When it comes to getting older, the beauty industry has a lot of thoughts on how to reverse the physical signs of aging. There’s a market filled with products and injectable treatments galore, that all claim to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, not to mention the extensive procedures that often require downtime. But, according to a recent report published in the journal Scientific Reports, the secret to slowing — and maybe even reversing — the aging of the skin may come in the form of an inexpensive chemical that’s been used in the medical field for decades.
Researchers at the University of Maryland believe they’re one step closer to discovering the elusive “fountain of Youth” in an inexpensive — and safe — chemical, an antioxidant known as methylene blue. According to Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, methylene blue is an antioxidant used to treat a variety of health issues, including certain blood disorders. “In lab tests, it was shown to help thicken the skin, making it a potentially new treatment for aging skin and wrinkles,” he says.
In a four-week test, the researchers found evidence that methylene blue could slow — and potentially reverse — visible signs of aging (think: fine lines and wrinkles) when tested in an in-vitro reconstructed 3D human skin model created from skin cells from middle-aged participants. The results showed “improved skin viability, promoted wound healing, and increased skin hydration, and dermis thickness.” Non-science speak: Tighter and more moisturized skin.
“Our work suggests that methylene blue could be a powerful antioxidant for use in skin-care products,” Kan Cao, senior author on the study and an associate professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland said in a statement. “The effects we are seeing are not temporary. Methylene blue appears to make fundamental, long-term changes to skin cells.”
But before you start stocking your Amazon carts with bottles of methylene blue, Zeichner cautions that more research needs to be done on the antioxidant, in order to learn more about its capability in reversing physical signs of aging. “While early effectiveness of any new active ingredient is exciting, we need to see how well it works on the skin of real people and evaluate whether it is superior to other antioxidants we are already using, such as vitamin C,” he tells Allure. So, in the meantime, keep on slathering on your daily skin-care routine — including these vitamin C-infused picks — one cream at a time.