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The Business Times
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The latest in anti-ageing
by Melissa Lwee

AGING may be inevitable but the quest for the fountain of youth is a never-ending one. Enterprising beauty companies capitalise on that by flooding the market with a plethora of anti-aging products, making it difficult not to be overwhelmed by the choices available.

Which is precisely why aesthetic doctor Yvonne Goh, advises scrutinising the ingredients and making sure that they are evidence-based before splurging on a product.

She suggests looking out for ingredients such as arbutin that helps whiten skin; vitamin A (retinoid) that keeps wrinkles from worsening; hyaluronic acid which is typically used in fillers and is a safe ingredient that helps to plump up sagging skin, and peptides which are good for smoothing out wrinkles.

'If in doubt, go to your doctor to double check the ingredients,' she says resolutely.

Ingredients aside, anti-aging product development is also increasingly reliant on technology. From genetic engineering to drawing inspiration from building structures, it seems the sky's the limit when it comes to reinvention and innovation. One thing's for sure, the anti-aging market is certainly one to be reckoned with. After all, who doesn't want to look young forever? Here's a look at what's new on the market.

Architectural inspirations

Who would have thought that architecture would one day have a bearing on skincare? Yet that knowledge is precisely what Chanel has based its latest anti-aging offering on. Launched last Friday, Chanel's Ultra Correction Lift range ($186 to $210) applies a structural concept called tensegrity to cosmetology. Tensegrity refers to all the forces of tension and compression that provide shape and ensure the stability and resilience of a three-dimensional (3D) structure. Chanel decided to apply this principle to beauty care since the skin also has its own 3D structure.

Through the action of a plant resin extract called Elemi PFA - a skin healing ingredient used in ancient Chinese medicine - the new range is said to stimulate the production of tensins.

Tensins are proteins that are found in abundance in young skin. They are anchoring proteins, rather like small hooks that are essential for holding the membranes of cells (called fibroblasts) to the skin's matrix. Tensins give fibroblasts their volume and hold them in a state of tension, thus improving the circulation of intercellular information.

'We worked on an in-vitro model of reconstructed dermis, that is dermis that is reconstructed in 3 dimensions. Alongside this model, we reconstructed another one which contained no tensin at all. The result we obtained was amazing,' reveals Chanel's biological research manager Gaelle Saintigny. 'We saw that in the model of equivalent dermis containing no tensin, there was no longer any contraction in the dermis as in the case under normal conditions, which indicates that the matrix was totally disorganised, resulting in a loss of tension of the fibroblasts in their environment.'

Genetic engineering

The result of a decade-long genomics and proteomics research programme, Lancôme's Genifique ($170) is its most high-profile anti-ageing product to date. It claims to have unlocked the protein profile of youthful skin.

Studies done by Lancôme show that there are certain proteins that are found more in young skin that in mature skin. Lancôme claims its Genifique concentrate is able to restart the activity of those genes responsible for producing these 'youth proteins'. The application of a few drops of the concentrate is said to result in radiant skin and complexion after as little as a week.

Genifique is now one of the hottest selling beauty products worldwide, a fact that comes as little surprise given the rave reviews that beauty writers have been bestowing on it.

'For the last 10 years, Lancôme has worked continuously towards recreating optimal expression of the genes that determine the youthfulness of skin, thus restoring synthesis of the proteins that are the signature of skin quality,' says Lancôme International's scientific director Veronique Delvigne.

Not to be outdone, beauty giant Estee Lauder has come up with its own answer to anti-ageing genetic technology - its Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex range ($88 to $130).

An upgraded version of its iconic DNA repair serum, the new product is based on the idea that healthy skin cells maximise repair functioning at night through a symphony of precisely timed repair responses based on the body's natural circadian cycle. The sequencing and timing of these responses is so critically important that they are synchronised by a specific family of genes called clock genes. Estee Lauder's new range is said to support the natural synchronisation of skin's repair, releasing protective mechanisms at exactly the right time. A new patented technology also helps to repair visible past damage from smoke and pollution.

Exotic ingredients

Most people think of plankton as whale food but apaprently, it makes good food for your skin as well, says Biotherm. Biotherm has chosen Pure Thermal Plankton as the key ingredient at the heart of all its products. The micro-organism that first appeared on Earth three billion years ago at the heart of thermal springs is said to stimulate the MnSOD gene - an enzyme that keeps skin youthful - and is yet again, the brand's choice of poison for its latest anti-aging range: Skin Vivo ($69-$145).

Touted as the first anti-aging skincare line able to reverse the aging process, the products contain a record amount of Pure Thermal Plankton. The line also packs in Reversol SV (extracted from the leaves of candle trees), which stimulates rebirth of new cells, as well as protection from UV radiation. According to Biotherm, the result is skin that looks 10 years younger in just four weeks.

More adventurous beauty lovers might try Garancia's Mysterious Repulper range ($65-$104 from Sephora outlets) which includes six botanical extracts, one of which is snake venom peptides. Snake venom peptides are said to help reduce wrinkle size by up to 52 per cent after 28 days of application. Anyone still up for Botox?

GPS for the skin

Dermatologist to the stars Dr Fredric Brandt has once again fused cutting-edge science with active ingredients in the newest addition to his high-tech skincare range, the Time Arrest Laser Tight ($89 from Scubbe the Apothecary).

Formulated with Dr Brandt's proprietary Age Reversing Platinum Technology, this product contains a highly effective platinum nano-particle delivery system that works like a GPS system within the skin, carrying vital active ingredients deeper into the skin.

Fused within the capsules are the following innovative ingredients: platinum heptapeptide, which improves the synthesis of collagen to restore the skin surface texture; sweet pea, which firms and tightens skin; and hyaluronic acid, which hydrates, builds volume and adds fullness.

The final result is said to be an instant firming effect, improved skin elasticity and the addition of fullness to the skin to deliver flawless, ageless-looking skin in minimal time - just what the doctor ordered.

This article was first published in The Business Times

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