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Neurocosmetics: The Biohacking Beauty Trend Revolutionizing Skincare

Complicated biotech, one simple routine.

Neurocosmetics: The Biohacking Beauty Trend Revolutionizing Skincare

As a beauty writer, I hear endless claims about the next “new thing,” some new ingredient, superfruit, or proprietary chemical blend called something like “Glowcore TriPeptide SuperRadiance Complex™” that purports to cure all of humanity’s skincare woes. I’ve learned that no matter how intriguing these claims are, I can’t get too excited until I’ve actually tried the product. Accordingly, when I came across the neurocosmetic brand I.D. Swiss Botanicals, I was intrigued but remained wary. I’d never heard the phrase “neurocosmetics” before, and my very quick skim of the initial Google results confirmed my suspicion that it was a fairly new field. I first tried their Deep Hydrating Serum and Reader, when I tell you—it worked so well and so immediately that I spent the next two hours online reading scientific papers and any scrap of information on neurocosmetics I could find. I was smoothed, plumped and with no sign of the inflammation that had been recently plaguing me.

The great thing about beauty writing is that I get to try a lot of products; the bad thing about beauty writing is that I have to try a lot of products. On the evening that I first sampled I.D. Swiss Botanicals, I was coming off of a particularly nasty bout of inflammation and flaking from, of all things, a new sunscreen. I was feeling a little gun-shy about putting any new products on my face, but I.D. Swiss had a mild, soothing scent and silky, almost gel-like texture that lulled me into a sense of security that I had no business feeling after my recent dermatitis. After I put on the serum, I brushed my teeth and looked in the mirror: looking back at me was Liv Tyler’s complexion from The Lord of the Rings,if Arwen had also been on glass skin TikTok. In other words, I looked amazing.

As someone who only got through organic chemistry by pretending I was in potions class at Hogwarts, I knew I would need a little extra help understanding the science at work, so I signed up for an informational session held by the brand. For some context, I was traveling at the time that the session was held—from California to Texas to Scotland—and normally, all the flights and weather changes would have wreaked havoc on my skin. However, using I.D. Swiss kept it not only balanced but looking better than ever. (So, if you’re wondering how I was motivated to sign into a remote chemistry lesson while on a Central Texas roadside in 97-degree heat—that’s why.) Plus, given the new skincare marketing trend of “science-washing”—aka, brands using unsubstantiated scientific claims—I’ve made it my prerogative to personally research all products’ claims before writing about them. Ever the perfectionist, I also succeeded in setting up a meeting with CEO Cedric Rimella to make sure I was grasping exactly how the products worked.

Dr. Aude Rimella

Cedric Rimella.

Co-founder and dermatologist Dr. Aude Rimella—yes, the co-founders are a husband and wife team—was inspired to create products that, as Cedric says, “Treat the causes, not the symptoms.” After Aude consistently saw patients who were experiencing issues that simple topical creams were failing to fix, the Rimellas set out to formulate a product that would treat the cause of symptoms at its root. We all know that skin health is linked to our mental health. But while there are many products that claim to be able to improve skin health by lowering stress, they usually do so through external stress-reducing methods like aromatherapy. The Rimellas wanted to create something that affected the mind directly to solve the problem, and I.D. Swiss Botanicals was born.

Much like how the gut and the brain communicate through a system of neurons, our skin and brain share the same kind of connection. Indeed, the ectoblast–the outermost part of the embryo, which is formed on the 21st day of development–later becomes both the nervous system and the epidermis, giving them a common embryonic origin. This skin and the brain communication goes both ways; the skin can give messages to the brain—”There’s something weird on me, please send inflammation to fight it”—-and vice versa—”You’re a teenager, and your hormones are going crazy, time for acne!” I.D. Swiss’s neurocosmetics use this brain-skin connection by acting on local neurotransmitters and essentially manipulating your brain into giving you better skin. Think of it kind of like nicotine patches: while the patches go on the skin, they still ultimately affect the brain.

Example: Let’s say you’re spending a lot of time outside. The irritants in the air are causing you to experience inflammation, aka your immune system’s response to foreign irritants on the skin. You apply some I.D. Swiss Botanicals and the inflammation goes away. What happened? The neurocosmetic ingredients communicated through the skin to the brain to say, “Calm down, nothing to see here, you can stop inflaming.” This same process would happen for any number of internal or external factors that affect skin, from stress to junk food to environmental conditions like sun exposure and air quality. This process not only improves the appearance of our skin in that moment, but is anti-aging in the long run. Inflammation is one of the main driving factors in accelerating aging, so much so that the dermatological field has dubbed the process “inflamm’aging.” As we age, we are prone to increasing systemic inflammation that exacerbates the aging process, creating a vicious cycle. I.D. Swiss disrupts this inflammation at the source, thus decelerating skin aging overall.

