Q&A: DIOR launches first International Reverse Aging Scientific Board

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

“We are not the only ones to invest in and promote reverse aging and to develop a scientific board. But what makes Dior unique is that it combines its unique heritage, characterized by its pioneering expertise in floral science, with a visionary ambition to decipher the secrets of the regenerative power of flowers to restore cell and tissue health,” said Virginie Couturaud, Scientific Communication Director at Dior. © DIOR
“We are not the only ones to invest in and promote reverse aging and to develop a scientific board. But what makes Dior unique is that it combines its unique heritage, characterized by its pioneering expertise in floral science, with a visionary ambition to decipher the secrets of the regenerative power of flowers to restore cell and tissue health,” said Virginie Couturaud, Scientific Communication Director at Dior. © DIOR

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Board members include specialists in fundamental and human sciences and will focus on advancing research efforts into the recently identified ‘twelve hallmarks of aging’ to accelerate research and understanding of skin health.

Earlier this year, the House of Dior’s Dior Science announced it has formed the first International Reverse Aging Scientific Advisory Board. With a focus on researching skin and aging, the Board is comprised of expert specialists in fundamental and human sciences, including sociologists, psychologists, dermatologists, and ethnobotanists.

The Board will collaborate with Louis Vuitton’s LVMH researchers to advance research efforts into the twelve hallmarks of aging identified in the study​ “Hallmarks of aging: An expanding universe” which was published in the scientific journal Cell ​earlier this year.

The study proposes the following as the twelve hallmarks of aging: “genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, disabled macroautophagy, deregulated nutrient-sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion, altered intercellular communication, chronic inflammation, and dysbiosis​.”

To learn more about the main research goals of the International Reverse Aging Scientific Advisory Board, the innovation behind the Board’s mission, and its commitment to environmental sustainability within its research initiatives, CosmeticsDesign interviewed Virginie Couturaud, Scientific Communication Director at Dior for her insights.

CDU: What are the main goals of the Advisory Board, and how does the Board plan to address those goals?  

Virginie Couturaud (VC): The Reverse Aging Board by Dior Science will collaborate with LVMH’s 600 research employees and will participate in a process that is unprecedented in its ambition and power to understand and explore the mechanisms of aging.  

The objective is unique: to live in good health for longer. 

To achieve this, the board's missions are very clear: cross their expertise and work with Dior Science researchers to define and make the reversal of skin aging possible; share with the scientific community their discoveries on the improvement of living mechanisms to delay skin aging during major conferences; complement scientific discoveries with the social and psychological dimension of the impact of age, and make the scientific concepts related to Reverse Aging by Dior Science accessible and understandable in order to disseminate knowledge to everyone. 

CDU: What types of research will the Advisory Board undertake to better understand and address the signs of aging?  

VC: From a scientific point of view, the Board’s unprecedented way of working is twofold.

First, to pool and share with the scientific community the most recent work on aging. From this sharing of knowledge and from these meetings during major conferences, new initiatives can be born with new avenues to extend the work undertaken on the determinants of aging. 

Second, to initiate new work at the crossroads of biological, floral, dermatological, and human sciences to bring out new ways of developing innovative products, pushing the effectiveness of current ranges in terms of restoring skin properties and vitality even further.

It is obvious that the meeting of these different fields will lead to influential discoveries. We know that the markers of aging are interconnected and not independent.

Therefore, the meeting and the joint work of each expertise will allow the acceleration of the research by the learning of each one. The application of the discoveries of stem cells in conjunction with chronic inflammation or mitochondrial experts will allow a better understanding of certain mechanisms and give the possibility to act on these markers.

When we can precisely measure the biological age of the skin, we will also be able to measure the impact of each of the markers and thus develop effective extracts. The measurement of the inflammatory aging clock (iAge) at the skin level will also give the possibility to measure the impact of our lifestyle and our cosmetic products. 

CDU: How is the Board’s mission innovative, and what impact will the Board have on manufacturers and suppliers to the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries?  

VC: We are not the only ones to invest in and promote reverse aging and to develop a scientific board. But what makes Dior unique is that it combines its unique heritage, characterized by its pioneering expertise in floral science, with a visionary ambition to decipher the secrets of the regenerative power of flowers to restore cell and tissue health.

The degree of maturity reached today by reverse aging makes it possible to transform the dream into reality. 

In addition, Dior is taking a unique approach to reverse aging by combining the social sciences and the psychology of aging, which is an inseparable complement to fundamental science, floral science, and skin science. The challenge is to understand beauty in all its complexity, considering all the parameters of its preservation. 

