Meet the AI-Discovered Skin-Care Ingredient, Fibroquin
It's not every day that beauty editors get to report on new active ingredients in skin care. Most of the buzz revolves around new formulations of dermatology's tried-and-true staples with the largest bodies of existing research, with formulas featuring brightening vitamin C, exfoliating glycolic acid, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and cell-turnover-boosting retinol tending to steal the spotlight. Who would even know where to begin finding the next "notable contender" in the antiaging skin-care space?
In the case of the latest ingredient, Fibroquin, it turns out that the answer is downright robotic (wink, wink). Evan Zhao, PhD and cofounder of Revela, explains that pharmaceutical discovery works by searching through millions of already-created molecules stored in warehouses, waiting to be ordered by chemists. Typically, each and every molecule has to be searched and tested manually. But the team at Revela decided to search more efficiently by using artificial intelligence "to find something that could specifically improve fibroblast health and collagen production in the skin," says David Zhang, PhD and Revela's other cofounder.
To help describe what the search entailed, Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu, cosmetic chemists and founders-in-residence at Chemist Confessions, liken the process to Cher's iconic closet scene from "Clueless" — just, instead of different garments, picture molecular configurations.
"Before AI, you would have to manually test every single possible ingredient in the lab," Zhao says. "Keeping with the 'Clueless' analogy, this would be like having to try out millions if not billions of different outfits." Using AI, it took about eight months total to narrow down the pool of millions (one of which was Fibroquin), order it, test it in vitro, and then formulate the Revela Fibroquin Essence ($138).
Learn more about the AI-discovered ingredient Fibroquin, the latest elasticity powerhouse to enter the skin-care market, below.
What Is Fibroquin?
Fibroquin is the newest pro-collagen active ingredient to enter the market; it has been shown to lift and tone the skin via firmness and fullness. As Lu explains, the skin loses its stores of collagen beginning around the age of 25, and the subsequent loss of skin elasticity can result in thinner, saggier skin. The team at Revela wanted to find an ingredient to help bring back the "bouncy" skin quality that babies have a surplus of.
"We knew that fibroblasts are deeply involved in collagen production and that collagen is directly related to plumper, bouncier skin," Zhang says. "So fibroblasts were the main focus of our research." After ensuring that the active was effective, nontoxic, and nonsensitizing, they got to work testing the formula they created to prove the validity of their new discovery.
"In the clinical [trial], Fibroquin was found to improve skin elasticity [via] a more plump, toned, and lifted look," Lu says. Every participant's skin elasticity was measured to establish a baseline, and then again after eight weeks to determine clinical improvements. "The instrument used to measure skin 'bounce-back' is called the cutometer," Fu says. "It's essentially a fancy suction cup that pulls skin up and measures how fast it returns to its normal state."
In order to establish efficacy compared with the industry's current gold standard, retinol, the team's trial compared two groups of participants: those using 0.5 percent retinol and those using Fibroquin. After eight weeks of consistent use, the participants' skin elasticity was measured in both groups. Fu says the participants using only the retinol showed an average improvement in skin elasticity of 10 percent. By comparison, most study participants using Fibroquin twice daily "showed an improvement in elasticity by an average of 21 percent."
How Does Fibroquin Work?
Put in the most concise terms, Fibroquin works by promoting the health of the skin cells' fibroblasts in order to help maintain levels of collagen production in the skin. "In the in vitro studies, the molecules were tested on fibroblasts, and we were looking for improved fibroblast proliferation," Lu says.
As New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, explains, the skin cell's fibroblasts are what create its structural proteins, collagen and elastin. "Collagen gives the skin its structure, while elastin is what allows it to stretch," she says. She adds that as the skin ages, collagen breakdown increases, while the synthesis of collagen and elastin decrease. "As you produce less and less of these proteins, the skin loses its bounce and elasticity [as it] thins and laxity increases."
Board-certified dermatologist Anar Mikailov, MD, founder of Skintensive, points out that yet another cause of aging skin's "loss of elasticity is due to a decrease in the number of fibroblasts and a decrease in their production capacity." Thus, fibroblast proliferation is an essential key to maintaining skin elasticity, helping to maintain the levels of collagen and elastin in the skin. In fact, this is the same intended function of antiaging actives like retinoids, growth factors, and antiaging peptides.
How to Use Fibroquin in Your Skin-Care Routine
One to two pumps of Fibroquin works best used twice per day, with clinical results evident around eight weeks. The formula is lightweight and absorbs without a greasy finish, sitting pretty after your toner and layered with your serums, under your moisturizer and makeup. If you are worried about how it will fit into your current regimen, rest assured that it is sensitive-skin-friendly and plays well with other actives.
"Fibroquin can be layered with any actives that are already in your regimen," Lu says. "It's stable at low pHs, so you can layer it with your vitamin C and AHAs with no issues. We also tested it with a lower-dose, 0.3 percent retinol and found that it did not exacerbate any sort of irritation from the retinol product." Basically, if you are a diehard retinol fan, this is not an "either/or" situation; you can absolutely use both. You can also rest assured, before hitting "add to cart," that this is a cruelty-free product.