A recent consumer study conducted by BASF confirmed the strong and growing demand for skincare products that help slow down the visible aging process. The survey of 235 women between the ages of 40 and 73 revealed that 60 percent wish to look five to 10 years younger and an overwhelming 80 percent expect a high-quality anti-aging product to enable them to achieve this aspiration.

The fact that populations are not only aging, but also retaining more disposable wealth in many regions further highlights the market potential of premium skincare products. To help their customers meet the high expectations of today’s sophisticated consumers, BASF launched a product development project focusing on peptides.

A 3-level approach

BASF’s experts began exploring peptide combinations that would address the skin components involved in the most visible effects of aging. This meant finding a way to target the epidermis and dermis as well as the membrane that joins them, the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ) zone. This three-level approach promised rapid and lasting anti-aging effects.

Two of BASF’s patented tetrapeptides, very small molecules that can achieve a high level of efficacy in low dosages, were chosen as actives and combined with substances that enhance bio-availability.

Innovative lab methods

During the initial lab test phase, the research team employed 3D printing to create skin models and examine the efficacy of the compound. This innovative methodology, termed laser assisted bioprinting, uses skin cells to generate a working model of the human skin. It enables swift and realistic testing before proceeding to the in-vivo phase. Here, the new complex led to a significantly denser collagen network than the control blend, a typical peptide combination available on the market. This enhanced density was demonstrated using second harmonic generation, a highly precise optical process involving laser technology. Put simply, photons emitted by lasers behave differently as they interact with different materials. These differences create an image, in this case, of the collagen fibers in the 3D-printed skin specimens (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Visualization by second harmonic generation (SHG) during in-vitro research. The collagen fibers, which appear in grey, are significantly denser in the specimen using the BASF product (on the right) than in the control specimen (left). — Click on the image to enlarge.

The in-vitro studies demonstrated the capacity of the new peptide blend to increase the synthesis of dermal and epidermal molecules termed proteoglycans, which support cell-to-cell interactions (lumican and syndecan-1) and collagen types I and XVII.

It was shown to work on various layers of the skin, as intended, by targeting specific components that support the skin’s biomechanical properties. These self-rejuvenating skin functions typically decrease with age, causing wrinkles to appear.

In-vivo testing confirmed lab findings

In-vivo studies further confirmed the efficacy of the skin-bioavailable synergistic complex. In female volunteers aged 45 to 65, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles was reduced by up to 11 percent after three weeks, and as much as 23 percent after eight weeks. The women experienced a decrease in three types of facial wrinkles: visible “crow’s feet,” forehead wrinkles and “smile lines” or nasolabial folds were all significantly reduced (see figure 2). Dermal density was also improved, by 21 percent within three weeks. This increase in firmness of the skin, measured ultrasonically, reflects an anti-aging effect that could be compared to turning back the clock by as much as seven years.

Figure 2: Compare the facial wrinkles before (left) application of the Replexium™ cream and after (right). In just 21 days, forehead wrinkles and wrinkles around the eyes were visibly reduced by 11% and 23% after 56 days. Within the same two intervals, nasolabial folds were reduced by 9% and 19%, respectively. — Click on the image to enlarge.

These findings indicate that Replexium™ can make an important contribution in the area of premium derma-cosmetic anti-aging products. Above all, its capacity to achieve fast results is predestined to appeal to consumers.