Myristyl Malate Phosphonic Acid
Myristyl Malate Phosphonic Acid (let’s call it MMPA) is a synthetic phospholipid. You may have heard of phospholipids in your biology class, since they’re a main component in human cell membranes. Because of this, it makes sense that cosmetic companies want to try making some similar molecules for skin care - our skin is made of cells, after all! So MMPA is the main advertised component of the complex trade named Revidrate, which the manufacturer claims will act on the outer layers of the skin to promote the activity of natural moisturizing factors. This is basically to say that MMPA helps your skin hydrate itself. It is said to do this through promoting some complex pathways within your cells that help mature keratinocytes (the cells in the outer layer of the skin). A 38-person clinical study was conducted by the company to substantiate these claims that showed promising moisturization results after 2 months of using a cream twice a day with 3% Revidrate. All in all, MMPA seems like a promising goodie and there is no reason not to try it, especially if it’s included in a formulation with other proven ingredients.
If you ever wondered what those little Listerine breath strips were made of, you found your answer! Pullulan is a polysaccharide polymer, which basically means that it’s a big molecule made up of smaller sugar molecule units. It dissolves in water and can make a thin, elastic, and moisture-absorbing film when spread on the skin that can cause an instant tightening effect. It can also be used as a thickener to get a silicone-like feel and can be used in peel-off masks. Btw, it's made from fungus via fermentation.
If you are reading here, we are pretty sure the words retinoids and retinol ring a bell, but if not, you are seriously missing out, please click here immediately to catch up. The TL;DR version is that retinoids are the royal family of skincare with tretinoin being the queen, the only FDA-approved ingredient to treat the signs of photoaging. Retinol is like a grandkid, it has to be converted (through two steps) in the skin to become retinoic acid. The conversion means retinol is both less effective and less harsh on the skin. So where does our current molecule, Retinal, aka Retinaldehyde fit into the family (btw, here is a nice visual family tree about who is who)? Remember that retinol needed two conversion steps to become retinoic acid? Yes, you are right, Retinal is the intermediate step between retinoic acid and retinol, meaning it needs only one conversion step to become active in the skin. If we go with our royal family analogy, Retinal is Prince Charles, directly next in line to the throne. Once retinal is converted, it becomes retinoic acid and does the same things we detailed in our tretinoin description. In a nutshell, it is everything you expect from an anti-aging superstar such as decreased wrinkles, smoother, firmer and more elastic skin. This sounds good, but how does Retinal compare to retinoic acid? Good question! We found a study (a pretty good one with 125 patients) that compared 0.05% retinal with 0.05% retinoic acid (and vehicle). They concluded that "at week 18, a significant reduction of the wrinkle and roughness features was observed with both retinaldehyde and retinoic acid." and the difference between the two was not statistically significant. (Interestingly, in both groups, the results were less significant at week 44, so it might be a good idea to have a retinoid break from time to time?) Also, our guy, Retinal was much better tolerated than retinoic acid known for its harshness. The good tolerability of retinal was also confirmed by another study that compared retinol (ROL), retinal (RAL) and retinoic acid (RA). They found that "the natural retinoids ROL and RAL do have a good tolerance profile, in contrast with the irritating potential of RA", meaning retinal is an awesome alternative if you have irritation and flaking issues with prescription products, such as Retin-A. Last, but not least, we want to mention a pretty big (but subjectively evaluated), Avene (the French pharmacy brand famous for its Retinal products) sponsored study that examined the tolerability and efficacy of a 0.1 Retinal + 6% glycolic acid product in the treatment of acne. The product was added next to the standard anti-acne regimen of 1,709 patients for 90 days and the study concluded that the formula was both very well tolerated as well as effective next to other standard anti-acne medications such as benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics. Overall, if you are into retinoids, Retinal is a really awesome and pretty well-proven member of the family that is absolutely worth trying.
