We caught up with Cummings to get the real deal on what's referred to as "anti-glycation skin care" — read on for the 411.
So, first things first: How exactly does sugar affect skin, both on the cellular level, and on a topical (visible) level?
"Excess sugar in the bloodstream attacks various proteins throughout our bodies. The excess sugar molecules actually attach themselves to various proteins, including collagen. When this occurs, the protein has become glycated. This causes the protein to harden, excrete toxins, and become misshapen. Proteins such as collagen provide the structural support in human skin. When a collagen protein has become glycated, it shows up on the surface of our skin in many different ways...wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, sagging skin, and an overall 'stressed' look. The reason that glycation can have such a detrimental effect on skin appearance is that proteins such as collagen have a very long lifetime — as much as 30 years. Also, until recently, it was thought that once a protein becomes glycated, it's damaged for life. Sugar damage to our skin proteins has a cumulative effect that multiplies throughout our lives."
How did the idea for AminoGenesis A.G.E Control come about?
"The damaging effects of glycation on the skin have been known for many years. Obviously, it’s an area of concern for companies like ours that try to produce new and better skin-care treatments. However, breakthroughs for a difficult problem like glycation are not easy to achieve. The technical name for a protein damaged in this manner is 'advanced glycated end product'... That's why the product is called A.G.E. Control."
How was the product developed?
"As with many discoveries, it happened by accident. In studies for potential uses for a particular plant extract (that of the mimosa plant, which is found in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains), it was found that this extract has powerful anti-glycation properties. Once there was an indication that this plant extract could be effective at fighting glycation, extensive laboratory testing took place. We tested 500 women in clinical trials and found a 44% improvement in the appearance of overall skin fatigue, a 40% improvement in the appearance of dark circles, and a 65% improvement in the appearance of skin firmness. Overall, we found that these women were evaluated as looking eight to 10 years younger after the 60-day test period."
Do different kinds of sugar affect skin differently (i.e. fructose vs. glucose)?
"Glucose is the main and preferred energy source in our body. Other sugars, such as sucrose and fructose, are processed differently in our bodies. They, too, are used as energy sources, but they can also become excessive in our bloodstream because they do not produce the same insulin response that regulates blood sugar levels. Excessive blood sugar levels are responsible for higher levels of glycation, which, in turn, means more ongoing damage to our skin proteins."
Can you go into more detail about how exactly AminoGenesis prevents sugar from damaging skin cells?
"Anti-glycation properties of this particular plant extract are beneficial in two ways. This plant extract has the ability to interfere with, or block, the glycation process. But, more importantly, the extensive in-vitro testing of this extract showed that it had the ability to break the bond between the sugar molecules and the collagen proteins. This allows the collagen protein to recover its normal shape and function [and] the surface of the skin to recover to a more normal appearance. Because of this, I think that anti-glycation strategies will be the hottest area for anti-aging skin-care products in the coming years."
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