The variety of anti-ageing skin products can sometimes confuse even those people who are very dedicated to caring for their appearance. Every year, we see a new crop of anti-wrinkle products that promise great results. On the other hand, many people claim that the effect of such cosmetics is invisible. However, that is not exactly right.
Most facial products should be used for preventive purposes. For example, the daily application of sunscreen, which protects against pigmentation, sun spots, skin cancer, and premature ageing, will not remove the already formed fine lines. The same goes for moisturizing creams. They will give the necessary hydration to your skin which in turn will help you prevent dry skin and fine lines but they will not get rid of the deep wrinkles you already have.
All of these things can definitely be very frustrating. That is why it is important to understand how the ingredients in creams work on a deeper level and how they can affect your skin.
In this article, we will look at new innovative ingredients that appeared on the Korean beauty scene and seem like they are gaining a lot of traction. The ingredients go by the name growth factors and are considered to be very effective against fine lines and facial wrinkling. However, before giving you more information about this new paradigm of skin rejuvenation, let’s first learn a little bit more about the ageing process itself.
What is skin ageing?
Ageing is a constant process that shows in different ways and unfortunately, it cannot be stopped. The ageing of the face cannot be compared to that of the body. The skin on the face is thinner and more sensitive therefore more prone to loss of volume and visible lines. It is especially true for the skin around the eyes. Some environmental factors such as frequent sun exposure and smoking can additionally damage the protective skin barrier and worsen the skin condition.
Ageing of the skin usually begins at the age of 25-30 in women and develops slowly over time. The skin becomes thinner and drier, which makes it less resistant to external influences such as UV rays and free radicals.
Basically, there are two types of skin ageing – intrinsic ageing which is chronological ageing over time that affects the whole organism and mainly depends on genetics, and extrinsic ageing which is related to our lifestyles, mainly sun exposure, but also smoking, stress and environmental pollution.
Today we know more and more about the factors that influence ageing, and we are looking for solutions on how to slow down this natural physiological process and correct some aspects. It is said that topical application of creams containing endogenous growth factors can significantly minimize wrinkles and improve skin texture. Is that really so? Let’s see!
What are topical growth factors and what is their role in skincare?
Growth factors are natural proteins in the human body responsible for a number of processes in the cells such as cell division, cellular metabolism and cellular immunity. Some examples of growth factors are EGF (epidermal growth factor), PDGF (platelet-derived growth factor), bFGF (basic fibroblast growth factor), IGF (Insulin-like growth factor) and many others.
In skincare, growth factors are natural substances usually made by human skin cells, animals or plants. Their role is to maintain healthy skin. Their functions include stimulating the repair of damaged and dry skin, making components, supplying firmness and elasticity to the skin and maintaining its protective functions.
It has been proven that as we get older, the levels of growth factors in the body decrease. Studies show that after the age of 30, their level is reduced by about 10% compared to childhood. It slows down the skin’s ability to recover which in turn contributes to the occurrence of fine lines and wrinkles.
Where do growth factors come from?
There are many sources of growth factors. They can be made from various laboratory-grown human cells, extracted through a procedure called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), or derived from nonhuman sources such as snails or plants.
- Human sources of growth factors. A wide variety of human cells can be used to produce growth factors in skincare products, such as skin cells (dermal fibroblasts), bone marrow stem cells, fat stem cells, and so on. The function of the growth factors is to help repair and rebuild the tissue in which they are found. For instance, fat cells extracted from one area of the body can be injected again into another area to replace the lost volume. So naturally, growth factors derived from skin cells or human fibroblasts are best for facial skin rejuvenation.
- Obtaining one’s own platelets through Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). PRP is a non-invasive facial rejuvenation procedure where your own plasma is injected under the skin. This plasma is a natural product that contains multiple growth factors which support collagen synthesis and cell migration, eradicating wrinkles, lines, and folds. In general, most scientists believe that human-derived growth factors, such as PRP, are the most effective.
- Non-human sources of growth factors. Growth factors can be bioengineered from sources such as snails or plants. These are biomimetic (techniques that imitate biochemical processes) growth factors that are developed to replicate “mirror” what the other growth factors are doing.
Many cosmetic products are made from non-human growth factors. However, these are considered to be not as effective as topical growth factors derived from human sources. In general growth factors obtained from human tissue whether it is skin or fat cells are really human growth factors. Plants don’t produce growth factors. What plants have is strong antioxidants. What they do is that they provide protection function for the skin. They don’t have anything that would stimulate the same types of synthetics as the human growth factors.
How do topical growth factors help facial skin rejuvenation?
It is said that topically applied balanced growth factors have many benefits for the skin. The use of cosmetics containing growth factors and cytokines (a subtype of growth factors) can hydrate the skin, prevent pigmentation, improve wrinkles appearance and evenness of skin tone. This is because these ingredients have the ability to boost cells growth and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Here are some of the reasons why you may want to implement topical growth factors in your skincare regimen.
- Topical growth factors and cytokine skin cream can boost younger, healthy skin cells. The topically applied growth factors are a powerful active ingredient for rejuvenating skin cells. They get deep into the skin promoting the growth of new skin cells.
