Retinol and structurally related molecules of the group of retinoids are well-known for their anti-aging effects and their use in the treatment of acne. However, most retinoids are not stable in formulations and the treatment with retinoids can lead to side effects, such as dry skin, photosensitivity, and redness, limiting the chronic therapeutic application and largely preventing the use in cosmetics. NovoRetin™ is a plant-based active ingredient that can increase endogenous retinoic acid in the skin and thereby induce retinol-like effects without the need to apply retinoids topically on the skin preventing the risk of side effects. NovoRetin™ is based on mastic, a resin from the Pistacia lentiscus trees that grow on the Greek island of Chios. Mastic was the first natural chewing gum in the ancient world and has been consistently used in medicinal applications and skin care formulations for hundreds of years. Despite the water insolubility of mastics, NovoRetin™, which is based on a unique delivery system, can be incorporated into most water-based formulations which allows for the application of mastic in modern cosmetics.
The retinol-like activity of NovoRetin™ is achieved by inhibiting the degradation of retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is the most active metabolite of retinol and is therefore responsible for the effects of retinol on the skin. As retinoic acid plays an important role in the maintenance of the skin, it also occurs naturally in skin cells, where it is degraded by cytochrome P450 family 26 (CYP26) enzymes. By inhibiting CYP26 enzymes, it is possible to increase the levels of endogenous retinoic acid and achieve retinol-like effects. CYP26 inhibitors, such as talarozole, are therefore under pharmaceutical investigation as potential anti-acne drugs. NovoRetin™ serves as a plant based CYP26 inhibitor for cosmetics. As demonstrated in in vitro studies, it significantly decreases the activity and gene expression of CYP26A1, a CYP26 isoform present in the skin. Tested in a 3D epidermis model, NovoRetin™ increased the expression of involucrin, a marker of retinoic acid activity, to a similar extent as the CYP26 inhibitor talarozole. Thus, by preventing the degradation of retinoic acid in the skin, NovoRetin™ leads to beneficial effects similar to the ones known from retinol applications. On the one hand, these are strong anti-aging effects. In a placebo-controlled clinical study on 18 women (aged 42 to 70 years) with signs of skin aging, the treatment with a cream containing 2 % NovoRetin™ twice daily for 28 days led to a significant improvement of facial skin elasticity and skin density on the forearm by 20.4 % and 13.8 %, respectively. An additional benefit of NovoRetin™ and an advantage compared to retinol is its ability to immediately reduce wrinkles and skin roughness after only a single application. By enhancing retinoic acid in the skin, NovoRetin™ also provides beneficial effects for acne-prone skin. Several clinical studies have demonstrated its anti-comedogenic effect and its ability to reduce shininess, pore size, and skin imperfections. Pore refinement is a great benefit not only for impure skin but also for aged skin where pores often appear enlarged. In contrast to classic retinol treatments, NovoRetin does not dry out the skin but even increases skin hydration. Thus, by inhibiting the degradation of retinoic acid in the skin, NovoRetin™ serves as a natural, stable and safe alternative for retinol in cosmetics.