Biomimetics in skincare

In the last couple of years the term “biomimetics” is used more and more often in the beauty industry in relation to skincare products. But what are they? “Biomimetics or biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems”. Inspired by biological solutions, biomimetics have given a start to new technologies from macro to nanoscales. Did you know that planes were inspired by birds? George de Mestral was inspired to invent Velcro after noticing how easy it was for burrs to stick to his dog’s hair. Upon studying them under a microscope, he noticed the simple design of tiny hooks at the end of the burr’s spines. It’s a great example of biomimetics on a macro scale. Humans have looked at nature for answers throughout our history.

Biomimetics could be applied in many fields. Because of the diversity of biological systems, the number of models that might be imitated is limitless. One of them is skin composition. Human skin has three layers: the epidermis, the outer layer that is a waterproof barrier and is responsible for our skin tone. The dermis, beneath the epidermis, consists of connective tissue, sweat glands, sebaceous glands and hair follicles. The deepest layer, hypodermis, is a subcutaneous tissue and it‘s made out of fat and connective tissue.

There is a layer of lipids that covers the surface of the skin which are of sebaceous and keratinocyte origin. Lipids of epidermal origin fill the spaces between the cells. The sebaceous lipids are mainly triglycerides, wax esters and squalene, and epidermal lipids are a mixture of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol.

Sebaceous glands are microscopic glands located in the dermal layer of the skin that secrete an oily substance called sebum. Its function is to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair. It also creates a protective barrier disabling bacteria and other microbes from entering the body. In cosmetic application sebum can also be a barrier which does not allow active ingredients to enter the skin. DMS (Dermal Membrane Structure) system, used in some of the most advanced skincare products, are used to enhance absorption of active ingredients. DMS creams are also called “base creams”, and they are chemically and physically similar to the lamellar structure of the natural skin barrier. DMS then helps with penetration of the products into the skin, where they are able to act on a cellular level. Not all lipids will give that effect though- they must be similar to those naturally occurring in the skin. Elaspa creams use DMS technology ensuring a light consistency and enhanced absorption of the actives.

Another example of biomimetics would be the use of peptides to mimic those naturally made by our body to compete with them on a cellular level by altering a normal cell function eg. acetyl-hexapeptide-8, a botox like peptide or gatuline (found in elaspa oxygenating cream forte)- an oil-soluble active that changes the dermis structure for firming and tightening effect.

Some extracts from plant materials that survive extreme conditions are used in skincare products for the same purpose: to protect the skin in extreme environments- eg. ReGeniStem Red RiceTM- (key ingredient in elapromed Vital Cell compound), may be able to influence the skin barrier function in the dermal and epidermal layers. This increase could translate into skin that is able to better withstand the effects of a harsh environment. Also making aged cells behave more like young cells thanks to affecting a gene involved in collagen synthesis.

Some skincare products on the market claim to be “biomimetics” because they use active ingredients that normally exist in the human body, however, that is not enough. A true “biomimetic” ingredient needs to have a proper molecular size to actually penetrate the skin. For example, most of the hyaluronic acids in skin care products have a higher molecular weight than that found in the body. It means that the particles are too big to penetrate the skin and will just sit on the surface. A truly “biomimetic” hyaluronic acid will have low moleculer weight. Elaspa hyaluronic acid 2 in 1 consists of two molecule weights, high and low, so it works inside and out the skin bringing moisture from every angle.

There is a significant difference between biomimetics and products that are bio-compatible. The latter simply means that the products are not harmful to living tissue but do not guarantee its desired effect when applied on the skin. It’s good to have that knowledge to be able to see past many marketing claims on certain products, which are not formulated properly to achieve any results and spend our money wisely on those that deliver the highest quality ingredients.

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