The “how” in this post means: is there a biochemical mechanism known to support using X or Y on your skin?
I am not against using an ingredient shown to be useful just because we don’t know how it works. But removing the “magic” and replacing it with understanding is so much nicer. So here we go for some of the mechanisms of action in your favorite ingredients.
Don’t be discouraged by the complexity; nobody will test you!
Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally occurring dithiol complex, is the prosthetic (i.e. non-proteic) group of several enzymes, including the transacetylase part of the enzyme complex that catalyzes the decarboxylation of pyruvate so that the remaining 2-carbon group can enter the Krebs cycle.
Apocynin promotes the survival of stem cells and the cells derived from stem cells by promoting synthesis of collagen 17, a protein crucial to the anchoring of the new cells to the dermal/epidermal junction, preventing skin thinning and premature aging.
Arbutin resembles the amino acid tyrosine enough to “fool” tyrosinase, the enzyme that catalyzes the first transformation of tyrosine into melanin. Inhibition of the enzyme in this way is called “competitive” because the false substrate, arbutin, competes with the real one, tyrosine, for the enzyme’s active site.
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a water-soluble antioxidant, and it’s also a cofactor for an enzyme crucial in the synthesis of collagen, prolyl hydrolase.
Betulinic acid (from Betula alba extract) stimulates collagen synthesis and inhibits the enzyme elastase, preventing and correcting the loss of elastic fibers.
Boswellic acids act via inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase, an enzyme that catalyses the two first steps in the oxygenation of arachidonic acid and its conversion into leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are involved in inflammation and hypersensitivity reactions that are important defense mechanisms but have also been implicated as mediators of hypersensitivity reactions and allergic conditions.
Caffeine increases intracellular concentrations of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) by inhibiting phosphodiesterase enzymes in skeletal muscle and adipose tissues. These actions promote lipolysis by activating hormone-sensitive lipases by releasing free fatty acids and glycerol.
Pantothenic acid is a component of coenzyme A, required in synthesis of fatty acids and sphingolipids, components are of crucial importance for stratum corneum lipid bilayers and cell membrane integrity.
L-Carnitine, a derivative of the amino acid lysine, carries activated fatty acids through the mostly impermeable inner mitochondrial membrane, allowing the respiration of fatty acids.
Carnosine prevents cross-linking of collagen and other proteins in the dermis, one of the causes of wrinkles and loss of elasticity brought about by aging and exposure to UV (sunlight).
Coenzyme Q10 is a crucial molecule in electron transport, itself part of respiration. Located in the mitochondria.
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a protein that binding to specific receptors on the cell surface, starting a cascade of very organized molecular events, including increased intracellular calcium concentration, energy production and protein synthesis.
Fisetin selectively kill senescent cells are called “senolytic,” and it may delay the onset of the aging phenotype, attenuate the severity of age-related diseases, improve resiliency, and improve the survival of the individual.
Folic acid is a vitamin (group B) because it is required for human metabolism but cannot be synthesized bu humans (we cannot make PABA or attach glutamic acid to pteroic acid, required to make the folate molecule). Although folic acid is normally mentioned in connection with pregnancy because its deficiency during gestation can lead to serious birth defects, everybody needs it because it is required for DNA synthesis and cell division.
Coming soon: letter G onwards!
Claims on this page have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.