July 11, 2019
2 min read

Nature-based skin care may improve barrier function, decrease sensitivity

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Hemali Gunt, PhD
Hemali Gunt

Regular use of a nature-based skin care regimen achieved statistically significant improvements in skin barrier function, hydration and sensitivity vs. a group using traditional, synthetic skin care, according to research from Burt’s Bees presented at the World Congress of Dermatology in Milan.

“This work shows the important role that nature-based skin care products may play in improving barrier and decreasing skin sensitivity in highly polluted environments,” Hemali Gunt, PhD, head of clinical affairs at Burt’s Bees, said in an interview.

The randomized, double-blind, clinical study compared the efficacy of a nature-based skin care regimen in improving overall skin health assessed by skin reactivity to lactic acid, skin barrier function and oxidative stress, in 60 Asian women living in a highly polluted environment.

Forty women were assigned to a natural regimen of a nature-based facial cleanser (containing natural oils, beeswax and witch hazel) and day and night creams (containing natural oils, glycerin and botanical anti-inflammatories) for twice-daily use.

Twenty women participated in the control group and continued the use of current synthetic skin care products for twice-daily use.

At baseline, week 2 and week 4, researchers assessed skin barrier function determined by a change in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin hydration assessed with a corneometer and skin elasticity using an elastimeter.

“The hydration of the skin improved significantly anywhere from 10% to about 22%, and we didn’t see that change happen on the synthetic regimen side,” Gunt said.

To assess skin barrier function, the researchers measured the amount of water that evacuated from the skin, she said. “In the nature-based group, barrier function improved by 10% where the synthetic group did not have any significant changes in barrier function improvements.”

Patients who were switched to the nature-based group had a decrease in sensitive skin irritation of 20%.

“By improving hydration and improving skin barrier function you won’t experience negative sensory symptoms common with sensitive skin. Because the skin barrier is stronger, it’s not causing oxidative damage,” Gunt said.

She said she was also pleased with the lactic acid response in the nature-based regimen group. “To really hear from consumers and see the data where the lactic acid response is decreasing, to me that’s huge. You don’t see a lot of that happening. I am excited by that piece of data.”

The company is currently exploring biomarkers within the skin and how they affect inflammatory components.

Gunt said she believes that the gaps in understanding natural skin care are closing.

“We have shown that natural ingredients can be safe and just as effective as the products dermatologists have been recommending for decades,” she said. “We are pioneering the efficacy of the science behind natural skin care and strive to equip dermatologists with the right tools to share with their patients and in their communities to talk about natural ingredients more confidently.” – by Abigail Sutton



Gunt HB, et al. Nature-based skin care regimen improves skin barrier function and reduces oxidative damage in sensitive skin population exposed to high pollution. Presented at: 24th World Congress of Dermatology; June 10-15, 2019; Milan.


Disclosure: Gunt is employed by Burt’s Bees.