Retinol alternatives for anti-ageing and hair health include plant peptides, hormones and cannabinoids finds review

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Writing in Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Bio Advances​, ​researchers from the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens investigated current understanding around plant-based retinoid alternatives and identified areas worth researching further for the development of ingestible cosmetics. More specifically, the review spotlighted ingredient alternatives suitable for combined dermal and hair rejuvenation, identifying potentially fruitful new areas of research”,​ according to the researchers.

‘Dual-acting therapy’ without negative side effects

“Finding plant-based cosmetics that cater to the desire of the community to experience both dermal and hair rejuvenating effects in one, dual-acting therapy is given impetus by the negative publicity that retinoids have received in anti-ageing therapies,”​ the researchers wrote.

Retinoids – long used as dermal anti-ageing ingredients in cosmetics – carried several known side effects when used in topicals, they said, including skin dryness, tightness, peeling and redness. They were also known to cause excessive hair shedding when incorporated into oral formulations, they said.

“This presents a paradox: retinoids are necessary for the continued growth and health of the hair follicle, but at higher doses lead to hair loss. Thus, oral use of retinoids to achieve younger skin may be at the cost of healthy hair and topical use can cause undesirable side effects.”

In oral blends, retinoids could “interrupt hair growth” ​because they promoted the expression of TGF-β from fibroblasts, which cascaded into collagen expression at the cost of keratinocyte function; responsible for influencing differentiation of dermal papilla cells that dwell at the base of the hair follicle, the researchers said.



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