Rhamnose: What Can This Sugar Do For Your Skin?

A naturally occurring sugar, rhamnose can be isolated from plants including Buckthorn and poison sumac. It is now being promoted as an anti-wrinkle agent. Can rhamnose benefit your skin?

Rhamnose has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and skin soothing properties. One skin care manufacturer’s clinical trials demonstrated that it targeted the papillary dermis, a fragile layer of cells found directly underneath the dermo-epidermal junction. This, say the makers, makes it the first anti-ageing cream to pinpoint the collagen-making cells which are vital to youthful skin, giving it plumpness and texture.

Rhamnose’s natural affinity for the papillary dermis encourages fibroblasts to be more active. The company’s scientists believe that good results should be visible within two weeks of application, but that it could take up to a month for real benefits become clear.  The claim is that rhamnose has been clinically proven to improve skin rejuvenation at the source; improving collagen production, elastin production and cellular turnover. The benefits? Expect firmer, smoother, more radiant skin.

Is there any truth to these claims? According to a published study, testing on cell cultures show that those treated with rhamnose produced fewer aging byproducts (known as Advanced Glycation Endproducts or AGEs). This suggests that rhamnose could be an effective anti-aging agent. However, it would be nice to see studies on real people.

In clinical testing, when rubbed into the skin once daily for eight weeks, the manufacturer says the results confirmed what they found in the lab. It tricked aging skin cells into pumping out levels of collagen normally found in younger women, plumping up the skin and reducing the depth of wrinkles. Whether the effects were statistically significant (did they make any real difference?) is still unclear. But, there does seem to be some scientific basis behind the marketing claims.

There are many available skin care actives with far more clinical evidence to back up their claims than rhamnose. Is this enough evidence for you?