Retinol, Botox too strong? Try this anti-ageing ingredient instead, say doctors – why epidermal growth factors, or EGFs, might be right for those with sensitive skin

retinol, melanin, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, collagen

Anti-ageing ingredients are some of the most important components people look for in their skincare products.

If you’re looking to add anti-ageing elements to your skincare routine, are intimidated by Botox injections and get dried out by retinol, epidermal growth factors (EGFs) might be for you.

What are EGFs?

Typically found in high-end beauty products, EGFs were discovered in the 1950s by two Nobel-prize winning scientists as a way to speed up recovery from wounds and burns. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that EGFs began making their way into skincare products, according to beauty magazine Allure.

retinol, melanin, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, collagen

EGFs can guard against the effects of pollution and sun damage, which both contribute to ageing. Photo: Shutterstock

Growth factors act as signals for the body to produce specific components of skin, like collagen, melanin and keratin, website Coveteur reported. The EGFs found in beauty products are made using stem cells, which can help rejuvenate older skin cells.

“Research has been substantial on growth factors when it comes to reducing lines and wrinkles,” Kim Chang, a licensed medical aesthetician, told Baylor College of Medicine, a university in the US state of Texas. “They also work by adding hydration and decreasing tactile roughness in the skin.”

Ioannis Liakas, medical director at Vie Aesthetics, told website Refinery29 that EGFs can also guard against the effects of pollution and sun damage, which both contribute to ageing.

“I would say EGF is the ultimate ingredient for repair,” Anna De La Cruz, an educational medical aesthetician, told website Bustle.

Typically, EGFs can be found in hydrating products like serums, moisturisers and creams.

retinol, melanin, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, collagen

Typically, EGFs can be found in hydrating products like serums, moisturisers and creams, including Bioeffect’s facial serum, available at Net-a-Porter.

How do they compare to other anti-ageing products like retinol?

Similar to retinol, products that contain EGFs help increase cell turnover to address skincare concerns such as wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation.

However, for people with sensitive skin, daily retinol use can increase dryness, inflammation or generally irritate the skin. EGFs can be more gentle on the skin than retinols, according to Liakas.

“If your skin is too sensitive to tolerate retinoids, then growth factors can be a substitute to stimulate collagen, even tone, and decrease roughness with much less irritation,” dermatologist Hadley King told Coveteur.

EGFs are usually only found in expensive, high-end beauty products. While they aren’t necessary for great skin, EGFs may be a helpful addition to an existing skincare routine.

“I see growth factor products as the icing on the cake if you’re looking to maximise your skincare regimen,” dermatologist Annie Chiu told Allure.

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