You might have noticed that amino acids have made their way into the ingredient lists of some of your skincare products, and that's because this powerful skincare ingredient is finally starting to get the recognition that it deserves.
With its ability to boost the skin's hydration, resilience and overall health, amino acids are actually the key to keeping your skin looking plump, firm and youthful. But, if the last time you heard the term amino acids was in your high school science class then you might be struggling to remember what they even are.
We're here to refresh your memory and give you the rundown on the reasons why you should consider adding amino acids into your skincare routine.
What are amino acids?
Amino acids are small molecules that the body uses to build proteins. The body requires 20 different amino acids to function properly but is only able to make 11 of them by itself.
These amino acids are called non-essential amino acids. The other nine amino acids are called essential amino acids and they have to be obtained from external sources, like protein-rich foods and supplements.
Every amino acid has a different purpose and alongside building proteins, they also carry out many other important functions like building cells, transporting nutrients and synthesising hormones and brain chemicals.
Your entire body needs amino acids to function properly and that includes your skin.
How do amino acids benefit your skin?
Amino acids play a vital role in improving your skin's overall health and appearance. Firstly, amino acids are responsible for producing the proteins that look after your skin, including keratin, elastin and collagen.
These proteins are crucial for maintaining firm, supple and smooth skin, and without them, your skin becomes more prone to sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. Amino acids are also essential to keeping your skin hydrated.
They make up a crucial part of the skin's natural moisturising factor, which is what keeps the stratum corneum or the outer layer of the skin moisturised.
Amino acids also help the body's water transport system (aquaporins) diffuse moisture into your skin. This prevents your skin from drying out and leads to plumper, more youthful-looking skin.
Certain amino acids have antioxidant properties and can help strengthen the skin's protective barrier. This makes it harder for UV rays, pollutants and other toxins to penetrate and damage your skin.
Many amino acids also aid skin cell turnover in producing new cells, a process that keeps your skin looking smooth, bright and glowing. Basically, amino acids are the unlikely key to maintaining healthy skin and a youthful appearance.
So, if you want to keep your skin looking and feeling its best, then you might want to consider making amino acids part of your skincare routine.
What are the best amino acids for skin?
Every amino acid has a different role to play in your body and certain amino acids will offer more skin-related benefits than others.
When it comes to finding the right amino acids for your skin, it's best to start by learning about what the different types of amino acids can offer you.
Arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid, which means that while the body is able to produce arginine naturally, it sometimes needs a top-up from external sources during periods of stress or illness.
Arginine is also one of the building blocks of collagen, which means that it can help smooth out those fine lines and wrinkles. This amino acid is known for its wound-healing abilities and it will appeal to anyone with damaged skin.
This means that you count on arginine for helping to treat acne scarring or other visible skin damage that you may have.
Histidine is an essential amino acid that's known for its antioxidant properties. It's often used to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis because of its unique ability to hydrate and soothe skin.
This makes it an ideal ingredient for those with sensitive skin types.
Methionine is another one of the body's nine essential amino acids and it's primarily responsible for tissue repair and growth.
Methionine also contains sulphur, which protects your cells from ageing and harmful pollutants while improving the tone and elasticity of your skin as well.
Proline is considered to be one of the best amino acids for targeting ageing skin. This is because proline promotes collagen production, which is important for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
For this reason, proline is often added to anti-ageing beauty products.
Like proline, lysine is good at stimulating collagen production and reducing the appearance of wrinkled skin.
It is also believed that lysine can cure cold sores, breakouts and inflammatory acne but it's important to know that this has never been scientifically proven.
With only a single hydrogen atom as its side chain, glycine is the body's simplest non-essential amino acid, but it's also one of the most important. Glycine not only assists in stimulating collagen production but also helps the skin retain moisture, repair skin damage and regenerate skin cells.
And if that wasn't all, it's also thought to reduce the tension that can cause wrinkles.
Glutamine is one of the body's most abundant amino acids. It's mainly known for its ability to increase the production of antioxidants, which strengthen the skin's immune system and lead to more resilient skin.
This means that the skin is less vulnerable to pollutants and toxins, and is more likely to have a healthy appearance.
Leucine's main benefits lie in its ability to maintain youthful-looking skin. Leucine can repair and regenerate ageing skin tissue, which leads to smoother and firmer skin.
Like proline, leucine's ability to smooth wrinkled skin means that it is often added to anti-ageing skincare products.
How do amino acids work with peptides?
Peptides are short strings of several amino acids. Like proteins, they are made up of a unique sequence of amino acids but peptides are usually easier for the body to absorb.
This is because peptides are much smaller than proteins, and can therefore enter the bloodstream much faster.
Since peptides are made out of amino acids, they share many of the same skincare benefits including moisture retention, anti-ageing and protection against toxins.
For this reason, you may even find some amino acids and peptides in the same skincare products. In fact, amino acids are renowned for working with other skincare ingredients to enhance their benefits.
When paired with other powerful ingredients like hyaluronic acid, omega fatty acids, ceramides and peptides, your skin is likely to see even more improvement.
How to use amino acids
While your body can access most of the health benefits of amino acids from dietary sources, your skin is a little different.
Usually, the skin will reap more benefits from amino acids if they are applied topically as it enables the amino acids to directly absorb into the skin and work their magic. If you want to experience all of the benefits that amino acids can offer your skin, then using an amino acid infused moisturiser is the best place to start.
Software's Moisturiser is a non-comedogenic and lightweight formula that's made with a powerful mix of amino acids, ceramides, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.
The Moisturiser uses sodium PCA, which is a derivative of proline, to enhance your skin's natural moisturising factors.
With the ability to retain up to 250 times its own weight in water, sodium PCA is exceptionally good at keeping your skin hydrated and moisturised.
Coupled with the anti-inflammatory powers of vitamin E and the skin barrier restoring capabilities of the ceramides, this Moisturiser is a powerhouse of hydration and nourishment.
Software's Moisturiser can be purchased as part of The Software Essentials, alongside the hydrating Cleanser and SPF50 Solar Fluid — the perfect trio!
Are there any side effects of amino acids on the skin?
Amino acids are natural, organic compounds that are unlikely to produce any side effects on the skin.
In fact, one of the major benefits that amino acids offer compared to other commonly used skincare ingredients is that they tend to be very well tolerated by almost every skin type.
Even people who suffer from sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis can safely use amino acids. However, as with any new skincare product or ingredient, we recommend doing a spot test on your skin first.
If your skin does react with itchiness, a rash or any other unwanted symptoms, then it's best to stop using the product and consult a dermatologist or medical professional.
- BRODY, Laurence C. Amino Acids, National Genome Research Institute, 2022.
- SOLANO, F. Metabolism and Functions of Amino Acids in the Skin, AEMB, 2020.
- ALBAUGH, Vance L et al. Arginine, Reference Module in Life Sciences, 2017.
- TAN Sp et al. Feeding filaggrin: effects of L-histidine supplementation in atopic dermatitis, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol, 2017.
- Methionine, PubChem, 2022.
- KARNA E et al. Proline-dependent regulation of collagen metabolism, Cell Mol Life Sci, 2020.
- Razak MA et al. Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review, Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2022.