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Issue 2 (2005)

Interdisciplinary progress for the benefit of skin
Advancements in the field of Dermocosmetics

Dermocosmetics form an essential workscope of the Society for Dermopharmacy (GD) and were hence also subject of the scientific symposium “Interdisciplinary Progress for the Benefit of Skin” organized by the society on the occasion of its ten-year anniversary in Moenchengladbach on 2nd July 2005. Special emphasis was placed on guidelines dealing with dermocosmetic subjects published by the GD, cosmetic active agents against intrinsic skin aging as well as recent insights relating to galenics and effectiveness proofs of sun protection products.
Professor Dr. Ulrike Heinrich, Witten, introduced the product category Dermocosmetics by her lecture relating to the topic „Dermocosmetics: from Claim to Reality in the Focus of Guidelines” giving at the same time an impression on the way of proceedings according to which the guidelines referring to Dermocosmetics are elaborated in the GD. Professor Heinrich is member of the GD board and concurrently acting president of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftliche und Angewandte Kosmetik (German Society for Scientific and Applied Cosmetics).

According to the GD’s definition Dermocosmetics encompass cosmetics complying with special standards in view of quality and documentation the application purpose of which is achieved by co-consideration of dermatological and pharmaceutical aspects. The documentation of product properties forms an essential prerequisite for the application-oriented consultation service by dermatologists and pharmacists.

Dermocosmetics in the
perspective of guidelines

The GD guidelines on Dermocosmetics established to date deal with products for the cleansing and care of dry skin tending to acne as well as dermocosmetic sun protection and occupational skin protection products. All guidelines only have recommendatory character. On one hand they are to serve producers as orientation help when developing and testing their products and on the other hand support physicians and pharmacists when rendering advice to persons in particular suffering from special dermatological problems. The intention of the guidelines is however not directed at legal amendments.

The structure of the guidelines is standardized. Incipient with preamble, the definition of product classes and the definition of target groups are dealt with. Central elements follow, in which data concerning formulation and ingredients, wanted effects and effectiveness proofs as well as unwanted effects and tolerability proofs are given. Further contents refer to documentation, literature and the procedure of consensus formation. The contents of the guideline “Dermocosmetics for the Cleansing and Care of Dry Skin” has furthermore been prepared in the form of a guidebook comprehensible for a large number of users.

Professor Dr. Ulrike Heinrich, member of the GD board and Professor Dr. Rolf Daniels, head of the GD department Dermocosmetics moderated the lectures concerning Dermocosmetics and were also acting as lecturers.

sun protection

Following rather general explanations, Heinrich presented the guideline relating to dermocosmetic sun protection in detail. The target group of this guideline comprises children who have not yet build up sufficient defence against UV light, persons with exceptionally light skin, allergies or hypersensitivity against certain products and ingredients as well as patients suffering from skin diseases and persons who are work-related subject to an especially intense UV exposition.

The guideline contains data relating to effectiveness and tolerability of ingredients whereas not only the UVB but also UVA protection is considered. Besides filter substances, for example also anti-oxidants and scavengers are referred to. As proof of the UVB protective effect the, international standard applicable at in vivo probands is consulted which has been developed two years ago based on the European COLIPA standard. Of more problematic nature is however the UVA protection, only measurable in vitro so far, which was also covered in a following lecture by professor Dr. Rolf Daniels.

Within the scope of the lecture by professor Heinrich, the acting GD president professor Dr. Hans Christian Korting called attention to the distinction between short- and long-term implications caused by excessive UV exposition. The in vivo method for the testing of UVB protection solely aims at the avoidance of the short-term resulting sunburn, however, also methods are required by means of which the prevention from long-term effects as actinic keratoses may be tested. In fact, prevention from such late damage can be assumed by each photon that does not impinge the skin, however there is no direct evidence available at present.

The claims to Dermocosmetics are to be viewed today from the angle of guidelines. The Society for Dermopharmacy has meanwhile established four guidelines concerning dermocosmetic topics and adopted them in interdisciplinary consensus.

Active agents countering
intrinsic skin aging

In a further lecture the dermatologist Dr. Eva-Maria Meigel, Hamburg, undertook a scientific benchmark for cosmetic active ingredients countervailing intrinsic skin aging following the present trend. In contrast to extrinsic skin aging by exterior impact such as light, nourishment, smoking and other lifestyle, the intrinsic aging is predetermined in time. Increasing expectancy of life and the large part of the elderly in the total population augment the practical significance of this effect and entail a growing market for products intervening in the aging processes.

The Hamburg dermatologist Dr. Eva-Maria Meigel has been member of the GD since 1997. In her lecture at the GD symposium she dealt with a scientific benchmark of cosmetic active agents pertaining to a current trend. In this context she emphasized the fact that there is only a satisfactory situation of studies for few of these substances employed in external application. In contrast, more evidence is available for the systemical use of such substances as they are for instance available in form of capsule preparations in the market.

Owing to the fact that intrinsic skin aging is mainly caused by free radicals, anti-oxidants are considered to be effective antidotes. Thus Vitamin E reduces the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids and improves the hydration and water-binding capacity of skin at topical application in a five-percent concentration in contrast to the vehicle. Vitamin C stimulates the ceramide synthesis in epidermis and acts as co-factor for the collagen synthesis. Optimal is the combination with vitamin E as it regenerates its anti-oxidative principle.

Coenzyme Q10 predominantly serves the synthesis of ATP in the mitochondria. Starting in the 35th year of age, a lower concentration of coenzyme Q10 can be typically determined. Moreover, its synthesis is inhibited by the intake of statines since it is formed in the course of the cholesterol synthesis. Therefore, it can be recommended as substitution to users of statines.

