Matrixyl is the registered trademark of an anti-wrinkle ingredient that many rejuvenating cosmetic manufacturers include in their formulations. This is a surprisingly effective and reasonably priced ingredient, yet we still pay fortunes for anti-wrinkle creams. What is this component and how does it work?
The press published the news last year. Compared to invasive anti-wrinkle techniques such as collagen injections or more sophisticated techniques such as fibroblast cultures, cosmetic products based on Matrixyl double the amount of collagen in the skin, reversing ageing effects dramatically. The fact is, this ingredient seems to deliver what it promises: rejuvenation of the skin. As happens with clones, Matrixyl contains certain synthetic elements that are almost identical to natural matrikines, which are peptides responsible for preserving and repairing skin tissue. In fact, even before matrikines were used as anti-wrinkle agents it was already known that they impede the proliferation of skin tumors and accelerate the healing of skin wounds.
Origins in France
A French company, Sederma, has manufactured Matrixyl since 2000 and currently owns the patent. Meanwhile, brands like Dior, Olay and Ponds buy and use this ingredient; in fact, even before Sederma obtained the industrial patent cosmetics manufacturers were already including the agent in their wrinkle cream formulations.
However, Matrixyl’s rejuvenating effects on the skin initially went unnoticed, because some of these companies are evasive about what they use in their formulas. Naturally, nobody likes to explain their secret ingredients. They preferred to justify the cost of their products on the basis of incorporating fatty acids, such as ceramides, and other more sophisticated components used in anti-wrinkle creams. But the truth is that Matrixyl is effective and Sederma is the sole manufacturer and supplier.
How does skin recycling work?
The matrikines are peptides, small molecules formed by a handful of amino acids. In skin tissue they surround fibroblasts, the cells that manufacture collagen and elastin. Matrikines are comparable to waste byproducts, in that broken collagen and elastin are converted into matrikines.
Collagen fibers are damaged and continually break, among other reasons, from exposure to sunlight. The peculiar thing is that these peptides, which are merely broken collagen remains, send chemical messages to fibroblasts to manufacture collagen again. Thus collagen is continually being topped up. Think of it like an army of messenger molecules – the matrikines – running a huge recycling plant.
Matrixyl’s anti-wrinkle power
Using collagen, Matrixyl’s manufacturer has artificially created replicas of the skin’s matrikines in the laboratory. By combining three kinds of amino acids and fatty acids (such as palmitoyl peptapeptide-4) it produces three propietary cosmetic ingredients based on designer matrikines. Each of these ingredients acts differently on the skin and are used to treat various manifestations of skin ageing ranging from crow’s feet to sagging skin.
Some in vivo studies (with people) conducted in 2011 showed Matrixyl’s anti-wrinkle efficacy: compared to non-using volunteers, volunteers who used Matrixyl for a month found visible skin rejuvenation effects equivalent to nearly two years. But even more interesting was the fact that volunteers that continued using the product for two further months found their skin to be almost six years younger, especially around the eyes, where the wrinkle-occupied area decreased by 68%.
The scientific explanation
But how does Matrixyl work once applied consistently to the skin? Last year, researchers at the University of Reading (UK) published a definitive explanation in Molecular Pharmaceutics of how matrikines act. When fibroblasts– which form the tissue in the outermost layer of the dermis – are bathed in Matrixyl, collagen proteins begin to proliferate and to arrange themselves as fibers and form a structure. The more firm and compact this structure, the more youthful the appearance of the skin.