5 Exciting Ingredients You’ve Likely Never Heard of Before in Skin Care

Skin Care
5 Exciting Ingredients You’ve Likely Never Heard of Before in Skin Care

One of my favorite things is discovering new skin care ingredients. Over the past few months, I have encountered quite a few promising to do exciting things. And while there are some that I didn’t buy into (ingredients derived from placenta, for instance), I certainly was intrigued by some of them, including the following anti-aging ingredients:

Relistase: Improves skin firmness, reduces skin sagging


Found in higher concentration than anything except water, Relistase is a peptide that is designed to increase skin firmness and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in at least two months of daily use (Lipotec).

In your skin, there is an enzyme, elastase, that breaks down your collagen. Elastase activity increases naturally with age, but it also increases with exposure to environmental toxins, stress, and other factors (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 1988). Relistase is designed to inhibit elastase. By taking down the activity of the enzyme that breaks down collagen, you theoretically will be able to hang onto the collagen that you produce for longer, similar to when you were younger.

At this time, there are no peer-reviewed, independent research studies I could find of the efficacy of the ingredient, but it appears to hold great promise — especially in combination with the other ingredients in Your Best Face Control.

Where to find it: Your Best Face Control and the Skin Perfection line.

Copper Peptides: Reduces hyperpigmentation and fine lines/wrinkles

copper peptides


Copper peptides first came on the scene in 1988. Since that time, some studies have found that copper peptide complexes stimulate even greater procollagen synthesis than potent anti-agers like Retin-A (tretinoin) or ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Collagen type III, also called “fetal collagen,” the second most prevalent collagen type in the dermis. Comprising 15% of the dermis (collagen type I comprises 80%), collagen type III gives the skin compliance, and its levels decrease naturally with age.

Although the exact mechanism of action is not known at this time, it is known that copper is involved in the formation of the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which serves as a potent antioxidant in the skin. Copper is also essential for the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which is involved in the cross-linking of elastin and collagen, so it is possible that these are at least partially responsible for the increase in collagen synthesis.

The only issue with copper peptides occurs if you have broken skin. A 1999 study in Nature found that copper peptides activate matrix metalloproteinase-2 — enzymes that degrade collagen — only in instances of wound healing. As the study suggests, in these instances of healing, it is possible that partially breaking down tissues in order to rebuild them via matrix metalloproteinase-2 activation is actually useful.  Further, it is unknown how much copper would need to be used, or for how often, for matrix metalloproteinase-2 to be activated. I personally am in favor of collagen peptides, and support their use in this product on non-injured skin.

Where to find it: NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion

Syn-Hycan: Boosts skin firmness and hydration

Like Relistase and copper peptides, SYN®-HYCAN is designed to help fight sagging skin by boosting hyaluronan content and increasing the expression of decorin and lumican within the skin. All of these factors naturally decrease in the skin with time (Clinics in Dermatology, 2008; Nature, 2003). Both of these activities of SYN®-HYCAN may work to combat sagging, aging skin. According to the company that produces Syn-Hycan, fresh hyaluronan and stronger collagen fibrils result in a visible remodeling effect and a firmer skin (The Center for Chem).

Where to find it: Your Best Face Control and Cellbone Technologies

Orchid Oil: Excellent for hydration

orchid oil

Orchid oil is fantastic for hydration. But unlike many other natural extracts, orchid oil may also have real quantifiable properties. According to at least one study, orchid oil may help to boost UVB protection significantly when used in conjunction with a sunscreen (H&PC2012). The reasons for this are likely to be the constituents of the orchid itself, which include vitamin C. Of course, are you likely to get more from a concentrated vitamin C serum? Of course. But it doesn’t hurt that this is a benefit of using orchid oil or extract on the skin.

Where to find it: Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil ($41.99, Amazon.com; $62.00 retail) and Oxygen Botanicals Oxygen Super Hydrating Cream ($61.70, Skin Care by Alana.com)

Rhamnose: Great for fighting fine lines and wrinkles in delicate areas (like around the eyes)


In an exclusive interview with dermatologist Dr. David Bank, M.D., “Rhamnose works similar to retinol but is gentler on the skin. Instead of generating cell turnover like retinol, it works by signaling the current cells to act younger thus boosting collagen, elastin and protein production.”

This is also verified in many notable journals, including the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, in which it is shown that rhamnose prevents cells from undergoing glycation. Normally, when you consume too much sugar, the skin cells can produce a new, hardened state of collagen, called glucosepane. Amongst other things, glucosepane is responsible for the lack of elasticity you see in elderly persons’ skin, as the skin no longer bounces back and has lost all elasticity. But when you use ingredients like retinol or rhamnose, the glycation process has been shown to slow significantly, or not to occur altogether.

Where to find it: Kiehl’s Super Protective Eye-Opening Serum

Bottom Line

If you are always looking for the latest thing to boost your skin care regimen, look into using Relistase (firmness), copper peptides (firmness), Syn-Hycan (firmness and hydration), orchid oil (hydration and UVA/UVB protective boost), or rhamnose (fine lines and wrinkles). Each of these ingredients are fantastic for their own purposes, but it is important to remember to use each in conjunction with other known anti-agers, including antioxidants, retinoids or AHAs, niacinamide, and sunscreen.

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