Wei East’s philosophy is to combine the tradition behind centuries of Chinese herbal medicine with modern research on cosmetic formulation and create beauty products. So, while the company makes a point of saying it’s looked at what’s going on in the labs, it also takes the generation-to-generation skin care advice as anecdotal evidence.
As a result, the ingredients lists tend toward things that sound familiar (and almost edible), like the Chinese chestnut, black soy, and green tea in Wei East Chestnut & Black Soy Extra Firming Cream ($24.20, amazon.com). The cream claims to firm and tone the skin to give it a firmer look, but does the independent, scientific research back the anecdotal and traditional claims?
Chinese Chestnut Shell Extract: A Little like Anti-Aging Glue
Castanea crenata is native to China and Japan where it has been cultivated since the 11th century and used as an anti-wrinkle and skin-firming agent. Studies suggest that it might work to prevent anti-aging by, in a sense, keeping the skin all glued together.
As skin ages, collagen breaks down (or fragments) and collagen-creating fibroblasts cannot attach and end up collapsing. When fibroblasts collapse they create less collagen and produce more collagen-degrading enzymes, which worsens the problem and results in a loss of structural integrity in the skin (i.e. less elasticity, sagging, wrinkles, etc.) (Archives of Dermatology).
Chinese chestnut works by increasing the “glue” that holds fibroblasts in place. The inner shell extract increases the expression of fibronectin and vitronectin. Fibronectin is a kind of adhesive protein for cell attachment and tissue organization; while vitronectin is a kind of adhesive multifunctional glycoprotein involved in the spread of cells and coagulation (clotting) pathways (Journal of Cell Biology; Acta Dermato-venereologica). An in vivo study found that 70% ethanol extract from Castanea crenata can prevent the cell detachment of fibroblasts from culture plates (Archives of Pharmacal Research).
In addition to this, it may protect against oxidative DNA damage, scavenge free radicals, and inhibit lipid peroxidation. A study in Journal of Applied Pharmacology found that Chinese chestnut’s inner shell and its ellagic acid mitigated free radical generation and hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative DNA damage in a mammalian cell line.
Black Soy Peptides: Extra Firm, Please!
Wei East makes a point to talk about how its fermented black soy peptides “lift and firm the appearance of sagging skin.” Soy (glycine soja seed extract) extract has been a popular addition to cosmetics for some time because of its skin-firming and collagen-boosting benefits.
It’s difficult to tell whether or not it’s a crucial distinction that Wei East uses black soy peptides since some of the company’s similar products claim to contain fermented black soy as a proprietary ingredient. But research on soy in skin care has yet to show whether or not the differences are notable. So, while there’s not a wealth of studies specifically on fermented black soy peptides, there’s quite a bit on soy in general.
[Read More: Spotlight On: Soy Extract]
Protein peptides in general have been used for quite some time in anti-aging formulas for their anti-aging properties, and recent research has made a point to look at whether or not they really work. Fortunately for those looking to firm up their skin, soy has been promising in research. A 1999 parallel study done in vitro and in vivo on a specific soy biopeptide found that in both tests, the ingredient increased the production of collagen, and another placebo-controlled study found the same results. Soy protein and peptides are also known to inhibit proteinases, which means that soy peptides might just help stop those nasty, collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) (Soybean and Health).
Green Tea: Rich in Antioxidants
Green tea extract is a beauty product standby and it’s a great fit in this Asian-inspired line. The camellia sinensis plant’s unfermented leaves contain the highest amount of polyphenols, most notably epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) (University of Maryland Medical Center). It’s most highly praised for its potential anti-carcinogenic effects. Studies on mouse and human skin have found that green tea extract has an anti-inflammatory and oxidative stress-decreasing effect (Cancer Research; Carcinogenesis). All those antioxidants are important for preventing the kind of damage that causes aging.
Overall Rating ***
Wei East Chestnut & Black Soy Extra Firming Cream is a great anti-aging moisturizer in many ways. It’s thick — a little goes a long way — so it will be great on dryer, more delicate skin, but it still absorbs quickly. After using it for a while, I found that the texture of my skin certainly improved. More than likely, that’s thanks to the Chinese chestnut, which has been shown to keep the structure intact and prevent DNA damage; black soy peptides, which have been shown to increase collagen production (ideally leading to skin firmness); and green tea extract, which is packed with super beneficial antioxidants that help stop skin damage.
Ingredients: AquaWater, Petrolatum, Butylene Glycol, Isocetyl Stearate, Isostearyl Stearoyl Stearate, Talc, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Ozokerite, Tromethamine, Phenoxyethanol, Castanea Crenata (Chinese Chestnut) Shell Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Zostera Marina (Seaweed) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Chinese Licorice) Root Extract, Leonurus Sibiricus (Motherwort) Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Leaf Extract, MelHoney, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 60, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Stearate, Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Benzoic Acid, ParfumFragrance, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene. May contain: Blue 1CI 42090, Red 40CI 16035, Yellow 5CI 19140