They’re the understated compounds you shouldn’t underestimate. Without them, you might look older than you should. That’s where amino acidbased skincare and haircare come in.
Amino acids are the basis of every cell in the body. These building blocks of protein make up our muscles, organs, skin, hair and fingernails.
In the skin, amino acids form collagen, which maintains elasticity and firmness. In the hair, it makes keratin. Amino acids are also found on their own in the epidermis, the upper skin layer, where they attract water to keep your complexion hydrated.
Your body makes amino acids constantly. But it is able to produce only so much. And how much it does produce depends on your age.The older you are, the longer your body takes to replenish amino acid levels.
Researchers from Japanese skincare brand Minon Amino Moist found that after the age of 18, the rate of replenishment drops by about 1 per cent every year. By the time you’re 40, the regeneration process would have slowed by 25 per cent.
You also lose amino acids when you perspire or bathe, says Dr Heng Jun Khee, associate consultant from the National Skin Centre.
What happens when there aren’t enough amino acids? Your skin sags, becomes dehydrated and looks more lined. Hair becomes dry and brittle, and thins out. To make up for the shortfall, you can “feed” amino acids to your skin and hair through amino acidrich beauty products.
The molecules are tiny – 3,000 times smaller than a collagen molecule, says Minon Amino Moist, so the skin absorbs it all better, which makes for better hydration.
AmericanJapanese haircare brand Amino Mason is also taking advantage of how tiny amino acid molecules are. Its products contain the 16 amino acids that make up hair. Being so small, these are thought to get into the hair shaft more easily than keratin, for better moisture and repair.
Dr Heng does caution that there are limited numbers of studies on how deeply amino acids can penetrate, so no one really knows how effective these products are. That said, such products can still function as moisturisers to retain water and keep the skin and hair hydrated. – CT
Try these amino acid-based products
On your skin
1 Minon Amino Moist Moist Barrier Cream hydrates dry areas on the face, such as around the mouth, and even your eyes. $32.90
2 Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is a gel that removes tough makeup without leaving skin dry and flaky. From $23
For your hair
3 The frothy textureof Amino MasonWhip Cream Shampoo protectsyour hair from harsh friction when you wash it, to reduce breakage. $25
4 Kiehl’s Amino Acid Shampoo is gentle enough for sensitive scalps. It helps smooth coarse and damaged hair by replenishing its moisture. $41
5 Kiehl’s Amino Acid Conditioner keeps hair manageable by boosting its hydration. $59
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