Skin Cop - Constance Campion - Chirality vs Glycolic Acids: Part 2

Wide use of Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is widely used by the vast majority of therapists and practitioners in the hope that it will resolve common cosmetic skin concerns in every category of cosmetic skin concern.  Leading author Leslie Kenton, founder of Origins discusses the merits of chiral correction in her book Skin Revolution, (co-authored with her son Jesse a leading plastic surgeon). Kenton describes glycolic acid as the most widely used AHA, and adds that glycolic acid, is a caustic chemical related to the amino acid glycine, used in peels and to dissolve the dead cells on the surface of the skin.

Glycolic is not the panacea for good skin, that many are naively misguided to believe:

Skin does not have a receptor site for glycolic acid.

It has a highly corrosive nature.

It causes serious irritation

Irritation can precipitate a free radical cascade initiating the skin’s immune responses.

The percentage of a glycolic acid product has been the guideline for the vast majority of users and for those who sell it. In addition to the concentration, the pH of the acid also contributes in determining the potency of glycolic acid, as also frequency of use determines its role in the skin.  The scientific arguments about glycolic acid over-use have been postulated for some years, in with anecdotal and scientific evidence that it exposes the skin to barrier disruption.

The main issue with glycolic acid is how it is over-prescribed, and expected to eradicate skin problems by removing the stratum corneum of the skin.  Whilst exfoliation is an important step in an advanced skincare regime, a less irritating and disruptive modality than glycolic acid is advocated.

Recent research points to the need to maintain the delicate balance of phospholipids. Phospholipids are a major class of lipids in epidermal lamellar bodies, where they serve as a source of free fatty acids that are important for the maintenance of epidermal permeability barrier function.

Biao Lu et al, from The University of California in San Francisco, reporting in the Journal of Lipid Research on the expression and regulation of 1-Acyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphate Acyltransferases in the epidermis altered barrier requirements; which suggests that epidermal phospholipid synthesis is modulated to maintain epidermal permeability barrier homeostasis. This plays a vital role in barrier function and collagen synthesis and contributes to the vital function of protecting the nuclei of the cells in the epidermis and the collagen of the dermis.

In continuously clearing away the stratum corneum, front-line treatments should not be corrosive as such processes. If this is ignored the long-term damage caused is measurable in pre-mature ageing and skin health damage. Patients who have used glycolic often report skin smoothing and temporary reduction in fine lines, but this is as a result of irritation which causes erythema and therefore, plumps up the skin-temporarily.  Meanwhile in deeper layers of the skin, the ingredient causes inflammation and ageing.

Some glycolic peels can have a pH as low as 0.6 (strong enough to completely keratolyse the epidermis), while acidities for home peels can be as high as 2.5 A gentler and more effective AHA is lactic acid in its chiral correct enantiomer L-lactic acid. Naturally recognised by the skin cells receptor sites, it has optical activity. Glycolic acid exhibits no optical activity. Lactic acid comes in three forms, D-lactic acid, DL-lactic acid and L-lactic acid.

The first two forms are most commonly used by skincare manufactures since they are inexpensive and easy to come by. Neither the D- nor the DL-form is natural to the body. This does not mean that the D or the DL-form will not carry out  the job of sloughing off dead cells, but the chirally correct L-lactic acid, can not only refine the skins surface, but can improve the way the skin functions also.

Due to cell receptor recognition, L-lactic does not behave like a foreign invader in the skin so its molecular structure does not reap havoc. It has its own ability to calm skin and reduces the chance of scarring when used for peels. L-lactic acid also encourages the skin to manufacture more glycoproteins, glycolipids and glycosaminoglycans, which form the gel-like modicum of the skin’s matrix. It also supports the skin’s plasma membrane and basement membranes – rich in strengthening and moisturising compounds. D-lactic acid and DL-lactic acid cannot do this. L-lactic offers effective skin refining and resurfacing yet is carries minimum risk or irritation. As L-lactic acid also brightens skin, this makes it a most useful tool in treating photodamage and pigmentation.

Chirally correct compounds are required to communicate with the skin in the most effective way. They target specific receptors sites. so as to reduce irritation and inflammation whilst delivering skin correction and protection.  The bottom line on all of this is that we do have strong evidence that chirally correct ingredients are better for the body, because they are naturally recognised by cellular receptor sites.

If one considers how many molecules are skilfully engineered to unnaturally “mimic” and therefore deceive the cells’ receptor sites, my money is on natural recognition system through the chirality system that nature naturally engineers to function.  There is ample scientific, clear evidence that chirally correct ingredients are better for the skin and are certainly successful in treating challenging skin concerns through restoring skin cell function.

B U Y E R    B E W A R E 

Manufactures of skincare and other medical devices often have a tendency to put marketing at the forefront of their sales strategy, rather than the education and the evidenced results that customers need to see. They also have the resources to proffer doctors to evidence what they want their customers to believe.

Many of the medical experts that are presenting their research today in the rejuvenation speciality are sadly pioneers of their own hidden agendas. An uneducated market is one, which is far easier to sell and to supply. Due to this fact, many US, some recession hit companies have targeted the UK.  My professional advice is Buyer Beware.

Constance Campion is an analyst with an interest in medical private equity, Her position in the area of rejuvenation healthcare sciences is rooted in her education, knowledge, and experience as a specialist nurse practitioner in plastic surgery, medical aesthetics and anti-ageing wellness medicine. Described by Vogue magazine and Storm as one of their top beauty secrets, she has successfully merged two distinct careers as a market analyst and as a nurse, working alongside her husband and others at Plastic Surgery Associates UK and The London Wellness Anti-Ageing Medicine Centre. A champion of safe technologies in rejuvenation medical enterprise, nursing status and professional education, she is Vice-President of AIMA and a Director of Medico Beauty Ltd.

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