The anti-oxidant alpha lipoic acid both water and fat soluble takes equally effect in the mitochondria and renders an anti-inflammatory effect. Although only scarce significant studies are on hand for this substance it is already employed in multiple cosmetic applications in the US so that a similar development is to be expected in Europe.

Phytoestrogens as
hormone substitution

In particular with women, the intrinsic skin aging is essentially advanced by the lack of sexual hormones after the menopause. In view of the unwanted effects of a hormone substitution manifold discussed, a hormonal effect preferably without hormone side effects is asked for. For this aim phytoestrogens are available as for example contained in soy or red clover.

The favourable active profile of these substances can be explained by the fact that they primarily cling to the beta-estrogen receptors and to a lesser extent to the alpha receptors localised at the breast. By their high receptor affinity they even supplant the natural ligands, show however only an intrinsic activity reduced by a factor 100 to 1000 in comparison to estradiol.

A good study situation is available for the systemical use of phytoestrogens, however there is less evidence for the topical application. Increased moisture and less roughness of skin have been reported.

DMAE and nutricosmetics

2-dimethyl-aminoethanol (DMAE) is for example applied against the so-called gravitation aging, the descent of skin mainly in the chin area. It is also contained in a well-known prescription capsule preparation for the improvement of the general condition. DMAE is to improve the membrane stability, however the positive effect has receded in studies after approximately two weeks.

As current trend, similar effects countering intrinsic skin aging are expected from peptides with botulinum toxine A according to Meigel. They are already employed in multiple applications in France. Their claimed wrinkle smoothing effect has however not been proven scientifically to date.

Moreover, „Nutricosmetics“ based on dietary supplements will increase in significance. Alimentation has been neglected in dermatology for a long time, however it influences lastingly the aging process of skin. This generates an essential market for dietary supplements designated as Nutricosmetics”.

Galenics of innovative
sun protection agents

In Dr. Rolf Daniels’ opinion, Tübingen, head of the GD department Dermocosmetics the claims on sun protection agents result from a comment by the Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment). Accordingly, sun protection agents should realize a strong protective effect against UVA and UVB rays at possibly little filter quantity. As this effect always results from the overall formulation, galenics essentially contribute to the effectiveness thus explaining their significance for the conception of sun protection products.

Daniels described the search for surfactant-free sun protection agents leading via polymer-containing hydrodispersion gels to pickering emulsions which are stabilized by solid particles on the surface of the emulsion droplets. By means of titan dioxide as solid, the wetting angle at the emulsifier droplets can be diversified by selecting an organic coating for the solid particle thus influencing the emulsion type.

In the course of the anti-aging trend a younger appearance compared to the natural age is often strived for. To what extent cosmetic products and food supplements denominated as “Nutricosmetics” may be helpful has been thoroughly discussed at the symposium on the occasion of the GD’s ten-year anniversary.

Methods for the
measurement of UV protection

The protection from UVB radiation aims on short-term on the prevention of sunburn and on long-term on the prevention of skin cancer. UVA rays are held responsible for skin aging, light dermatoses and equally for the generation of skin cancer. Whereas the protection from UVB rays is defined by means of the normally indicated light protection factor according to the international standard (sun protection factor, SPF) there is a discussion ongoing relating to an adequate method for the measurement of UVA protection.

At first the so-called Australian standard had been established for the assessment of UVA protection. The in-vitro method related merely describes the achieving of a defined minimal level. The more effective a sun protection product is, to a lesser extent this minimal UVA protection suffices for the extended exposition times anticipated. The declared UVB protection and lacking physiological warning by an erythema may generate the erroneous impression of safety thus provoking an excessive UVA exposition..

Since February 2005, a Deutsche Industrienorm (DIN 67502) (German Industry Standard) is however available rendering quantitative data regarding UVA protection. The particular characteristic of this method is that first of all the UVA and UVB protection of the test product is determined in vitro and following a relationship is established between the resulting measuring values and the UVB light protection factor determined in vivo. The outcome of this calculation is referred to as UVA balance.

UVA-balance of
sun protection agents

Subject for an intense discussion were tests on the effectiveness of commercial sun protection products performed by Daniels. Considerable discrepancies in the UVA balance ensued from the tests which all come up to the Australian standard. Interestingly, an on average up to 75 percent higher UVA protection was detected with branded products of manufacturers who have intensely concerned themselves for years with research and development of sun protection compared to discounter products. This result is not surprising considering the increased production costs for preparations with high UVA-protection.

An optimal sun protection agent should not only protect from sunburn but also from long-term skin damage arising from UV radiation. This aim requires an adequate UVA protection besides a high light protection factor shielding from UVB radiation.

Some panelists criticized the DIN method applied by Daniels due to the fact that it discounts the duration of the protecting effect and does not employ a biological endpoint which is relevant for the long-term implication of UVA exposition. Moreover, the stability of filter substances over an application lasting several hours has to be investigated.

There was a general agreement by the panelists upon the major significance of the UVA protection. Some of them were astonished that merely the UVB protection had been compared and was subject to evaluation in an investigation by Stiftung Warentest recently published although the aforementioned DIN method for the determination of the UVA balance already subsisted at the time of the publication.

In Daniel’s opinion the opportunity of assessing the UVA balance should not be wasted by a lengthy argument about the measuring method. He requests a UVA balance of at least 40, better 50 for a topical sun protection product. However, these values should not be indicated on the package in order to avoid a confusion of the consumers caused by additional data besides the UVB light protection factor. tmb/jk

GD-statement on UVA protection of sun protection agents

The remarks by professor Daniels relating to the UVA-protection by sun protection agents determined the GD to establish a statement on this subject. At the point in time of the deadline of this issue of DermoTopics, the statement was nearing completion and will be published in brief at the GD-homepage (


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