The Skin Clinic Fremantle | Dr Sarah Boxley

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All Posts Tagged: skincare

Photo of ripe tomatoes in someons hand

Ingredient focus: Lycopene

What is lycopene and why should we be using it on our skin?

Lycopene is the bright red carotene pigment and phytochemical found in red fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes & red carrots, watermelons and papayas.

It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory – helping protect skin from environmental agents that can contribute to clogged pores and breakouts. Most importantly for long-term skin health, it can help protect against sun damage. Studies have indicated that lycopene helps protect fibroblasts (skin cells that make collagen) & eliminate skin-ageing free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays, both UVA and UVB.

Lycopene accounts for a whopping 90% of the colour of tomatoes. As an antioxidant it is twice as effective as beta-carotene and 10 times more than alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). Our favourite anti-ageing cosmeceutical skin product – Superserum+ by Synergie, contains lycopene sourced from hydrolysed tomato skins.

Lycopene is a relatively new product from a commercial point of view and recently it has been added to fortified foods such as yoghurt and drinks.

Can the lycopene in your diet actually help your skin?

Although the absorption via diet is still being researched, the current evidence indicates that lycopene is absorbed in the intestine and then distributed to the liver and kidneys. It appears to be excreted into the skin via sweat glands, therefore the lycopene from your diet tends to accumulate on specific regions such as forehead, nose, chin, palms etc. A small study on healthy volunteers showed that a 10-week lycopene-rich diet improved the minimal erythemal dose by 40% compared with the control group. (Minimal erythemal dose is essentially the amount of UV radiation needed to turn the skin pink) NB: Watermelons are NOT a substitute for sunscreen!

Could your skincare be delivering more than your diet?

Back to cosmeceutical skincare: Hydrolysation of tomato skins stabilises the lycopene. Once it is stabilised, it can be distributed evenly and homogeneously across the skin. It’s a clever little ingredient, naturally sourced, that boosts our skin’s ability to protect itself. “Clean science” in action. Find it in these Synergie products: SuperSerum+, Practitioner A+, BB-Flawless makeup.


Interesting fact: although lycopene is chemically a carotene, it has no vitamin A activity. 


Synergie Skin Hydrolysed tomato skin (lycopene) clinical data
Furr HC, Clark RM Intestinal absorption and tissue distribution of carotenoids Nut Biochem 1997 8:364-377
Fazekas Z et al. protective effect of lycopene against ultraviolet B-induced photo damage. Nut and Cancer 2003 47(2) 181-7
Stahl W et al. Dietary Tomato Paste Protects against Ultraviolet Light-induced Erythema in Humans J Nutrition 2001
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woman applying cream

Focus on Vitamin A

Vitamin A is often found in skincare products in its various forms to address photoageing of the skin.

Cosmeceutical preparations tend to use retinol, which is gentler and less irritant, whereas prescription strength creams/gels use tretinoin/retinoic acid, which is more effective but can be harsher on sensitive skin. Makers of the non-prescription creams and gels don’t have to say how much retinol their products contain, and in the short term, the products might not be as effective as tretinoin.

Cosmeceutical vitamin A preparations will however smooth out the skin and minimise the effects of sun damage, although generally, it can take about 3 to 6 months of daily use to notice a difference. With prescription retinoids, a patient might notice smoother, more even-toned skin in as early as 6 to 8 weeks. Before recommending a particular vitamin A preparation, we always take a full skin history and examine the skin to determine which would be most appropriate for an individual patient.

What is photoageing?

Photoageing is a term used to describe the visible changes in skin that we see over time due to a cumulative lifelong exposure to UV radiation, specifically to UVA.

The uppermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum) becomes thicker, giving the skin a dull, rough texture. The pigment in the skin becomes abnormally distributed, leading to freckles and “liver spots”. Wrinkles start to appear in the skin, initially under the eyes and on the cheeks, and pores become visibly more noticeable. As photoageing progresses, the wrinkles become more marked and the skin develops a thick leathery appearance, often with a yellowish tint. In some patients, the skin can develop a pebbly texture with scattered open comedones (blocked pores).


How does vitamin A affect photoageing?

Retinoids work in a number of ways to reduce and reverse the clinical signs of photoageing. They prompt surface skin cells to turn over and die rapidly, making way for new cell growth underneath. They hamper the breakdown of collagen and thicken the deeper layer of skin where wrinkles get their start. Retinoids will not thin the skin – they typically cause peeling and redness in the first few weeks of use, but they actually thicken the skin. For brown spots that give the skin an uneven tone, retinoids slough them off and curb the production of melanin, a darker pigment.

Clinical Action of vitamin A (retinoids) – what happens within the skin

Visible Effect of vitamin A (retinoids) – what improvement is seen

Thins and compacts the stratum corneum Smoother, softer skin texture
Thickens the epidermis Tightening of the skin
Reverses keratinocyte atypia (skin cells containing abnormal DNA from repeated UV damage) Improves or eradicates actinic keratoses (“sunspots”)
Disperses melanin throughout the epidermis Improves blotchy hyperpigmentation
Stimulates dermal collagen deposition Increases dermal volume and tightens the skin
Increases glycosaminoglycan (GAG) deposition Increases dermal hydration and tightens the skin
Increases neovascularization (growth of new blood vessels) in the dermis Gives a pinker rosy hue to the skin

Preventing further damage

When using any active vitamin A product, it is important to stop, or reduce, ongoing photoageing. It makes little sense to improve the quality of the skin and then subject it to further damage from chronic ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.

Complete avoidance of sunlight for several years can actually reverse some histological signs of photoageing as the skin has the ability to repair itself if it is protected from continual photodamage.

In Australia total sun avoidance is difficult if not impossible for most people. Therefore we must settle for the next best thing – sun protection. The concept of sun protection encompasses sun protective clothing (including hats) and sunscreens.

The easiest to use and most reasonable protection for most people is sunscreen. Sunscreen should be worn every day, whether the person is outdoors a little or a lot. Because UV damage is cumulative in its effects, the prevention of even small daily amounts of sun damage over a long period of time can have a profound impact on the total amount of UV-induced damage.

Synergie Ultimate A

About Synergie Vitamin A Serum

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