We’ve got the basics down when it comes to an effective skin-care routine, including antioxidants, retinol, collagen and sunscreen. There is, however, a new active ingredient on the scene that you might not have heard of: Human Growth Factors. So what are Human Growth Factors and is it as creepy as it sounds?
Exploring the Human Growth Factor
Human growth factors are proteins that can be found throughout the body and are produced by your cells for the purpose of cell regeneration, among other functions. If we focus specifically on the cells in the skin, we talk about keratinocytes, fibroblasts and melanocytes. Growth factors work by binding to the receptors on these cells, encouraging the repair and regeneration of these cells.
The problem is that the responsiveness of the receptors in our skin start to reduce as we age.
So let’s talk wrinkles and ageing skin. Collagen production reduces with ageing and the elastic fibers in our skin are no longer as supple. This leads to the wrinkling and sagging of our skin.
It’s been found growth factors can reverse these effects, leaving the user with “younger” and more supple skin once more.
Apart from day-to-day functions like healing, dermatologists are also now investigating whether growth factors can help with the bags under your eyes and deep tissue scarring. Even acne can be reduced, it seems, as growth factors reduce inflammation as well as help the skin discard old cells.
Now that we know how they work… where do these proteins come from?
Growth factors can be sourced from a number of origins, of which skin cells are a popular choice for skincare products. A commonly held theory is that stem cells are used, and these stem cells can be found in fat, skin and even umbilical cord. But this is just a theory. The use of embryonic tissues in cosmetics is prohibited, and even in medical research it’s still a highly debated topic. Human growth factors used in skincare products originate from adults, not infants, and are often derived from fibroblasts. These fibroblasts are collected through biopsies of skin are used due to their abundance of growth factors and abilities to heal and constrict wounds.
The idea of human cells in skin-care products freak you out? Not to worry.
Apparently the smell of human proteins can be off-putting for some, and for others just the thought of having human cells in their skincare products can be a deterrent. Luckily, there are companies that have avoided the human factor altogether by using bioengineered barley seeds. A human-like epidermal growth factor (EGF) is created by implanting synthetic DNA into barley stem cells, resulting in plants with seeds that produced the human-like EGF. The protein, synthesised in the barley plant, has the amino-acid sequence and structure similar to proteins produced in the human body, making it possible to bind to EGF receptors in human cells. It should be noted, however, that experts in the field warn that growth factors from plants are not as effective as those from humans. To have the correct response, it’s preferred that human growth factors are used instead.
Are there any safety issues with using growth factors?
A warning flag has been raised regarding products that promote the rate at which cells multiply. The reason being that it’s so reminiscent of cancer. Extensive testing has shown that there is currently no evidence to support the claim that these products can result in uncontrolled cell proliferation, and is in fact an outdated theory spanning back to when growth factors were first discovered. Being so large, these proteins are difficult to absorb in high quantities, and therefore do not produce cell growth in rates equal to cancer. Yes, cells are encouraged to proliferate, however growth factors have the ability to bring about cell differentiation, and even change and regulate the functions of cells. This ability in itself makes cells brought about by growth factors very different from undifferentiated cancer cells.
It sounds a little far-fetched, so does it actually work?
This is where things get a little subjective. Some experts doubt whether growth factors applied to the skin can even cross the skin barrier, especially due to their large size. However, tests that are conducted properly, with placebo groups etc, have proved that both synthetic and human-derived growth hormones have the ability to “switch on” the genes responsible for skin regeneration. This in turn leads to increased collagen and elastin production.
So yes, there is definitely science-backed evidence that human growth factors have a positive effect.
So you’re in South Africa and you want to try this out?
AQ Skin Solutions, currently available in 56 countries, has just launched their campaign right here in South Africa. The Active Serum contains human growth factors and is designed with Growth Factor Technology to work at a cellular level. Apart from the anti-aging aspect, the Active Serum has also been formulated for the skin treatment of burn victims, vaginal rejuvenation as well as treatment for thinning hair and hair loss.
For more info on AQ Skin Solutions go to aqskinsolutionssa.com
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Anything we should know about applying skincare products with human growth factors?
Products containing growth factors should be applied to damp, clean skin. You should also steer clear of products containing vitamin C or alpha-hydroxy acids since the acidity has the potential to break down growth factors.
Now that you know the deal with growth factors, will they become part of your daily skincare routine? Leave us a comment below!