Writing in Sustainability, researchers from the Republic of Korea reviewed the potential of two colourless or ‘rare’ carotenoids – phytoene (PT) and phytofluene (PTF) – in supplement form for photoprotection and skin health – a concept they said aligned well with the broader post-pandemic consumer trends and health and nutrition focus.
COVID-19 pandemic consumer shifts
“Beauty and health go hand in hand today, and consumers consider nutrition an important pillar of skin care,” the researchers wrote in the review.
“The role of skin health nutrition is recently receiving more awareness, and interest in nutrition, cosmetics, and safety plays a pivotal role in driving change for consumers’ skin health. More attention has been paid to healthier nutrition during the pandemic, including mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders in many countries, and people started wanting to have healthier and clearer skin and to be younger and more beautiful.”
According to the researchers, one of the biggest opportunities in this space was targeting photoageing.
A spotlight on carotenoids
Whilst many carotenoids had long been used in the supplements and beauty space, the researchers said colourless carotenoids or “rare carotenoids” had “been largely overlooked”.
The review therefore analysed potential around the “traditionally neglected” PT and PTF carotenoids in dietary format to target photoageing.
Findings showed that because of their “distinct structural and biological actions” they were able to maximise absorption of damaging light in the ultraviolet range, unlike coloured carotenoids, contributing to skin health. The distinct chemical structures and biological actions also meant they offered antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activities.
PT and PTF were also advantageous in terms of safety and stability, offering “potential for innovative product development”, they said.
“’Healthy and beautiful skin starts from within’,” the researchers wrote. “Reflecting endogenous nutrients is an interesting aspect to prevent photoageing symptoms which is the main cause of skin ageing. It is hoped that dietary interventions of PT and PTF, along with topical photoprotection by sunscreen, will become better known to consumers as a nutritional approach to long-term basal protection/defence and complementary photoprotection and skin health strategies.”
Future research goals and focus
Whilst evidence on the advantageous effects of colourless carotenoids for skin photoprotection was well-established and accumulating, the researchers said that “abundant data” on their presence in foods and tissues was “significantly lacking”.
“More studies providing empirical data on these colourless carotenoids from a food science and nutritional point of view, and studies concerning daily intake, bioavailability, and effects on systemic metabolism, should be further encouraged,” they said.
It would also be important to study the mechanism of the beneficial effects of colourless carotenoids on skin ageing from a nutritional point of view, with future clinical studies necessary, the researchers said.
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3390/su15054416
Title: “Nutritional approaches of the changing consumer after the pandemic: Sustainable potential of phytoene and phytofluene for photoprotection and skin health”
Authors: B. So and KH. Kwon