Flavonoids in cosmetic formulations pose “tremendous health benefits”, study finds
07 Jul 2022 --- Researchers at the International University Vietnam find that phytocosmetics are making a long-awaited comeback after being pushed aside by a wave of interest in synthetic products. They performed a literature search to review updates behind the potential use of flavonoids in cosmetic applications. Notably, antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and photoprotective activities were recognized.
Phytocosmetics is an old sub-discipline of cosmetology that mainly uses plant extracts in beauty treatments.
Oxidative stress is the main culprit of most cosmetic and dermatological problems, so supplementing the skin and body with antioxidants is considered the best approach for both preventative and therapeutic treatments, explain Pham Linh Phuong Tran and Hong Phu Le, department of biotechnology at the International University Vietnam.
Organically in demand
Botanical products have gained considerable interest in the market of self-care and beauty treatment. The global market for plant-based organic cosmetic products was priced at US$8.26 billion in 2020 and is continuing to rise, especially in developed areas such as North America, Europe and emerging economies such as Asia.
The researchers elucidate that a plant-based diet holds tremendous health benefits, which could be explained by the abundance of antioxidants, especially flavonoids, in plants and vegetables.
The presence of chromophores in flavonoid structures is a valuable feature that makes them a candidate for sun protection because one of their functions in plants is pigmentation.
A chromophore is a molecular region that can absorb light energy at specific wavelengths to produce the perceived color.
Surprisingly, many flavonoids have been shown to absorb light in the UV and blue light spectrums, which is the most damaging type of sunlight for the skin. Flavonoids thus assist in the neutralization of oxidative stress induced by sun exposure.
Because oxidative stress has been identified as a cause of aging, flavonoids have been touted as one of the most effective natural anti-aging compounds.
Plant extract anti-aging studies frequently focus on the inhibitory ability of enzymes associated with the compromising of skin structure, such as collagenase and elastase.
According to the researchers, water or ethanolic extracts from various parts of the water lily plant, such as the root, leaves and flowers, are commonly used in homemade self-care products such as toner and perfume.
Water lily extracts have been proposed for use in anti-aging products due to their flavonoids’ involvement in the inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase, which causes extracellular matrix breakdown and skin aging.
Anti-inflammation for skin
Flavonoids’ anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to their ability to inhibit phospholipase and cyclooxygenase expression, as well as regulate immune cell migration and cytokine production. Cytokines are part of small proteins that are important for cell signaling.
Flavonoids protected human dermal fibroblasts from oxidative stress and inflammatory damage caused by tumor necrosis factors, say the researchers.
According to their research, Baicalin, a flavonoid found in Radix Scutellaria, was studied for its ability to suppress acne-induced skin inflammation and a clear decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines has been documented.
Flavonoids for hair protection
Hair is another aspect of cosmetics that can benefit from the antioxidant activity of flavonoids and flavonoids-rich plant extracts, as oxidative stress has been linked to hair aging, including worsening hair fiber condition, hair loss and greying.
Cyclea peltata extract is high in biologically active compounds, particularly flavonoids. The plant extract has shown to be a very promising candidate for shampoo because the fermentation of it naturally produces lactic acid, which is highly regarded for shampoo base due to sunlight protection and hair texture and strength improvement.
The researchers conclude that the chemical structures of flavonoids contribute greatly to anti-oxidation activities and show potential in cosmetic applications.
They found that increasing the interest in organic and plant-based cosmetics demands more effort in the beauty industry’s research to provide more formulations that include these flavonoids in cosmetic production.
By Mieke Meintjes
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