The “natural athlete”: the essential oils as performance enhancers

montagne_simoI remember a speech by Prof. Gerhard Buchbauer (Dept of Clinical Pharmacy and diagnostics at Vienna University, Austria) held at Sana, the International exhibition of organic and natural products in 2008: in particular during his speech entitled “Aromatherapy: recent advances in scientific research” he showed human electroencephalograms evidencing increased activities of specific cerebral areas after inhalation of certain essential oils. In order to get in depth to the matter I found some Literature dealing with the ability of typical fragrances in helping cognitive functions and attenuating pain (i.e. Peppermint [1]), activating blood circulation, helping in lactic acid removal (i.e. camphor and Rosemary [2] ) or eliciting  potent antioxidant and anti inflammatory activities (i.e. Tea Tree, Lemon e Thyme [3] ). It seems clear that each essential oil is endowed with specific therapeutic properties and it is able to give different effects when inhalated or administered on the skin. As a matter of fact the essential oils can acts therapeutically by three distinct ways:
1.    Pharmacological – by causing real biochemical changes at cellular level
2.    Physiological – by acting to specific body systems
3.    Psychological – by stimulating an olfactive feedback
By first and second ways the essential oils biocomponents penetrate through epidermis [4] (or they are absorbed by digestive or respiratory systems) and reach organs and cells by blood circulation, in the third case they enter the organism by nasal flow.
ciclismoIn the same year I started to intensify my sport activity with cycling and I tried to better understand potential benefits elicited by essential oils and the possibility to improve my performances. For instance, does a “psycho-aromatic” influence exist on the athletes? It is fully recognized that mental wellness deeply influences sport performances therefore portable music players for music listening are prohibited in competitive marathons because are intended as “emotional doping”. For this reason, the act of simple smelling a specific essential oil or a blend of them could stimulate cognitive ability and give a good contribute to reach a top sport achievement.
One of the most important features for an aerobic endurance athlete (i.e. a marathon runner or a cyclist) is represented by risk of muscular damage associated to lactic acid production (cramps) [2] and to the oxidative stress caused by free radicals originated by prolonged efforts. The latter phenomenon is effectively counteracted by antioxidants which represent a potent solution to protect cells and the whole organism from negative effect caused by free radicals (tissue ageing, muscular pain, etc.).
Researchers at Tufts University (Boston, Massachusetts) have designed and validated the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)  [5]  laboratory test to determine radical oxygen radical absorption by food and natural products and is nowadays recognized as one of the most widespread technique to measure antioxidant capacity.  By using this method, it is shown that the antioxidant power of essential oils is much higher than commonly believed antioxidant molecules or food such as Vitamin E, orange or lemon juice. Moreover, the pure essential oils – obtained by natural methods – are much more potent and effective in comparison to their single components (natural or synthetic molecule). For instance, the preservative ability of not-adulterated eucalyptus oil is higher compared to the main component eucalyptol [6].
trainingFor this reasons, scientific evidences showed the importance of essential oils for an athlete who  wants improve his performances in a natural way and I definitely chose Olio Strongful® by BeC as a strong partner before and after daily training: it has become fundamental  for me because its blend of diverse essential oils has been conveniently designed to gain the “winning synergy”.

Along with Olio Strongful, the dietary supplement PerforMax is particularily suitable for aerobic fitness such as marathon when good resistance is required. Olio Strongful and PerforMax represent optimal tools to reverse muscular deficit (with cramps and oxidative stress) associated to prolonged efforts. The subsequent free radicals overproduction is deeply counteracted by antioxidant activity of ingredients of our both products along with their precious essential oils.

Learn more information about Olio Strongful and PerforMax on BeC website.

[1] Fox M., Krueger E., Putterman L., Schroeder R. The Effect of Peppermint on Memory Performance.  Physiology 435, Spring 2012
[2] Diego MA, Jones NA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, McAdam V, Galamaga R, Galamaga M. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations Int J Neurosci. 1998 217-24.
[3] Ali B., Ali Al-Wabel N., Shams S., Ahamad A., Alam Khan S., Anwar F.. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review.  Asian Pac J Trop Biomed 2015; 5(8): 601–611
[4] Gabbanini S., Lucchi E., Carli M., Berlini E. , Minghetti A., Valgimigli L.. In vitro evaluation of the permeation through reconstructed human epidermis of essentials oils from cosmetic formulations J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2009 Oct 15;50(3):370-6
[5] Bentayeb K, Vera P, Rubio C, Nerín C. The additive properties of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) assay: the case of essential oils. Food Chem. 2014 Apr 1;148:204-8.
[6] Tadtong S, Puengseangdee C, Prasertthanawut S, Hongratanaworakit T. Antimicrobial Constituents and Effects of Blended Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Patchouli, Pine, and Cajuput Essential Oils.Nat Prod Commun. 2016; 11, 267-70

