Spreading Clean Beauty

How integrated sensorial experience can create truly holistic skin care

Prolonged exposure to pollution, sun, heat, or tobacco smoke, to name but a few can compromise the skin’s natural protective barrier. Equally, stress is a culprit – and during a global pandemic, emotional stress is impacting the skin’s natural defenses alongside material irritants like masks, causing itching, redness, and tightness. To manage these emotional and physical stressors, many people are turning to sensorial experience to feel calm and promote well-being.

For instance, in the UK 45% of 16-34-year-olds have done more beauty and personal care activities to reduce stress and anxiety since the pandemic began (Mintel, 2020). This is part of a growing trend for overall well-being that relates the physicality with psychological well-being. 

To contribute to the improvement of both, we appeal to the emotions and the senses: by stimulating smell, music, light, or touch we can promote psychological well-being and beauty. Here, we go one step further. We not only a discuss how sensorial experience and overall well-being are psychologically connected – but how we can develop beauty products that enhance this connection by physically activating the sensory receptors on our skin and thus leading to a calming dermatological action.

The complex connections of sensorial experience

The skin is a sensory-receptor organ. Our skin connects us to our environment, feeling pressure, temperature, vibrations, and tactile sensation via an integrated network of specialized cells, receptors, and nerve endings. In recent years, new varieties of receptors have been described in the skin, including – fascinatingly – taste receptors.

This interconnected nature of sensory receptors opens new avenues for identifying alternative mechanisms of action for skin care. For instance, it was recently discovered that bitter taste receptors are not only expressed on the tongue; they can be found over the entire epidermis. It has been found that these receptors play an immunomodulatory role in chronic inflammatory skin diseases (dermatitis, eczema, etc).

How Provital has harnessed this new knowledge

The detection of sensory bitter taste receptors in the epidermis and their potential role in inflammatory skin disorders led Provital to further research their role in protecting sensitive skin from inflammatory reactions. Until now, the presence of certain sensory bitter taste receptors had been found in keratinocytes; however, their presence and function in fibroblasts had not. 

Together with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), Provital pioneered research on the role of bitter taste receptors in the skin. Our research proved the previously undiscovered presence and functionality of these receptors in fibroblasts, which as a critical cell variety for skin renewal and healing, are essential to calming formulas. The presence of bitter taste receptors in fibroblasts established a new mechanism of action that offers a solution for sensitive and reactive skin. 

The result of this research was Senseryn™. This ingredient activates the sensory bitter taste receptors to enhance fibroblast function with hops. Owing to its chemical composition, particularly their alpha acid component, hops are thought to have calming and relaxing properties. Plus, hops are also known for their antioxidant and antibacterial action.

Caring for the skin and the planet

Subsequently, Senserynacts on the skin’s natural barrier from four angles: it strengthens the skin’s chemical barrier by stimulating the antibacterial response; it fortifies the immune barrier by inhibiting the inflammatory response; it strengthens the skin’s physical barrier by optimizing the extracellular matrix and improving collagen structure; finally, it strengthens the microbiological barrier by acting on key pathogens in the microbiota. 

This active ingredient is made with hops sourced from local artisanal farmers in the village of Almacelles in the Segrià region of the province of Lleida, Spain, just a few kilometers from Provital. This means Senseryn™ is developed with minimal environmental impact as a result of this km0 sourcing strategy. In the context of the global pandemic, Senseryn™ calms and cares – not only for the skin but also for the environment.

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