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Results showed that supplementation with Pycnogenol prevented a decrease in skin hydration, transepidermal water loss, reflecting a significant improvement in skin barrier function, and skin darkening during the dry autumn season.
A recent study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology1 found that supplementation with a proprietary French pine bark extract, Pycnogenol from Horphag Research (Hoboken, NJ), may protect skin from environmental stressors. In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 76 subjects were given either 50 mg of Pycnogenol twice daily, or placebo for 12 weeks, then switched interventions for another 12 weeks.
The subjects of this study, 57 of which were women, were chosen because they work outdoors from spring to autumn in Beijing, China, exposed to air pollution and weather changes. During the study, subjects were constantly exposed to increased levels of fine particulate matter, changes in temperature, humidity, and UV index. Researchers evaluated skin moisture content, transepidermal water loss, and skin elasticity at baseline, during, and after the study.
Results showed that supplementation with the French pine bark extract prevented a decrease in skin hydration, transepidermal water loss, reflecting a significant improvement in skin barrier function, and skin darkening during the dry autumn season. Season had a strong impact on skin moisture content. The first 12 weeks of the study carried out during April to July, which is characteristically humid, saw significant increases in skin moisture content for both groups. The second half of the study, conducted between August and November, the dry season, saw a significant drop in skin moisture in subjects now taking placebo, while the subjects taking Pycnogenol saw relatively stable skin moisture content, with no significant changes. Supplementation also improved visco-elastic skin properties such as skin elasticity, and elastic recovery, irrespective of the season.
While further research is necessary to directly attribute the prevention of air pollution induced skin damage to supplementation with Pycnogenol, the results strongly indicate that it can help support skin health in those exposed to high levels of environmental stressors. Therefore, oral supplementation with the French pine bark extract may represent at least one strategy for those living in urban areas.