Unlike most other ceramides, this is a tricky one to recognize by name, but Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine is a type of ceramide. The TL;DR version of ceramides is that along with cholesterol and fatty acids, the lipid trio (in a 50%, 25% and 15% ratio) is in the outermost layer of the skin helping to maintain a healthy skin barrier. This means keeping nasty things out, and important things such as water in. We have a more detailed description of ceramides here. So as a ceramide, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine is a nice skin-identical ingredient that supports a healthy skin barrier. More specifically, a promising in-vitro study on reconstructed human skin shows that applying our molecule helps the skin to make some more ceramides (types 1,2 and 3). Interestingly, the extra ceramide production does not happen in the usual pathway, but the skin seems to process and transform Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine into these other ceramides. Clinical, aka made on real people studies, have confirmed that products with Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine improve skin hydration, reduce trans epidermal water loss (the amount of water that evaporates out of the skin), and increase the ceramide content of the skin in people with atopic dermatitis or who are being treated with topical tretinoin. A real goodie in our book.
Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae Extract
The extract coming from a rare, blue-green algae that's touted to have retinoid-like effects but without the side effect. If you do not know what retinoids are, you are seriously missing out, please click here and catch up on the topic. To be more specific about the "retinoid-like effects", the manufacturer found that Lanablue (the trade name of this algae) affects gene expression (a fancy way of saying how an ingredient might influence how a skin cell produces different things such as proteins) and regulates epidermal differentiation (how skin cells at the bottom of the top layer of our skin replicate) similar to good-old retinol. However, that is only in-vitro (made in test-tubes) data, that may or may not happen on real human skin. As far as clinical data goes, the manufacturer did a 21 days study with 40 volunteers and found that 3% Lanablue showed a "clear reduction of the skin microrelief", or to say it in another way, it made the skin smoother. Based on the data we have seen, we find that claiming "retinoid-like effects" for this algae is an exaggeration. If you are into retinol alternatives, Bakuchiol is a more promising molecule to check out.
Opuntia Ficus-Indica Fruit Extract
The extract of Prickly Pear, a cactus that’s native to Mexico. Its main unique thing is that it can reduce the neurosensory irritation caused by the application of topical products such as retinoids (slow reaction) or alpha hydroxy acids (fast reaction). We have a shiny description about Opuntia Ficus-Indica Extract here >>
A vegetable-based, PEG-free ingredient whose job is to help water and oil to mix nicely together (emulsifier). It is created by attaching ten water-loving glycerin molecules with the oil-loving fatty acid, stearic acid. The result is a partly water- and partly oil-loving molecule that creates stable and smooth emulsions that are also cosmetically elegant. It also has some moisturizing and softening benefits for skin and hair.
A mainly oil loving molecule that helps water and oil to mix nicely, aka emulsifier. In itself, it can create water-in-oil emulsions (when water droplets are dispersed in oil), but it is used mostly next to water-loving emulsifiers to create nice and smooth oil-in-water creams. It can also function as a wetting and dispersing agent helping insoluble particles such as color pigments or inorganic sunscreens (zinc/titanium dioxide) to disperse nice and even in liquids. Chemically speaking, this molecule is "halfway" between Sorbitan Oleate and Sorbitan Trioleate, meaning that it is also an attachment of sorbitan (a dehydrated sorbitol (sugar) molecule) with the unsaturated fatty acid Oleic Acid, but in a ratio of 2:3 hence the "Sesqui" part in the molecule's name.
A very oil-loving emulsifier that can help oil and water to mix, especially if it is mixed with a water-loving emulsifier. Chemically speaking, it is related to Sorbitan Oleate, but instead of attaching one Oleic Acid to the sorbitan molecule, three Oleic Acids are attached making the whole molecule even more oil-loving (oleic part) and less water-loving (sorbitan part).
A mainly oil-loving, vegetable raw material based ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together, aka emulsifier. It can also function as a wetting and dispersing agent helping insoluble particles such as color pigments or inorganic sunscreens (zinc/titanium dioxide) to disperse nice and even in liquids. Chemically speaking, it comes from the attachment of sorbitan (a dehydrated sorbitol (sugar) molecule) with the unsaturated fatty acid Oleic Acid, that creates a partly water (the sorbitan part) and partly oil soluble (oleic part) molecule.