You probably learned all about amino acids back in school, but chances are that you haven’t really given them much thought since then. However, now’s the time to reacquaint yourself with all that amino acids can do.
Why? Because this is an ingredient that you definitely want to be using to improve the health and appearance of your skin.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids form the building blocks of all of the proteins in your body and skin. Each protein is made up of a specific sequence of certain amino acids – this determines how they function.
The Nine Essential Amino Acids
There are several amino acids out there (around 500 to be specific), but there are just 20 that make up all of the proteins in the human body. Out of these 20, nine are classed as essential amino acids, while the other 11 are non-essential.
The body is able to produce non-essential amino acids itself. However, essential amino acids need to be obtained through your diet.
What are the Benefits of Amino Acids for Skin?
When it comes to the health of your skin, amino acids can help in a few different key ways:
Hydration is important for all skin types. A lack of moisture in the skin can lead to a number of skin concerns, from acne to flakiness.
Your skin’s ability to retain moisture depends on its natural moisturizing factors (NMF) – vital components that make up the outermost layer of your skin.
This layer, which primarily consists of amino acids and humectants (such as hyaluronic acid), forms a barrier that traps moisture into the skin, preventing it from evaporating.
Using skincare products containing amino acids helps to strengthen and thicken this vital barrier. As a result, water retention increases, allowing your skin cells to function to their full potential.
Increased Collagen Production
As mentioned, amino acids build proteins in the body. If you’ve been looking into anti-aging skin care, then you’re likely familiar with collagen and elastin – the two proteins responsible for skin firmness and elasticity.
Amino acids play a vital role in the production of collagen and elastin – the more amino acids your skin has to work with, the more protein fibers it can build .
As a result, adding amino acids to your skincare routine will help to tighten your skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Inflammation in the skin causes havoc for the complexion. Everything from premature aging to acne breakouts can be attributed to inflammation, but, fortunately, amino acids work to reduce inflammation, leaving you with healthy skin.
There are many versatile ingredients out there that provide antioxidant protection, and amino acids are one of these. Antioxidants are key for neutralizing free radical damage in the skin.
Applied topically, they protect the skin from the oxidative stress triggered by environmental factors, such as UV damage and pollution.
Not only do the antioxidants in amino acids prevent visible skin damage, but they also promote cellular repair. They work in conjunction with the skin’s own antioxidants to soothe skin and boost cell turnover, giving you a healthy appearance.
The Best Amino Acids to Add to Your Skincare Routine
There are many amino acids out there, both essential and non-essential, and they’ll all help your skin in some way. However, for the ultimate in beautiful skin, these are the amino acids you should be looking for in skin care products:
- Glutamic acid – adds moisture to skin cells and maintains pH balance
- Aspartic acid – incredibly hydrating
- Glycine – encourages collagen synthesis in the body and skin
- Arginine – a key amino acid for skin repair
- Lysine – strengthens the skin
- Histidine – has a soothing effect on cells
- Proline – a powerful anti-ager
If hydration is your aim, look for skincare formulas that combine amino acids with other ingredients that hydrate, such as hyaluronic acid and plant butters.
On the other hand, if anti-aging benefits are what you’re after, look for amino acids combined with plant extracts in serum and eye cream formulas.
Natural vs Synthetic Amino Acids
Amino acids are available in two forms; synthetic and natural.
With one of the biggest beauty trends at the moment being natural ingredients, you’d be forgiven for thinking that naturally-derived amino acids are superior. However, you’d be wrong…
Research suggests that synthetic amino acids are actually far more effective at hydrating the skin and boosting collagen synthesis.
Synthetic versions are usually also cheaper to produce, making them more readily available.
What About Peptides?
One alternative to amino acid skin care products would be formulas containing peptides.
These are basically amino acids that have already been linked together in a chain. While your skin is able to put these to use faster, it does mean that you’re limited when it comes to the proteins that can be created from those peptides.
Providing your skin with individual amino acids, rather than peptide chains, allows the skin to use those building blocks to create the specific proteins it needs the most.
Amino Acid Side Effects
Since amino acids are a natural part of the skin, using them topically doesn’t usually cause any side effects. They’re safe to be used on all skin types.
However, you should still be cautious when using any new beauty product for the first time – a patch test is always recommended.
Do amino acids tighten skin?
Yes, amino acids can help to tighten and firm the skin.
Which amino acids are good for anti-aging?
Arginine, glycine, and proline are amino acids that are fantastic for anti-aging.
When it comes to healthy and youthful-looking skin, amino acids can really work wonders. They play a key role in just about every aspect of skin health, making this a skincare ingredient worth trying.