Known as Heliocare Luminance, the new launch was specially developed by Cantabria Labs for its distributing partner NeoAsia. The product is exclusively distributed in Singapore currently, with plans to enter Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and China.
Formulated with Fernblock, a patented extract of Polypodium Leucotomos that is featured in all Heliocare’s oral supplements, the new launch also contains L-glutathione, nicotinamide or vitamin B3, and rosemary extract.
Prior to the launch, Heliocare has two other products available in the Asian market for protection against hyperpigmentation.
They are Heliocare Purewhite Radiance launched in 2012 and Heliocare Purewhite Radiance Max that comes with a higher dose of Fernblock in 2015.
The brand launched its first oral sunblock supplement in Singapore in 2005.
The latest release is designed to combat hyperpigmentation through multiple pathways, Glynise Peh, chief operating officer at NeoAsia, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
“With this new version, there's additional ingredients that are more potent, such as L-glutathione, which is the active version of glutathione and is known to be a strong antioxidant that works in the anti-pigmentation pathway.
“We also have a complementary, synergistic range of rosemary extract plus nicotinamide. Together, they target not just hyper-pigmentation, but also the skin barrier function, skin health, and the prevention of photo-ageing,” she said.
The ability to target multiple pathways of melanogenesis also differentiates the product from other products currently sold in the market, she said.
“A lot of products out there only work based on a single pathway, which is why many were not able to achieve the results that they want.
“For us, we target every step of the pathway of melanogenesis, and I don't think there’s anyone who has looked so deeply into each pathway of this area,” she said.
The science behind
At the launch event held on October 5 in Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, dermatologist Dr Patricia Yuen, who runs her own private practice, further explained the function of each ingredient.
“The ingredients work in synergy. They work in the melanogenesis pathway and in the skin ageing pathway.
“They help to reduce the stimulation of melanogenesis, and it also inhibits the degradation of collagen and elastin. All in all, patients will achieve a smoother, brighter, clearer, less pigmented, and more hydrated healthier skin,” she said.
Fernblock, for example, is an antioxidant that could prevent the skin against premature ageing and excessive collagen degradation.
Citing several clinical findings, she said that the ingredient has been showed to decrease erythema and pigment intensity.
One of the clinical trials cited was a study conducted in National Skin Centre, Singapore.
Published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial assessed the effects of Polypodium leucotomos in the treatment of melasma over 12 weeks.
Involving 40 adults diagnosed with melasma, the trial required all to take a topical four per cent hydroquinone cream and sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50+. They were also randomised to take either oral Polypodium leucotomos supplementation or the placebo.
Findings showed that there the Melasma Area and Severity Index of the intervention group was significantly lower than that of the placebo group at week eight and 12 of the study.
“The results showed that patients who have been put on Fernblock have an accelerated response to having decreased melasma.
“Hence the researchers came to the conclusion that Fernblock is an adjuvant therapy to traditional treatment of melasma,” she said.
L-glutathione, on the other hand, is also an antioxidant that could inhibit tyrosinase step in the pathogenesis of pigmentation. This means it could work at the enzymatic level and reduce the production of dark pigments in the skin.
Nicotinamide works in a different way, as it prevents the transfer of melanosomes, which are the dark pigments, from the bottom of the skin to the top of the skin, which is the keratinocytes, in turn, preventing increased pigmentation.
“It also strengthens the skin's protective barrier. It reduces trans-epidermal water loss and improves moisture retention of the skin.
“By improving skin barrier, you will prevent the penetration of other environmental pollutants, which might add to melanogenesis,” she explained.
Lastly, rosemary extract also exhibits antioxidant properties with its polyphenol content and is also an anti-inflammatory agent.
Hyperpigmentation a common concern
Hyperpigmentation is the most common problem reported by Asian women, said Peh.
“We realised that in Asia's market, the most common problem faced is hyperpigmentation from all forms. It can be from external aggressors such as light, pollution and even devices that emit blue light.”
She added that there were plans to conduct a clinical trial that looks at the effects of Heliocare Luminance with the National Skin Centre in Singapore.
Prior to that, the company has conducted a 12-week study of the product on Asian skin, specifically on Korean women.
Findings showed that there was a significant reduction in pigment intensity and improvement in wrinkles and skin firmness.
Medical channels distribution
Heliocare Luminance is targeted at medical channel distribution, including dermatologist clinics, aesthetics clinics, and plastic surgery clinics at a price of SGD$150 (US$110) per box of 60 capsules.
“We want to keep the product exclusive for doctors’ recommendation, as we want to align the clinical interest of the product to be more medical, safety, technology, patented, and to assure consumers that it has high level of credibility,” said Peh.
The new launch is also intended to combat against counterfeit goods, as well as the issue of divergence.
Peh noted that after Heliocare took off in the APAC region, the company began seeing the problem of divergence, which in turns affected price control.
“We started having the problem of divergence, which means that people are supplying out of their supposed area of interest. For example, if I am only supplying to SG, Malaysia, I should not be supplying to anywhere else. There are no price controls because of this problem.”
Imitated goods sold at a much cheaper price also started appearing in the market following the brand’s success.
Although the inner contents are different, the external packaging of the imitated goods looked identical to the authentic product.
“The difference is not something that you can distinguish based on packaging alone and this problem amplified especially after COVID-19, when the e-commerce sector boomed.”
This led NeoAsia in requesting Cantabria Labs to develop an exclusive formula for its latest launch.