The colorless carotenoids have made it to the cover page of Cosmetics & Toileteries Magazine (March issue)!!!
Skin color is primarily determined by the amount of the pigment melanin present in melanocytes, Melanin production in response to the stimulus of UVA light leads to the well-known tanning effect of the skin. Aging, exposure to sun, hormonal abnormalities, and various skin disorders increase the deposition of melanin pigment in skin, resulting in dark spots and freckles. Such dark spot are not only considered to be unattractive in many societies, they are also known to be unhealthy and, therefore, undesired.
For those who are interested in eliminating the presence of dark spots on the skin or a lighter skin tone, whitening or bleaching compositions are useful.
Typical whitening agents in cosmetic formulations are kojic acid, arbutin, licorice extract, and vitamin C. These are effective tyrosinase inhibitors and anti-oxidants, but are usually not stable and are oxidized and degraded easily. Moreover, there is a high risk of skin irritation and inflammation with these compounds.
Phytoene and phytofluene, also named colorless carotenoids, are the first carotenoid precursors in the biosynthetic pathway of other carotenoids. These molecules are colorless in the visible range; hence absorb light in the UV range only. The colorless carotenoids are found in most carotenogenic organisms including microorganisms, algae, fungi and plants where they are used as protection against excessive radiation and environmental stress. These molecules have effective and benefiting activities enhancing skin anti inflammatory capacity, protecting against UV and oxidative damage leading to pre-mature aging and other disorders as well as stabilizing and boosting the effect of other molecules such as sun screens and their activity. Recently, effects on reduction of skin pigmentation were demonstration related, most likely, to the dual protection against UV irradiation, damage and inflammation.