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Guerlain Hosts Its First Symposium on Biological Repair Mechanisms

The goal of the event was to encourage interactivity and creativity within the cosmetics field by promoting knowledge sharing.

PARIS — Exploring the connection between the brain and the skin as well as the similarities and differences in their biological repair mechanisms was the subject of Guerlain’s first scientific symposium, held here on June 9.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Recherche’s director of scientific intelligence Frédéric Bonté and Alexis Desmoulière, from the Department of Physiology at France’s University of Limoges, co-chaired the daylong event that featured a series of presentations revealing the latest in-depth research on brain and skin repair mechanisms.

Bonté said the primary aim of the first symposium, held in the library of the École du Val-de-Grâce military medical school, was to encourage interactivity and creativity within the cosmetics field by promoting knowledge sharing. Attendees included researchers, chemists, ingredients manufacturers as well as some brands.

“This type of event will help Guerlain as well as the whole profession,” Bonté said. “The idea is to build the network and increase the creativity of cosmetology. Guerlain is one of the founders of the Cosmetic Valley business cluster. We have always had this vision of a network.”

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Skin repair is central to one of Guerlain’s core product lines, Abeille Royale, which uses bee products from the isle of Ouessant, in Brittany, where the unpolluted environment allows the endemic black bees to produce honey and royal jelly with exceptional repairing qualities.

The healing power of apicultural products has been recognized since Egyptian times, but it is thanks to the work of the late Professor Bernard Descottes, head of service at the Limoges University Hospital, and his experiments with honey bandages over 25 years that Guerlain became involved in using the ingredient in its antiaging products.

Understanding how complex natural products like honey work to repair the skin is key to finding new solutions to prevent skin aging, for example.

“The aim is to improve knowledge and then find new biological targets and active ingredients that will work on these targets in a regulated way and make more effective products,” Bonté explained.

Exploring the similarities and differences between skin and brain repair mechanisms is one such subject of interest.

“The skin is in fact the external surface of the brain,” Bonté said by way of introduction to the day’s talks. “The connection between skin and brain is formed as soon as the embryo is created.”

The brain-skin connection and neurodermatology were also behind Guerlain’s Happylogy range, launched around a decade ago, which used endomorphins to fight the signs of aging. Research into neurotrophins that act on neuromediators and pigmentation, meanwhile, was used to create a line of whitening products for the Asian market that worked on the factors that trigger melanin production.

Several leading experts in their fields participated in the symposium. These included Ralf Paus, professor of cutaneous medicine and director of research of the Centre of Dermatology Research at the University of Manchester; Susan Brain, from the Centre of Integrative Biomedicine at King’s College London; Sabine Eming, professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Cologne, Germany; Yves Poumay, professor of cell and tissue biology/histology at the Faculty of Medicine at Namur University in Belgium, and Boris Hinz, professor in the Matrix Dynamics Group at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry.

Subjects covered included matrix mechanics and the regulation of the fibroblast, epigenetics and keratinocyte differentiation, which raised questions about the role of food supplements during pregnancy on skin pigmentation, for example, cell shape changes that enable wound healing, the role of inflammatory responses in tissue repair and regeneration, and lessons that can be learned from hair follicle neuroendocrinology.

Paus highlighted the role of the hair follicle as a connecting pathway between the skin and the central nervous system, as it links the various layers of the skin, and was the only speaker to directly reference the cosmetics industry in his presentation. The hair in the follicle never stops growing, and is also responsible for producing a number of neurohormones and neuropeptides, which have effects in other parts of the body and brain, suggesting that studying its mechanisms could have implications for anti-aging research, he said.

“You cannot afford to avoid the hair follicle any longer,” Paus told the audience. “If you are in the cosmeceutical field, unleash the power of these, use this hair-bearing skin more cleverly.”