A study by the University of Cape Town suggests that one in three women in South Africa bleaches her skin. In Nigeria, the consumer’s mind set appears fixated on fair skin. This has resulted in the ongoing popularity of hydroquinone-based skin lightening creams. Currently the Nigerian FDA permits two percent hydroquinone in skin care formulations, yet manufacturers are known to include anything in excess of five percent.
There are high-end lightening products and treatments that are believed to be safer than the creams sold on the informal market, yet doctors say they are by no means risk-free. The dangers associated with the use of some of these creams include leukaemia and cancer of the liver and kidneys. Another severe skin condition linked to these products is ochronosis. A form of hyper-pigmentation, ochronosis causes the skin to turn a dark purple shade. This is according to senior researcher at the University of Cape Town, Dr Lester Davids.
Other side effects include increased exposure to UV radiation; sensitivity to sunlight; increased risk of hyperpigmentation; contact dermatitis and skin irritation; as well as thick, leathery, and bumpy skin.
To address the primary skin care need of African consumers, CJP Chemicals and its international principal, Seppic, consulted with Dermscan to test Sepiwhite MSH on Ethnic skin. The results are encouraging.
Having a luminous and bright skin is a universal need that concerns consumers of all ages and skin types. Caucasian consumers want healthy glowing skin. Asians look for a transparent tone while Ethnic consumers want to correct pigmentation disorders and dark spots.
Black African or dark skins, in reaction to biological and external stresses such as acne, eczema, sun exposure, mosquito bites and scars, generally produce melanin.
The challenge to unify and clarify skin is pronounced, particularly in reducing hyper-pigmentation without compromising the skin. In response to this need, the cosmetics industry has worked tirelessly to develop products combining efficacy and skin compatibility.
One example is Sepiwhite MSH, a molecule derived from natural resources, which is effective on all skin types and perfectly well tolerated. This active ingredient is recognised among international brand owners and manufacturers for its lightening performance and is used in many formulations for brightening and lightening products.
Sepiwhite MSH has previously been tested on Caucasian and Asian skins. In an effort to meet the needs of the African market, through extensive testing, Seppic presents new data specific to Ethnic skin types IV and V.
Graph 1: The efficacy of various market leading lightening ingredients in decreasing melanogenesis
Through its major skin lightening research programme, Seppic has focused its attention on the effects of a precursor molecule and major factor in the regulation of skin pigmentation melanotropin, called alpha-MSH. This molecule links the MCR-1 receptor, activates the melagonesis cascade and controls tyrosinase activity, melanin (eumalanin and phaeomelanin) synthesis and melanosome transfer.
These MC1R receptors, activated by alpha-MSH and its analogues, are inhibited by natural antagonists present in the skin, called agoutirelated proteins (AGRPs). These proteins have a phenylalanine in a key position, which plays an essential role in binding to MC1R receptors, inhibiting melanogenesis.
In view of these findings regarding the involvement of α-MSH in the regulation of melanogenesis, Seppic’s R&D team developed Sepiwhite MSH – an antagonist of α-MSH – which inhibits all of the key steps in the α-MSHinduced melanogenic cascade. The steps leading to melanin synthesis, inhibited by Sepiwhite MSH, include:
With its lipoamino acid form, as a biovector of phenylalanine, Sepiwhite MSH has remarkable skin bioaffinity. It is well-tolerated at the suggested inclusion levels.
The active is sold in a white powder format, which is easy to formulate with and has a fully defined structure. End products containing Sepiwhite MSH are stable, and either white or colourless.
Table 1: In vivo test results for Sepiwhite MSH on black African and Indian skin types IV and V
The lightening activity of Sepiwhite MSH has been proven in the following methodologies: reconstructed pigmented epidermis phototype V (ex vivo) and melanocytes cells cultures (in vitro).
In comparison to the most common lightening active ingredients used on the market, such as arbutine, kojic acid, VCPMG and hydroquinone, the efficacy of Sepiwhite MSH has been proven on B16 melanocytes cultured under three types of conditions. These include:
In these three types of tests, the lightening activity was determined by measuring melanin content. The results are shown in Graph 1, underlining that Sepiwhite MSH is more efficient than other market leading lightening ingredients, without any toxic effect.
To demonstrate the universal benefits of Sepiwhite MSH, the active ingredient has been tested on three different skin typeswith various positive results. On a panel of 14 Caucasian volunteers with UV tanned skin, using a cream with two percent Sepiwhite MSH and evaluated over 49 days, results showed an increase in the individual typology angle/lightening effect among 57 percent of the volunteers.
On 30 Asian volunteers with age spots, the effects of a cream with two percent Sepiwhite MSH were evaluated over 84 days. Results showed lighter areas of hyper pigmentation (>80 percent) after 56 and 84 days. Significantly lightened skin was experienced among 66 percent of the volunteers, while a reduction of melanin pigments located in corneocytes (D-Squame) was also noted.
The most recent in vivo test for Sepiwhite MSH has been conducted on black African and Indian skin types IV and V. The panel consisted of 22 female volunteers (11 Indians and 11 Africans) with an average age of 34 years old. The formulation tested was also based on two percent Sepiwhite MSH in combination with three percent lactic acid and two percent salicylic acid (pH 4). The product was applied twice daily on the forearm over a period of 21 days.
The evaluation criteria was based on the following Chromameter parameters: L; a; b; ITA at DO; D7; D14; and D21. The results are revealed in Table 1.
According to Seppic, Sepiwhite MSH is a super-effective molecule. Through a novel and demonstrated mode of action, the active ingredient lights up the complexion while limiting pigmentation-related concerns. After treatment, the complexion appears more uniform and age spots disappear. Long-term results (56 days) and a faster lightening process have also been underlined when the active is used in combination with an AHA.