Study shows Pycnogenol helps retain skin moisture and elasticity

The researchers also found the ingredient to increase skin lightening, and reinforce skin barrier function

A recent peer reviewed, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study has reportedly shown daily supplementation with Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract may help to significantly retain skin hydration, increase skin elasticity, and reinforce skin barrier function for those exposed to urban environmental pollution, as well as seasonal temperature and humidity variations. In addition, the study found the extract to increase skin lightening during seasonal changes when dark spots can emerge.

“So many of us are awaiting this summer to truly enjoy the outdoors after a brutal winter and a long pandemic year. I personally cannot wait to be outside, and that means we have to be proactive in protecting our skin from heat, humidity, solar radiation, and pollution,” said natural health physician and author, Dr Fred Pescatore. “This new study shows that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol counteracts damaging environmental stress factors and improves skin barrier function, even when exposed to rigid conditions.”

Published in Skin Pharmacology Physiology, this study tested 76 participants, 57 of whom were women, with an average age of 41. The test group comprised workers who spent long hours outdoors in Beijing, China and were exposed to urban air pollution and environmental stress as well as seasonal changes in temperature and humidity from April to November. Two groups were tested in the study: a verum and a placebo group. During the first 12 weeks, from April to July, the rainy season, the verum group supplemented orally with 100 mg of Pycnogenol daily. After a 1-week washout period, participants were crossed over from verum to placebo and vice versa for another 12-week study phase of a dry autumn period.

Researchers measured the skin moisture content of the participants with the Corneometer skin moisture tester. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) was measured with the Tewameter, and skin elasticity was measured with the Cutometer.

Results showed that daily oral supplementation with 100 mg of Pycnogenol for 12 weeks from April to July, during the wet season, was associated with improved skin condition, including 7% improvement in skin elasticity and firmness, vs. a respective .1% increase and .3% decrease in the placebo group.

During phase 2, from July to October, during the dry season, daily oral supplementation with 100 mg of Pycnogenol showed an 13.8% increase in skin lightening vs a 0.8% decrease in the placebo group, and 14% decreased transepidermal water loss, indicating a significant improvement of skin barrier function.

This corroborates with previous research, Horphag Research says, which has shown Pycnogenol’s ability to promote collagen and hyaluronic acid production within the skin. In a previous clinical study, Pycnogenol revealed increased hyaluronic acid synthase levels by 44%.

“Pycnogenol has a deep catalogue of research for skin health, and this study builds upon decades of existing science to show that oral supplementation with Pycnogenol can make a significant difference in skin health and appearance, even in strenuous environmental conditions,” said Dr Pescatore.

In the study, researchers concluded that this research “strongly indicates that people exposed to high levels of environmental stress will benefit from the regular intake of Pycnogenol.” The authors propose that oral intake of Pycnogenol may represent one strategy to benefit the human skin in individuals living in an urban environment.

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