How to end your day after getting some sunshine? Three tips from Nature…

Welcome Summer! It’s time to escape from suffocating heated cities and find some cool rest on seaside, at lake or in a swimming pool! Let’s pay particular attention to sunburns, especially on first sunshine days. You shouldn’t get sunshine during the hottest hours in the day and don’t forget to protect your skin with suitable sunscreens. How to take care of your skin and nourish your entire body after a  daylong suntan? Any precaution to adopt?

protezionesolareGenerally speaking, we recommend restoring skin balance after a sunshine day and contrasting free radicals formation which increases with sun exposure. It’s better to reintegrate lost liquids by drinking a lot of water or vitamin-rich fruit juices. Concerning our diet, don’t forget to take proper amount of vitamin A, C and E, endowed with antioxidant properties and restore all lost minerals and vitamins with a light dinner.

After getting all daylong sunshine our skin might turn red and irritated despite sunscreen application. What should we do? A relaxing bath or shower with soothing actives could alleviate burning sensation and itchy, caused by sand and salt or misused sunscreen application. Cleansing our skin after suntan with a suitable product is really important not only to define suntan but only to ensure proper skin hydration. Do not misunderstand! Skin hydration is not obtained by a simple shower but the application of a good cleansing and moisturizing product could really restore skin hydration. Let’s discover how:

Bagno Doccia by BeC is designed for all skin types without SLS, SLES, preservatives, dyes and artificial perfumes. The special Malachite extract gives Bagno Doccia a unique and charming touch. Malachite was considered a sacred stone, a creativity and change symbol by Ancient Egiptians, it was utilized as make-up powder for its green-bluish color. It is always been symbolized by a female figure and is traditionally associated to a goddess. Its importance is related to Copper content, which has a recognized role in skin physiology: it stimulates fibroblasts which provide collagen and elastin. Scientific studies showed important antioxidant properties (complementarily to vitamins C and E) modulating the natural mechanisms of cellular defense.

doposolePour Bagno Doccia by BeC on water stream to give off seductive fragrance: your bath will turns in a relaxing wellness break, it wraps around your skin with a rich suds and gives a pleasant and regenerating clean sensation. The special scent of essential oils will help to regenerate and protect your skin. The special blend of essential oils with the stimulating Cinnamon and the decongestant  Peppermint gives wellness and relief after a hot sunshine day. The proper balance between mild surfactants, Oat vegetal proteins and Passion Flower oil ensures to your body a deep hygiene, good tone and moisturizing action. Thanks to Roman Chamomile essential oil and Bisabolol, endowed with soothing action against skin irritation, Bagno Doccia helps in reducing mediators of inflammatory response being particularly suited for delicate skin. Eventually, Aloe juice, rich in antinflammatory phyto-components, along with antioxidant Vitamin E, contributes to soothing action  with the final aim to calm stressed and overexposed skin.

If you love “ice effect”, I can suggest Idrobagno I.U. by BeC: pour some drops in your bath tub or upon a shower sponge and it will give you deep and regenerating coolness along with anti-fatigue and dermo-purifying action.

After a cool and restoring shower, I basically suggest to always apply the aftersun lotion with a delicate massage up to full absorption. Crema fluida doposole by BeC restores physiologic skin balance, particularly suited for dry skin, it ensures cutaneous hydration, since first applications, thanks to nourishing and emollient Avocado, Jojoba and Olive oils. The moisturizing and elasticizing action of  natural sugars such as Saccharide Isomerate and Ribose, along with vegetal Hyaluronic acid. The soothing efficacy, tested in BeC laboratories, is guaranteed by Hypericum oil, known for scar healing properties with botanical extracts of Mallow and Calendula. They contribute to soothe and alleviate inflammation with immediate relief. With a light texture, the fast absorbing Crema Fluida Doposole boasts a 100%  natural fragrance and it will give your skin a soft and bright touch.

If you really want to end your sunshine day at the best, try to follow these important few and simple tips. Take care of your body after daylong suntan with BeC products: take care of your desired suntan to turn your skin relaxed, safe and more seductive.

Sun and age spots? How to treat them with natural cosmetics…

Sun and age skin spots are an unpleasant beauty problem featured by localized and uneven dark color distribution. They appear on face, hands and back, with the passing of years, and they are frequently correlated to wrong solar exposure. Such aesthetic conditions are often hidden by excessive and covering  make-up, especially when spots appear on face.

