Autophagy & Skin: How to hack your cellular processes for a more youthful complexion

Autophagy & Skin: How to hack your cellular processes for a more youthful complexion

What is Autophagy?

Autophagy is the body’s way of removing dead or damaged cells, in order to regenerate healthier, newer cells. ‘Auto’ means self and ‘phage’ means eat, so autophagy literally means ‘self-eating’. It’s like pressing a reset button for your body and skin, the autophagy process recycles parts of dysfunctional cells for cellular repair and removes the rest. Alongside this autophagy promotes cellular survival and adaptation as a response to various stressors and toxins accumulated in our cells. Dr Yoshinori Oshumi received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his work on autophagy and related genes.

How does it benefit the skin?

Maintaining autophagy flux delays the appearance of ageing and reduces the visible signs of ageing. Autophagy detoxifies the skin by turning waste proteins that speed up the ageing process into amino acids, to create firmer, plumper, healthier looking skin.
Cell function declines 1% every year with age up until perimenopause, the epidermal cycle slows down, and in turn the efficiency of the autophagy process is reduced. Speeding up this process increases cell turnover and shortens the epidermal cycle, resulting in younger, fresher looking skin. Boosting the autophagy process reduces fine lines and wrinkles due to the increase of amino acids, creating a smoother complexion.

Speeding Up Autophagy with Skincare?

Good news! The autophagy process doesn’t have to reduce with age, there are things you can do to speed it up! Polyphenols, are a category of chemicals that naturally occur in plants, can be added into skincare products to promote autophagy in the skin. There are over 500 unique polyphenols, collectively these chemicals are known as phytochemicals, these powerful antioxidants protect cells from neuronal damage by inducing autophagy to remove the free radicals. Vitamin A (retinol), vitamin c, vitamin e, ascorbic acid, caesalpinia spinosa (Tara seed extract) and citrus bergamot are all polyphenols and can be used to boost the autophagy process in the skin. Here are some of the Your Signature Range products that include polyphenols:
R+: 1% Liposomal Retinol Serum
1% Liposomal Retinol
A powerful and highly effective serum containing one per cent liposomal retinol, a stabilised vitamin A derivative which has been clinically proven to increase cell turnover. R+ will reduce pore size, resulting in firmer younger looking skin as well as reduce, visible signs of ageing including pigmentation and uneven skin tone.
C-10: Professional Strength Vitamin C Serum
10% L-ascorbic Acid
Our advanced signature C-10 serum uses scientific and evidence-based formulas, offering daily antioxidant protection. C-10 contains stabilized L-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C which is easily and quickly absorbed by the skin for greater potency.
C20: Maximum Strength Vitamin C Serum
20% L-ascorbic Acid, 0.5% Ferulic acid, 1% Vitamin E and 0.5% Vitamin C
Clinically proven L-ascorbic acid at its peak concentration of antioxidant activity which is quickly absorbed to remove free radicals to prevent skin damage, helping to brighten skin and maintain a youthful appearance. The formulation is supported with ferulic acid to create this light effective day serum.
Refine: Intensive Eye Serum
1% Lactic Acid, 7% Refined Silica, 4% Vitamin E, 1% Vitamin C
Refine is an intensive eye serum which actively works to rejuvenate and repair the signs of ageing. Containing a unique blend of ingredients including vitamin E to hydrate, almond oil to repair and protect against the signs of ageing and lactic acid which has gentle resurfacing properties to diminish the appearance of crow’s feet and visibly improve clarity and tone.
H2∞: Endurance Moisturiser
3% Tara seed extract, 1% Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, 1% Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7
This luxury silky moisturiser contains clinically proven ingredients to keep your skin optimally hydrated and in peak condition. H2∞ contains tripeptide-1 and tetrapeptide-7, biomimetic peptides to help stimulate growth factors and collagen synthesis, to protect and help restore the skin's natural moisture barrier and reduce inflammation. Natural Tara seed extract works deep within the skin to boost moisture levels and help prevent future dehydration. It’s also high in vitamin C and B.

Other Methods to Stimulate Autophagy?

Intermittent fasting: Research suggests that fasting for 16 hours deprives cells of nutrients enough to trigger the autophagy response. During fasting, glucagon levels rise, and insulin levels fall, which is a signal for the body to begin autophagy. After fasting it is a good idea to consume autophagy enhancing foods such as polyphenols and fatty acids, not carbohydrates.
Fats: Natural fats are the bodies preferred source of energy, so it is no surprise that natural fats such as avocados, omega oil and nuts stimulate autophagy. Consuming oral ceramide supplements can help to stimulate cell renewal and hydrate skin from within.
Exercise: Dr Beth Levine at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre showed that exercise stimulated autophagy in muscle cells, there have been several other studies conducted which support Dr Levine’s findings.
Sleep: Our circadian rhythm which controls sleep is linked to autophagy, if we sleep for over 1 and a half sleep cycles the autophagy response will begin.
For more information on the products listed above please contact


Front Immunol. 2018; 9: 1376

Posted: Wednesday 27 September 2023