Horphag forecasts growth in ingestible skin health category, credits research

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Antonio_Diaz
Getty Images / Antonio_Diaz

Related tags Skin Pycnogenol skin health Beauty from within Nutricosmetics

Research suggests French maritime pine bark extract counteracts damaging environmental stress factors and reinforces the body's frontline defense against harmful toxins.

A recent peer reviewed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study found that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract may help retain skin hydration, increase skin elasticity, and reinforce skin barrier function for those exposed to urban environmental pollution, as well as seasonal temperature and humidity variations. In addition, the study found Pycnogenol can increase skin lightening during seasonal changes when dark spots pop up.


The research, published in Skin Pharmacology Physiology​, tested 76 participants, 57 of whom were women, with an average age of 41. The test group included those who spent long hours outdoors working in Beijing, China and were exposed to urban air pollution, environmental stress as well as seasonal changes in temperature and humidity from April to November. The participants were split into a treatment group and a control group. During the first 12 weeks, from April to July, the rainy season, the treatment group supplemented orally with 100mg of Pycnogenol daily. After a 1-week washout period, participants were crossed over from treatment to placebo and vice versa for another 12-week study phase of a dry autumn period.

Researchers measured the skin moisture content of the participants with the Corneometer skin moisture tester. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) was measured with the Tewameter, and skin elasticity was measured with the Cutometer.


The researchers found that Pycnogenol protects skin from environmental factors and stress and that daily oral supplementation with 100mg of Pycnogenol for 12 weeks provided improvements in skin concerns.

“These findings are especially important for those who regularly spend time outside and are exposed to high levels of environmental stressors, like humidity, temperature changes, and pollution. Specifically, the study suggests that Pycnogenol intake may prevent sun tanning or air pollution-induced skin pigmentation, improve viscoelastic skin properties such as gross elasticity and elastic recovery irrespective of the season, and prevent a decrease in skin hydration and transepidermal water loss (TEWL),”​ noted Sébastien Bornet, VP Global Sales & Marketing at Horphag Research (exclusive global supplier of Pycnogenol).

  • 7% improvement in skin elasticity (vs 0.1% increase in the placebo group)
  • 7% improvement in skin firmness (vs 0.3% decrease in the placebo group)
  • Additionally, during phase 2, from July to October, during the dry season, daily oral supplementation with 100mg of Pycnogenol® showed:
  • 13.8% increase in skin lightening (vs 0.8% decrease in the placebo group)
  • 14% decreased in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), indicating a significant improvement of skin barrier function (vs 4.5% increase in the placebo group)
  • 3.3% decrease of skin moisture (vs 14% decrease in the placebo group)
  • 13% improvement in skin elasticity (vs 0.7% increase in the placebo group)
  • 13% improvement in skin firmness (vs 0.3% increase in the placebo group)

The current findings are consistent with previous research that has shown Pycnogenol’s ability to promote collagen and hyaluronic acid production within the skin.

“Because of Pycnogenol’s large catalog of research for skin health, these results were not surprising but further build upon the support for Pycnogenol as a key ingredient for the skin. Previous research has shown Pycnogenol®’s unique ability to promote collagen and hyaluronic acid production within the skin,”​ said Bornet. Indeed, in a clinical study Pycnogenol revealed increased hyaluronic acid synthase levels by 44%. The hyaluronic acid synthase is the natural source of water-binding hyaluronic acid in the dermis.

In terms of surprises, Bornet said the increase in skin lightening was an exciting finding. “This adds new support to the story that science has told on Pycnogenol’s ability to fight hyperpigmentation and dark spots.”

Environmental stress

The researchers concluded that the research “strongly indicates that people exposed to high levels of environmental stress will benefit from the regular intake of Pycnogenol.”

“Consumers living in large urban environments are exposed to a variety of stressors, including air pollution, solar radiation, changes in temperature and humidity, and stress, which have the potential to compromise skin health. The study was conducted on subjects in Beijing, China, and it offers valuable findings for anyone who wants to counter the damaging effects of sun, humidity, and pollution on skin. Beijing’s AQI Index is moderate and is currently 3.6 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value (IQAir). While most US cities have better air quality, we know pollution and environmental toxins impact the way our skin looks and feels. This research shows there is a way to counter that damage,”​ explained Bornet.

Ingestible beauty forecast

“We expect growth in the ingestible skin health category. Decades of research show the role nutrition plays in healthy skin. Beauty from the inside-out is a path toward optimal skin health. Especially as more consumers are empowered with information on nutrition and research-backed products that can achieve strong results. As consumers focus on skin health products that are safe, effective, and easy-to-use, Pycnogenol offers the perfect solution,” ​said Bornet. “Research has shown Pycnogenol’s versatile abilities to protect the body against free radical damage with its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, Horphag Research has been ahead of the curve, identifying and studying the benefits of beauty from within for decades with key Pycnogenol research on skin dating back 20 years and a steady focus since then.”

Please join us

We’re just two days away from our beauty-from-within webinar and our expert panel is ready to dig into the research, including what the science says about environmental impacts such as ultraviolet rays, blue light from electronics and air pollution.

NutraIngredients-USA and Cosmetics Design’s will jointly present this webinar focused on the beauty-from-within category. The free virtual event kicks off this Thursday, July 21 at 11am Eastern / 8am Pacific.

To register for this event, please click here​ and be sure to submit your ‘burning question’ to have one of our panelists answer it during the broadcast.

Source: Skin Pharmacology Physiology
doi: 10.1159/000514323.
“Oral Pycnogenol Intake Benefits the Skin in Urban Chinese Outdoor Workers: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, and Crossover Intervention Study”
Authors: H. Zhao

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