Hepran Sulfate is the latest addition to the skincare formulator’s toolkit

Heprane sulfate is a relatively new ingredient in skin care formulas. Yet it promises so many beneficial effects on the skin that Dr. Leslie Baumann said it was time to add heprane sulfate to the list of proven skincare actives like hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin (MDedge.dermatology Journal, January 26, 2017). It is also the dynamic and multifunctional star ingredient of Senté Dermal Repair Cream.

Control of this molecule is the key to determining the health of the skin. Heprane Sulfate (HS) is a natural component of your skin that is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Like hyaluronic acid, heprane sulfate belongs to the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) family of naturally occurring water molecules found throughout the body. Hyaluronic acid is an atypical GAG, unique because it is not sulphated, of large molecular size. GAGs are complex sugars that act as natural moisturizers. They are long linear polysaccharides composed of repeating disaccharide units and are ubiquitous in the skin. They are present intracellularly on the cell surface. Heprane sulfate is present in all layers of the skin and can interact with extracellular matrix molecules; collagen types 3, 4 and 5; growth factors and cytokines; and in the extracellular matrix (ECM).

The anti-aging ingredients market is expected to exceed $1.3 billion this year and grow 7.2% annually to reach $2.3 billion by 2030. Anti-aging ingredients include standard moisturizing constituents composed of peptides, retinoic acid, retinol, hyaluronic acid, hydroxy acids, sunscreen and antioxidant ingredients. This column will briefly review the role of heprane sulfate in skin care. HS is another one of those important moisturizers produced by the skin. It contributes to the firmness, elasticity and clarity of the skin. It sends signals to other cells to produce more anti-aging compounds, including collagen and hyaluronic acid.

Heprane Sulfate surrounds and protects the growth factors, bringing them to the cells, so the growth factors bind to the appropriate receptor sites and tell the cells to make collagen. Ultimately, it helps increase firmness and promote a more youthful complexion.

Most consumers know that hyaluronic acid is able to retain a large amount of water. This property makes it a popular addition in countless skin care products as well as injectable fillers. However, despite the fame of hyaluronic acid, it actually has much less biological activity than another GAG, heprane sulfate. GAGs appear to be an essential target for reversing skin aging. At one time, they were considered inert molecules restricted in their function as mere space fillers when orienting and organizing the extracellular matrix. Recent studies have revealed their importance in the regulation of inflammation, wound healing and tissue repair.

A damaged skin barrier can be difficult to treat as it is often characterized by multiple skin conditions. Specifically, a damaged skin barrier can be dry, scaly, irritated, itchy, and inflamed. According to the Journal of Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, GAGs play an important role in regulating cell production and inflammatory processes in the skin. As we age, our levels of heprane sulfate decline, leading to destructive dehydration resulting in chronic inflammation of the skin. This inflammation is responsible for facial redness and visible signs of aging, among other skin problems such as sagging skin, disorganized collagen, and slow-healing wounds. Replenishing this molecule is likely to have myriad benefits for aging skin.

Despite all these attributes, only Senté uses heprane sulfate in its products. As more information about HS becomes available, more anti-aging products may begin to include this new moisturizing agent to help plump and smooth skin.

Endogenous HS is too big and very polar; therefore, it is unable to penetrate the skin, which prevents most skincare brands from effectively adding HS into their products in topical form. Senté has patented the cosmetic analogue of HS called Low Molecular Weight Heprane Sulfate Modified HSA (LMW-HS), which is bioengineered to an optimal size, shape and charge for topical use. According to Senté President Faheem Hasnain, their proprietary low molecular weight HS is the key to a successful formulation. Three Senté skincare products are formulated with patented Hepran Sulfate Analog (HSA) technology. HSA is clinically proven to diminish the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin texture. It has been scientifically proven to absorb throughout the epidermis and very effectively penetrate the dermis, reducing redness and improving the appearance of fine lines.