Perla di Luna_confezioneThe use of high protection sunscreens is the best prevention of sun-spots, but it does not fully prevent age spots’ appearance, which become much more evident as time goes by. Moreover, solar protection helps only prevent formation of new spots, but it is useless for treating the already formed spots. The complex phenomenon characterized by uneven color distribution with localized or diffuse pigmentation is generally known as hyperpigmentation: the overexpressed melanin concentrates in tiny areas of our skin, which become much more noticeable after intense UV rays exposure at the seaside or in a sunbed.

Some topical remedies, such as dermatological formulation with hydroquinone and retinoids – prescribed by dermatologists – have been used in the past for important hyperpigmentation disorders. Although effective, they were endowed with relevant toxicity, limited tolerability and harmful effects. Hydroquinone acts by means of a severe oxidative mechanism; therefore, it is not authorised in Europe since 15 years ago, for harmful effects following prolonged use. Other actives have been evaluated for their whitening activity, but resulted in harsh effects connected to inhibiting pigmentation, with the final result of  melonocites’ death (cellular apoptosis = cell’s suicide).

Alternative natural cosmetics could treat skin spots with a variety of successful lightening actives. Skin whitening cosmetics contain functional ingredients that inhibit melanin biosynthesis through different mechanisms: most important are tyrosinase inhibitors (i.e. arbutin and kojic acid) and inhibitors of melanin transfer to keratinocytes. Challenging research of new natural whitening phyto-ingredients allowed to evaluate several botanical extracts endowed with lightening activities for solar and age spots, in order to obtain active, effective and better tolerated formulations. Inhibitors of tyrosinase, the key enzyme in melanin biosynthesis, represent the most used agents for depigmentation cosmetics. Among them, Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) boasts the most interesting lightening potential due to a component named Glabridin, which showed to be the most potent inhibitor of tyrosinase known so far.

In designing our innovative multi-level whitening cream Perla di Luna® we chose glabridin as principal  functional active with lightening action, combined to Melinjo extract (Gnetum gnemon): both ingredient inhibit tyrosinase directly. Moreover, the extract of Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit) and Vitamin B3 inhibit melanin transfer to keratinocytes, tackling skin hyperpigmentation. Retinol (Vitamin A), Willow and Cumin extracts with the synergic action of the essential oils favor the renewal of epidermis (cellular turnover) and natural skin exfoliation, helping remove dark spots. We combined different precious elements of Nature to counteract hyperpigmentation in a combined and synergic way, respecting skin health.

Since dark age spots normally go along with other “signs of aging”, formulation research of Perla di Luna® was focused on significant anti-age activity, taking advantage of the longstanding BeC experience and tradition in the field. The overall activities was strengthened by key essential oils, whereas Aloe juice and Hyaluronic acid were added to afford deep moisturizing activity and Ribose increases skin tone and elasticity. Vitamins E and C and Magnolia extract have anti free-radicals and anti-age activity, boosted by the vegetable oils and the unsaponifiable fraction of Olive. The special formula increases hydration, elasticity and reduce skin wrinkle in only 2 weeks!

Perla di Luna® is a synergic and effective depigmentation treatment for skin spots with multi-level action and tested efficacy in preventing the recurrence of skin dyschromia, in de-stocking accumulated melanin, in giving consistency to skin color. The special formula contributes to increasing skin tone and elasticity and reduces skin wrinkles. This effective formula with natural sunscreens (with γ-orizanol from rice as the key active component) is ideal to treat localized or diffuse hyperpigmentation, spots from sun-exposure, scars and age spots. In addition to lightening dark spots, it gives firmer, more youthful complexion with smoothing and anti aging effect. It improves skin’s elasticity with deep moisturizing action.

Perla di Luna®  gives your skin the brightness and perfection of the most precious pearls!

Getting a perfect suntan: things we should do immediately

Even if this May has so far been a little uncertain, the good season is coming and, with it, also the first sunshine and the consequent desire for suntan. Indeed, a beautifully tanned skin is often perceived as healthier and more seductive, therefore it is understandable that both men and women are attracted by it, but we should not forget the good rules to be followed to achieve a beautiful suntan that will also be long-lasting and, more importantly, really healthy.

Scrub

From proper nutrition to body pampering, there are some strategies we should start adopting immediately, if we want to develop a nice tan and glow all the summer long and beyond! Indeed, exposing to sunlight with the proper preparation – which includes the use of a sunscreen – will improve our health and mood, beside contributing to our beauty. The reason is Vitamin D: a real blessing for our immune system.

