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New superstar in anti-age skin care: Bakuchiol

Pure bakuchiol is the key player in NIVEA's new CELLULAR Expert Lift product range.

Not every active ingredient has what it takes for the big stage. However, the experts at Beiersdorf Research & Development were quickly convinced by bakuchiol. Now the company is taking the new superstar of anti-age skin care out of its previous niche and lifting it into the mass market – a premiere.

Pure bakuchiol is the key player in NIVEA’s new CELLULAR Expert Lift product range. It is supported by two types of hyaluronic acid. In an interview, Dr. Svenja Möllgaard from the NIVEA Face Care laboratory talks about how our skin works, what makes the active ingredient so special, and how it counteracts natural skin aging.  

Strong team effort: R&D experts Dr. Dorothea Schweiger, Dr. Ute Breitenbach, Janne Möbius, and Dr. Svenja Möllgaard (f.l.t.r.).

Svenja, you are a face care expert and are convinced that bakuchiol will be the new star in anti-aging skin care: What makes you so sure?

At Beiersdorf Research, we work intensively every day to further decipher the complex processes of the skin and understand them even better. In doing so, we intensively analyze the biology of the skin and its needs. At the same time, we focus on well-tolerated active ingredients that are able to strengthen the skin cells’ own biological activity. This is exactly what bakuchiol does, because it stimulates active collagen production.

When we first heard about the active ingredient, it was immediately clear to us that we wanted to develop a formulation that would enable us to make the best possible use of this potential.  

What happens in our skin that makes it look like it's aging after a certain point?

Many factors play a role, for example the body’s collagen production. The body’s own protein, collagen, plays a major role in the youthful appearance of human skin. It functions like a kind of protein scaffold and ensures firm skin. Unfortunately, the amount of collagen in the body decreases by about one percent every year. If collagen degradation is not counteracted, the connective tissue loses its elasticity over the years and wrinkles become visible. 

What is bakuchiol and where does it come from?

Bakuchiol is a highly pure active ingredient extracted from plant seeds that originated in Asia. It is traditionally used in the form of bakuchi seed oil in healing procedures such as Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. It is particularly valued for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. More recently, skin research has also taken a closer look at the active ingredient and found that bakuchiol significantly stimulates the cell activity of skin cells. At the same time, it is very well tolerated and suitable for all skin types.

Always top priorities: skin compatibility and efficacy.

How did you go about developing the new NIVEA anti-age care range CELLULAR Expert Lift with bakuchiol?

We constantly work with skin experts around the world and test ingredients directly on skin cells or on reconstructed skin cell models in our laboratories. Our own experiments with bakuchiol were based on scientific studies that showed a functional similarity between the active ingredient and retinol. Retinol is a synthetic active ingredient used in anti-aging skin care, but not in our NIVEA products. For us, skin compatibility is a top priority alongside the effectiveness of ingredients. The prospect of a more skin-friendly alternative to retinol was therefore very exciting for us, and we conducted extensive experiments with bakuchiol ourselves. In the process, we were able to confirm that the active ingredient not only promotes cell activity, but also protects against free radicals and supports the regeneration of the upper skin layer better than retinol.  

In addition to bakuchiol, two types of hyaluronic acid are used.

The formulation you developed for the new skin care line contains not only bakuchiol, but also two types of hyaluronic acid. What's that all about?

That’s right, we use it to further enhance the anti-aging effect. Hyaluronic acid, like collagen, is an important component of our connective tissue. It has the ability to bind large amounts of water and regulate the moisture content of the skin. But you can already guess: the body’s own production of hyaluronic acid also decreases over the years. At Beiersdorf, we have extensive experience with the use of hyaluronic acid and we know about its anti-aging effect. The special thing about hyaluronic acid is that it exists in long-chain and short-chain form. The combination of the different-sized molecules works most effectively according to our findings. The so-called macro-hyaluronic acid is a true artist at storing water and thus ensures that the skin surface is intensively rehydrated. The molecules of micro-hyaluronic acid, on the other hand, are 40 times smaller and penetrate deeper into the skin to plump up wrinkles from within.

All together, this sounds like a significant step forward in anti-aging care. What is the effectiveness of the new CELLULAR products?

Definitely. Of course, we can’t completely turn back time, but the new formulations we use in our CELLULAR Expert Lift series are able to actively stimulate the skin's natural help for self-help. In tests on skin cells, we were able to prove that bakuchiol increases collagen production by 48 percent after just four hours. That is considerable. After just one week, facial contours appear visibly more defined. 

Thank you for the interview and the exciting insights, Svenja!

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Kathrin Erbar

About the editor: Kathrin Erbar

Kathrin takes us on a journey to the fascinating field of research and development at Beiersdorf. Before exploring Beiersdorf’s DNA, she was doing the communication for HR related topics, such as diversity, leadership or New Work. She also used to be responsible for financial communications at Beiersdorf for several years.