Recent research by scientists from the UC Davis and Peking University has unearthed the mechanism by which skin fairness products work. Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs as they are commonly called are the active ingredients present in all these fairness and anti-wrinkle cosmetics.
What are AHAs and how do they work
AHAs are weak acids derived from natural sources and extensively used in cosmetic industry for fairness and anti-aging treatments. The study and its results were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Experiments were conducted on an ion channel that is responsible for exfoliation of the skin cells called keratinocytes (a type of skin cell). Experiments were set up on cultured cells subjected to AHAs and the resulting mechanism was mapped through electric currents.
These experimental cells were exposed to glycolic acid (an AHA) that generated free protons that make the cells acidic. This low pH activates the ion channel and allows the calcium ions into the cells. This results in a calcium ion overload leading to the death of the cells and subsequent exfoliation.
Uses of this study in treating other skin conditions
Lead scientist Xu Cao has mentioned that in addition to determining the mechanism of exfoliation, team also studied on the effects of mutation on the ion channel. When the TRPV 3 receptors are mutated, they cause Olmsted syndrome. The symptoms of this disease are: itchy skin followed by callous formation on the skin causing extreme discomfort and pain. Some of the outcomes of this discovery are:
- The research has brought to light that the calcium channels have a significant part to play in skin physiology.
- This knowledge can be used to treat various skin conditions and also alleviate pain caused by skin diseases.
- The research on calcium ion channels has not only revealed the mechanism by which AHAs act on our skin as cosmetics, but also help cure skin diseases and serve as analgesics for dermatological treatments.
- The research paves way for making more effective skin peels with lesser side effects.
- Natural ways of triggering exfoliation can be developed and give a boost to the cosmetic industry.
- Anti-aging skin treatments can now go pain-free.
- Anti-wrinkle treatments can now focus on natural formulae rather than synthetic chemical ones.
Regulating calcium ion pathways in the skin are the next level in skin care and cosmetics. Whether this can be achieved through just dietary changes and natural methods is yet to be discovered. The current research on cellular mechanisms of calcium ion channels has definitely opened up more avenues for researchers to work on.