Savage suntanning, beside being out-fashioned, is actually unhealthy and was shown to be the main cause of early skin ageing. The keyword for a perfect tan is “gradually”. Suntanning is a natural skin protection process (let’s keep it in mind!), therefore exposing too harshly, for too long and without adequate skin preparation can cause minor issues, such as uneven tan, to more serious issues, such as sunburns, erythema and photo-aging.

Oxidative stress is the result of an unbalance of the delicate equilibrium between physiological production of free radicals (also caused by exposure to specific environmental factors like sunlight, radiations, pollution and xenobiotics) and the body antioxidant defenses. Whatever your photo-type is, it is highly recommended that, at least one month before exposing to sunlight, you start building up the reserve of antioxidants by eating antioxidant food. The easiest way to intake these precious elixirs is a diet rich in fruit and vegetables with red, orange or yellow peel or pulp. Enjoy them raw, so to get the best of their properties – eating them with their peel would even be better – in the form of salads, smoothies, gazpachos or fruit salads.

Alternatively or additionally, you can take a specific diet supplement for 30 days at least. Radical Stop® by BeC is a supplement of vitamins, minerals and vegetable extracts and is a precious aid to contrast cell ageing processes induced by free radicals. Dosed in vegetable gelatin capsules, hence ideal also for people on vegetarian or vegan diet, it can be a valuable supplement in our daily nutrition, as it enriches our diet with extremely important elements to maintain cell integrity and fight ageing, to protect our body and help prevent the many pathologies which have been shown to be, directly or indirectly, related to excess free radicals (among them cardio-vascular diseases, liver affections, etc). Particularly useful to fight free radicals are vitamins A, C and E, which trap these highly reactive species, thereby protecting our cellular structures from their aggression. Extremely important are also the vegetable extracts provided by Radical Stop®, such as the extracts of Blood Orange, Olive, Grape, Pine bark, and Blackberry, especially rich in tannins, bio-flavonoids, and other polyphenolic compounds, able to revert the action of free radicals.

maggio_senzascrittaIt should, however, be kept in mind that a proper diet and the intake of diet supplements cannot replace the sunscreen, which needs to be used in all cases to avoid sunburns, erythema and photo-aging.

In order to prepare skin to sunlight, we also need to work from outside. A deep scrub, at least once a week, will remove dead cells from your skin, making it smoother, free to deeply breeze and ready for sunlight.

Geo green by BeC is a body mud-mask based on natural silt with skin-purifying action, ideal to remove the “winter layer”,  since it offers a delicate and physiological peeling that will remove from skin those impurities that have accumulated in wintertime. Its special formula rich in vegetable oils and extracts brings hydration and trophic activity, aiding epidermis renewal and leaving the skin smooth and silky. Furthermore it is an excellent aid to drain liquids and help cellulite’s treatments, thanks to the extract of Ivy, Fucus, Birch and Boswellia, which shape and tone our silhouette, making it firmer and helping us successfully pass the stressing “bath-suit test”.

The final secret is to apply everyday a good moisturizing cream and, after a day of sunbathing at the seaside, a specific aftersun lotion that will help sooth possible reddening. Indeed, suntan will rapidly fade away if it is not taken care of. This happens because of the continuous renewal or outer epidermis layers, with continuous removal of dead cells. However, de-hydration would accelerate the process and favor the peeling of tanned epidermis. By using a moisturizing product since the first sunlight exposure, we can, instead, slow down the peeling process and greatly extend the duration of our even suntan.

SÉ® body cream by BeC, thanks to its emollient and moisturizing principles, helps re-establish the physiological skin balance, particularly for dry, dehydrated or cracked skin. Furthermore, thanks to the extract of Centella that stimulates the biosynthesis of collagen, and tanks to the extract of Echinacea that inhibits the degradation of hyaluronic acid, SÉ® increases skin elasticity and inhibits the free radical processes that would damage collagen and elastin, thereby contrasting stretch marks. Aescin extracted from horse chestnut works synergically with Rutin (from rue) in protecting blood vessels and reducing edema, improving peripheral microcirculation and giving relief to swollen legs. Its smooth texture and the rapid absorption, along with 100% natural fragrance on citrus and almond notes, will make your skin silky smooth and sensual.

A healthy and golden suntan is to be gained before exposing to sunlight. As summertime is coming, start pampering yourselves with specific and effective products, so to fully enjoy sunlight beneficial action and get a glowing suntan that will turn your friends jealous.

