If you’ve ever thought your skin has looked particularly radiant fresh off a workout, that’s not a coincidence.
The skin-like every organ in the body – requires a constant supply of nutrients, oxygen, and immune cells. When our blood flow increases, it’s getting all those things in abundance, which enable our skin to function at its peak – if only for a short while.
In Asia, blood flow has long been viewed as an integral component of beauty and health. Recently, a number of brands have been exploring the science behind that notion with the aim of forever altering the landscape of skincare. You may already have heard of products promising to “boost circulation.” Do they actually do anything? The short answer: It’s too early to tell. But this does appear to be more than a fad.
Researchers at Kao, the Japanese parent company of Jergens and Curél, found that better capillary (the tiny blood vessels closest to the skin’s surface) blood flow was tied to various markers of skin health, including higher cell turnover and smoother texture.
To encourage this through skincare, they created a carbon dioxide solution. Older studies revealed the application of carbon dioxide boosted circulation by dilating blood vessels, apparently triggering the body’s natural reaction to deliver more oxygen to its tissues. Their new solution reportedly increased capillary blood flow in two minutes.
Another group of scientists are testing the hypothesis that it’s not just blood flow that impacts skin health, but also how it’s transported to the skin. Over the last two decades, they’ve conducted more than a dozen studies, establishing a critical link between the skin’s vast network of tiny vessels and its health.
Recently, they’ve focused their attention on a molecule called APJ that can make capillaries thicker and stronger. The molecule acts like a sensor within the capillaries that reads and reacts to the elasticity of its surroundings. Learning how to manipulate APJ could be game-changing. As one of the researchers involved said, “when capillaries become stronger, water, oxygen, and nutrients flow around the capillaries – and the condition of the skin improves.”
But it’s hard to envision a topical skincare product that penetrates so deeply it reaches its target in the dermis. For now, at least.
While more research on these fronts is necessary, this much we do know: Our blood vessels become more sluggish as we age. So the more we can do to boost our circulation, whether through exercise or massage, the better we’re able to feed highly oxygenated blood to our skin and counteract nature’s course.