The missing ingredient is an antioxidant (a type of stable molecule) commonly found in nature. Experiments have shown that these antioxidant molecules remove excess iron from cells, thereby helping cells maintain healthy levels of free radicals (a type of unstable molecule). Free radicals and free iron are closely related to skin damage.
Scientists have long known that iron accumulation promotes the appearance of aging, but the latest research highlights the interplay between free iron and free radicals in the skin. As a result of their findings, Dr. Pourzand urged skin care manufacturers to look more closely at opportunities to include iron-trapping extracts in their products.
However, a number of natural extracts that trap iron have been identified in the Bath laboratory (they include several types of plant, mushroom and marine compounds, among them extracts from certain vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, bark and flowers). Dr Pourzand said more research is needed before any of these compounds are fit for commercial use.
“While the antioxidants we have identified work well under laboratory conditions, they do not necessarily remain stable once added to the cream,” she said. “These extracts come from plants, and environmental factors affect their long-term stability and effectiveness – anything from the season in which they were grown, soil type, latitude and fall time. plans can vary the strength with which they can neutralize free radicals as well as act as iron traps.”
She added: “What is needed now is for the bioactive chemicals in these extracts to be standardized – once that has happened, they can and should be added to products. designed to protect skin from aging.”
Sun exposure and skin aging
Sunscreens on the market today are designed to block or absorb UV rays. In doing so, they reduce the number of free radicals produced in the skin – it is these unstable molecules that are responsible for skin damage and aging, in a process known as oxidative stress. . Free radicals cause damage by damaging DNA and other cellular components, and this sometimes leads to cell death.
What has not been considered in sunscreen and anti-aging formulations is the role of iron, which causes direct damage to the skin when it interacts with UV radiation and amplifies the damage caused by free radicals.
“This needs to change,” Dr. Pourzand said. “Formulas need to be adapted and improved.”
The antioxidant compounds identified at Bath were able to protect against both chronological aging (the natural deterioration of skin texture with age) and photo-aging (known as is the aging process).
While the body needs iron to function properly, too much (or too little) is harmful or even causes our cell death. To protect themselves from this danger, our cells have a well-developed system for correcting excess iron as it accumulates, thereby bringing it back to equilibrium (known as homeostasis). However, in the presence of sunlight, this balance is disrupted, leading to damaged skin, aging and sometimes cancer.
Aging over time also contributes to iron imbalances, especially in post-menopausal women, meaning that older people (and older women in particular) are more vulnerable. than others against the devastating effects of the sun.
The consulting work undertaken by Dr Pourzand on this study was supported by the Consulting Service in Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath.