While aesthetic dermatology can dramatically solve skin problems, Eric Gooris, director of Clarins Laboratories, doesn't view this approach as a threat to the cosmetic industry and points out that skincare products can still make a difference, although it may take a bit longer to see the results.
Eric Gooris, director of Clarins Laboratories.
"Cosmetic procedures don't come without risk and not everyone is ready to have them," he reasoned. "A [botox] injection can help you get rid of wrinkles, but you may lose your natural facial expression and may not be able to recognise yourself. And if I were the husband, I wouldn't want to wake up to see someone who's not my wife."
Based in Paris, Gooris ensures that promising products in the pipeline are developed based on new scientific findings. For example, the reformulation of Clarins' classic Extra-Firming cream came after the French company identified missing links essential for the skin's scaffolding, which is a mesh of collagen, elastin and other structural components within the dermis.
Produced by dermal cells called fibroblasts, collagen fibres make the skin tough and strong, whereas elastin fibres maintain elasticity and flexibility for bounce and resilience."Much has been said about collagen and elastin, but equally important is what links these two fibres and what links collagen fibres to dermal cells in order to constitute a good network," Gooris said. "In the past, we used to talk about collagen and elastin synthesis, but producing a lot of fibres is useless unless you know how to 'glue' and get them well-organised. The links are a new scientific discovery and without them the skin is like a string of pearls that can easily fall apart."
Our skin's ability to resist slackening largely depends on the anchoring of collagen fibres to fibroblasts, and the fibre-to-cell link involves two types of proteins, one of which is called fibronectin. Collagen and elastin fibres also need to be connected, and the second link requires a protein called Emulin-1 to ensure a healthy organisation of these fibres. With ageing, a decrease in the number of fibroblasts and quantity of structural fibres as well as the disorganisation of the network results in the deterioration of the dermal architecture.
Clarins claims that its researchers have found a way to assimilate proteins as fibre-to-cell and fibre-to-fibre links.
"As soon as we are aware of a new biological mechanism, we carry out tests to find and evaluate active ingredients," Gooris said. "It takes three to four years, more or less, to develop a new formula, and we have now reconnected the missing links to skin firmness with this reformulated cream."
Clarins' Extra-Firming cream was first introduced in 1978. The fifth generation of this product now features extracts from oats, hops, lotus, bananas and lemon thyme.
"It's not simply about putting exotic plant extracts into a product; scientific proof is needed before they become a skincare ingredient," emphasised Gooris, who said his work has made him familiar with no less than 176 plants which have been used in making Clarins products.
In traditional medicine, unripe banana is applied externally for its healing properties while lemon thyme is prescribed for digestive problems. Scientific research now shows that extracts from organic green banana and lemon thyme are associated with fibronectin and Emulin-1 and they were therefore selected as key ingredients for extra-firming day and night creams.
The day cream is scented with fresh notes of rose and camellia. The version for applying before going to bed releases a bouquet of lily of the valley, jasmine and iris. It is said to promote a beauty sleep when the skin's regeneration processes peak between 2am and 4am.
Before going out in the morning, Gooris strongly recommends applying sunscreen for skin protection, pointing out that repeated exposure to UV radiation breaks down collagen fibres while causing an accumulation of abnormal elastin, leading to a collapse of the dermal structure and sagging skin.
"It's harder to sell prevention than treatment. But once wrinkles appear you can only reduce the depth, and it's a dream to make them disappear," he said. "So you have to do as much as possible to delay the development of the signs of ageing and that also delays the need to have cosmetic procedures."
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- Writer: Noko