Over the course of the last decade, there is an evolving change in consumer’s trends. Most significantly, it was the transition from using common store-bought products to seeking out personalized supplements developed through consultation with experts in the field. These products are said to contain ingredients that specifically target deficiencies in their skin. 

Furthermore, the increasing realization among the public on the significance of ingesting your beauty product rapidly boosts growth of the “nutricosmetic” or the oral beauty market. Consumers are getting very resourceful these days and fast to search for information with their mobile devices. As such, it is only through strong research support that an ingredient may stand up to various challenges. In addition, consumers are also demanding products that contain ingredients that are “natural”, “plant-based”, “organic”, “cruelty-free (not tested on animals)” and with “free from” as well as “better for you” labels – indicating that the product is free from chemicals, irritants, and pollutants, just to mention a few examples. In short, the trend for cosmetics and personal care is heading towards incorporating scientifically-substantiated ingredients, confers convenience, and carries values of environmental consciousness.

In general, the antioxidant ingredient “carotenoids” have been well received and continue to be perceived as some of the top most recognizable ingredients in skin health products. This article will describe the benefits of non-GMO palm based mixed-carotenes in skin health.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are important antioxidants in the human skin. Since humans cannot synthesize carotenoids, they can only obtain carotenoids via dietary intake. Beta-carotene and alpha-carotene (ie: mixed-carotene) are two major carotene compounds available in the skin and they could serve as marker substances for the entire antioxidant network of human skin, which help to protect against free radicals invasion that could lead to skin damage.

It has been reported that carotenoids from dietary sources accumulate in the skin and contribute to the skin’s endogenous level of UV photoprotection. In a study conducted in Australia, healthy Caucasians with normal dietary intake of carotenoids only are examined to determine the role of dietary carotenoids in skin pigmentation and UV photosensitivity. Interestingly, it was found that carotenoids accumulate in the skin and confer photoprotective effects in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, carotenoids such as alpha carotene, beta carotene and lutein also contributed significantly to the yellowness of the skin color (Pezdirc K, et al., 2016). This clearly shows that if an individual consumes foods high in carotenoids, more carotenoids compounds such as alpha- and beta-carotene would accumulate in the skin tissues to promote healthy skin-tone, without direct sun exposure.

The Effects of UVA and UVB

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of electromagnetic energy emits by the sun. UV radiation covers the wavelength range of 100–400 nm, which is at a higher frequency and lower wavelength than visible light.

While UV rays are invisible to our naked eyes, increased UV exposure can cause skin cancer, cataract, and immune system damage. UVB rays have a short wavelength that reach the outer layer of our skin (the epidermis) and UVA rays have a longer wavelength that can penetrate the middle layer of our skin (the dermis). Both UVA and UVB affect our skin differently. UVA rays can cause skin cells to age, may bring indirect damage to the cells’ DNA, and are mainly linked to long-term skin damage such as development of wrinkles. Meanwhile, UVB rays have slightly more energy than UVA rays. They can damage the DNA in skin cells directly, and are the main rays that cause sunburn. They are also thought to cause most skin cancers.

Realizing the harmful effects of both UVA and UVB rays, sunscreen products are developed to provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays. However, we have to agree that not every centimeter of our skin including the face are protected by sunscreen at all times.  Many of us are not applying sunscreen correctly – including re-applying it at regular intervals. Hence, dietary-based protection plays a role in indirectly protecting our skin against the damaging effects of UVA and UVB –from the “inside”.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study shows that daily supplementation with mixed-carotenoids protects human skin against both UVB-induced erythema and UVA-induced pigmentation. The study was conducted at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Germany, in collaboration with Amway Corporation and published in the journal of Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine (Baswan SM, et al., 2020).

In the study, 60 volunteers were randomized into 2 groups; given (i) multi-carotenoids supplement containing 4.25 mg β-carotene and 1.10 mg α-carotene (from EVTene™), 1.12 mg lutein, 0.053 mg zeaxanthin, per softgel, or (ii) placebo, respectively. The minimal persistent pigmentation dose (MPPD) was determined by visual grading 20 to 24 hours after irradiation with a “Dermalight 80 MPD” test and the minimum PPD dose is defined as the smallest UVA dose required to produce brown pigmentation. The increase in MPPD reading indicates increased protection against UVA-induced skin pigmentation. It was found that daily oral intake of such carotenoids-complex, but not of placebo, increases UVA-induced MPPD values and hence protects human skin against UVA-induced pigmentation and UVA radiation. This is the first clinical evidence that oral intake of such carotenoids complex can protect human skin against UVA radiation.

Besides measuring the UVA (320-400 nm) radiation, photoprotective effect of carotenoids against UVB (290-320 nm) radiation was determined by measuring minimal erythema dose (MED). MED is the minimal amount of energy required to induce visible erythema (redness of the skin), which can be defined as a uniform, clearly demarcated redness at 16-24 hours after UV exposure. Compared to placebo, the study found that volunteers who took carotenoid supplementation for 12 weeks had significantly reduced reading in UVB-induced MED. Thereby indicating that supplementation with carotenoids complex confers protection from potential UVB-induced skin damage.

In addition to that, the study also demonstrated that nutritional supplementation with carotenoids complex is associated with a significant increase in carotenoids levels in human skin. The carotenoids level in the skin was measured by manual reflectance spectroscopy-based device produced by Biozoom Services GmbH, on the thenar eminence of the palm of the hand. The Biozoom® scanner uses Multiple Spatially Resolved Reflection Spectroscopy (MSRRS) to precisely measure the carotenoids level before and after supplementation. It was hypothesized that these photoprotective effects (against UVA and UVB) are due to the enhanced synergistic antioxidant activity of the carotenoids complex. Hence, supplementation of such carotenoids complex increases both carotenoids level and antioxidant capacity in our skin, which may support in counteracting oxidative stress exerted by both UVA and UVB irradiation. 

Conclusions

The vast number of ingredients for skincare and nutricosmetics available in the marker currently might leave one confused when choosing the best product to manage their skin health. In regard to this, formulators and manufacturers should choose scientifically-substantiated ingredients to ensure they produce products that meet consumers’ demands.

A nutricosmetic product formulated with multi-carotenoids including alpha and beta-carotene from EVTene™ could provide photoprotection as evidenced by human research. EVTene™ is a natural mixed-carotene complex extracted from sustainably produced, non-GMO Malaysian red palm oil.

References:

Baswan SM, et al. (2020). Orally administered mixed carotenoids protect human skin against ultraviolet A-induced skin pigmentation: A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed.

Pezdirc K, et al. (2016, Aug). Consuming High-Carotenoid Fruit and Vegetable Influences Skin Yellowness and Plasma Carotenoids in Young Women: A Single-Blind Radsomized Crossover Trial. J Acad Nutr Diet, 116(8), 1257 – 65.