For the nerds in the back wondering how exactly I.D. Swiss achieves this, the answer is simple: Neuroactive ingredients capitalize on the homeostasis-driven endocannabinoid system. In other words, good, old-fashioned CBD. No, this is not a situation where we are simply delivering psychoactive ingredients through the skin (remember, CBD has no psychotropic effects). The endocannabinoid system is a neuromodulatory system responsible for so much more beyond marijuana usage; it regulates and controls many bodily functions, including our skin.

As Cedric explained, “The role of the endocannabinoid system is homeostasis [aka a balanced internal environment]. This whole system sends signals that rebalance the entire body. What we are doing at I.D. Swiss Botanicals is to use the endocannabinoid system. Basically, we are taking neuroactive ingredients, we encapsulate them in a way that prevents the ingredients from being degraded when they penetrate the skin [so they can make it to the right neuronal receptors], and when they get close to the receptors of interest, they get freed up and hit those receptors to activate them.” In other words, “We chose the fastest way to get those ingredients where you want them to be. We basically take those neuroactive ingredients and put them in a rocket.”

This system helps to increase the efficiency of the connection between the skin and the brain—as Cedric says, “You don’t want a Swiss highway with two little lanes; you want the LA highway.” (We’re assuming he means without the traffic.) There is also the issue of energy; as we age, sensitive neurons in our skin stop duplicating as easily, which contributes to skin aging. Remember mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell? The mitochondrial membrane has endocannabinoid receptors that I.D. Swiss’s formulas hit to increase the quantity of energy created—which in turn helps slow aging and other undesirable processes. One of I.D. Swiss’ products has even been shown to increase mitochondrial energy production by over 300%.

In addition to helping boost the efficacy of other ingredients, Cedic explains that their products “send a signal to the brain saying, ‘Calm down, nothing is bad. Relax. The problem is going to be solved. Don’t send an army.’” This mitigates the internal processes that not only create cosmetic issues but also expedite aging. CBD also aids with the local balance of your skin, soothes skin, and prevents the disruption of collagen fibers that lead to skin sagging. While I.D. Swiss leverages the function of CBD, the products are also chock-full of other useful skin-treating ingredients like Alpine pine extract, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and more. Plus, after Aude’s experiences with patients burning their skin with too-concentrated serums and creams—which tend to be immediately effective but much too harsh for the recommended regular use—I.D. Swiss’ actives are judiciously dosed so that they are effective yet not unhealthily excessive.

This explains why I.D. Swiss’ products were so immediately and extraordinarily effective. I have sensitive skin, am easily inflamed by environmental factors, and have also developed a Vitamin C sensitivity over the years. Not only did I.D. Swiss’ products help regulate my skin and keep it looking its best in the face of international flights, blasting heat and AC, intense stress, and too many different topical products, it delivered just the right dose of actives to keep my skin nourished and treated without causing any age-accelerating inflammation. Likewise, I.D. Swiss has observed during their research that their products were modulating cortisol and oxytocin levels, both critical for mental well-being. While research into the mental effects of neurocosmetics is somewhat sparse, it seems very likely that such products can be leveraged in terms of emotional well-being in addition to skin health. (Indeed, 70% of testers of their newest product report an increased quality of life after two months of use—though whether this is due to mental effects or just improved self-esteem from awesome skin is yet to be determined.)

Their current product line is stream-lined, containing the Hydrating Serum, the Radiance Moisturizer, the Nourishing Night Cream, the Relaxing Mask, and the ingenious Skin Stress Balancer Powder. Want neurocosmetic benefits, but don’t want to give up your current favorite products? This powder can be mixed into water-based beauty products like creams and serums; simply put some of your usual product on your hand where you would lick it for a tequila shot, shake a bit of the powder on like salt, mix, and apply. (By the way, this insanely TSA-friendly powder is the product that increases cellular energy output by over 300%.). I love the powder, but even more, I love what it says about I.D. Swiss: ‘We don’t care if you use our stuff exclusively—we just want everyone to have the benefit of this great tech.”

I personally will keep using all of their products; I simply look too good using them to stop. I will never again travel without their full line, which is also helpfully very slim and well-designed, with bottles engineered so that you’ll be able to get every last drop of product out of them (once more putting the customer in front of profits). Using I.D. Swiss is like having a magic eraser for your face: bad night’s sleep? The Radiance moisturizer will fix it. Drying plane ride? The serum’s got you. Recovering from a sunburn? The Nourishing Night cream has you covered. (Note: These products are NOT a substitute for SPF.) By definition of its functioning, I.D. Swiss is appropriate for every age and skin type (looking at you, moms buying their tweenagers Sephora products that burn their skin off—let’s maybe try I.D. Swiss next time; maybe they’ll also learn a little biochem along the way). They are currently working on expanding their range of products, including their first non-CBD product for treating acne and blemishes. Forgive this jaded beauty writer her sappiness, but I.D. Swiss has firmly renewed my faith in the future of skincare. Hand me a flag and throw me on a barricade, because I’m more than ready for this skincare revolution to begin.

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