There are a myriad of topical products with claims to eliminate wrinkles or otherwise restore your youthful appearance. The fact is that only some of these topical products have some level of benefit, while others are merely high-priced emulsions with little efficacy. This article will focus on one ingredient, water-soluble eggshell membrane, which has solid clinical research demonstrating its effectiveness as an anti-wrinkle agent.
Eggshell membrane is the thin membrane just under the shell that you sometimes have difficulty removing when you’re peeling a hard-boiled egg. Water-soluble eggshell membrane is a unique water-soluble ingredient rich in the proteins collagen and elastin, a family of glycosaminoglycans that include chondroitin, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid, as well as the components desmosine and isodesmosine. Each of these components is independently known to support healthy skin and is native to eggshell membrane.1 Furthermore, eggshell membrane has been shown to increase cellular activity and collagen production, as well as prevent skin aging and reduce damage caused by UV light and inflammation.2
An in-vitro study3 was conducted to examine the effects of eggshell membrane on the anti-inflammatory, anti-wrinkle, anti-microbial activity, and moisture protection for cosmetic use. Inflammatory substances (lipopolysaccharide [LPS] and IFN-γ) were used in a cell line to cause inflammation. The results were that eggshell membrane was found to be effective in inhibiting the induction of cell inflammation, and also showed outstanding effect in suppressing skin inflammation. In addition, it showed the moisture protection effects of skin. It was concluded that eggshell membrane had anti-inflammation activity, anti-collagenase and elastase activities (the enzymes that break down these two important skin proteins), and thus can be used as a cosmetic agent to protect skin.
In a follow-up study,4 the effect of eggshell membrane on wrinkle, UV and moisture protection for cosmetic use were examined in hairless mice that had been exposed to UV-B to induce wrinkles for seven weeks. An eggshell membrane preparation was then applied to the treatment group for five weeks, and skin thickness, minimum erythema dose (i.e. amount of UV-B necessary to induce redness) and moisture content was tested. Results were that eggshell membrane was effective in hindering the induction of collagenase, and also showed outstanding effects in the suppression of skin aging. Furthermore, the treatment group mice’s UV-B radiation-induced skin damage was largely mitigated with eggshell membrane compared to that of the non-treatment group mice. The researchers concluded that eggshell membrane helped to mitigate UV-B radiation-induced wrinkles and collagen damage and can be used as a functional cosmetic material.
Additional preclinical research found that eggshell membrane was effective at promoting wound healing in rats,5 and its naturally occurring components possess anti-inflammatory properties that demonstrate the effectiveness of eggshell membrane for treatment of chronic inflammatory wounds.6
Two human clinical studies have been conducted on water-soluble eggshell membrane, demonstrating effectiveness in reducing the depth of wrinkles, and improving other skin parameters.
First Clinical Study
An open-label pilot study7 was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of 10 percent water soluble eggshell membrane (BiovaDerm, Biova) in a topical skin cream in reducing aged skin related winkles and its impact on sun damaged skin. Twenty-three subjects were enrolled and evaluated in three groups. Group 1 was instructed to apply study product for one week; Group 2 was instructed to apply the product for two weeks; and Group 3 was instructed to apply the product for four weeks. Subject evaluations were conducted at the initial visit and one week thereafter for Group 1, while evaluations were conducted at initial visit, and every two weeks for the remaining groups. In addition, subject evaluations included the capture of “rebound” data for four weeks after product application had ceased. Results were that daily application of the water soluble eggshell membrane demonstrated:
• 28 percent reduction of deep wrinkles within four weeks in Group 3
• 19 percent reduction of deep wrinkles within two weeks in Group 2
• 30 percent reduction of deep wrinkles within one week in Group 1
• Effectiveness of treatment continued beyond two weeks from last product application.
The positive effect was long lasting and continued after use of the cream was discontinued. One to two weeks after cessation of treatment, the skin started to revert to its pre-treatment state. It was observed that measurable effect of the cream was still discernable after four weeks in wrinkle reduction, improved skin smoothness and luminance and reduced acne. Subject comments corroborated these clinical observations in detail. There were no negative/adverse observations from study subjects or clinical staff.
