Personal care and beauty products sales are growing 3.5-4.5% and are expected to reach $500 billion by 2020, according to Zion Market Research Company. While the concept of using melatonin in skin care is still very new and rapidly evolving, there are already a few products on the market. This column will briefly review topical melatonin and leading consumer brands currently promoting it.
What It Does
Hormones play an important role in skin health. Melatonin is found in the human skin, but its secretion gradually declines over time, increasing our susceptibility to sleep debt that diminishes the skin’s capacity to recover from external insults. Scientists have recently discovered that the skin contains melatonin receptors, suggesting that the melatonin also plays an important role in regulating skin function and structure. There is virtually no side effect because the absorption into the bloodstream is virtually imperceptible and no systemic side effects are noted from topical application. However, anything could potentially cause irritation or allergies, so moderation should be taken into consideration.
Melatonin is also an antioxidant, so it protects cellular DNA from free radical damage. Some studies even suggest that melatonin may prevent cancer, and other research claims it may slow the aging process. Melatonin may promote hair growth when applied topically to the scalp. Melatonin may also be useful for those experiencing hair thinning or loss. According to research, this ingredient might also be a candidate for preventing premature fine lines and wrinkles when applied topically.
How It Works
According to Melissa Levin, a New York-based dermatologist, melatonin’s reputation for amping up skin health could be legitimate. In fact, skin cells actually have melatonin receptors and have been shown to produce it, too. Melatonin is actually highly lipophillic which means it can easily penetrate into the skin cells and impart important cellular functions such as repairing mitochondrial and DNA damage. It also has been shown to up-regulate important antioxidant enzymes, which activate further protection against oxidative damage. In other words, it sends a signal to the antioxidant enzymes in the body to go to work.
These enzymes might be more effective at repairing damage compared to traditional antioxidants vitamin C, E, and others. Furthermore, there is evidence that melatonin can act as an anti-inflammatory, has the ability to improve ultraviolet radiation damage and pigmentation issues, and has also demonstrated anti-tumor properties. However, there still needs to be more clinical studies on melatonin and what else it can do for the body.
On the Market
There are products already on the market. For example, in ISDIN’s Melatonic 3-in-1 Night Serum, melatonin is formulated as an anti-aging factor because it is said to stimulate skin’s antioxidant enzymes while you sleep. These enzymes help defend against free radicals from atmospheric pollution and UV exposure. This serum also contains a plant-based ingredient bakuchiol, that acts as a gentler alternative to retinol. Bakuchiol is derived from a plant native to India, which has demonstrated to induce collagen production, improve pigmentation, and improve skin elasticity without causing any irritation or dryness. This bestselling serum is said to work to accelerate skin’s natural repair process, promoting faster cell turnover.
Peter Thomas Roth Company’s Green Releaf Therapeutic Sleep Cream and Zelens Z Melatonin Night Cream are other examples of products containing melatonin. Their hemp-infused Night Serum, contains 2% topical melatonin to assist in cellular repair while you sleep. The serum contains a blend of antioxidants alongside hydrating actives like vitamin E to prevent over-drying the skin and lock-in moisture all day. Green Releaf Sleep Cream Skin Protectant night cream uses a base of hemp seed oil with other progressive topical actives including colloidal oatmeal to soothe and calm irritation, and 2% melatonin to expedite the skin’s rejuvenation process. Other topical actives such as Ectoin, acetyl-tetrapeptide-22, coconut amino acid complex work through distinct and complementary mechanisms to offset the harmful effects of sunlight and enhance nightly repair of damaged skin to promote a younger looking appearance.
According to New York City-based dermatologist Whitney Bowe, topical melatonin products used on skin won’t make one sleepy. She further cautions that if consumers are looking to even out skin tone, treat age spots or already suffer from hyper-pigmentation, they might want to steer clear of using melatonin, because melatonin activates the skin’s melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment, and using it may darken skin.
Skin is under constant attack from external forces such as ultraviolet radiation that creates damaging free radicals and oxidative stress. By protecting against damage caused by photo-aging, melatonin combats a prime culprit behind wrinkles, age spots, fine lines, loss of tone, and is therefore, an important ally for retaining a youthful appearance.
Navin M. Geria
Chief Scientific Officer
AyurDerm Technologies, LLC
Navin Geria, former Pfizer Research Fellow is a cosmetic and pharmaceutical product development chemist and the chief scientific officer of AyurDerm Technologies LLC, which provides Ayurvedic, natural and cosmeceutical custom formulation development and consulting services to the spa-wellness-dermatology industries. He has launched dozens of cosmeceutical and ayurvedic anti-aging products. Geria has more than 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and was previously with Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick-Energizer, Bristol-Myers and Spa Dermaceuticals. He has nearly 20 US patents and has been published extensively. Geria edited the “Handbook of Skin-Aging Theories for Cosmetic Formulation Development” focus book published in April 2016 by Harry’s Cosmeticology. He is a speaker, moderator and chairman at cosmetic industry events.