Cellulite, how to treat it?

silueCellulite  (or edematous sclerotic – fibrous edematous paniculopathy) is an aesthetic condition characterized by alterations of the subcutaneous tissue, uneven fat distribution and tissue tone loss. Sex, ethnicity, genetic and hormonal disorders, skin thickness and distribution of body fat, along with a lack of fitness and a high-fat diet, are all factors that can influence the formation of cellulite.

A body affected by cellulite presents skin with “orange peel” or “mattress” texture. Several factors may contribute to the appearance of this condition. Fat cells or “adipocytes” tend to increase in volume with subsequent compression of the surrounding blood vessels. The slowing down of blood circulation determines an inflammatory state that limits the request of oxygen and nutritients from the surrounding tissues, thus preventing liquid drainage. The subsequent drop of local temperature contributes to the thickening of fat clusters and it is responsible for the orange peel appearance of the skin. State-of-the-art anti-cellulite cosmetics must contain ingredients that simultaneously counteract the various causes of cellulite’s insurgence, i.e. agents that facilitate water drainage and endow tissues with elasticizing, vasotonic and lipolytic properties.

The dedicated passion of BeC research laboratories for developing effective wellness products gave birth to SiluÈ: the new formulation against cellulite beauty problems. SiluÈ is a rich and fast-absorbing body cream based on all natural ingredients, with a very soft touch and silky texture obtained with no silicones. SiluÈ can used both at day-time and night-time and it gives skin brightness and deep hydration since the first applications, thanks to its unique combination of synergic active principles. SiluÈ activates lipolysis and local lipidic metabolism thanks to extract of Fucus vesiculosus alga [1], rich in iodine and to the extract of Pao Rosa, rich in pterocarpans. The methylxantines, such as theophylline and caffeine[2] contribute to the lipolytic effect in a synergic way, both by enhancing adipocytes’ metabolism and by stimulating fat stock mobilization.

Indeed the 100% natural extract of Pao Rosa from Madagascar (approved by organic certification bodies) boasts diverse beneficial properties: it limits the new formation of fat cells (adipogenesis), inhibits fat stocking into adipocytes (lipogenesis) and increases the lipolytic effect of caffeine. Such a complex and synergic mechanism produces good results in the early stages of cellulite development as well as in more advanced stages.

silue2Anti-oedema and draining actions are obtained by the presence of several essential oils such as Caraway, Juniper, Fennel, Lemon, Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary and Clove, endowed with anti-inflammatory properties, too. Such activities also promoted by Centella asiatica extract, rich of triterpenes, and by Fenugreek, rich of polyphenols, both endowed with draining and protective action of blood vessels. Aescin, a triterpenic saponin from Horse chestnut help protect vessels. The essential oils of Thyme, Mint and Rosemary assure homogeneity of blood perfusion and help toxins removal. Besides the lipolytic ingredients with draining and vasotonic activities, SiluÈ contains precious vegetal oils which help skin elasticity. Vitamin E, Sweet Almonds and Jojoba oils, along with Olive Unsaponifiable fraction contribute to increase skin hydration (+46% !)  after only one month of treatment. Moreover, hydrating agents such as Hyaluronate, Saccharide Isomerate and Propandiol contribute with deep moisturizing action.

The good diffusion properties of ingredients from the formulation through stratum corneum assures optimal overall action. Moreover, the exfoliation agents determine a faster cellular turn-over, working through indirect enzymatic mechanism with no irritation. The vegetal lipophylic esters from Willow and Cumin help give silkiness and smoothness to the skin.

Cellulite doesn’t appear in one day and it can’t be removed in two weeks! We do not offer miracles but verified results obtained in our R&D laboratories and confirmed by efficacy tests on human volunteers. Our common goal is to guarantee the real effect… and it works! Let’s take care of our skin’s wellness: this is the key to genuine beauty!

[1] Hexsel D, Orlandi C, Zechmeister do Prado D. Botanical extracts used in the treatment of cellulite. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):866-72; discussion 872.
[2] Herman A, Herman AP. Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(1):8-14.

Ingredients’ purity: efficacy and safety

I have been frequently come across in cosmetic company websites which excessively boast the importance of purity of vegetal extracts for the efficacy of cosmetic products. I end up with catchy phrases such as “…our cream is the most effective product on the market, because our Ginseng dry extract e is assayed 10% in  ginsenosides differently to the majority of competitors who use 3% assayed Ginseng…”

glass-containers-1205652_1920Well, let’s clarify the topic in two points:

  1. Efficacy is associated both to the extract purity and to the used amount in formulation
  2. If certain extract is assayed in 60% of something, what is the remaining 40%?

