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Garnier Ultra-Lift where Pro-X = Xylane

February 21, 2010

It’s been a week for Pro-X.  First it was Procter and Gamble with their “clinical study” backed Pro X range and now it is L’Oreal with their Garnier Ultra-Lift Pro X.  Now while the Garnier product is not that new – it has been on the market since  early 2009, the launch of the P&G product with similar name and ultra-sexy RED packaging (ditto Garnier) is causing some confusion. But what I wanted to know was “What on earth is Pro Xylane?”

Garnier Ultra Lift Pro-X

Garnier Ultra-Lift Pro-X is another anti-ageing, fight-it-from-the-inside type of skin-care product. It contains a rather ‘safe’ sounding blend of natural actives including one ‘green chemical’  Pro-Xylane – the golden child!

The product says that it will

  • Plump up the skin
  • Assist in Collagen Production
  • Visibly firm the skin.

Mostly thanks to this Pro-Xylane which has been extracted from beech tree extract!  So, what can this rather innocuous looking tree do for our skin?

Pro-Xylane is a L’Oreal patented molecule (anyone for some organic chemistry?  No? I’ll keep it short)  The Xylane comes from a chemical family called “glycosides” this family of chemicals are pretty useful as they consist of sugars that are bound to some small non-sugar molecule in order to store the sugar for a later date (the sugar is then broken off when the plant get’s ‘hungry’)

These molecules are very useful for all living things and in this case, L’Oreal have created a glycoside that is small enough to get into the skin and tickle our glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s)  in order to get them working better.  Now, without going into too much biology our GAG’s are the cushion bits within connective tissue – Hyaluronic acid is one example.  In young skin our GAG’s are having a great time, keeping our skin hydrated and keeping our connective tissue nice and firm. As we age they start to down-tools and we can end up looking a little hollow cheeked or eyed as the space between our collagen and elastin fibres is somewhat empty. Think of it like bricks that haven’t been cemented in yet.

L’Oreal’s wonder chemical is apparently able to get into the skin, stimulate our GAG’s and therefore plump up those intra-cellular spaces to make us look fuller-faced and fresh again.  Pretty cool if it works!

You may be thinking right now that that is all well and good but Hyaluronic acid can do the same thing.  Wrong!  Hyaluronic acid is great at acting like a full sponge within the skin but as that sponge dries our, the skin returns to it’s pre-plumped state. The Pro Xylane  get’s the skin to do all the work. Now I  am always a bit skeptical about how good these things can be as they work on the premise that you can up-regulate a process that has been naturally turned down.  

Do you mind if I tell you a story?

An 80 year old woman decides to get her 80 year old legs training for a 10 mile road race. She is diligent in her practice,eats healthily and trains sensibly. On the day of the race she warms up, put’s on her best running shoes and set’s off and everything is fine until mile 9 when she rounds the last corner and falls over a box that is obstructing the path.  With her ankle badly bruised she get’s carried off and doesn’t finish the race.

So what has that got to do with Pro-Xylane?   Maybe nothing but think about this:

1)  Most (not all) 80 year old’s don’t run 10 mile road races because as fit as they may be and as much as they can train their muscles at 80 our bodies have slowed down. That includes our eyes and hearing (reaction time), our muscle repair and our processing skills.  It is possible to train these but under stress we won’t perform as well as a fit person in their 20’s or 30’s and neither do we expect to.

2) Our 50-year-old skin may be acting like 70-year-old skin due to excessive sun-damage, smoking or other pollution, illness, genetics or dietary reasons.  Alternatively our 50-year-old skin may look like 50-year-old skin!  Putting a cream onto it that can affect its biological function to give great visual results may be great but what impact will that have on the body as a whole?

A bit long-winded but my point is this.  For the 80-year-old going out and running a race the pitfall was not her muscles or her determination it was with her mental agility and reaction-times when faced with something unexpected.

With the 50-year-old seeking 30-year-old skin the skin may end up looking great but the rest of the cells surrounding the GAG’s may well have to work harder or may have their energy source diverted away. While this may mean that nothing bad happens, cell’s slow down for a good reason as we age – they get tired, they make mistakes, they forget to do stuff and that can (not always, but sometimes) lead to problems.

Yes, Pro-Xylane is a great and novel new ingredient and a giant leap from the hyaluronic acid technology that we are used to but will it trip over its shoe laces in the long run? I don’t know.

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