Do Wexler Products protect skin from MMPs?

Darla Dares To Ask: I love shopping in Bath and Body Works, and this year when I go in there has been a lot of hype about their Wexler line of anti-aging skincare line. And they tell me about MMPs and MMPIs and how this is supposed to be a revolutionary skincare line. Is it really worth the hype and is it worth the money to help ease the signs of aging?

The Right Brain Responds:

What are MMPs and Why Are They Bad?

MMP stands for Matrix Metalloproteinases which are naturally produced enzymes that help regulate the skin`s ability to repair itself. MPPi stands for Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitor, in other words, an agent that prevents MMPs from forming.

There are many types of MMPs, and while the function of all of them is not fully understood, it appears that several of them can degrade collagen and elastin which give skin its structure and firmness. Other MMPs play a role in inflammatory skin conditions like acne. These bad MMPs increase as you age and with exposure to environmental stressors. High MMP activity can result in wrinkles, loss of firmness, and dull, uneven skin tone.

Enter Dr. Patricia Wexler. She claims that her Wexler line of products use MMP Inhibitors to help skin`s own regenerating powers to interrupt damage and inflammation that leads to the most common skin concerns. She references studies which shows her products do indeed inhibit MMP production.

Can Cosmetics Really Protect You From MMPs?

According to Dr. Wexler’s website, she has done studies to show that her MMPi technology really works. The data on the website shows that she meastured a reduction in MMP production but there’s no data on how the skin itself was affected. In other words, did she prove her products have a beneficial effect on skin or did she only prove her products react a certain way in laboratory tests? Since she only references the studies and doesn’t actually link to them, it’s impossible to tell exactly what her studies do or don’t prove.

So is there any unbiased, peer review data to suggest what Wexler says is true? Sort of. This article from Pubmed shows research that indicates treatment with isotretinoin (the drug Accutane) can reduce two types of MMPs (MMR9 and 13) and that may be the mechanism by which Accutane works. Of course, Accutane is a prescription drug so you won`t find it in a cosmetic product. And while this study appears to validate that certain MMPs might play a role in acne, it doesn`t prove that MMPi’s can help fight wrinkles. Other than this study, we couldn’t find much to back up Dr. Wexler’s theories. But, we admit there is a lot of research on MMPs and it’s impossible for us to research ALL the studies that have been done.

The Brain’s Bottom Line

Scientists seem to agree that MMPs do play a role in various skin conditions, but we haven’t been able to find any data to show that MMP Inhibitors used in cosmetic products show a consumer perceivable benefit. Until we see some more data, we’re in agreement with The Cosmetic Cop who wrote a nice summary of these cell-communicating ingredients. She concluded that currently, there’s no solid research that shows these peptide-based ingredients perform as indicated by their claims.