HSA formulations are well tolerated by sensitive skin, including aging skin and rosacea. Not only does HSA retain water, it also helps the skin rebuild its protective barrier to minimize moisture loss. HSA is a restorative molecule that is easily absorbed. The molecule mimics the effects of heprane sulfate, naturally boosting the skin’s immune response to inflammation and promoting repair from within. Heprane Sulfate has been formulated with a number of other synergistic factors that have the ability to maximize the effect of HS. HSA+Retinol strengthens the skin barrier and improves tolerance when combined with prescription retinoids and retinol products. HSA+ Pigmentation Correcting Ingredients, helps prevent inflammation-induced pigmentation. In-office HSA+ treatments are recommended for use with peels.

At the 2018 AAD Annual Meeting, Amy Taub MD said growth factors have become controversial, being blamed for causing cancer. They were considered ineffective because these molecular weight proteins cannot cross the stratum corneum. She proposed three alternatives to growth factors, namely: heprane sulphate, palmitoyl tripeptide and defensin. HS is much smaller than growth factors and plays a role in skin healing. According to Hasnain de Senté, clinical trials have been conducted to test the effectiveness of the product. Each study recruited 30-60 subjects to evaluate the formulation, preclinical safety and absorption of the ingredient, as well as whitening, moisturizing and anti-wrinkle properties.

Senté products target all skin types and have been launched in the United States by dermatologists and estheticians, with plans to evaluate its launch in markets around the world in the future. The LMW-HS-based formula improved photodamaged skin, indicating its therapeutic potential (Journal Cosmetic Dermatology, Vol. 19, Issue 8, August 2020, pages 1851-1856). A study with an HS analog demonstrated that the formulation penetrates the skin, improving hydration, reducing transepidermal water loss, and improving the appearance of wrinkles and skin tone.1 A study published by the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology showed that topical application of HS improved skin hydration within eight weeks of use. In this study, researchers examined the role of HS in repairing aging skin. They concluded that HS reduced the appearance of wrinkles as well as skin discoloration in just a few weeks. The Journal of Pathology explored the role between HS and skin wound healing. It was concluded that HS has a direct impact on inflammation and cell growth associated with wound healing.

Baumann has used Senté Dermal Repair Cream on his rosacea patients without any problems. She suggests that HS analogues are a good option for patients who cannot tolerate retinoids. In 2015, Gallo et. al. reported that 15 patients using an HS analog formulation in an 8-week study showed improvements in various skin measures, including hydration, firmness, elasticity, barrier function, and resilience. appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The researchers concluded that photo-damaged skin may benefit from the use of novel topical products containing low molecular weight HS (J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jul:14(7):669-74).

HS is turning out to be a very promising topical ingredient with many different uses in skin care. In addition to its role as an anti-aging and moisturizing agent, it could also be used to help wound healing, reduce redness and protect against pathogens. HS analogue formulations are well tolerated by people with sensitive skin. Although further research is needed, current evidence from clinical trials suggests that HS analogues may prove acceptable.


  1. R. Gallo, V. Bucay, J. Drugs Dermatology, 2015 14(7): 669-674.

Navin Geria
Scientific Director
Ayurderm Technologies, LLC
[email protected]

Navin Geria, a former Pfizer researcher, is a cosmetics and pharmaceutical development chemist and the Chief Scientific Officer of AyurDerm Technologies LLC, which provides Ayurvedic, natural and cosmeceutical custom formulation consulting and development services to the spa industries. , wellness and dermatology. He has launched dozens of anti-aging cosmeceuticals and Ayurvedic products. Geria has over 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and previously worked at Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick-Energizer, Bristol-Myers and Spa Dermaceuticals. It has nearly 20 US patents and has been published extensively. Geria edited the reference book Handbook of Skin-Aging Theories for Cosmetic Formulation Development published in April 2016 by Harry’s Cosmeticology. He is a speaker, moderator and president at cosmetic industry events.


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