Everyone wants a fresh look. In order for our skin to feel good, we need a strong immune system – and this is exactly what research wants to support with new active ingredients.

Do sports, meditate, eat healthily, keep up to speed: An increasing number of young people are consciously taking care of their health. “Healthy is the new sexy” is the new message, and that also applies to the skin. Fashions like deep tan or artificial paleness with shadowed eyes  “the gothic style” of the late 90s are no longer popular, as they suggest a destructive lifestyle. Today being beautiful has a lot to do with a certain attitude and having a healthy, natural appearance. A rosy, fresh and healthy glow. Therefore, the aim is to appear fresh and vital at first glance, with skin that looks great even in its no-make-up look. The trend to avoid using filters is no longer a trend but the younger generation is tired hiding behind a veil. After all, it is our most representative organ and shows what we are doing for ourselves. This attitude may still be relatively new in Germany, but in many Asian countries it is matters and at the core. For example, tt is deeply anchored in Japanese culture. In Japan, women don’t simply apply a lotion. She would always apply a massage, a acupressure points massage so that the facial skin relaxes and she does something for her overall well-being. So it’s no wonder that cosmetic companies have been researching the skin’s immune system for years in order to come up with new care approaches.

While women associate it with smooth, rosy peach skin, dermatologists and scientists are stricter in their assessment. They pay attention to wrinkles, pigmentation, fatigue, blood circulation, firmness, pores and irritations. Healthy skin can ward off environmental stimuli better. Healthy skin can stay calm longer when she is exposed to stress such as air pollution, drought, allergens, UV radiation or emotional stress. The prerequisite for this serenity, in turn, is a strong immune system.

As a so-called border organ, the skin is the outer barrier of our immune system. This is where the first contact with viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and environmental stimuli takes place. To protect itself, it has an innate immune system and an acquired one, which is constantly learning from new germs. Basically, the skin has several defence strategies: mechanical (extremely impermeable, nested horny cells), microbiological (good bacteria and fungi in the skin flora that inhibit dangerous germs) and chemical (the protective acid layer, which has an ideal pH value of 5.5 Foreign substances weakens). In addition to these three functions, the fourth, immunological protection, takes effect, especially when the pathogens have already penetrated the skin. Then different special cells, for example helper, memory and killer cells, have to work together optimally to protect the immune system.

The chiefs of the defence force in the skin are the Langerhans cells, whose tasks also include telling other immune cells how they should behave in an emergency. In the smog-endangered big cities of the world in particular, these small operational leaders keep all their little arms very busy to fend off not only germs but also fine dust and exhaust gases. Diesel particles, for example, can have such an irritating effect on the skin that they cause tiny cell damage. If the cell is even destroyed, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is released. If this molecule was still providing vital energy in the cell, it acts like a smoldering fire outside and activates the immune system. Because ATP outside the cell is a so-called “Danger Signal”, a hazard message to which the Langerhans cells react, among others, which have several options: They sound the alarm and fight the intruder with inflammation – or they defuse the ATP. The Langerhans cell has this ability thanks to special enzymes (CD39 and CD73) on its surface, which act like fire extinguishers and are able to convert the dangerous ATP into calming ADP (adenosine diphosphate). This means that the skin can tolerate foreign substances and does not always have to react with inflammation. “In this way the body keeps its integrity in balance,” says Prof. Bernhard Homey, director of the Dermatology Clinic at the University of Düsseldorf.

Unfortunately, their immune protection slows down over time: “In old age, the skin is more easily irritated,” explains Professor Bernhard Homey from the Düsseldorf University Clinic. “The skin barrier is damaged more often, the skin opens up and becomes thinner, so that more foreign substances such as fine dust can penetrate. At the same time, the soothing enzymes also decrease, so that the fire extinguisher function is weakened it leads to a subliminal chronic inflammation that damages the organ in the long term.”