Buzziest Beauty Ingredient: Is It Worth It?

A closer look at one of the most buzzworthy antiaging skin care products.

New products that promise to “unlock a more youthful appearance,” “turn back the hands of time,” and “reset the aging process” bombard consumers and skincare professionals on a seemingly daily basis.

While we already know that good skincare is vital to skin health, the question is, are these new products worth the hype?

The chemists consulted for Med Aesthetics Magazine admitted that “the jury is still out on a lot of these new actives,” but data is showing that one product in particular is helping to truly rejuvenate the skin.

Heparan sulfate—an essential glycosaminoglycan in skin health—has been studied for decades.

“Understanding heparan-sulfate’s effect on the dermis function has been a long-term research interest in my laboratory,” says Richard L. Gallo, MD, PhD, head of the Gallo Lab at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. “We believe that because heparan-sulfate is a co-factor for many other enzymes and growth factors in the skin, it essentially serves as good fertilizer that helps everything in the dermis work better.”

sente skincare philadelphia botox“Heparan sulfate has been called the ‘master molecule,’ because it helps every part of our skin,” says Dr. Michael Gold, founder of Gold Skin Care in Nashville. “But the heparan-sulfate molecule is too large to penetrate the stratum-corneum, so we were not able to create a product [incorporating it].”

This changed when a skincare startup Sente developed a heparan-sulfate analog that could deliver the active into the dermis.

Sente approached Dr. Gallo for testing. “The molecule has a very unique shape—it’s linear, almost like a needle—and it does in fact penetrate the epidermis, dermis and basement membrane,” says Dr. Gallo. “We believe its penetration capacity has more do with its shape than with its size.”

An eight-week study of Sente Dermal Repair Cream cream involving 15 patients, published in the July 2015 Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, showed improvement in skin hydration, firmness, elasticity, barrier function, and global fine lines and wrinkles.

“I was quite amazed at how beneficial a topical application of heparan-sulfate can be in skin damage repair and remodeling,” says Dr. Gallo.