Second Clinical Study
Given the success of the first clinical study, a second open-label eight-week pilot study was conducted. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of 8 percent water soluble eggshell membrane (BiovaDerm, Biova) in a topical skin cream on wrinkle reduction, and to elucidate specific mechanisms of action using primary human immune and dermal cell-based bioassays. Twenty healthy females between the age of 45 and 65 years participated. High-resolution photography and digital analysis were used to evaluate the wrinkle depth in the facial skin areas beside the eye (crow’s feet). Water-soluble eggshell membrane was tested for total antioxidant capacity and effects on the formation of reactive oxygen species, and human keratinocytes were used for determining the antioxidant response element genes. Evaluation of effects on human primary dermal fibroblasts in-vitro included cellular viability and production of the matrix components collagen and elastin. The results were that topical use of a water-soluble eggshell membrane-containing facial cream for eight weeks resulted in a significant reduction of wrinkle depth (P<0.05). Water-soluble eggshell membrane contained antioxidants and reduced the formation of reactive oxygen species by inflammatory cells in vitro. In addition, water-soluble egg membrane induced the gene expression of downstream antioxidant response element genes in human keratinocytes. Also, human dermal fibroblasts treated with water-soluble eggshell membrane produced more collagen and elastin than untreated cells or cells treated with the control. The increase in collagen production was statistically significant (P<0.05).
Third Clinical Study
In addition, a four-week dose dependence wrinkle reduction case study was conducted with six subjects. Researchers tested water-soluble eggshell membrane (BiovaDerm, Biova) at 5 percent and 10 percent inclusion levels, as well as a placebo formulation. Based on the six subjects, water-soluble eggshell membrane showed greater wrinkle reduction at the 10 percent formula versus the 5 percent formula. The pilot results indicated that the subjects who used the 5 percent water-soluble eggshell membrane formula showed an average reduction in wrinkles of 34.21 percent at four weeks and the subjects who used the 10 percent water soluble eggshell membrane showed an average reduction of 48.09 percent at four weeks. However, since there were only six subjects, the difference between the two percentages may not be significant and further research will need to be conducted.
There are many commercially available cosmetic creams with claims for reducing wrinkles, although the science substantiating these claims are not always readily accessible. However, water-soluble eggshell membrane (BiovaDerm, Biova), containing naturally occurring collagen and elastin and other native components, has been studied clinically and found to significantly reduce wrinkle depth, reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, improve skin smoothness and luminance, and reduce acne when topically applied. The data suggests that water-soluble eggshell membrane is an effective topical agent for reducing wrinkles and improving overall skin condition.
1 Jensen GS, Shah B, Holtz R, Patel A, Lo DC. Reduction of facial wrinkles by hydrolyzed water-soluble egg membrane associated with reduction of free radical stress and support of matrix production by dermal fibroblasts. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016 Oct 14;9:357-366.
2 Candilish JK, Scougall RK. L-5-hydroxylysine as a constituent of the shell membrane of the hen’s egg. Int J Protein Res. 1969;1:299-306.
3 Yoo J, Park K, Yoo Y, Kim J, Yang H, Shin Y. Effects of Egg Shell Membrane Hydrolysates on Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Wrinkle, Anti-Microbial Activity and Moisture-Protection. Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2014;34(1):26-32.
4 Yoo JH, Kim JK, Yang HJ, Park KM. Effects of Egg Shell Membrane Hydrolysates on UVB-radiation-induced Wrinkle Formation in SKH-1 Hairless Mice. Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2015;35(1):58-70.
5 Guarderas F, Leavell Y, Sengupta T, Zhukova M, Megraw TL. Assessment of Chicken-Egg Membrane as a Dressing for Wound Healing. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2016 Mar;29(3):131-4.
6 Vuong TT, Rønning SB, Suso HP, Schmidt R, Prydz K, Lundström M, Moen A, Pedersen ME. The extracellular matrix of eggshell displays anti-inflammatory activities through NF-κB in LPS-triggered human immune cells. J Inflamm Res. 2017 Jul 4;10:83-96.
7 FINAL REPORT. Human Clinical Safety and Efficacy Pilot Study BiovaDerm: A Topical Egg ShellMembrane Ingredient for Aged or Sun Damaged Skin. Clinicians and study personnel at: Science, Toxicology & Technology—Product Research; July 7, 2009:23 pgs.
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, the dean of academics for Huntington College of Health Sciences, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 30 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.