What is EGF in skincare?
EGF, also known as Epidermal Growth Factor, is a single polypeptide chain made up of 52 amino acid molecules that signals the human skin cells to regenerate new cells. These growth factors are naturally occurring signaling proteins found in platelets, urine, saliva, milk, tears, blood plasma and have a finite amount in the human body. The amount of growth factors increase exponentially from birth to adulthood and start to decrease when we reach our 20s.
In the world of skincare, most of the EGF found in skincare formulations are sourced via animal-based or plant-based (i.e. from barley and peas). The most frequent EGF that you might have come across are the Sh-Oligopeptide-1 and Insulin-like Growth Factor, also known as Sh-Oligopeptide-2. These oligopeptides are generally composed of three amino acids, which are Glycine, Histidine and Lysine. They are commonly used as skin-conditioning agents to improve skin hydration and to reduce water loss from the surface of the skin.
Benefits of EGF in skincare
Now that you have learned about what EGF is, let’s take a look at the benefits of EGF in skincare. Did you know that Korea is one of the leaders in EGF research in the field of aesthetic and regenerative medicine? You may be surprised to know that the repair mechanism for aging skin is similar to that of wound healing, which makes EGF a promising anti-aging skincare ingredient.
Promote Collagen synthesis and Hyaluronic Acid production
When applied topically, Epidermal Growth Factors stimulate fibroblasts cells to increase Hyaluronic Acid production and promote collagen synthesis. In case you’re wondering, fibroblast cells are a type of cell that is responsible for the formation of connective tissues within the human body. This mechanism results in increased skin elasticity and firmness. It’s time to say goodbye to the fine lines and wrinkles!
Help reduce hyperpigmentation
Aside from the anti-aging benefits, EGF is also a non-invasive and effective solution for melasma. EGF has the ability to inhibit the activity of Tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for regulating melanin production. When used in laser treatments, EGF has shown to improve post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Decrease sebum production
Sebocytes are cells that produce lipid-rich oil to moisturize the skin. EGF suppresses the process of fatty acid synthesis in sebocytes, leading to a decrease in sebum production. This mechanism contributes to an improvement in inflammatory and non-inflammatory facial acne, a potential treatment option for mild to moderate acne.
Helps improve stretch marks
When used in laser treatment, EGF has the ability to restructure stretch marks on the skin by increasing the thickness in the outer layer of the skin and decreasing the breakdown of elastin.
Should you use EGF in your skincare routine?
The decision to use EGF in your skincare routine is solely based on the needs of your skin. If you are starting to notice signs of aging in your skin from dehydration and age related hyperpigmentation, or if you are experiencing post-acne hyperpigmentation or sun damage, EGF can complement your skincare routine by improving your skin texture and elasticity. However, do keep in mind that EGF is a mitogenic ingredient, meaning that it encourages cell growth irregardless of whether the cells are healthy or not. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your dermatologist if you are currently combating skin cancer, have a predisposition to skin cancer or have issues related to inflammatory skin issues such as psoriasis.
Miller-Kobisher, B., Suarez-Vega, D., Velazco de Maldonado, G. Epidermal Growth Factor in Aesthetics and Regenerative Medicine: Systematic Review. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2021 Apr-Jun; 14(2): 137-146. doi: 10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_25_20
Torocsik, D., Fazekas, F., Poliska, S., Gregus, A., Janka, EA., Dull, K., Szegedi, A., Zouboulis, CC., Kovacs, D. Epidermal Growth Factor Modulates Palmitic Acid-Induced Inflammatory and Lipid Signaling Pathways in SZ95 Sebocytes. Front Immunol. 2021; 12:600017. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.600017
Costa, MA., Freire, ES., Vieira Andrade, MC., Silva, MR., Noguiera Castanon, MCM., Barbosa Raposo, NR. Microneedling and Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) as strategies for the acne scars treatment. Surgical & Cosmetic Dermatology, Vol, 13, e20220067, 2022. doi: 10.5935/scd1984-8773.2022140068