The first point is related to the fact that an extract 100% pure could be ideally used. For instance,  using one tenth of a certain ingredient in the formulation means that a less effective product (or with lesser amount of ingredient) it will obtained in comparison to the use of the same amount of the less pure extract. The real amount of the active extract in the final formulation relies on the efficacy of the product.

The second most important point is linked to safety of the cosmetic product: a botanical low-percentage pure extract will contain higher amount of impurities (extraction solvents / not declared components) in comparison to purer extract.

Modern cosmetic science crosses over pharmaceutical field so that we usually talk about cosmeceutics that support the topic that the functional and technical ingredients (commonly known as excipients) play a major role in activity along with the proper active ingredient. For instance, we demonstrated the ability of certain essential oils or fatty acids (from vegetable origin) to behave as enhancers for cutaneous absorption for some hydro- or liposoluble vitamins. The results were published in some relevant scientific journals.[1-4]

Definitely, ingredients’ purity relies on high percentage of the active ingredient: the purer is the extract, the lesser is the room for unknown ingredient and dangerous components (additives, plasticiser, solvents, dyes, etc.) in the formula.

I’d like to highlight the importance of quality and purity of the extracts and active ingredients to be used in cosmetic formulation in order to assure efficacy and safety. At last, don’t be fooled by advertising slogan which reveal meaningless at the end.

[1] S. Gabbanini, E. Lucchi, M. Carli, E. Berlini, A. Minghetti, L. Valgimigli, In vitro evaluation of the permeation through reconstructed human epidermis of essentials oils from cosmetic formulations, J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 50 (2009) 370–376.
[2] S. Gabbanini, R. Matera,  C. Beltramini, A. Minghetti, L. Valgimigli. Analysis of in vitro release through reconstructed human epidermis and synthetic membranes of multi-vitamins from cosmetic formulations J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 52 (2010) 461– 467.
[3] L. Valgimigli, S. Gabbanini, G. Arniani, E. Lucchi. Influence of the lipid-phase composition on the trans-epidermal transfer of vitamin B6 from O/W emulsions. HPC Today, 2013, 8, 24-27.
[4] L. Valgimigli, S. Gabbanini, E. Berlini, E. Lucchi, C. Beltramini and Y.L. Bertarelli. Lemon (Citrus limon, Burm.f.) essential oil enhances the trans-epidermal release of lipid- (A, E) and water- (B6, C) soluble vitamins from topical emulsions in reconstructed human epidermis, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 34 (2012) 347–356.

Essential oils and Nutraceutics

Libro_essential_oilsAt BeC, we have been using essential oils in cosmetics and diet supplements for more than 30 years. Our natural cosmetics boast a unique touch not only for special flavours but also for important beneficial activities provided by such a “Nature’s distillates”. Today we recommend a relevant publication where typical features and innovative properties of essential oils were described, ranging from multiple uses in traditional Eastern medicine to Western culture and much more. We suggest the book “Essential Oils as Natural Food Additives” published some years ago by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. (New York, 2012) because we have proudly contributed to scientific and reliable information in accordance to BeC’s choice to invest successfully in Research & Development.

Plant essential oils have been used for centuries in the preparation of cosmetic fragrances and food flavors, as well as in traditional medicines as therapeutic remedies. In recent years they have been attracting the renewed interest of both the scientific community and the general public. Their use in different aspects of human life is generally regarded as being part of a healthier, natural-oriented life style. On the other hand, a wealth of scientific studies has been documenting their biological properties, particularly associated with their antimicrobial and antioxidant activities, although additional medicinal properties have also been brought to light. This book offers an up-to-date examination of scientific literature on the antimicrobial and antioxidant activity of main dietary essential oils from all over the world, together with a general introduction to their chemistry, classification, bio-synthetic origin, preparation and analysis.

Further information on Publisher’s website

https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=28680

Skin damage caused by “wrong” sunscreens: the photosensitization phenomenon

 creme solari becAs we have seen in the previous post, many sunscreens get damaged by sun radiation as they absorb it. The modest photo-stability of such sunscreens has important consequences on the safety and efficacy of sun-care products based on them. In the previous discussion we have seen that photo-instability of sunscreens causes a reduction of sun protection factor (SPF) with time. There are, however, additional interactions of sunscreens with sunlight that have even worse consequences on their safety. We will discuss them in this article.
Solar radiation contains sufficient energy to damage some molecules (M), including some molecules found in our skin, as exemplified in the equation:

