Novel activated silk discovery primed to create healthy looking skin

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Novel activated silk discovery primed to create healthy-looking skin
Evolved By Nature is a green chemistry company discovering and manufacturing ingredients from natural silk in liquid form – Activated Silk – for a variety of products from textiles to personal care to upholstery and more. Announced today, Evolved by Nature discovered a new molecular configuration, Activated Silk-27C.

Cosmetics Design Europe sat down with CEO and co-founder, Greg Altman to learn a bit more about how the new discovery and its collagen activating formula will change the future of the skincare industry.

Can you explain the relationship between collagen production and healthy looking skin?​ 

Collagen serves as the protein matrix of the skin – it provides the structure and scaffolding for other critical molecules like hyaluronic acid and cells. Cells of any age have the ability to produce collagen if they are in a healthy and comfortable environment.

When the collagen scaffold in the skin starts to weaken and loosen, thinning and dehydration occur which decrease the look and feel of skin. And, as we age, collagen production slows down, having a downward regulation effect on overall skin health.

While many skincare brands claim the collagen in their products will give their consumers firmer, healthier-looking skin, collagen in topical skincare products is as useless as motor oil, as it has almost no chance of penetrating the skin.

Even if collagen does penetrate the skin, it is likely to have little effect based on the ingredient’s structure and origin source. Skin cells need to produce their own collagen to be effective and the key is finding a way to activate skin cells to produce collagen, not just add it to the surface of the skin. 

What are consumers looking for in their skincare products?

As the global population’s age increases, so has the shared desire to maintain healthy and youthful-looking skin. In response, the ‘cosmeceuticals’ market – which aims to resolve the root cause of skin issues without medical treatment – has skyrocketed and is expected to reach $80 billion by 2023.

Our goal at Evolved By Nature is to propel these efforts forward and resolve the cause of skin imperfections from the inside out, rather than cover them up – without pharmaceuticals.

What are the challenges in creating products that meet consumer demand for healthier skin?  

Companies face two challenges when creating products that meet the consumer demand for healthy-looking skin: 

First, it’s impossible to add pharmaceuticals and drugs into skincare products without heavy regulation. If we were to add pharmaceuticals such as growth factors, where the drugs enter a cell and biologically alter DNA regulation to make collagen, that biological function in and of itself means it must be regulated as a drug, removing it from the cosmeceutical class. 

Second, if you avoid this set of regulations by adding potent non-biologically active molecules (like vitamin C) to skincare products, the FDA standard for preservation, as well as poor shelf-life, typically inhibit the function of the molecule. 

Additionally, even if you could preserve a drug's biofunction in a skincare formulation, getting the molecules into the skin is incredibly difficult – and that’s where our discovery comes in.

What is Evolved By Nature’s latest discovery? ​ 

We trialled dozens of molecular configurations of the natural silk protein and discovered one – coined Activated Silk-27C – that causes human skin cells to produce and upregulate collagen; importantly, it is also stable in a solution.

Unstable formulations can precipitate out of a solution, leaving it unavailable for contact with skin, or worse, can degrade based on temperature, light, and chemical makeup of the solution it is suspended in. Stable protein ingredients like Activated Silk-27C can be put into skincare solutions at a wide range of pHs without diminishing its potency. 

When placed in contact with human skin cells, Activated Silk-27C surrounds those skin cells and teaches them to produce more collagen – through a biomechanical “hug”, rather than manipulation of a biological pathway. This is a milestone for the skincare and cosmeceuticals industries, as it offers a real solution to consumers’ skincare challenges without the aforementioned hurdles to market.

What was the inspiration behind this scientific discovery? 

The best way to understand our inspiration for this research is to think back to what skincare was first designed and regulated as – products that cover up the skin and hide imperfections. Now, consumers want skincare products that eliminate coverups by improving the natural look and feel of the skin. We’re on a quest to identify the molecules and ingredients that can improve skin in a healthy, safe and truly performance-based manner. 

For the very first time with silk, we’ve created a simple protein solution that is stable in a wide range of pH levels and can be formulated into a vast array of products, from skincare to haircare and beyond. Through structural interaction between Activated Silk-27C and skin cells, we can induce a positive outcome without risking any drug or dosage effects, or risk drug inhibition.

What about the environmental impact of these products? 

These products are not only good for consumers but also the environment. We use natural silk protein as the raw material feedstock for our green chemistry platform, as opposed to raw materials and ingredients dependent upon the petroleum and petrochemical industry. Because we’re a natural silk protein-water solution, the upstream production processes are sustainable and petroleum independent, and once the protein is washed off the face, it is biodegradable and safe in the environment.

What does the future look like? 

This is a major win for natural and sustainably-produced ingredients. Our goal is to make these ingredients and molecules widely available to our business partners to dispense healthier and safer alternatives in skincare to consumers. We believe Activated Silk-27C will bring about a new class of cosmeceuticals that help people actually resolve skin issues and achieve healthier skin.

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