Astaxanthin is a pigment with numerous chemical properties, making it a valuable ally in the fight against skin ageing. That's why it's increasingly being included in our skincare formulations. What should you know about this active ingredient?
Astaxanthin: What should we know about this pigment?
- What should we remember about astaxanthin?
- What is Astaxanthin?
- Astaxanthin: How is it obtained?
- Astaxanthin: Chemical Properties and Skin Benefits
- Are there any dangers and contraindications reported following the topical use of astaxanthin?
- Antioxidant cream: our skin care product containing astaxanthin
What should we remember about astaxanthin?
Is a liposoluble pigment from the carotenoid family.
Has a molar mass of 596.84 g/mol.
Was first isolated from lobster by KUHN in 1938.
Is a superior antioxidant to beta-carotene.
Primarily sourced from the micro-algaefound in freshwater Haematococcus pluvialis.
What is Astaxanthin?
Belonging to the family of carotenoids, astaxanthin is a liposoluble pigment classified within the broad family of terpenes and phytochemical compounds. Its structure was first discovered by Professor Basil WEEDON in 1975. He then determined that, unlike other carotenoids, astaxanthin does not convert into vitamin A in the body. This unique characteristic has paved the way for in-depth studies of this molecule. Indeed, an excess of vitamin A in the body is harmful to health.
Astaxanthin typically originates from unicellular algae, with its primary natural source being the micro-algae Haematococcus pluvialis. Found in a solid form, it displays a red or orange colour. Present in certain seafood, its colour explains the red-orange hue of crustaceans (shrimp, lobsters, crabs, lobsters...) and fish (salmon, trout...).
Astaxanthin: How is it obtained?
Astaxanthin can be derived from either animal or plant sources. Supercritical fluid extraction is typically the method used to extract carotenoids from crustaceans. Non-polar supercritical carbon dioxide is the solvent used due to its low critical properties (critical temperature of 31°C and critical pressure of 73.8 bar).
This method involves bringing carbon dioxide to a "supercritical" point, that is, to a temperature above 31°C under a pressure of 73.8 bar. A study has shown that the best yield recorded for astaxanthin, with a 39% recovery, was achieved at 43°C and 370 bar. Thus, this process allows the extraction of active ingredients without the need for non-polar solvents. In this way, the astaxanthin obtained will have approximately the same characteristics as natural astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin: Chemical Properties and Skin Benefits.
Thanks to its unique molecular structure, theastaxanthin possesses chemical properties that endow it with benefits for skin care.
Astaxanthin to combat oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a phenomenon directly linked to the body's overproduction of oxygen radical species. These compounds are highly unstable due to their single electron. They will degrade many components essential for maintaining firm and elastic skin, such as collagen and elastin. This phenomenon is greatly exacerbated by various external factors such as exposure to the sun's UV rays (referred to as photoaging), pollution, smoking, stress, and so on.
Thanks to its 13 conjugated polyunsaturated double bonds, theastaxanthin can neutralise high-energy electrons. Its amphipathic structure allows it to insert itself into the bilayers of cell membranes and limit the damage caused by lipid peroxidation. Indeed, lipid peroxidation is responsible for tissue damage due to the formation of free radicals which largely affects the lipid barrier. By capturing these free radicals, astaxanthin protects the skin from tissue ageing and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Astaxanthin stimulates the production of collagen.
A study has also revealed that astaxanthine is capable of stimulating the production of collagen, a protein responsible for skin elasticity, the production of which tends to decrease with age. Indeed, it is capable of increasing the level of TIMP-1 inhibitor, matrix metalloproteinases that promote collagen production. The skin then regains its elasticity and its ability to regenerate the tissues of the epidermis.
Astaxanthin to combat skin dehydration.
Dehydrated skin is characterised by a loss of radiance and feelings of discomfort. In some cases, it may flake and present a rough texture. Therefore, it is important to take care of one's skin and hydrate it regularly. Two studies have measured the effects of a topical application of astaxanthin on skin hydration.
After three weeks of topical applications of 280 mg/day of astaxanthin cream, the skin's moisture content significantly increased by 3.32%. Improvements in skin dryness and itching were also reported. The second study reveals a 106.67% increase in skin moisture content after two weeks of applying 140 mg/day of astaxanthin cream in participants with dry and combination skin. In addition to its strong antioxidant power, astaxanthin is capable of hydrating the skin and combating skin dehydration.
Astaxanthin for soothing skin inflammation.
Astaxanthin also possesses anti-inflammatory activity that helps to soothe skin irritations. It has been demonstrated that astaxanthin reduces the levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) and pro-inflammatory cytokines. It would inhibit the activity of IκB kinase, a complex responsible for controlling the activation of NF-κB. This keeps NF-κB, a pro-inflammatory signalling pathway, inactive in the cellular cytoplasm, allowing it to reduce inflammation of the scalp or skin during skin diseases.
And at the hair level?
Astaxanthin could be a solution to hair loss associated with androgenic alopecia. Indeed, it is a natural inhibitor of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. It acts on this enzyme to reduce the level of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The latter is an androgen hormone, the main source of baldness. The primary cause of hair loss is triggered by the presence of free radicals. Thus, the antioxidant aspect of astaxanthin also helps to counter these free radicals and limit hair loss. However, no scientific study has been conducted on this subject.
Astaxanthin can also prevent the premature onset of grey hair promoted by oxidative stress, which produces an excess of free radicals. These trigger chain reactions that damage the cells that make up the scalp. Thanks to its antioxidant action, astaxanthin traps free radicals and can thus potentially delay the appearance of the first grey hairs.
Are there any dangers and contraindications reported following the topical use of astaxanthin?
When applied topically, astaxanthin is an active ingredient that does not pose a risk to the skin. Although it is suitable for all skin types, it is possible to be allergic to astaxanthin derived from the unicellular micro-algae. Indeed, some skins may show sensitivity to Hematococcus pluvialis, the main natural source of astaxanthin. Therefore, it is recommended to stop using the product if irritation, inflammation or itching occur on the skin. Similarly, as a precaution, the use of astaxanthin in topical application should be moderate for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Antioxidant cream: our skin care product containing astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is a favoured active ingredient in cosmetic care and can be found in various galenic forms such as creams or serums. It is particularly a major ally against premature skin ageing.
You can find it in our antioxidant face cream. This treatment enriched with astaxanthin (INCI: Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract) acts as a cellular shield to combat the phenomenon of premature skin ageing. Moreover, its antioxidant action is enhanced by the presence of theginseng plant extract (INCI: Panax Ginseng Root Extract) and kale (INCI: Brassica Oleracea Acephala Leaf Extract).
This cream-based treatment thus allows toreduce the effects of oxidative stressand hydrate the skin for a radiant complexion. It is suitable for all skin types, particularly for those exposed to oxidation factors (E skins).
LEE C. & al. Enriched astaxanthin extract from Haematococcus pluvialis augments growth factor secretions to increase cell proliferation and induces MMP1 degradation to enhance collagen production in human dermal fibroblasts. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2016).
ITO N. & al. The protective role of astaxanthin for UV-induced skin deterioration in healthy people-A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrients (2018).
NAME J. J. & al. Antioxidant and anti‑inflammatory mechanisms of action of astaxanthin in cardiovascular diseases (Review). International Journal of Molecular Medicine (2021).
ZHOU X. & al. Systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of astaxanthin on human skin ageing. Nutrients (2021).
STACHOWIAK B. &al. Astaxanthin for the food industry. Molecules (2021).