Unilever has claimed it has discovered how the skin can be stimulated to maintain its own production of ceramides to improve skin quality and hydration.
Ceramides act to bind skin cells together and are effective at counteracting dryness and are contained in many personal care products.
However, says Unilever, the large size of these ceramides prevents them from penetrating the skin.
Unilever scientists have been looking to overcome this issue by finding ways to trigger the skin’s natural ceramide-producing processes, thereby enabling it to heal from within.
“Our products contain skin-identical lipid precursors which act as the building blocks to allow the natural process of ceramide production to occur,” said Dr Andrew Mayes, Senior Skin Research Manager at Unilever R&D.
“They provide the raw materials and then the skin can do the rest,” he added.
A study published in scientific journal Nature Scientific Reports shows that boosting ceramides can lead to dramatic improvements for people with dry skin.
“We can now build stronger skin from within,” said Dr Mayes. “By strengthening and rebuilding the skin’s functional moisture barrier, skin feels better, looks better, and is more resilient to the outside world.”
Working with microbiome data analysts Eagle Genomics, Unilever identified that when people used its products, they showed a significant increase of Staphylococcus epidermidis - a bacteria associated with good skin health.
This microbe is naturally present on human skin and plays a key role in the production of beneficial metabolites, including lactic acid, that help defend the skin against external threats.
“The ability of product application to improve the skin microbiome was a very exciting discovery,” said Dr Barry Murphy, Senior Microbiome Research Manager at Unilever R&D.
“Over the past number of years, we have built a strategic partnership with Eagle Genomics. Using its AI-augmented platform to analyse complex biological data and study how our skin and its microbiome interact, has been central to this research.”