It is a truth universally acknowledged that, while far from being the worst effect of aging, the decline in skin quality that results from it is most undesirable. Apart from aloe vera, which I discussed in another post, French maritime pine bark extract is yet another remedy that can at least reduce the skin aging caused by too much UV light.
French maritime pine bark is high in bioflavonoids, especially the oligometric procyanidins (OPCs). These are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and so target two main drivers of aging, and are also found in a wide range of foods such as chocolate. In one study, 112 women with age spots and other symptoms of skin aging such as wrinkles, roughness and uneven pigmentation were given either a 100mg supplement of pine bark extract for 12 weeks, or one of 40mg for 24 weeks. Objectively, there was a significant decrease in the pigmentation of age spots over the course of 12 weeks in the high dose group, and also the 24 weeks in the low dose group. Additionally, corneocyte size significantly decreased, which suggests an ability to repair existing skin damage, since these are "supposed" to increase in size with aging. In the photographs included, you can see that skin firmness visibly improved and wrinkles were beginning to fade. Once again, this was achieved by taking something internally, which still had noticeable effects on skin despite being transported to other areas of the body. So, particularly if you were otherwise very healthy on the inside, maybe a cream would have an even greater effect using less extract? Pine bark extract can prevent skin aging too, especially that caused by UV radiation, as it has been found to protect against sunburn when taken as an oral supplement. Sunburn involves a lot of oxidative stress and inflammation.
In other research, 20 post-menopausal women were given pine bark extract for 12 weeks in order to compare both their outward appearance and expression of certain molecular markers. Especially in women with dry skin conditions, hydration and elasticity significantly improved after the 12 weeks. There were increases in the enzyme hyaluronic acid synthase-1, which helps to produce hyaluronic acid, as well as upregulation of the expression of some genes involved in collagen synthesis. So you can have your cake and eat it too - have youthful beauty, but no inconveniences of menstruation or threat of pregnancy if those looks lead to meeting someone! Another study, this time on 62 women taking a supplement that included maritime pine bark as part of the formulation, found an improvement in skin elasticity by 9% after 6 weeks, and an improvement in elasticity by 6% after 12 weeks, when compared to placebo.
Maritime pine bark extract has also been found to be effective in treating venous insufficiency and retinal microhaemorrhages, which may also be a mechanism behind its antiaging effects as oxygen and nutrient delivery is preserved. So how does it do all of these things? Pine bark extract acts as an antioxidant by increasing production of your cells' own antioxidant enzymes, and by regenerating vitamins C and E, as well as its own direct effects. This is why it has even been found to improve lung function in asthmatics, modulate the immune system and reduce premenstrual symptoms. Overall maritime pine bark extract could be another alternative to toxic Botox injections, as these have beneficial side effects and target the causes of aging as opposed to just masking the symptoms.