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From Botox to Beetox: Bee venom in anti-aging products

Bee products have been used in medicine for centuries due to their therapeutic properties resulting from a wide range of biological activities. Recently, bee products gained a new application as important components of cosmetic products. However, seeing any kind of venom as the ingredient of your serum or face mask might not be so assuring. However, not only has the bee venom shown promising potential for anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects, but it has also been recognized for its anti-aging properties. The desire to keep a young look and improve wrinkles caused by skin aging has resulted in an increased number of anti-wrinkle products with innovative ingredients. Bee venom has been recently incorporated into anti-aging face masks, with a formulation aimed at stimulating collagen and elastin production for a skin tightening effect (1).

Image source: Pinterest (7)

Bee venom or apitoxin is a yellow powder which is typically extracted through electric stunning and collected using a bee venom collector (2). Important components of bee venom which account for its therapeutic effects include peptides, lipids, carbohydrates and free amino acids. Melittin is the most notable peptide which is associated with the characteristic pain caused by bee stings (3). It stimulates blood circulation, cell regeneration, and elastin and collagen production. These are important effects to observe in an anti-aging product, as wrinkles are formed due to collagen alterations and decrease in skin elasticity. Furthermore, some biologically active amines of bee venom include histamine, dopamine and hyaluronidase (4). Hyaluronidase plays an important role in skin aging as it addresses the issue of decreased skin penetrability. By activating the synthesis of new molecules of hylauronic acid, hyaluronidase contributes to increased skin penetreability and active ingredient delivery across the skin barrier (5).

A recent study conducted in South Korea demonstrated the potential of bee venom as an anti-wrinkle agent. The collected venom was first diluted in cold water, purified and refrigerated at 4°C (6). The study was performed on 22 women between 30 and 49 years of age, which all satisfied the outlined wrinkle criteria. All participants have been instructed to apply the 0.0006% bee venom serum twice a day in fixed volume of 4 mL over the course of 12 weeks. Visual assessments and image analysis of replicas were performed by dermatologists at weeks 0, 4, 8, and 12. The results showed decrease in total wrinkle area, total wrinkle count and average wrinkle depth (6). All participants demonstrated their satisfaction in self-assessment questionnaires, with statistical analysis displaying statistical significance of bee venom serum efficacy at week 12. In this study, Han et al. demonstrated that photodamaged skin can be treated with bee venom as it inhibits the photoaging process (6).

Figure 1. Representative images and replicas showing wrinkle improvement after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of using bee-venom serum (6)

Even though continuous usage over a prolonged time period is necessary to yield visible effects, the benefits it brings as a natural alternative to common anti-aging options are noteworthy. Whereas bee venom might not become the new Botox, its composition and anti-aging properties show a promising potential in treating photodamaged skin.

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2. Kurek‐Górecka, A., Górecki, M., Rzepecka‐Stojko, A., Balwierz, R. & Stojko, J. Bee products in dermatology and skin care. Molecules 25, (2020).

3. Date Accessed: 20 December 2020.

4. Kim, H., Park, S. Y. & Lee, G. Potential therapeutic applications of bee venom on skin disease and its mechanisms: A literature review. Toxins 11, (2019).

6. Han, S. M. et al. The beneficial effects of honeybee-venom serum on facial wrinkles in humans. Clinical Interventions in Aging 10, 1587–1592 (2015).

7. Date Accessed: 1 March 2021.


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