The Scalable Power of Sichuan Pepper, Acting on Skin and Scalp!

Interview with Giada Maramaldi, Personal Care Category Manager
Givaudan Active Beauty

Mrs. Maramaldi, can you explain to us what Zanthalene® has more than the other anti-aging ingredients?

Our experts have been investigating the skin-nerves-muscles communication pathways and ended up discovering that some plant can act on nerve receptors to deliver new beauty benefits for skin. Zanthalene® naturally contains α-hydroxy-sanshool, offering a specific solution to control skin nerves in a reversible and safe way. Our newly studied active ingredient induces a tingling sensation by stimulating various skin receptors (the “chemestesic ” effect of spices) giving an immediate perception of activity to consumers. Then Zanthalene® temporarily blocks Na+ voltage mediated channels leading to the depletion of neurotransmitters (the nerves messenger molecules), ceasing the propagation of the neural signal, which translates at low dosages, into soothing benefits, removing skin discomfort and itchiness and at higher dosages, into a “botox-like” effect, inducing muscular relaxation (interaction at the neuro/muscular level) reducing the appearance of wrinkles, without losing the ability to have facial expressions.

So Zanthalene® can be considered as a scalable active ingredient. Can you explain how it acts more precisely at low dosage?

Several clinical studies have enabled us to demonstrate the effect of Zanthalene® on the skin. Many benefits have indeed been demonstrated when formulated at 0.5%. One of them is the inhibition effect of itch induced by mosquito bites. During the study, 40 volunteers, who had got bitten by mosquitos (in a standardized mode) at least 3 times, were asked to apply a lotion at 0.5% of Zanthalene® or placebo lotion. Short term results demonstrate that 67.5% of the volunteers feel a positive effect of the Zanthalene® solution on itch intensity. Another benefit is to soothe the scalp from hair dyes irritation. During clinical evaluation, 20 women volunteers, selected for having a specific sensitivity to hair dyes, have been treated with a pre-lotion (either blank or containing Zanthalene® at 0.5%), prior to the application of the hair colouring product. They were required to rate the intensity of scalp discomfort as per the intensity of the soothing effect and its onset. Results demonstrate that 85% of the volunteers expressed their preference for the Zanthalene® solution. This specific application on hair colors has also been observed to be maintained when Zanthalene® is directly added to the coloring mixture (good stability at high pH), with no need of pre-treatment.

And what about Zanthalene® activity at higher dosage?

As you mentioned in your previous question, Zanthalene® is a scalable active ingredient. When formulated at 1%, it will keep all its benefits activated at 0.5% and will activate another one, directly linked to anti-ageing. To demonstrate its efficacy, a benchmark controlled clinical study has been conducted to test a formulation containing Zanthalene® at 1% versus the benchmark containing a similar natural alkylamide, spillanthol. 21 women volunteers applied the testing product on their crow feet area. Skin roughness and wrinkles have been evaluated by skin replicas both at short term (30 minutes) and over a month of regular daily use. The results show the activity of Zanthalene® in short and long term on the skin. 

Zanthalene® is then able to be formulate in plenty formulation?

Correct. The product is suitable for cosmetic and can be formulated for facial care with anti-ageing claims. The active is also suitable and recommended for sensitive skin to remove itch on dry skin and scalp (anti-dandruff shampoos), in sun care and after sun. Extremely versatile, it can also be formulated in baby care products, intimate hygiene and body care.

And what about the sourcing of Zanthalene®? You were talking about spice; can you tell us more about?

Zanthalene® is a CO2 lipophilic extract of Zanthoxylum bungeanum, a plant known in China for 2000 years for its medicinal and economic value. Widely distributed in the province of Sichuan, its medicinal effects have been recorded in the earliest TCM monograph (200 b.C.). Known as Sichuan pepper, Zanthoxylum bungeanum has a unique slightly lemony aroma and flavour: it creates a kind of tingly numbness in the mouth due to its content of a very characteristic alkyl amide, α-hydroxy-sanshool, concentrated and standardized in Zanthalene®. 

Is it possible to try Zanthalene® in a final product yet?

As you know, our Active Beauty team works hard to promote each launch. To make sure that people can have all information about the product and test it, we’ve created a marketing concept, SensiLift. This highly natural well-aging cream is the perfect formulation to target tired skin, aiming for a refreshed look and an immediately visible effect. The easy way you get more information is to connect on our private platform at

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