Ursolic acid, also known as urson, prunol, micromerol, and malol, is a pentacyclic triterpenoid compound which naturally occurs in a large number of plant foods and medicinal herbs. It is present in the wax-like coatings of several fruits including apples, pears, cranberries and p r u n e s . Historically, ursolic acid has been used as an emulsifier in foods, cosmet-ics,and pharmaceuticals.
The reported healthful properties of ursolic acid include antitumor, hepato-protective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory (oral and topical), anti-ulcer, antimicrobial, anti-hyperlipidemic, and antiviral effects. However, its recent popularity as a cosmeceutical ingredi-ent stems from its role as a topical rejuvenating agent.
Ursolic acid treatment improves the health of skin and hair. Ursolic acid and its derivatives form oil-resistant barriers on the skin and hair, just as they form the waxy coating of fruits. Ursolic acid has been used to treat photoaged skin, because it inhibits the appearance of wrinkles and age spots by restoring the skin’s collagen bundle structures and elasticity. Ursolic acid inhibits the action of elastase enzyme in the skin, thereby preventing the enzyme from attacking structural proteins. Ursolic acid also inhibits the inflam-matory enzymes cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase.
Sabinsa Corporation supplies 90% ursolic acid extracted from rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) leaves, for use in skin and hair care formulations. Typical use levels range from 0.2-3.0% of cosmetic formulations such as creams, lotions, lip balms and gels. The color of the powder, a pale cream to light tan, blends well with most prepa-rations.