Cosmeceutical Critique

Cellular senescence, skin aging, and cosmeceuticals


Cellular senescence and skin aging

Timely clearance of senescent cells before they create too much damage postpones the onset and severity of age-related diseases and extends the life span of mice.12,6 Antiaging treatments should focus on decreasing the number of senescent cells and reverting senescent cells to the more juvenile forms: proliferating or differentiating cells as an approach to prevent skin aging.13 Restoration of the lysosomal-mitochondrial axis has been shown to revert SASP back to a juvenile status. Normalization of the lysosomal-mitochondrial axis is a prerequisite to reverse senescence.14

Cellular senescence, autophagy, the lysosomal-mitochondrial axis, and cosmeceuticals

Autophagy is the important process of organelles, like mitochondria,15 self-digesting their cytoplasmic material into lysosomes for degradation. Mitochondrial autophagy is very important in slowing the aging process because damaged mitochondria generate free radicals. As you can imagine, much research is focused on this area, but it is too early for any research to translate to efficacious cosmeceuticals.


To summarize, activation of sirtuin-1 (SIRT-1) has been shown to extend the lifespan of mammals, as does caloric restriction.16 This extension occurs because SIRT-1 decreases senescence and activates autophagy.

Although we do not yet know whether topical skincare products could affect senescence or autophagy, there are data to show that oral resveratrol16 and melatonin17 activate SIRT-1 and increase autophagy. I am closely watching this research and will let you know if there are any similar data on topical cosmeceuticals targeting senescence or autophagy. Stay tuned!

Dr. Baumann is a private practice dermatologist, researcher, author, and entrepreneur who practices in Miami. She founded the Cosmetic Dermatology Center at the University of Miami in 1997. Dr. Baumann has written two textbooks and a New York Times Best Sellers book for consumers. Dr. Baumann has received funding for advisory boards and/or clinical research trials from Allergan, Galderma, Revance, Evolus, and Burt’s Bees. She is the CEO of Skin Type Solutions Inc., a company that independently tests skin care products and makes recommendations to physicians on which skin care technologies are best. Write to her at


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12. Baker DJ et al. Nature. 2016 Feb 11:530(7589):184-9.

13. Mavrogonatou E et al. Matrix Biol. 2019 Jan;75-76:27-42.

14. Park JT et al. Ageing Res Rev. 2018 Nov;47:176-82.

15. Levine B and Kroemer G. Cell. 2019 Jan 10;176(1-2):11-42.

16. Morselli E et al. Cell Death Dis. 2010;1(1):e10.

17. Lee JH et al. Oncotarget. 2016 Mar 15;7(11):12075-88.


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