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Go all natural to maintain healthy skin!

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Tags: Personal Care

Our skin is not only our largest organ, packaging our most valuable assets such as blood, bones, brain, or heart from the outside world, but it also provides a first and critical line of defense against germs, chemicals and other contaminants. It is an integral part of the regulation process of our body temperature and provides us with the sense of touch. Upon sun exposure, our skin cells are also capable of producing vitamin D3, a potent anti-aging vitamin beneficial for the whole organism. The state of our skin can therefore be considered a reflection of the state of our health. When it comes to skin care products, skin pretty much acts as a sponge and absorbs all the chemicals and other artificial ingredients. While most cosmetics are rigorously tested for safety, chronic exposure to large quantities of these chemicals could prove detrimental in the long term. That is why, cosmetic companies now attempt to develop 100% organic and plant-based skin care products with no additives.


As an example, caffeic acid is naturally produced by hundreds of plants and serves as a key component in the biosynthesis of lignin, which builds the plant biomass and its residues. It can also be found in beverages and food including apple juice, argan oil, barley grain, bee propolis, coffee, tea and wine. Studies show that caffeic acid is a strong anti-oxidant in both plants and humans. It significantly reduces inflammation by down-regulating the expression of NF-κB both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, it is beneficial against tumorigenesis and metastasis. However, very little is known about its potential effects as a skin therapeutic agent.

Dr. Kim and colleagues from the R&D Center of Skin Science and Cosmetics screened synthetic organic and natural compounds for agonists of peroxisomes proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR)-α, a ligand-activated transcription factor belonging to the steroid nuclear receptor family and a decisive protagonist linked with the increased synthesis of cholesterol and ceramides in keratinocytes during epidermal differentiation and barrier recovery. Using reporter cells, they determined that caffeic acid was a natural PPAR-α agonist and was ultimately selected for further analysis. By measuring LDH activity, the authors of this study demonstrated that treatment of keratinocytes with 100-200µM of caffeic acid was not cytotoxic. It led to the increased expression of cornified envelope-associated proteins such as involucrin and transglutaminase-1 both at the mRNA and protein level concomitantly with the increased production of insoluble proteins indicative of cornified envelope formation and epidermal differentiation. They also noticed that caffeic acid was just as good a radical scavenger as ascorbic acid with potent anti-oxidant properties.

Altogether, these data suggest that caffeic acid has several advantages and could be hugely beneficial to damaged skin as a natural component of skin care products with no adverse effects. This study can also be regarded as a building block for further experiments using the still untapped resources of natural compounds and their use in personal care.

Enzo Life Sciences offers comprehensive tools for advancing your research in personal care such as the Screen-Well® Natural Product library which contains 502 compounds including caffeic acid and is an ideal starting point for any screening program for active small molecules. In addition, Enzo offers antibodies, live cell assays and other small molecules, some of which are listed below:

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  1. B. Kim, et al. Caffeic acid induces keratinocyte differentiation by activation of PPAR-α. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. (2014) 66: 84-92..

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