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Sep 29, 2016
by Vivant Skin Care
Soy. You know it from its starring roles in Tofurky and fishless tuna. It's a major player in the nutritional arena and, in the last few years, has stepped up to the A-list in cosmetics where it has earned solid reputation for its hydrating and anti-oxidant benefits. Soy has a lot going for it. But when it comes to melasma, soy’s role may be more villain than hero. Here we examine the question: is soy a wolf in tofu’s clothing?
Soy and its derivatives are loaded with isoflavones. Rich in amino acids, these flavonoids aid in wound healing and stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis. They have also been known to inhibit trypsin, one of the enzymes responsible for melanin synthesis, which could help brighten skin in cases of hyperpigmentation.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, if you have melasma, these same isoflavones could have the opposite effect.
That’s because unlike hyperpigmentation, which is usually the result of UV exposure or a response to inflammation, injury or irritation, melasma is generally hormone-related and the isoflavones in soy are phytoestrogens, plant compounds the have an estrogenic effect.
Estrogen is capable of accelerating the synthesis of melanin in the skin by enhancing the activity of tyrosinase leading to a darkening of pigmentation. The effects of estrogen levels on skin are most evident during pregnancy when women’s hormones surge. Melasma is often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy” because so many women experience it for the first time during their term. Studies have even shown that estrogen can influence the color of feathers in birds.
Soy already has the highest concentration of phytoestrogen isoflavones of any plant, but when used in skin care and cosmetic products, the isoflavones are isolated and concentrated, making them even more potent. In fact, soy isoflavone products are used to aid in estrogen replacement for menopausal women.
What to avoid when melasma is a consideration:
Tocopherol (TCP) is vitamin E that is extracted from sunflower, palm, or soybean. Labels usually don’t say which, but it’s often soybean oil because it’s cheap and plentiful. TCP is found in many foods and cosmetics. It may appear on the label as tocopherol acetate, tocopheryl linoleate or tocopheryl nicotinate.
Soy derivatives genistein or daidzein, found in moisturizers and anti-aging compounds.
Glycine soja (a soybean seed extract), laurdimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein are other identifiers you may see.
While there is disagreement on this topic, it is worth exploring if you are prone to melasma. Try eliminating products and foods with the isoflavone component and see if you see a difference.
To accelerate cell renewal, generate collagen and elastin growth and promote a more even skin tone without any estrogenic concerns, try Vivant’s Exfol-A™. It’s a potent vitamin A concentrate blended with glycolic acid, lactic acid, niacinamide and the natural skin lightener kojic acid.
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