- They strengthen the protective function of the skin. As topical growth factors are able to revive the skin by stimulating new skin cells to grow, they are also able to strengthen the skin barrier. In turn, the skin can retain moisture more effectively and therefore become softer and smoother.
- Growth factors enhance the ability of the skin to produce collagen and elastin. Growth factors are ingredients that can get down to a cellular level to “communicate” with skin cells and produce collagen and elastin.
- By using topical growth factor products, you can treat multiple anti-ageing concerns at once. In regards to anti-ageing skincare, growth factor serums are often referred to as multitaskers. They can address multiple concerns such as lack of firmness, loss of elasticity, they will help with lines and wrinkles as well as eye bags and dark circles.
- Growth factors can inhibit the production of melanin. Products containing growth factors also inhibit the production of melanin during the healing process of wounds or cuts and thus they prevent the formation of age spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation.
- Topical growth factors pair well with other skincare products. Growth factors products can be used with vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid and so on.
How do different growth factors work?
Topical skin creams may contain either a single growth factor or several growth factors and cytokines for skin rejuvenation. A combination of growth factors improves the appearance of ageing skin and damaged skin. In its own way, each growth factor serves its own specific purpose. Here we will look at some growth factors used in skin care products and their function.
- FGF (Fibroblast growth factor). Its main function is to stimulate cellular regeneration and endothelial cell division.
- TGF (Transforming growth factor-beta). It accelerates wound healing and stimulates collagen production.
- PDGF (Platelet-derived growth factor). It plays a role in regulating cell division and growth.
- HGF (Hepatocyte growth factor). It promotes the production of collagen.
- IGF (Insulin-like growth factor). It has the ability to stimulate cell growth and multiplication.
Can EGF serum reduce eye bags and dark circles?
Skin specialists believe that epidermal growth factor serum can boost collagen production, lighten pigmentation spots and lessen the appearance of dark circles, eye bags and periorbital wrinkles.
Under-eye bags are a common sign of ageing and a complaint among adults who feel less youthful. There are many eye products on the market specifically designed to target the sensitive skin of this area. However, not all of them are effective.
According to a pilot study, topical application of EGF serum can significantly lessen the appearance of eye bags and dark circles. The research was performed on 18 participants (both men and women) with bags under the eyes. They had to apply EGF serum twice a day for 12 weeks. After that, the participants had to share their final outcomes. 16 of 18 people reported they have an improvement in the under-eye area. Eleven of them rated their under-eye bags as milder at the end of the trial than at the beginning. Seven subjects were happier with their facial appearance in general.
What is PRP? Does it produce better results than the topical growth factors?
Platelet-rich plasma is a treatment where the plasma is drawn from your blood and then injected into the face to improve the skin texture. The preparation of platelet-rich plasma injections involves running the blood through a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. Once the platelets have been activated, they are injected into the skin tissue.
Growth factor therapy has been used for many years especially for athletes who have chronic joint pain and a lot of inflammation. When PRP is injected into those joints it will help the healing process. PRP is also used for various cosmetic treatments. One of the most popular is called vampire facial which is a combination of PRP and microneedling.
The procedure begins with applying a topical anaesthetic. Then PRP is put on the skin and a microneedling pin is used. This pen has little needles that pass over the face creating micro-injuries into the skin. PRP seeps down into those little injuries to help the skin heal itself. It will improve the tone, texture and appearance of your skin.
Why PRP treatment is better than other products? PRP is from your own blood which means that it uses your own growth factors. The topical application of growth factors also has many benefits for the skin. However, many cosmetic products are made from plant-derived growth factors which might be not as effective as injectable growth factors.
Are there any skin types or any kind of skin conditions that the use of growth factors is not recommended?
There are really no known contraindications for using topical growth factors based on skin type. They are very well tolerated even on sensitive skin. It is safe for use over a long period of time and does not damage the stratum corneum (the top layer of our epidermis). However, growth factors and for that matter, any cosmetic or skincare product should not be used on open wounds or any medical conditions that compromise barriers such as eczema, psoriasis, skin cancer or anything like that. The products help most with photodamaged skin so photo ageing is really an indication for the most prospective base products. According to clinical studies, the more severe the photodamage the more effect the products have.
Growth factors in skin care: Do they really work?
Well, in a word yes. The findings of a recent study show that 92 percent of participants saw noticeable diminishing in fine lines and deep wrinkles after using a growth factor serum daily for 3 months in combination with cleansing and applying SPF. Additionally, after just 4 weeks of using growth factor serum, skin thickness was improved by 31%.
Topical growth factors: how to use them for your skincare?
You can use topical growth factors twice a day, in the morning and evening, or just in the evening. However, you shouldn’t forget to apply sunscreen. Protecting the skin after a recent rejuvenation is essential for maintaining your outcomes. Sun exposure, pollution and smoking can lead to producing free radicals which will damage the skin, minimizing the benefits of growth factors. Aside from sunscreen, you can also apply vitamin C. This is an antioxidant that has the ability to neutralize free radicals, extending the protection of sunscreen.
If you have more serious skin issues, you may also want to incorporate retinol (vitamin A) into your skin care routine. The combination of retinol and topical growth factors would be more effective than either applied alone. The use of growth factors in conjunction with PRP, laser resurfacing, or injections can also be more effective than using them individually.