Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) Q&A
Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) Q&A
Like all living things, including plants, the human body manufactures growth factors. Named after their function, growth factors are either proteins or hormones that communicate with our cells, sending them a message to proliferate. Upon reaching adulthood, however, our bodies’ production of these growth factors diminishes each year, affecting our health and appearance.
In 1986, Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini and Dr. Stanley Cohen were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of growth factors. Since then, the field of genetic research into the mechanisms, function and isolation of various growth factors has expanded dramatically, with a particular emphasis on how both harvested and synthesized versions of growth factors can be used in the treatment of diseases, trauma and general health. Notable advances have been made in the study of EGF, or epidermal growth factor. A polypeptide or small protein, EGF has been used to help burn victims grow new skin faster as well as speed wound recovery.
Now, the next wave of scientific research has discovered the cosmetic use of EGF. Used to replenish the body’s diminishing supply of EGF, a natural side effect of aging, application of EGF can stimulate the body’s own skin cells to proliferate, increasing skin turnover, elasticity and radiance while slowing the aging process. In other words, EGF can give the epidermal cell receptors in our bodies the signal to renew themselves faster, resulting in thicker, denser, more hydrated and younger-looking skin.
Q: How is EGF defined by the FDA?
The FDA currently only recognizes three categories in beauty: cosmetics, soaps, and drugs. Skincare products containing EGF fall under the cosmetic category, though they are currently better defined as cosmeceuticals, a term not recognized by the FDA.
Q: What’s a cosmeceutical?
Essentially, cosmeceuticals are skincare products that marry cosmetics with biologically active ingredients known to have a pharmaceutical effect beneficial to humans. Their development is a natural outcome of consumers’ increasing rejection of synthetic chemical formulations in their skincare in favor of organic, organically-based, and natural products.
Q: What are examples of cosmeceuticals? Do I use them already?
You may already use them, if any of your products contain Vitamin C as an antioxidant or retinol for anti-aging. Products that contain amino acids, peptides, vitamins and essential oils all fall under this category.
Q: How does EGF work?
EGF is a protein, or peptide. When it comes into contact with EGF receptors on your cells, imagine puzzle pieces clicking together and creating a reaction: this is a signal transmission, a communication that gives the order to your cells to proliferate, or multiply.
Q: What happens when cells proliferate?
Your skin, your largest organ, is always making new cells. Imagine, you shed a layer of skin cells every time you wash your hands! When EGF gives the signal to your skin cells to proliferate, your cells speed up reproduction, meaning more new skin cells are made faster. This leads to increased hydration, thicker and denser skin, and an improvement in age-related skin changes.
Q: How is EGF applied?
In general, serums containing EGF are applied directly to the skin, usually in very small quantities. As with all skincare products, you should discontinue use if you experience adverse reactions, such as breakouts or irritation, but in general, EGF serums do a remarkable job of moisturizing the skin, boosting its radiance and tone, and decreasing signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. You may also experience a shrinkage in pore size as well as softer, smoother skin.
Q: Can I use EGF with other products?
In general, it is better to let your skin absorb EGF before applying other products. Depending on the efficacy of EGF on your skin, you may not need other products. As a general rule, however, exfoliate 2-3 times a week, and always remember to apply a layer of sunblock before you go outside.