Cellulose fibrils for immediate skin anti-wrinkle effect

Rebecca Blell | January 23, 2018

There are many different solutions for reducing wrinkles and age marks on the skin. These range from long term permanent treatments of the skin to formulations that have immediate, temporary and only optical effects on the skin. In most formulations and products, a combination of a permanent solution with an immediate effect is desired.

In this blog post, I will introduce the terms “anti-aging”, “anti-wrinkle effect”, “immediate anti-wrinkle effect” and follow up with a few points explaining why cellulose fibrils can potentially give an immediate skin anti-wrinkle effect.


Anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and more: what do these terms mean?

Products claiming to give an anti-aging effect have been very popular for decades. In very simple terms, this refer to an effect where the skin looks healthier and if possible younger than it actually is. Many strategies exist to get such an effect. All of them aim to hide, reduce, or prevent skin sagging, skin wrinkles, or skin roughness. The effect that more specifically targets the skin wrinkles is called an anti-wrinkle effect. This effect can be obtained either by non-invasive skin treatments or invasive ones.

The non-invasive skin care habits or strategies are the most common and affordable ways to target skin wrinkles and make the skin look better over time. These include the regular use of the following:

  • creams containing moisturizers and emollients such as glycerin: these will smoothen and soften the skin
  • creams containing ingredients such as anti-oxidants, sunscreens and retinoids: these will provide a protective longterm effect on the skin against external aging factors as long as the product is used.

Such products often also claim to have an immediate visible effect on the skin wrinkles; an effect one can refer to as an immediate anti-wrinkle effect. This is possible due to an optical effect, called the soft focus effect, produced by irregular shaped particles and the way they reflect light from the skin. They optically blur the fine lines and skin roughness making the skin look immediately smoother for a few hours, as long as the particles are still on the skin. Some of these include mica, polymethyl methacrylate, glass microsphere, titanium dioxide and talc.

The invasive skin procedures are more expensive and more aggressive procedures such as chemical peelings, laser procedures photo-rejuvenation or even injections of skin biostimulants , e.g. collagens or hyalorunic acid, and dermal fillers e.g. Botulinum Toxin (BTX). These anti-wrinkle strategies can have both an immediate effect and a longer lasting effect. Injecting BTX for example will not slow down the aging of the skin. It will however relax facial muscles in as short a time as two hours and up to 6 months. During this time, the skin lines and wrinkles look smoother.

In addition to the above, one’s life style and habits might have an influence on skin aging. Factors such as smoking, air pollution, solar UV irradiation, physical activity and nutrition might affect the way the skin looks.


Why are cellulose fibrils good for an immediate anti-wrinkle effect and into which category above do they belong?

Cellulose fibrils are insoluble fibrils that form flexible fiber bundles with irregular shape/morphology depending on the formulation. These fiber bundles then result in diffuse transmission and reflection of light from a given surface. If used in skin products, cellulose fibrils can therefore optically blur the skin fine lines and minimize the appearance of skin imperfections.

In addition, cellulose fibrils have a very high water holding capacity due to the presence of many hydroxyl groups on the fibril surface . This means that they strongly hold on to water and moisture. When used in a skin product, as long as the fibrils are on the skin, the moisture is maintained.

Since they are insoluble, cellulose fibrils can also act as fillers to the external skin roughness and reduce their depth.

The graph below shows how the skin roughness was reduced when using a BB cream (O/W emulsion) containing cellulose fibrils (Borregaard’s Exilva) as compared to a cream without. The tests were conducted by means of FOITS technique. Statistical comparisons of reference BB cream and a BB cream with cellulose fibrils result in significant differences for both the averaged depth of skin roughness (Rz) and the arithmetic mean skin roughness (Ra), measured at two hours and four hours, each in favor of the BB cream with Exilva (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Decrease in Rz (Averaged depth of roughness) and Ra (Arithmetic mean roughness) of the skin of volunteers with time of application of the BB creams. Enhanced effect of the BB cream with Exilva.

In summary, the cellulose fibrils can be included in the list of ingredients that will help in enhancing a product’s immediate and non-invasive anti-wrinkle effect. Cellulose fibrils act as immediate anti-wrinkle agents by combining the soft focus effect due to their morphology , the moisturizing effect due to their high water holding capacity and the filler effect that reduces the skin roughness.

Cellulose fibrils will also impact the viscosity of the formulation leading to a thicker and sprayable product with a non-dripping effect. The emulsion stability is also improved due to the material’s high yield stress.

Read more about the potential of using cellulose fibrils in cosmetic applications.

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Written by:

Rebecca Blell

Rebecca first started working with microfibrillated cellulose in 2009, during her studies, as part of the SustainComp project. She joined Borregaard in 2014 as a research scientist and focused on the Exilva product and its performance in cleaning products, cosmetics and agricultural applications. She is now working as the Technical Application Manager for these applications in parallel to being Technical Sales Manager for Exilva products in France and UK. Rebecca has a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Strasbourg, France and experience from international companies.