytes may become vacuolated, atrophy, become necrotic, or show variation in size, shape, and staining properties.
The thickness of the photodamaged epidermis is variable with alternating areas of atrophy and hyperplasia. It is thought that atrophy may result from depletion of cells from the basal layer, while areas of hyperplasia may reflect compensatory overgrowth of UV-damaged tissue.
The effects of HEV light
While consumers are now well educated regarding the dangers associated with cumulative exposure to sunlight and especially the ultraviolet, UVA and UVB wavelengths, findings in recent years indicate that we have yet to explore the full spectrum of benefits and adverse effects related to sun exposure. One of the more striking scientific discoveries is that skin damage caused by high energy visible light may be as harmful as the damage caused by UVA and UVB light combined.
High energy visible (HEV) light is a high frequency light in the violet/blue band with wavelengths from 400 to 500 nm in the visible spectrum. Studies conducted to evaluate the effect of HEV light on skin demonstrated damaging effects to the epidermal and dermal tissues that was mediated via the generation of a variety of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These can result in indirect DNA damage and gene activation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) enzymes that degrade the dermal fiber network and may lead to premature ageing.
Like UVA, HEV light may be another silent, long term ageing wavelength. It does not generate the immediate erythema or edema reactions triggered by UVB and UVA. It may induce carcinogenesis and accelerated photoageing. While the effect of UVB radiation is associated with direct damage to the DNA since it is absorbed by it, the cellular damage caused by HEV radiation is less direct and is associated with the generation of free radicals and the induction of oxidative stress. Melanins are heteropolymers formed by oxidative polymerisation of the amino acids tyrosine or tryptophan.
Liposhield HEV Melanin
Melanin occurs naturally in the human body where it is released from melanocytes into the skin as a first line of defence against exposure to certain damaging light waves. Liposhield HEV Melanin is a novel, patent pending ingredient that is the first cosmetic ingredient designed to protect the skin from damaging high energy visible light.
Liposhield HEV Melanin is a fractionated melanin designed to be used topically as an additional defence. It shields the skin from high energy blue/violet visible light (HEV) that may induce premature ageing according to recent scientific studies. Red visible light is deemed to have beneficial effects, and Liposhield HEV Melanin is tailored so that red light can be transmitted to the skin.
We have been able to successfully incorporate this breakthrough ingredient into a novel formulation while maintaining its efficacy. ZO Oclipse Smart Tone Broad Spectrum SPF50 is a highly advanced broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen designed to blend into almost any skin tone. Patented, customisable colour beads utilising a comprehensive UVA/UVB photostable sun protection system helps provide daily protection from damaging ultra violet rays, while fractionated melanin helps shield against damaging HEV light. The addition of Vitamin C helps to achieve an even-toned complexion by inhibiting pigment formation, and we have enriched the formulation with skin conditioners to improve skin texture.
The Smart Tone Broad Spectrum SPF50 also helps prevent future oxidative stress with DNA repair and protection and minimises the irritants that can cause skin redness.
It has an exclusive 12-hour time release antioxidant system which helps to guard against photo-damage and the sunscreen restores hydration with skin conditioners that aid in strengthening the skin barrier
We believe that this novel ingredient represents the future of sun protection.
For more information on Dr Obagi’s Acne Recommendations, buy his breakthrough new book—The Art of Skin Health Restoration and Rejuvenation (CRC Press) at http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781842145968—with a 15% discount at check-out using the promotional code DBP36