M + light→ fragment-A + fragment-B

Fragments indicated as A and B, in the example above, are often free radicals that can attack other molecules, damaging or modifying them. For instance, if such a reaction occurred in our skin, damage could occur to structural proteins like collagen and elastin, contributing to the formation of wrinkles and the onsetting of photo-aging. Furthermore, it could start chain-reactions leading to erythema, other inflammatory states and even genetic mutations (skin cancer). Products containing sunscreens are meant to protect skin from all such damages, and normally they do, by decreasing the amount of UV radiation that hits our skin, i.e. acting as “filters”. But CAUTION !!! Not all the sunscreens are friends of our skin, and actually some might cause bigger damage than that they are expected to prevent. How?
Let’s go back to our previous example. In order for M to react with light, it is necessary that molecule M is at least able to absorb the light at quantum level, i.e. it is necessary the energy carried by light photons hitting M corresponds exactly to the energy gap between quantum levels in the molecule. Often this is not the case and molecule M would be perfectly “safe” if it was not for the presence of other molecules called photosensitizers.

benzofenone

Benzophenone and main benzophenone derivatives used as sunscreen in sun-care cosmetic products as well as in the protection of manufacts. The common base structure is drawn in blue

F + light F*  

then…

F* + M F + fragment-A + fragment-B

This process is well known in photochemistry and benzophenone is among the photosensitizers of broader use in industrial processes to induce photochemical reactions. Benzophenone is also the lead structure for many and, unfortunately, very popular sunscreens, widely used in sun-care cosmetics to give sun protection factor. Most common examples are depicted in the figure above. Sunscreens like benzophenone-3 and benzophenone-4 are structurally related to benzophenone and are potent photosensitizers. In case M is a biomolecule in our skin, such as collagen, elastin, an enzyme or DNA, this can be damages by exposure to sunlight in the presence of photosensitizers (like benzophenone derivatives) much more it would happen in their absence. In other words, certain sunscreens can amplify the damage to our skin caused by sunlight.

Many benzophenone derivatives are available today and 12 of them are of common use.  Those more commonly used in the manufacture of sun-care cosmetics and other goods, are listed in the following:

Benzophenone-1: 2,4-Dihydroxybenzophenone
Benzoophenone-2: 2,2′,4,4′-Tetrahydroxybenzophenone
Benzophenone-3 (or oxybenzone): 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone
Benzophenone-4 (or sulisbenzone): 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxy-benzophenone-5-sulphonic acid
Benzophenone-5 (the sodium salt of sulisbenzone): Benzenesulfonic acid, 5-benzoyl-4-hydroxy-2-methoxy-, monosodium salt
Benzophenone-8 (or dioxybenzone): 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)-(2-hydroxyphenyl)methanone
Benzophenone-10 (or mexenone): 2-hydroxy-4-methoxy-4′-methyl-benzophenone
Benzophenone-11: it is a mixture of benzophenone 2 e 6.

For these reasons BeC does not use benzophenone derivatives in sun-care products !!! BeC uses only physical filters in low protection products and, in high protection products, we use a combination of physical filters and new generation chemical filters, which are highly photostable. Here you can find more info on BeC sun-care products.

Therefore, when we chose a sun-care product, it is very important we pay attention to the label and read the composition: don’t look at the SPF value only!

We often hear that we should not expose to sunlight after having used perfumes or other products, as they can give photosensitization problems. The typical recommendation is to use only sunscreen products, but caution should be paid when we choose the sunscreen product, as even sunscreens can cause the same problems. Therefore, even if you have no particular problem of sensitivity to sunlight and think that any product will do the job, think again and don’t overlook the importance of choosing high quality sunscreens, so to make sure that the problems you don’t have will not be caused by the wrong product.

Photo-degradation of sunscreens and skin damaging

soleWe have previously discussed the mechanism of action of sunscreens, underlining that chemical sunscreens absorb the energy of sunlight and subsequently re-emit it in the form of heat, possibly without any alteration in the structure of the sunscreen itself. Possibly… does it always go this way? Unfortunately it doesn’t. For this reason we wish to discuss here a bit more on the photostability of sunscreens. Although this aspect is often overlooked (guess why?), it has major consequences on our health.
After having absorbed sunlight energy, chemical sunscreens are in a higher quantum energy state, from which they can undergo one of three processes:

  1.    they can go back to the lower energy state by loosing energy in the form of heat (which is often not perceived by our senses), thereby making ready to start over again and absorb more solar energy;
  2.     they can release the excess energy by breaking their structure into fragments, i.e. they degrade and form free radicals or use the energy to react with other molecules (photochemical reactions);
  3.     they can transfer the excess energy to another molecule by “hitting it”, i.e. they behave as photo-sensitizers.

