Filaggrin, the lesser-known protein that keeps your skin looking younger

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Collagen and elastin are the undisputed winners when it comes to skin-supporting proteins. But there is another that has captured the attention of scientists: Filaggrin, a protein found inside cells and in the intercellular space. Although still relatively unknown in many beauty circles, it nevertheless plays a crucial role in skin health.

Filaggrin has been baptised as the protein of youth and not without reason. Recent studies confirm that low levels of filaggrin in skin are linked to cases of atopic dermatitis, xerosis and ichthyosis (extremely dry and even scaly skin). Skin concerns that are unfortunately on the rise.

What makes it so important for skin health? The key part it has in skin barrier formation, namely in the process of keratinization (also called cornification). This process helps to reinforce the barrier effect of the skin, consequently reducing transepidermal water loss. Once filaggrin ends its life cycle, it releases different amino acids and sugars that become part of the Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF). These water-soluble molecules improve the quality of the skin’s protective film, also known as a hydro-lipid film.

Go easy on exfoliation

Although the beauty industry is full of tales describing the rejuvenating effects of exfoliating your skin, a word of caution is needed. Too much exfoliation is not healthy for the skin, as you can destroy your protein of youth deposits. This is because filaggrin is present in corneocytes, the dead skin cells found in the skin barrier, and aggressive exfoliation techniques obliterate them.

There are two types of exfoliation methods – physical and chemical. The physical ones (like micro granules) produce tiny cuts that damage the skin barrier. And the chemical ones (with active ingredients that dissolve the upper skin cell layers) literally burn off skin. In both cases, however, it is goodbye filaggrin! A more skin-friendly treatment is following an adequate cleansing routine or opt for deep pore cleansing therapeutic clays, such as those used in The London Mask.

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Unsaponifiables: The key to increasing filaggrin reserves

Unsaponifiable oil fractions are the most precious part of vegetable oils and contain their most beneficial properties. These oil fractions are highly coveted in the skincare industry, not only because they improve skin barrier function, but because they are also unique in their ability to stimulate the production of filaggrin in the skin.

Unsaponifiables are some of the favourite ingredients of Pedro Catalá, cosmetologist, Doctor of Pharmacy and founder of Twelve Beauty. You can find them in Intelligent Frontier Facial Oil, a light, dry facial oil hailed as a universal remedy for all skin types.  On the one hand, the formula improves sebum quality which is great news for blemish-prone skin. And on the other, it provides much-needed essential lipids to dry skin, improving its barrier function.

Essential Bio-Technological Moisturiser is another product from the range rich in unsaponifiables. Its pure-grade sunflower oil enhances skin with key lipids to strengthen its epidermal barrier and deeply hydrate. In addition to this, it also boosts the skin’s cellular cement and stimulates the synthesis of collagen, elastin and filaggrin, essential proteins of the epidermis.

And last but not least, Nutritive Repair Emulsion, a night-time remedy hailed as a good night’s sleep in a bottle. It contains cupuaçú butter, known to be rich in polyphenols, a category of antioxidants that repair skin cell damage. Furthermore, this luxurious formula includes a skin-health boosting dose of spent grain wax, a waxy residue of barley from the food industry. Very rich in linoleic acid (Omega 6), spent grain wax is great at improving skin barrier function and lowering inflammation. (Twelve Beauty Tip: Mix with a few drops of Intelligent Frontier Facial Oil for a highly restorative skin treatment).

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