You may have heard a bit about amino acids in health class (or maybe this is the first you’ve heard about them) and how they’re part of a healthy diet, but did you know there are skincare benefits associated with amino acids? Let’s dive in and discuss the truth about these organic compounds and what they can do for your skin health. We’ll cover what amino acids are, the different types of amino acids, the benefits they can provide to the health of your skin, and where to get them!

What Are Amino Acids?

As mentioned above, amino acids are organic compounds or molecules that form proteins. They’re responsible for many of our biological functions: growing, repairing tissues like muscle and skin, growing hair, breaking down our food, and more! There are many different types of amino acids that serve different functions in our everyday life, whether we’re aware of them or not.

Amino acids are sometimes called “the building blocks of life” and make up the many tissues of our bodies. They also exist in things all around us like plants and animals. We can consume these things or use their byproducts to use amino acids to benefit our health.

Different Types of Amino Acids

There are several different classifications of amino acids. They can be categorized as “essential”, “nonessential”, and “conditionally essential”. 

Essential amino acids are kinds of amino acids that our body cannot create and we must get them from other sources.

Nonessential amino acids are created by our bodies and we don’t have to get them from other sources (this doesn’t mean they aren’t necessary for our well being–they absolutely are!).

Conditionally essential amino acids are another type of nonessential amino acids that are only necessary in certain conditions, and some people may have to regulate their intake of conditionally essential amino acids more than others due to medical reasons. Otherwise they’re only necessary to consume in times of significant stress, illness, or other physical trauma where your body will need help facilitating repair (like skin damage).

Here are the different types of amino acids in alphabetical order (nonessential and conditionally essential amino acids have been bolded for easy identification):

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartate
  • Cystine
  • Glutamine
  • Glutamate
  • Glycine
      • Histidine
      • Isoleucine
      • Leucine
      • Lysine
      • Methionine
      • Phenylalanine
  • Proline
  • Serine
      • Threonine
      • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
    • Valine

    Are Amino Acids Good For Your Skin?

    In short–yes! Your skin is made up of amino acids and making sure you’re getting the right combination of nonessential and conditionally essential amino acids (depending on your skin’s condition and other health factors) can make a dramatic difference in your barrier and the look, feel, and function of your skin. Amino acids offer a whole host of benefits that may be difficult to achieve without the use of these helpful proteins.

    Benefits of Amino Acid in Skincare

    Antioxidant properties

    Some amino acids offer antioxidant properties, helping to protect your skin from free radicals and oxidative stress from environmental factors like pollution and UV rays. Others can help you produce your own antioxidants and increase your skin’s natural defense against these types of stressors.

    Stimulate collagen production

    Proline, lysine and glycine are amino acids that can help stimulate collagen production within your skin. Collagen is responsible for keeping skin plump and supple, and keeping your collagen production up can help you prevent sagging and wrinkles.

    Reduce fine lines and wrinkles

    Amino acids are great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles by keeping your skin hydrated, preventing oxidative stress, and stimulating collagen! It takes a combination of many different types of amino acids to achieve the best results where wrinkles are concerned.

    Help heal and repair skin barrier

    If you are struggling with a damaged skin barrier, amino acids like taurine, glycine, and arginine can help you heal and repair your skin’s barrier for better defense and improved aesthetics.

    Increase skin hydration

    Amino acids like serine, glycine and alanine can penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, resulting in richly moisturized skin, improved elasticity, and improved look and feel.

    Sources of Amino Acids

    There are two ways to get your essential amino acids: topically and in your diet. You’ll see some benefit from doing one or the other, but having a diet rich in essential aminos as well as using them regularly in your skincare routine will offer the best of both worlds and you’ll reap all the benefits they have to offer, both in your overall health and your skin’s health!

    Topical Sources

    Topical sources of amino acids (the liquid kind you can apply to the surface of your skin) can be found in things like serums, creams, moisturizers, cleansers, and facial oils, just to name a few examples. These things can be applied morning or night (or sometimes both) and it’s important to follow the products’ instructions to get the full benefits and best results of the amino acids they contain. Try this Moisturizing Night Creme–it’s full of peptides (a source of amino acids) that will help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve firmness and elasticity, rejuvenate cells and increase collagen production for younger-looking skin.

    Dietary Sources

    Amino acids from animal protein (fish, poultry, beef, and eggs) are the easiest for our bodies to absorb, but it’s possible to get them from plant sources as well if you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. 

    Here is a list of common foods you can easily find amino acids in:

    • Eggs
    • Turkey
    • Chicken
    • Quinoa
    • Dairy products
    • Peas
    • Black beans
    • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
    • Mushrooms
    • Fish
    • Lentils
    • Soybeans
    • Spirulina
    • Pumpkin
    • Hemp seeds
    • Chia seeds
    • Avocados
    • And more!

    Ensuring you’re getting the right balance of amino acids throughout your daily meals can help you maintain your health and optimal body functions, not to mention contribute to beautiful skin from the inside out!

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