Ideally, sunscreens should use only the first route; however, not all the sunscreens are identical and some of them, which are less stable than others, after several absorption-emission cycles, may take the second route (we will discuss in a following post of those sunscreens that take the third route and act as photosensitizers).
If the sunscreen degrades, it most commonly produces free radicals and other dangerous species. If the sunscreen has been absorbed deeply into our skin, those free radicals can attack and damage proteins and DNA, accelerating the photo-aging processes of the skin. In high quality formulations such damages can be prevented by the abundant presence of antioxidants (e.g. vitamin E) in the formula, so to block free radicals before they can cause any damage. Therefore, it is very important to always choose high quality products after careful reading of their label.
There is, however, another point to take into account: as the sunscreen degrades the solar protection factor (SPF) of the product progressively decreases. And antioxidants cannot help in this reguard.

photo-degradation_EN

Variation of the UV-Vis absorption spectra of two examples of sunscreen formulation, after exposure of the formulation to the same “dose” of sunlight (UV irradiation). The upper graph refers to a formulation with NON photostable sunscreens, which evidently shows a reduction of the spectrum after UV exposure, meaning a marked decrease in the SPF. The lower graph, instead, shows the behavior of a (BeC) formulation with photostable sunscreens: only negligible variation of the spectrum is displayed after irradiation implying no loss of SPF and more durable performance.

The fact that a sunscreen formula looses its SPF on exposing to sunlight depends on the phostability of the sunscreens: with highly photostable sunscreens the phenomenon has negligible relevance; however, with little photostable sunscreen molecules, which are unfortunately the most common in commercial formulas, the phenomenon is very relevant, as illustrated in the graphs on the left, displaying the comparison between two real formulations: a famous commercial products (don’t ask which one) and BeC sunscreen SPF15 cream.
Many of us think that “waterproof” sunscreen formulas – which can resist for several minutes of swimming in seawater – would provide a safer protection for the entire day, since the product would not be washed away. A look at the graphs clearly tells that this is not the case: a waterproof sunscreen formula does not guarantee safer daylong protection. First of all, we should consider whether the sunscreen contained in the formula is photostable!!! Secondly, we should consider that, even if the sunscreen is photostable, during a typical day at the seaside, we dry ourselves with a towel; we roll up in the sand, which we clean up by rubbing or washing our skin; we sweat in the heat or during physical activity (e.g. beach sports). All such actions end up removing the sunscreen form our skin anyway. Therefore, a high quality sunscreen formula, based on photostable components, is the ideal choice for a safer protection, but we should not forget that it is wise to re-apply the product several times during the day, particularly in the case of children.

Do men need their own daily wellness “rituals”?

uomoMan skin has a tougher tone and increased resistance in comparison to women skin due to the different hormonal gender balances. Despite of remaining younger for longer time, even man skin deserves a certain beauty care. Due to higher amount of sebum, mixed or impure man skins are much more subjected to dehydration because daily normal soaps (commonly used by men) reduce hydro-lipidic barrier on the skin and determine easy water evaporation. Moreover, the daily shaving arouses tiny lesions, irritation and redness and contributes to dehydration and excessive sensitization incidence. For these reasons, it’s important to cleanse face with delicate detergent and to nourish skin – mainly after shaving – by using soothing balms which improve skin hydration, especially during winter. Especially for sensitive skins, wind and cold have increased effects and provide dried and chapped skins. VelvÉ cream by BeC has a fresh and light texture; it’s indicated as after-shave for soothing irritated, red and chapped skin. Synergic mixture of moisturizing and emollient actives as Wheat and Oat proteins, along with Vitamin E, allows counteracting dryness and elasticity drop. Essential oils of Lavender, Blue Chamomile and Eucalyptus boast a delicate antibacterial and refreshing action, while Aloe Vera juice helps in alleviate redness and burning sensation.

velveAdditional feature about man skins is related to the difference in wrinkle incidence in comparison to women skins: tiny wrinkles and cutaneous relaxation became less evident in men due to the higher amount of collagen and elastic tissue. On the other hand, expression wrinkles appear earlier and in a more definite way in men due to the lesser content of hyaluronic acid, whose biosynthesis is mediated by oestrogens. Even men need their own daily wellness “rituals”. For these reason VelvÉ is enriched by Hyaluronic acid and contributes to maintain daily a tonic and compact skin. Despite being told that man skin does not require special attention, nowadays we re-evaluated man skin care. From this point, a careful attention toward man skin is increasing more and more, even in barber-shops which are becoming real beauty salon…but only for men!