The university collaborated with Kose Corporation’s research laboratories in order to better understand the molecular profile of the lip area.
The study highlighted it was especially important to study the lip in closer detail as it was one of the ‘major targets of cosmetics.’
“It’s important to under the molecular profile specific to human lips to discover the intrinsic ingredients for lip cosmetics.”
To gain a better understanding, the team aimed to map out the human lip using imaging mass spectrometry to gather insight into its lipid distribution.
The team obtained human lip tissue samples and subjected them to desorption electrospray ionisation-imaging mass spectrometry (DESI-IMS) analysis in negative ion mode.
As a result, the researchers observed that there was a remarkably higher accumulation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the vermillion border, the demarcation between the lip and the adjacent facial skin, compared to the rest of the lip.
Additionally, it also found that within the vermillion border, the concentration of DHA was highest at the surface area, known as the epithelium vermillion (EV).
The results also noted a variation in the distribution of palmitoleic, linoleic, oleic and arachidonic acid.
The key to healthy lips?
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid, which is known to maintain heart health, support brain function and infant development.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties and accelerate wound healing. However, it is unclear what role it plays in the lip.
“DHA is an important omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in the human body and is well-known for its multiple beneficiary effects. Although the role of the DHA in lip health has not been studied well, it is clear that omega-3 PUFAs, including DHA, contributes to the structural integrity of the skin,” said the scientists.
It is not clear why the DHA is distributed around the lip in this particular fashion but have hypothesised that it has something to do with the distribution of blood vessels just under the epithelium.
Professor Mitsutoshi Setou of the department of Cellular & Molecular Anatomy said that lip and facial skin differs in various ways, especially in lipid content.
He stressed to CosmeticsDesign-Asia that understanding the exact makeup of the body was crucial to ensuring the biocompatibility of cosmetics.
Professor Setou said that DHA may have antioxidant and anti-ageing benefits as a lip care ingredient and he believed that this discovery could lead to the development of ‘superior’ lip products in the future.
“To this end, DHA could be an intrinsic and efficient ingredient of lip care products with minimal side effects.”