This complementary expertise allows us to trace the causes of skin aging and understand its mechanisms, precisely identify its effects on the skin, see how the regenerative mechanisms of flowers can be applied in this context,  and consider the psychological dimension and the perceptions of aging, which are too often ignored, even though they are an integral part of the experience of age, self-image, and the fact of feeling "old" or "young". 

This approach will modify the perception of beauty, which will become a vector of good health. This theme had already been addressed with aging well but in a very superficial way.

We will also find it in regenerative medicine, but the objective is really to develop preventive medicine and sustainable beauty. As we move from Anti-Aging to Reverse Aging, the mechanisms are becoming clearer, the crosstalk between markers is more and more obvious and the impacts on the proper functioning of the skin are better known.  

By developing multi-target active ingredients or routines acting at different levels, it is possible to act effectively on all markers. For example, it is likely that a range consisting of a serum, day cream and night cream with the same active ingredient has much less impact than a range with different extracts.

The association of active molecules is an important alternative for Reverse Aging. 

CDU: What are some of the main challenges facing the Board when addressing their primary goals?  

VC: One of the main challenges is to work together. They are all excellent in their field of expertise.

The fact of sharing and having a common project that longevity of good health is new, and we will have to learn to work together. Some of them already have common projects thanks to the board. 

The first meeting of the RA board by Dior Science was very stimulating and enriching with all the new ideas that were shared.  

The other important challenge is to make people understand that beauty goes through the same process as health. In other words, the aging process leads to diseases at the cerebral, physiological, and physical level and the skin is part of it.

To specifically target the skin today is to focus on the largest organ of the body and will be very instructive for all other organs. 

The psychological component is also a challenge. Indeed, the Harvard Study on Human Development provides us with a lot of information on the relationship between the other and health, but today, even if more than four out of five women accept their age, a large majority of women would like to be younger if they had the possibility to do so, which goes with a desire to look younger. 

That's why we have included Nancy Etcoff, Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and beauty specialist, on our board. We are thus able to explore the phenomenon of senescence in its entirety.

Humans are not only made of cells, but the aging process also involves all the components of our being. Reverse aging must therefore, in our opinion, consider these different dimensions. 

This is why we conducted a major international study with the support of Harris Interactive, in six countries (France, United States, Korea, Japan, China and the Middle East) and with more than 4,800 people between the ages of eighteen and eighty, to better understand the differences in perception of aging and how people live with it. 

CDU: How does the Board plan to address environmental sustainability as they set out to accomplish their goals?  

VC: It's obvious: our times call for a radical change in sustainability, and our mission to "leave only beauty as a legacy" is more relevant and necessary than ever.   

The beauty of the world and the beauty of life as we know it are under serious threat. There is no point in adding beauty as we age without addressing environmental sustainability. 

To achieve our commitments, we are mobilized through five pillars of strategic action: regenerative agriculture, climate, Eco design on packaging, points of sale and e-commerce, responsible beauty, and cultural responsibility. 

Within the framework of this project, we have already considered certain pillars with the board, such as the place of women in clinical trials and the particular interest in the impact of age on women, notably with Daisy Robinton, board member and founder of Oviva.

The impact of menopause on the skin is major and giving oneself the choice to choose the time of one's menopause also means prolonging its proper functioning. But it also means being inclusive and being able to address health and beauty for all types of people in the world (men and women, all skin colors, all locations, etc.) to allow everyone to assert their personality.  

This also involves responsible agriculture and reasoning for the development of our floral extracts. The signature ingredients that make the House of Dior unique in the luxury beauty sector are derived from flowers.

This is why we are committed to using the power of flowers to regenerate ecosystems in and around our nine gardens and partner gardens around the world, and to preserving the know-how related to flower cultivation. The participation of floral experts such as Charles Davis on the board will help us better understand the impact of the ecosystem on plant development. 

Dior has been rooted in scientific research for decades, and our formulas are composed of the highest quality ingredients. We take special care with the board to combine the benefits of naturalness, sustainability, and science to deliver the highest level of performance and sensory experience. 

CDU: Anything else to add?     

VC: We are convinced that getting older does not mean getting old. 

We are convinced that we will be able to act on cellular markers, according to several well-known physiological mechanisms, thanks to major technological innovations, including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, applied to the production and processing of massive quantities of data.

Although many elements remain to be corroborated and tested in clinical trials, we know today in which direction, and on which levers to work in order to push back the limits of science and carry this scientific revolution.  

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