Similar questions have been asked for decades by scientists at Olay, a product that was created by a chemist for his wife more than 60 years ago and continues to be refined by a legion of more than 1,000 skin care researchers around the world. Their mission is to know everything there is to know about how skin ages, uncover effective anti-aging ingredients and figure out how best to formulate products that keep women looking ageless.
In a sense, every woman’s face is a living experiment. As she goes about her day, her skin’s surface cycles continuously through its natural biological processes. New skin cells are generated, their health and appearance dependent, among other factors, on the genes they contain. Those cells, and those genes, are the subjects of a daily series of real-world tests, exposed to a relentless set of stressors such as the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In fact, “extrinsic” factors like UV rays and (to a lesser extent) air pollution account for more than 80 percent of the visible signs of aging: fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and dryness.
Getting multimillion-dollar science into a $25 jar is a serious business. At Olay, where quality and efficacy take precedent over the rush to market, it can take up to four years to develop, test and formulate a new or improved skin care treatment. To create products for real women, Olay starts with real women: Its laboratory research is driven by the mountains of information it collects in interviews, surveys and clinical studies of women of all ages and backgrounds.
Today, the search for answers about how skin ages and how to help keep it looking young begins deep inside skin cells. That’s where genes help determine how skin functions and looks, and where UV rays and pollutants do the damage that causes wrinkles and other effects of aging. And that’s where Olay genomics scientist Jay Tiesman spends his days, figuring out exactly how that damage happens, the first step in identifying ways to help prevent and mitigate it. Tiesman, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska Medical School, studies gene expression, the process in which information from skin genes is used to make collagen and other important proteins, which keep skin healthy and young-looking.
Tiesman and his team use high-powered technology to explore skin genes and how changes, triggered by external factors and natural aging, leave skin damaged and more fragile. Working in Olay’s research center outside Cincinnati, one of five around the world, they also analyze the activity profile and function of potential anti-aging ingredients, like palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, which, as Olay’s research confirmed, helps aging skin regenerate its youthful appearance.
Finding the optimal combinations and concentrations of anti-aging ingredients and how to formulate them all into one effective product is what the skin care business is all about. Olay is relentless about it. In 2000, it was one of the first to offer a product containing niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that, among other things, helps strengthen skin’s moisture barrier. It also helps reduce the visible appearance of pores and improve skin texture and radiance. In 2003, researchers at the National Institutes of Health showed that peptides, a chain of amino acids, play a role in skin surface regeneration. That same year, Olay introduced the Regenerist line of products with a new formula that included an amino-peptide complex, shown to be effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles.