In 1989, Japanese skincare power company Shiseido granted $85 million to Harvard University, launching a 25-year-long research project to finally understand—and harness—the skin’s complex immune system. In the name of age-defying, line-free skin, the project sought to find ways to deter the harmful effects of microbes, pollution, UV rays, and chemicals on vulnerable (aging) skin. Today, we’re well aware that these skin enemies can contribute to a host of complexion maladies ranging from inflamed or dull skin, to premature aging and allergic reactions.
The Harvard research discovered that skin’s specialized immune cells can “turn on” an immune response to fend off sunlight-induced cellular damage. These dynamic cells are in fact rather “smart”; they read biochemical signals to determine the appropriate immune response. With age, however, the power and “smartness” of these specialized skin cells diminish, and they become less responsive to corrosive skin-emies. And you know what happens next: lasting inflammation in the form of wrinkles and weary skin.
The Shiseido beauty gurus believe they may have found a possible solution. With the use of a topical immunity-boosting concentrate, we can block certain biochemical signals that would otherwise prompt inflammation. Thus, Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate was born, “the first product with scientific credentials designed to harness the skin’s immune system and reduce or even reverse wrinkles and other signs of skin again and damage,” according to Gretchen Reynolds, in Elle.
Shiseido is not cruelty-free, however, according to a 2013 article by PETA. While this is unfortunate, there is perhaps a larger good that may come from Shiseido’s research—one that extends beyond our concerns about fine lines.
Professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School Dr. David Fisher notes that this research may provide the key to treating advanced melanoma, a life-threatening skin cancer. Although the scientific community is still speaking in hypotheticals, it’s exciting to think that we may be entering a “new era” in skincare and general health, as Fisher explains.
In the meantime (and beyond), we should continue to emphasize preventative measures like protecting the skin from the sun and practicing immune-boosting habits like exercising regularly, eating a nutrient-rich plant-based diet, and relying on natural (i.e. nasty-chemical-free) skincare products. A healthy lifestyle is one of the best defenses against any form of cancer—not to mention, it’s rather beautifying 🙂
What do you do to protect your skin, dumplings?
More on vegan and organic skin care: Best Brightening Serums
Photos: Tiina L via Flickr, Shisheido