Amino Acids are building blocks of the human body that make up our DNA, hormones, enzymes, collagen, elastin, bones, muscles, hair, skin, and nails. Up until recently, the significance and benefits of Amino Acids have been widely discussed when it comes to replenishing them in our daily diet, by consuming foods that are high in protein.
While this is still important, the new well-grounded fact is that our bodies can absorb Amino Acids when applied topically to the skin. With this de novo understanding, incorporating Amino Acids into skincare products has begun to receive tremendous enthusiasm from people all over the world.
Understanding Skin & Body Composition
Water accounts for 60-70% of our body weight, a person weighing 50 kg contains about 30-35 kg of water and the skin plays an important role in holding this water content. Our skin consists of 4 layers: the subcutaneous fat layer, the dermis about 2-3 mm in thickness, the epidermis about 0.1 mm in thickness, and the stratum corneum just 0.01 mm in thickness covering the surface.
The inner 3 layers are made up of living cells. The epidermal cells keratinize in about 2 weeks and then move upward to the surface to form the stratum corneum to finally come off as scales after a 28 days turnover. A healthy and moist feel of the skin (dewy skin) depends largely on the water content in this stratum corneum.
Amino Acids Are Skin's Natural Moisturizing Factors
Amino acids are critical natural moisturizing factors (NMF) in the stratum corneum. When epidermal cells die and turn into the stratum corneum, proteins in the cells are degraded to amino acids and transported to the stratum corneum. Most of the NMF in the skin is made up of Amino Acids and Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid (PCA) derived from glutamate, an amino acid.
Being natural moisturizing factors Amino Acids act as ideal skin hydrators when employed in skincare AKA the best moisturizers.
Collagen “The Skin Plumper” Is All Amino Acids
Collagen, the dermal bolster known to keep the skin supple, actually consists of various Amino Acids.
Many skin problems such as roughness, dryness, dark discoloration of the skin and aging are largely related to lack of amino acids. Scientific evidence has pointed out that the stratum corneum of patients with atopic dermatitis or skin irritation/inflammation is deficient in Amino Acids compared to healthy people.
The Benefits Of Amino Acids In Keeping Skin Youthful
The main contributing factors to the deterioration of our skin are ageing, toxins and UV/Sun Exposure. These factors deplete Amino Acids present in our body and when amino acids diminish, our body's natural rhythm for maintaining the skin slows down which in turn, makes our skin age even faster.
Studies have highlighted the role of Amino Acids as antioxidant that constantly prevent oxidative damages to our skin and body. Amino Acids are also natural cell membrane stabilizers and as such ensure the health and vitality of skin cells against extrinsic and intrinsic aggressors.
As Amino Acids are major components of collagen and elastin, they play a vital role in assisting skin to maintain a healthy barrier. Having a healthy barrier in the skin is important as it enables skin to hold on to existing moisture that is present, and also provides a block, or barrier, to foreign particles which may try to enter and damage the skin.
Amino Acids Are Gentle On The Skin
Amino acid-based skincare and cosmaceuticals do their job gently without causing any irritation or side effects, almost like nature is caressing your skin. If you wash your hands with an ordinary soap about 10 times at 30-min intervals, skin begins to turn dry and rough. However, amino acid-based surfactants are not likely to leave this effect. The pH of the skin is an important reason for this fact. The skin under normal conditions is weakly acidic with a pH of 5 to 6. After repeated washing with a strongly alkaline soap, the skin turns alkaline. This is one of the causes of rough skin. Amino acid-based cleansers & soaps exert their cleansing power under pH conditions as close to the natural pH of the skin as possible thus preserving the ideal hydration level of the skin.
Similarly looking at skin moisturizers, we know that most moisturizers work either by occluding the skin so water loss from skin is stopped or act as humectants attracting water from dermis. Emollients are another group of moisturizers that employ oils to fill up spaces between skin cells to reduce water loss from skin. Most common occlusive agents petrolatum, lanolin, mineral Oil, silicones, zinc oxide feel greasy on skin and with regular use weigh the skin down they also occlude skin pores leading to break outs, acne and folliculitis etc. Humectants like glycerin, sorbital, urea, alpha hydroxy acids and sugars do bring in water but they can also cause skin irritations and some people don’t find them cosmetically elegant to use. Emollients like cholesterol, squalene and fatty acids are not always effective plus they do weigh the skin down with regular use. Amino Acids on the other hand work effortlessly in their natural envoirmental keeping skin hydrated by being the natural moisturizing factors, making themselves an effective, natural and risk free choice – Ideal and safe moisturizers.
Amino Acids Are Also Easy On The Environment
Cosmeceuticals discharged with sewage, like soaps and detergents, must be biodegradable. Even if Amino Acids are discharged into water in rivers lakes or sea, this will not lead to environmental destruction as long as microorganisms "eat" and degrade them to carbon dioxide and water. Amino acids, components of living things, readily return to nature.