BASF discovers common yarrow plant’s potential as an anti-ageing cosmetic active

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Before and after shot of volunteer's crows feet
Before and after shot of volunteer's crows feet
A new study funded by BASF Beauty Care Solutions has found that an extract of the common yarrow plant found in the Northern hemisphere can increase epidermal thickness and improve the appearance of wrinkles and pores.

The French study, which was published in the InternationalJournal of Cosmetic Science,​ took an extract of Achillea millefolium and used it as an active ingredient to see how it would affect the ageing of the human epidermis.

Perception of age

The appearance of both wrinkles and pores as well as softness of the skin are all seen as a factor contributing to the overall perception of age.

“Achillea millefolium extract thus represents a relevant cosmetic ingredient aimed at rejuvenating the appearance and feeling of skin surface,”​ noted the research.

“As a water plant extract, it also represents a gentle alternative to alpha-hydroxy acids that require acidic formulation to preserve their functionality and efficacy.”

Researchers first evaluated the effect of A. millefolium extract on the expression pattern of various epidermal differentiation markers ex vivo in normal human skin biopsies using quantitative image analysis; and second evaluated its capacity to rejuvenate the appearance of skin surface in vivo.

The pick of the bunch

The tests were part of a wider study into 1000 potential active cosmetic ingredients with those able to increase the protein expression at least 1.3-fold finally selected with A. millefolium extract proving to be the most efficient one.

The promising ex vivo results of the yarrow extract then encouraged the researchers to assess the possible anti-ageing effects of the yarrow extract in vivo.

This showed that a two month treatment with a cosmetic formula containing A. millefolium extract at 2 per cent improved some surface-related parameters, such as the appearance of crow’s feet wrinkles and pores as well as skin softness.

According to the study, results were also directionally better than those of glycolic acid that was chosen as reference resurfacing molecule.

Pain, S., Altobelli, C., Boher, A., Cittadini, L., Favre-Mercuret, M., Gaillard, C., Sohm, B., Vogelgesang, B. and André-Frei, V. (2011), Surface rejuvenating effect of Achillea millefolium extract. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 33: 535–542. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2011.00667.x

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