Cocoa polyphenols and their influence on parameters involved in ex vivo skin restructuring

P. Gasser*, E. Lati*, L. Peno-Mazzarino*, D. Bouzoud*, L. Allegaert† and H. Bernaert†

 *Laboratoire BIO-EC, 91165 Longjumeau, France and   †Barry Callebaut, Aalstersestraat 122, 9280 Lebbeke, Belgium

Correspondence to Laurent Peno-Mazzarino, Laboratoire BIO-EC, 1, Chemin de Saulxier, 91165 Longjumeau, France. Tél.: +33 169 41 42 21; fax: +33 169 41 61 65; e-mail: [email protected]

Copyright Journal compilation © 2008 Society of Cosmetic Scientists and the Socìété Française de Cosmétologie


cocoa butter • cocoa polyphenols • ex vivo model • human skin explants


Polyphenols in general are compounds that are known to promote health and have a preventive effect against various chronic diseases. The influence of cocoa polyphenols on skin, however, has scarcely been studied from a histological point of view. The aim of this study is to assess the influence of cocoa polyphenols on several indicators of skin elasticity and skin tonus, namely, glycosaminoglycans and collagen I, III and IV. This was carried out by using a model of ex vivo human skin explants maintained in survival, on which a cocoa polyphenol extract was applied. After processing by standard histological techniques (fixation, paraffin embedding, sectioning, staining, immunostaining and microscopical observation), the influence of cocoa polyphenols on the evaluated parameters was quantified by image analysis. The results obtained show that cocoa polyphenols exhibit a positive action on the parameters assessed, and the dose at which they improve the most parameters associated with skin tonus and elasticity was determined. Their activity was compared with a commercially available product, and the results obtained show that their efficacy is equivalent. Moreover, an enhancing effect of cocoa butter on activity of cocoa polyphenol was highlighted. Now that the properties of cocoa polyphenols on ex vivo skin restructuring parameters have been assessed, the next step could include their evaluation in vivo.

Long-Term Ingestion of High Flavanol Cocoa Provides Photoprotection against UV-Induced Erythema and Improves Skin Condition in Women
Ulrike Heinrich*, Karin Neukam{dagger}, Hagen Tronnier*, Helmut Sies{dagger} and Wilhelm Stahl{dagger},

Dietary antioxidants contribute to endogenous photoprotection and are important for the maintenance of skin health. In the present study, 2 groups of women consumed either a high flavanol (326 mg/d) or low flavanol (27 mg/d) cocoa powder dissolved in 100 mL water for 12 wk. Epicatechin (61 mg/d) and catechin (20 mg/d) were the major flavanol monomers in the high flavanol drink, whereas the low flavanol drink contained 6.6 mg epicatechin and 1.6 mg catechin as the daily dose. Photoprotection and indicators of skin condition were assayed before and during the intervention. Following exposure of selected skin areas to 1.25 x minimal erythemal dose (MED) of radiation from a solar simulator, UV-induced erythema was significantly decreased in the high flavanol group, by 15 and 25%, after 6 and 12 wk of treatment, respectively, whereas no change occurred in the low flavanol group. The ingestion of high flavanol cocoa led to increases in blood flow of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues, and to increases in skin density and skin hydration. Skin thickness was elevated from 1.11 ± 0.11 mm at wk 0 to 1.24 ± 0.13 mm at wk 12; transepidermal water loss was diminished from 8.7 ± 3.7 to 6.3 ± 2.2 g/(h · m2) within the same time frame. Neither of these variables was affected in the low flavanol cocoa group. Evaluation of the skin surface showed a significant decrease of skin roughness and scaling in the high flavanol cocoa group compared with those at wk 12. Dietary flavanols from cocoa contribute to endogenous photoprotection, improve dermal blood circulation, and affect cosmetically relevant skin surface and hydration variables.

KEY WORDS: • epicatechin • photoprotection • skin • human • flavonoids • blood flow

Original Research:

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Chocolate Science: Skin