Dr. Virginia Vega is the Vice President of Research and Development at SENTE. She previously worked as the Director of Skin Biology Laboratories and Scientific Communications at SkinMedica, an Allergan Company where she was instrumental in the conceptualization and development of Retinol Complex, Total Defense + Repair, HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator and Lytera 2.0. I wrote her a letter of admiration, and she was incredibly kind in her reply and offered to speak with me about the science.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes formulators make?
VV: One of the issues that we see repetitively in our industry is the addition of active ingredients into formulations at concentrations that are not sufficient to trigger effects or to support claims. “Sprinkling” active ingredients is mainly driven to reduce the cost for the company but severely compromises the efficacy of the product and the credibility of the skincare industry.
Q: What makes SENTE’s heparan sulfate analog (HSA) revolutionary and different from any other ingredient out there?
VV: HSA is a modified form of naturally produced heparan sulfate (HS) in which size, shape, and charge were bioengineered to be used as unique skincare technology.
Heparan sulfate is a key, dynamic and multi-functional molecule that plays a critical role in skin health, aging and wound healing. Interestingly, heparan sulfate is an “intelligent molecule” that responds to the individual needs of your skin due to its multi-functionality (think about this as a magic bullet). This molecule can help with the appearance of lines and wrinkles, hydration (which is usually observed as flakiness and redness) and uneven pigmentation, the four main aging concerns.
Q: How is SENTE’s heparan sulfate analog able to respond to what individual skin needs?
VV: The endogenous HS is a sulfated glycosaminoglycan or SuGAG. This means that the core of HS is modified by the addition of sulfur groups. Interestingly, the pattern of distribution of these groups, as well as their abundancy, determines which target molecule HS interacts with. So what happens with your endogenous HS is that cells produce different modified HS to address, for example, production of collagen and elastin, hydration, control of pigmentation or inflammation among other functions.
Q: What effect does HS have on growth factors and cytokines, and how does this impact skin?
VV: The molecule is very critical for skin health and homeostasis (balance or equilibrated skin). Young skin is characterized by having optimal levels of secreted factors (such as cytokines and growth factors). Thus, cells are “bathing” in HS which basically orchestrated the response of these secreted factors. As we age, both secreted factors and HS decrease, resulting in lower expression of anti-aging genes such as collagen and elastin, uncontrolled pigmentation and inflammation.
An interesting fact related with HS and secreted factors is that cells cannot “see” secreted factors unless they are presented by HS (and therefore they cannot respond to them). Think about HS as your reading glasses, if you do not have them on you cannot read your book; the same happens to cells when HS is decreased, they cannot “see” secreted factors and therefore their responses are compromised.
Q: The advantage of SENTE products over Growth Factor Products
VV: Growth factors are too big to penetrate the skin, so their proposed mechanism of action is “signaling” from the surface in, which explains why it takes several months to observe an improvement in the appearance of aged skin. In contrast to this, SENTE’s HSA has a smaller size delivering results as fast as 2 weeks (hydration) and significantly improving the appearance of wrinkles, sagginess, and pigmentation between 4-8 weeks.
Dr. Vega’s Skin Care Recommendations
– Sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is a must “or else you are just flushing your money” (on anti-aging products). Make sure that you get a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA/UVB protection).
Antioxidants or free radical scavengers to help protect from daily damage —Vitamins C and E were last century’s stars on this field, though currently there are much more potent and multi-functional extracts that are proven to be effective against oxidative stress (for example extracts from different plant stem cells and extracts that boost your self-detoxifying system)
– SENTE Dermal Repair Cream with 2% HSA
-SENTE Bio Complete Serum (with forms of Vitamin A and HSA 2%) or Dermal Repair Cream with 2%
– Moisturizer, look for those moisturizers that contain antioxidants or detoxifying ingredients so you can address two major requirements in one step.
Q: What can you expect from SENTE Dermal Repair Cream over time?
VV: Improvements in hydration as fast as two weeks after using twice daily. We also observed improvements in skin radiance (week 4) and significant improvement in the appearance of skin sagginess, wrinkles, and pigmentation (week 8).
Melissa: A perk of SENTE products is that with their HSA, the results come in waves and “keep coming, which helps patients stick with a regimen.”
SENTE is a great investment in skin because it “fixes the foundation of the house.”