Medik8 is a world-leading research company in the field of antioxidants and has multiple patents pending for inventions relating to antioxidant research.
What are free radicals?
Free-radicals most commonly defined in the context of skincare as high-energy particles that damage collagen, the skin’s scaffolding, and break down the skin cell’s protective wall, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. The arch enemy of the free radical is the antioxidant. ‘Internal’ free-radicals are a natural by-product of the body burning food into energy. The body has its own mechanisms of dealing with these free radicals which it derives from antioxidant rich food stuffs. ‘External’ or environmental free-radicals can be highly dangerous and are thought to be the major cause of premature skin ageing. Generally, one is exposed to external freeradicals from smoking, sunbathing and a polluted environment (eg. urban air quality and exhaust fumes).
Together with using sun protection, Medik8 researchers believe that antioxidants are of the highest importance in any anti-ageing program.
The importance of testing the final antioxidant formula.
There is a significant body of quality peer-reviewed* evidence to show that topical antioxidants can help to prevent skin ageing. They work by ‘soaking-up’ free-radicals that exist externally (from pollutants) and internally (from bi-products of cellular metabolism).
*(Thiele, 2001; Thiele et al, 2001; Podda et al, 2001; Fitzpatrick and Rostan, 2002; Traikovich, 1999; Humbert et al, 2003)
In the recently famous BBC Horizon documentary on the science of cosmetics, it was noted that some substances have great performance as stand-alone ingredients but work poorly or not at all when formulated into creams. It was shown that products with impressive sounding ingredient lists could and did perform very badly in freeradical assay trials. It was not a case of the manufacturer skimping on actives, in fact most probably the opposite. When formulating with antioxidants, one should be concerned with optimising the percentage and combining with the right co-factors.
The documentary concluded that antioxidant cream manufacture is very complicated, and the only way to be sure that the cream had a strong antioxidant effect, was to test the final product. It would appear from the results of those products tested by the BBC (and 9 premium brands tested by Medik8) the testing the final formulation had not taken place in all but one or two instances.
Medik8 antioxidant products have been independently tested throughout development, across two to four major free-radical species – performing with flying colours. Medik8 independent tests were performed at the same laboratory, using the same assays, equipment and researchers as used by BBC Horizon.
Medik8 antioxidants are measured for five important aspects of antioxidant activity which Medik8 feel are crucial to maximize anti-ageing benefits.
• Strength of quenching (ie. The intensity of free-radical removal)
• Broad-spectrum activity (ie. Removes a variety of free-radicals not just one type)
• Enzymatic activity (ie. Results in longer duration activity)
• Redundancy for secondary reactions (ie. Dealing with ‘nasty’ bi-products of quenching)
• Stability in pack (ie. Retaining activity while product is in store and on bathroom shelves)
Meaning in short that sometimes less is more, Hormesis is a term used in toxicology to refer to a biphasic dose response to a chemical agent characterised by low dose stimulation or beneficial effect and a high dose inhibitory or toxic effect. Recent studies have shown that antioxidants are particularly vulnerable to this effect and thus care must taken when formulating antioxidant creams and serums. Often, a higher concentration of a certain antioxidant ingredient will produce a pro-oxidant effect in the cream actually generating free-radicals and damaging the skin. One notable example antioxidant showing hormesis is Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate.
Broad Spectrum Activity Antioxidants
Medik8 offer varying levels of broad spectrum protection against free-radicals because they can attack and neutralise a wide variety of damaging free radicals. Full protection is essential in order to benefit of antioxidant technology.
Antioxidants that imitate the body’s own protective mechanisms
As already mentioned, the body has its own natural antioxidants, enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (or SOD) and catalase to deal with excess free radicals . SOD is excellent at neutralising the singlet oxygen free radical, but it converts it into H2O2 (or hydrogen peroxide – bleach!) which is perversely just as damaging as the original singlet oxygen radical. The second natural antioxidant, called catalase, completes the neutralisation process, converting the H2O2 into water and oxygen.
Many antioxidant products are only able to protect against the first line of free radicals, and not the bi-products of neutralisation, which are as harmful as the free radicals themselves. Medik8 broad-spectrum antioxidants not only mimic SOD but incredibly they also mimic Catalase. This is a patent pending invention.
Length of antioxidant activity
Most antioxidant products work like sponges that soak up or quench free radicals; but like a sponge, they soon fill up to capacity and can no longer absorb. Excellent antioxidants such as Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), Vitamin E and many botanical extracts work also as a sponge.
New Medik8 antioxidant ingredients (two patent pending actives) are different because in addition to acting like a sponge (due to vitamin E content), they have also been found to have strong SOD and Catalase mimetic activity respectively. This means they can be thought of as also working like a pump. Free-radicals are ‘sucked up’ continuously, converted to bi-products and expelled from the system leaving it ready to begin the same process again. This enzyme-like behaviour mimics the way cells work in naturally tackling free-radical damage. Medik8 antioxidant molecules can process millions of repeated conversions before losing activity.
The combination of vitamin C and E with these new enzymatic antioxidants, is pushing antioxidant research to new heights.
See Vitamin E and C-Tetra in the ingredients section for information in lipid delivery of antioxidants. Details of Firewall complex ‘Cusodase-P’ is on the Medik8 website
The entire Medik8 range is available at Therapolis
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