The company's Hyaluronic Filling Spheres are made of pure hyaluronic acid, a resorbable ingredient which is being increasingly used by dermatologists, plastic surgeons and practitioners of aesthetic medicine to penetrate and fill deep wrinkles that appear on foreheads, between eyebrows, on the corners of the mouth and on the cheeks of people who have been over-exposed to the sun.
HA is a mucopolysacharide that exists naturally in all living organisms. In humans it is found in larger concentrations in the articular joints, eye fluid and, most abundantly, in the skin. As the protein can hold up to 10,00 times its own weight in water it is known to play a vital part in the ageing process once levels are depleted in the skin.
Maintaining sufficient levels of HA, whether it be through supplements, topical applications or injections, is claimed to maintain the skin's hydration level, which in turn reduce wrinkles caused by dehydration and general aging.
"This anti-wrinkle delivery system is a breakthrough alternative to painful injections for the personal care market," said Frank Freiler, Engelhard's general manager of personal care materials. "Our exclusive filling spheres harness the industry's most natural active ingredient, hyaluronic acid, for high-intensity and rapid- action skin smoothing and softening results."
One of the biggest advantages of HA is that it can be easily formulated into a cream or gel form and then applied topically. Engelhard says that its spheres are initially dehydrated, however, when they come into contact with the skin, they rehydrate, helping to thoroughly rehydrate the dermal layer.
In turn, this hydration process is said to cause an increase in volume proportional to the microspheres' moisture-retaining capacity. This process helps to stretch the dermal layer, resulting in reduced wrinkles, thanks to HA's intense water-retaining capacity.
New Jersey-based Engelhard, which develops and supplies a host of functional ingredients to enhance skin care formulations, also offers filling spheres designed for fine lines, such as 'crow's feet' at the corner of eyes - a technology that the company claims is effective enough to limit the appearance of wrinkles in the space of just one hour.
The spheres are based on polymers such as collagen or plant proteins that increase in volume based on the polymers' water-retaining capacity, resulting in what is claimed to be the smoothing of fine lines.
Engelhard recently acquired France-based Coletica, a leading developer and supplier of active ingredients for skin care products. The move has broadened the company's international scope as well as its specialisation in colour-enhancing pigments and performance-based personal care materials.
Although HA has been billed as a cheaper and equally effective alternative to ever-popular Botox injections, the ingredient is still relatively expensive to produce due to its physical complexity, with 1 oz of HA serum costing up to $50.
However, compared to Botox injections, which cost around $400 for a course of injections that can only last a few months, HA topical applications work out relatively cheap.
The number of recent anti-wrinkle products to hit the market reflect the ingredient's popularity, with Nina Ricci, Japanese company Orbit, Estee Lauder and Avon all developing HA-based anti-wrinkle treatments that have hit the market in recent months.