Skin ageing can be divided into two forms, intrinsic ageing which describes the body's own natural ageing process, and extrinsic which describes ageing as a result of external factors. One of the major external factors causing skin ageing is sun exposure leading to coarse skin and deep wrinkles, as opposed to the fine wrinkles of intrinsic ageing. However, over the counter remedies formulated to treat intrinsic ageing may provide some hope for photoaged skin, according to researchers at the University of Manchester, UK, and Boots, UK. According to the scientists, little research has been carried out into the ability of over the counter anti-ageing products to treat photoageing, and the positive results of this preliminary study have prompted a six-month double-blind clinical trial. The study involved nine volunteers who applied a 2 per cent anti-ageing solution, a 6 per cent anti-ageing solution and a basic moisturiser to the forearm for 12 days. The solutions are currently retailed as part of Boots anti-ageing range. The products were applied under occlusion, meaning that the application site was covered for the duration of the study. All-trans retinoic acid that is known to repair photodamaged skin was also applied in the latter part of the study as a positive control. Application of the 6 per cent formulation, containing a group of peptides and retinyl palminate (a retinyl ester) both increased fibrillin-1 and procollagen-1 in the skin, essential for the elasticity of the skin, according to the team. These kinds of retinyl esters could be used as alternatives to all-trans retinoic acid as they produce fewer side effects such as irritation, redness and drying of the skin, say the researchers. Application of the 2 per cent solution that contains the peptides but not the retinyl ester, did increase the fibrillin content but not statistically significantly. Nonetheless, the researchers state that this may suggest 'a role in the general repair of the dermal matrix for the peptide combination' adding that there has been growing interest of late in the role of peptides in anti-ageing formulations. The anti-ageing sector remains one of the strongest in the industry, with global sales for 2006 valued at $12.9 bn by Euromonitor. Most of the future growth is expected to come from the emerging markets, according to the market research company. The more established markets are becoming further segmented with increasing numbers of specialised products such as anti-aging for men and surgically inspired anti-ageing products with very specific areas of action. Products designed to treat photoaged skin are likely to add to this trend for segmentation.