Natural beauty and well-being

26 May 2015

Skin, enzymes, peptides: what you need to know.

Some green and (non-green) beauty companies, beauty websites, and/or magazines can use quite a bit of scientific jargon to describe/highlight the advantages of the beauty products they sell, talk about or praise.
However consumers are not always familiar with the language they use and it may sometimes even be misleading. Consumers may, for example, mistakenly think those complicated ingredients imply effectiveness or quality, while others think they are non-natural or even toxic... And, on the other side, users of this vocabulary not uncommonly demonstrate a clear lack of understanding themselves!
In today's post, I thought it would be useful to explain some of the terminologies that I encounter most often in beauty.

Skin- Made of various layers, the stratum corneum layer in the epidermis is THE outer structure of the skin and functions as a barrier against the environnement/microbes. Different cell types are interconnected with each other and glued together with the help of various lipids such as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol.

Cell- It is a very small unit that is able to multiply, differentiate, migrate under internal/external factors. There are a lot of different types of cells in our body. In the the skin epidermis, the most common cells are the keratinocytes which produce and release a protein called keratin responsable for the structure of the skin.

pH (known as "potential hydrogen")- The skin layer has a acidic pH which plays a great antimicrobial and protective role. It also allows all the enzymes pH-dependant to process all the different fonctions of the skin cells.

Amino acids- These 20 molecules are the building blocks of peptides and proteins. Only 10 can be produced by the body, the rest should be supplied by food.

Peptides- These molecules are structurally very similar to proteins but just smaller. You often hear about peptides in skincare cream, correct? Well, I will focus on that in another post.

Proteins- There are so many of them in our body, you wouldn't believe it! They are made and released by cells (and in a simplified way, you can also get them from the food). Some can be classified as structural other as hormonal or as enzymatic. Their structure define their biological properties.

Enzymes- These molecules are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions- essential in our body. Please bare in mind that the word chemical used here is not about something being bad or good, it is just the true way to call the type of biological processus within the living world. Enzymes play a very important role in any cell fonctions, and again, they are a lot in our body and around us (yes, in plants, animals, virus etc).

Starting from here, stay tuned for some follow-up posts where I will explain a bit more the function of (certain) peptides, enzymes, or amino-acids in beauty products.

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