Photo by Safia Shakil

In the first part of this blog ✍🏻 (you can find it here) I discussed the theoretical action and the clinical benefits of some dermatologic nutraceuticals such as carotenoids, fatty acids, NAC and minerals, used as anti-aging natural remedies for the skin and reviewed in this article 📚📉🔬: Nutraceuticals: A Review, by Skylar A. Souyoul, Katharine P. Saussy and Mary P. Lupo.

Today, I am going to talk about other important nutraceuticals such as polyphenols, vitamins and Aloe sterols. 


Polyphenols are secondary metabolites of plants that have been of interest for their anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Over 8000 different polyphenol compounds have been identified so far, but here only two will be discussed: curcumin and epigallocatechin gallate.

Curcumin is a polyphenol derived from the turmeric spice (the spice that gives curry its yellow color) and has many biologically active roles: 

  • anti-carcinogenic by influencing the expression of the tumor suppressor p53 (also known as TP53 or tumor protein) and decreasing the production of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB),
  • anti-inflammatory (suppressing pro-inflammatory molecules such as chemokines, cyclooxygenase-2, prostaglandin E2, MMPs, interleukins and tumor necrosis factor-α), and
  • antioxidant (by suppressing reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, scavenging ROS and inhibiting lipid peroxidation).

In 2017, Shailaja et al studied curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties in albino rats as a potential anti-aging nutraceutical and they reported a statistically significant decrease in the C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation) in the curcumin-supplemented group compared with the two control groups.

Beauty Tip: For clearer skin combine turmeric, honey (add a few drops of lemon juice if desired) and use as a face mask. And for an anti-inflammatory tea combine turmeric, black pepper, coconut oil, honey and warm water.  

Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is the most potent tea polyphenol and is commonly found in green tea. EGCG:

  • suppresses pro-inflammatory inducers, and
  • diminishes melanoma cell growth in humans by supporting cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.

In mice, studies have shown diminished radiation-induced effects with topical application. These effects include deceased edema and erythema, preservation of skin antioxidant stores and reduction of UV-induced skin tumors.

Beauty Tip: Just take a tea bag of green tea and soak for about an hour, then break the tea bag and place the leaves in a mixing bowl and add baking soda and honey to create a past and use it as face mask. 

Vitamins 💊

Vitamin C is a water-soluble compound, and studies have shown that oral vitamin C supplementation leads to an increase in its plasma and skin content. Vitamin C:

  • is a powerful antioxidant,
  • serves as an essential cofactor during collagen hydroxylation, encouraging the maturation of intracellular and extracellular collagen,
  • has been shown to reduce UVB-induced oxidative damage and UV radiation-induced skin neoplasms in mice and protect human keratinocytes from UVA-induced lipid peroxidation, and
  • decreases the malondialdehyde content in the skin, which is a marker of oxidative stress.

Beauty Tip: Just drink your fresh orange or lemon juice 🍊🍋 every day! 

Vitamin E is heat stable fat soluble compound most commonly used in cosmetics, for its skin protection properties such as anti-wrinkle, enhanced skin moisturizing and prevention of skin disease.

The most abundant and biologically active form of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol (αT), is the leading form used in human metabolism. αT protects the skin

  • from UVB damage by halting the formation of ROS, stabilizing the surface and membranes of cells, reducing the number of apoptotic cells and minimizing the activation of NF-kB, and
  • αT is also believed to be photo-protective as multiple studies have shown that αT in combination with vitamin C supplementation increases the minimal erythema dose (MED) — defined as the threshold dose that may produce sunburn.

UV light reduces the skin’s concentration of αT, promoting skin aging. Luckily, the skin’s concentration of αT can be increased with oral or topical delivery. 

Beauty Tip: Just go out and buy some vitamin E 💊

Potential Future Nutraceuticals: Aloe sterols

Collagen and elastin are the two main fibers in the dermis (the layer that provides strength and elasticity to the skin, that includes the vascular, lymphatic and neuronal systems and it also contains sweat pores and hair follicles) and together makeup and maintain the majority of the skin’s structure. Degradation of these fibers, which is seen in chronologically aged skin, leads to a decrease in cutaneous elasticity and an increase in cutaneous fragility.

Oral Aloe sterols (from Aloe vera) have been shown to

  • encourage the formation of type I and type III collagen in human dermal fibroblasts, leading to increased collagen production and improved skin elasticity,
  • decrease the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, protecting collagen and the ECM from degradation, in UVB-irradiated hairless mice, and
  • encourage the production of hyaluronic acid in human dermal fibroblasts.

Beauty Tip: My secret for protecting my skin during summer in Corfu⛱🚣🏻, after a day of sun, is to just choose a thick, smooth large leaf of Aloe Vera and with a spoon scoop out the gel, and use it for a face mask. You can also mix the gel with orange/lemon juice and honey and enjoy a detoxifying drink. Then I put some vitamin E oil on my face, I eat a lot of tomatoes (always with the anti-inflammatory miracle herbs like fresh basil or oregano) and of course I monitor my biological age using AgeCurve’s test (but we will talk another time about this). 

Thanks for Reading

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