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Amino acid actives: Food for the skin

Article-Amino acid actives: Food for the skin

Donna Tozzi, R.N., B.S.N., believes amino acids are the key to maintaining skin health. Tozzi, an aesthetician and aesthetic nurse who has worked in plastic surgery practices in the U.S. since the 1990s, has so much faith in the power of amino acids that she devoted her career in recent years to developing and patenting the Tozzi Peptide Injectable, an aesthetic medical injectable product that isn’t yet available on the U.S. market. It features amino acid actives in an aqueous solution that providers inject into the dermis to improve skin tone and quality, she says.

Amino acids stimulate fibroblast cells, according to Tozzi.
“It’s like giving nutrition for the fibroblast cells to produce collagen and elastin. Amino acids also have wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” Tozzi says.

Amino acids help build dermal density, increase skin brightness, provide defenses from environmental hazards and improve skin hydration. They can be used on the face, neck, cleavage, décolleté and backs of the hands. Amino acids are classified as organic compounds and are safe for the skin because they’re natural. They don’t cause allergic reactions, she says.

Among many topical cosmeceuticals, amino acids are a key active. They’re the building blocks of protein and an important component in what’s known as skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), according to Paula Begoun, founder of Paula's Choice Skincare.

“In skincare products such as toners, serums, eye creams and moisturizers, amino acids play a vital role in maintaining skin’s ideal levels of hydration. They do this by acting as ‘conductors,’ working with proteins in skin known as aquaporins. Amino acids help aquaporins transport water throughout skin’s layers…,” Begoun responds in an email to The Aesthetic Channel.

A secondary benefit is that amino acids can stimulate the production of glutathione.

“Sun damage, blue light and air pollution steadily deplete skin’s supply of this antioxidant, but amino acids (and daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen, of course) can help revive it! Amino acids go beyond hydration to also strengthen skin’s environmental defenses,” she writes.

While all 20 amino acids play a role in creating and maintaining smooth, healthy, younger-looking skin, there are some that have more specialized roles making them even more desirable to see in skincare products, she writes.

  • Arginine plays a role in repairing visible skin damage
  • Histidine has antioxidant ability and can soothe skin.
  • Methionine neutralizes damaging substances before they can harm skin.
  • Lysine helps visibly firm skin’s surface by reinforcing its supportive elements.
  • Proline, leucine and glycine diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

Skin recognizes amino acids and knows how to put them to use, according to Begoun.

“As a group of ingredients, there isn’t necessarily a special delivery system or base formula needed, it just needs to penetrate skin’s uppermost layers, which most leave-on skin care products can do,” she writes. “Interestingly, research has shown that synthetic amino acids often have greater hydrating ability than animal- or plant-derived amino acids.”

Injectable amino acid delivery takes amino acid skin benefits to the next level, according to Tozzi.

Her patent on injecting an amino acid product is novel in the U.S. market. In Europe, Teoxane markets its patented Redensity i product as a skin enhancer. The non-cross-linked hyaluronic acid filler is combined with 3 antioxidants, 2 minerals, 1 vitamin and 8 amino acids to protect and re-densify the skin. 

“Topicals take a good four to six weeks for patients to see a difference, but with this you’re using a fine needle to get the product right to the dermis. So, two days later your skin looks brighter. And results are cumulative,” she says.

Tozzi’s patent includes glucosamine, a hydrator, and pyridoxine (B6), which helps stimulate the proliferation of amino acids, according to Tozzi.

Tozzi, who in recent years battled cancer and received chemotherapy and radiation, says cancer cells and cancer treatment accelerate facial aging. She envisions marketing the Tozzi Peptide Injectable for use in not only the general population of people with aging skin but also in cancer patients to help maintain skin quality and brightness through treatment and beyond.

It might be a while before the Tozzi Peptide Injectable is available commercially in the U.S. Tozzi says she is talking with a pharmaceutical company about marketing the product. While the individual ingredients are FDA approved, the injectable will have to go through the government’s approval process before becoming available to U.S. providers.

Begoun writes that she predicts future amino acid skincare will include more sophisticated blends of amino acids and peptides delivering highly targeted results.

“Peptides are blends of different amino acids specially sequenced to have various actions on and within skin,” according to Begoun. “I’m especially excited about the lab-engineered peptides being developed to address highly specific concerns, and amino acids will be a vital part of tomorrow’s impressive peptides.”