The skin is believed to be the largest organ as it covers the whole body and makes up about 16 percent of overall body mass. With a total area of about 20 square feet, the skin keeps us from microbes and the elements, assists to control body temperature, stores water, fat and vitamin D, and allows the sensations of touch, heat, and cold. The skin has three layers, namely the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissues. The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin, presenting as a dynamic waterproof barrier and this is what gives us our skin tone. The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands. The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.
Our skin needs the right balance of nutrients to do its main job as understood above. However, skin's protective functions can be compromised by the ageing process, which leads to frequent skin inflammation, slow repair of wounds, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin ageing gives rise to defects in the structural integrity of the skin and damage of its physiological functions. Being labelled as the biggest organ of the body, have we ever wondered how can we take care of our skin? In this article, we evaluate skin supplements created to combat the ageing of skin with a focus on pearl, sakura and aloe vera extracts.
Existed since the ancient China, Wu Zetian, a Chinese empress has reportedly used pearl powder to retain youth of her skin. Carefully sourced from Japan, the pearl extract contains essential amino acids, trace minerals, abundant of calcium, and antioxidants. Known as the mother of pearl, nacre, could enhance the cell adhesion and tissue regeneration of skin fibroblasts1, which accelerates wound healing and helps collagen regenerate itself. The essential amino acids in pearl extract act as building blocks for protein, function to stimulate skin cells to produce collagen, and promote cellular repair and hydration. The increased in collagen content from nacre and essential amino acids in pearl extract gives rise to the upsurge in the production of hyaluronic acid as well as elastic fibres in the skin in 12 weeks2,3.
Sakura, also known as cherry blossom, has been a sacred and powerful symbol of Japanese culture. The Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival is the most attended tourist attraction in Japan. Extracts of the cherry blossom plant have been reported to exert various biological effects on human cells. It is a promising agent against oxidative injury by suppressing toxins that speed up skin ageing, owing to the synergistic effects of various phenolic compounds according to a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) assay4. Sakura extract can decrease skin damage and protect keratinocytes from the oxidative stress through the suppression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation5. The protective effects against oxidative stress provided by Sakura extract are attributed to its enhancement of the antioxidant ability of the antioxidant-defence system in human epidermal keratinocytes in parallel with decreasing ROS generation5. In other words, Sakura extracts by controlling overproduction of melanin, can lighten hyperpigmentation and clarify uneven skin. Rich in essential fatty acids, it restores the skins natural barriers to foster a smooth, supple skin.
Aloe vera is a natural product that has been used for medicinal purposes in several cultures for millennia. It is nowadays frequently used in the field of cosmetology. The name Aloe vera derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true.” Following the administration of aloe vera gel, an antioxidant protein, metallothionein, is manufactured in the skin, which scavenges hydroxyl radicals and inhibits suppression of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase in the skin6. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, consuming aloe vera stimulates collagen production and enhances skin elasticity. It neutralizes the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, repairs skin from existing UV damage, and reinforces prevention of fine lines and wrinkles.
While nothing can prevent the ageing process, we can delay its progression by taking the correct supplements. In general, skin ageing process involves the losing of collagen and elastic fibres, formation and accumulation of ROS, and hyperpigmentation from overproduction of melanin. These can lead to saggy, uneven skin tone and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Consumption of the supplements as explained in this article stimulates collagen production and scavenges ROS, neutralising the destructive effects of ageing of skin.
- Li YC, Chen CR, Young TH. Pearl extract enhances the migratory ability of fibroblasts in a wound healing model. Pharm Biol. 2013 Mar;51(3):289-97. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2012.721130. Epub 2012 Oct 9.
- Asserin J, Lati E, Shioya T, Prawitt J. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2015 Dec;14(4):291-301.
- Kim DU, Chung HC, Choi J, Sakai Y, Lee BY. Oral intake of low-molecular-weight collagen peptide improves hydration, elasticity and wrinkling in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrients. 2018;10(826):1-13.
- Zhang YQ, Yin SC, Zhang S, Chang MS, Tang JW, Guan L. Anti-oxidative activity and safety of cherry blossom extracts in vitro. J Diagn Ther Derma-Venereol. 2013; 20:392–395.
- Wang YN, Li WX, Xu SK, Hu R, Zeng QT, Liu QY, Li S, Lee HY, Chang MS, Guan L. Protective skin aging effects of cherry blossom extract (Prunus Yedoensis) on oxidative stress and apoptosis in UVB-irradiated HaCaT cells. Cytotechnology. 2019 Apr; 71(2): 475–487.
- Byeon S, Pelley R, Ullrich SE, Waller TA, Bucana CD, Strickland FM. Aloe barbadensis extracts reduce the production of interleukin-10 after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. J Invest Dermtol. 1988; 110:811–7.