Amino acids in skincare: What are amino acids and what do they do to your skin?

11th October 2022 | Author: Katherine O'Shea

Confused about amino acids? They’re considered a key ingredient when trying to get rid of wrinkles and fine lines – here’s how they work and how they help your skin 

You’ve likely heard of amino acids – they’re found in a wide range of foods, supplements, and skincare – yet do know what they do and why they’re so important?

Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of proteins, and proteins have a number of key health benefits. Namely, proteins help build and repair bones, skin, cartilage, and tissue. This includes your skin, hair, and nails.

As a result, whether you’re getting amino acids from your food or your skincare, these vital compounds can help improve your complexion among many other things.

Here’s everything you need to know about amino acids, including the best amino acids skincare products for different budgets.



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What are amino acids?

What do essential amino acids do for the skinGetty Images/iStockphoto

Amino acids are organic compounds composed mainly of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen that play a role in pretty much all of the body’s biological processes.

All 20 amino acids are vital for your body’s survival and strengthen your immune system, but 11 are considered, ‘non-essential’. The other nine are referred to as ‘essential.’

Non-essential amino acids are made by your body naturally, whereas the essential amino acids have to be obtained through diet.

What do amino acids do for the skin?

Essential-amino-acids-explainedGetty Images/iStockphoto

Amino acids are good for your overall health but they’re particularly great for your skin.

That’s because amino acids help to maintain your skin’s hydration, help build its resilience and affect how healthy it looks.

They’re essentially the building blocks of peptides and proteins, which includes collagen, elastin and keratin – all essential for keeping your skin looking plump and youthful. This means that amino acids are great for helping with wrinkles, fine lines and sagging.

Each amino acid performs a specific function in skincare.

Most skincare brands have cherry-picked what they believe to be the best amino acids for your skin and some products contain more than others.

FURTHER READING: How old does your skin REALLY look? Olay Skin Advisor scans your face to reveal if you’re prematurely ageing

What to look for when buying amino acid skincare?


Although all amino acids benefit your skin, the top ingredients to look out for include:

  • Arginine – helps to restore visible skin damage
  • Histidine – has antioxidant properties and soothes your skin
  • Lysine – strengthens the surface of your skin
  • Methionine – protects your skin from harmful substances
  • Proline, glycine and leucine – smooths out your fine lines and wrinkles

There’s research to suggest that the synthetic amino acids you get in skincare products work better than those derived from animal and plant sources.

How to use amino acids?

Amino acids work best when mixed with other ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerine. They also work really well with antioxidants, plant extracts and omega fatty acids.

Whatever combination of ingredients you go with the amino acids will work as a great anti-ageing treatment. 

The best amino acid skincare products

If you’re looking to add more amino acids to your skincare routine, these are our favourite products to suit most budgets.

♥︎ The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5

£6.90 | Buy now

The Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 serumThe Ordinary

The Ordinary’s Amino Acids +B5 serum helps to improve the elasticity of your skin, as well as boost its natural layer.

Not only is it vegan and cruelty-free and is infused with a complex of amino acids, D-Panthenol (which helps nourish and add moisture to your skin) and pro-Vitamin B5, which is great at helping to soften your skin.

This is a great product to combine with your moisturiser. When you put it on, it soaks into your skin easily and is best to put on after washing your face, or after using water-based products when your skin is still damp.

This The Ordinary serum is particularly good at tightening the skin around your eyes.

READ MORE: Crow’s feet: What causes laughter lines and how to get rid of themThe best The Ordinary products for all your skincare concerns

Buy now from Lookfantastic

♥︎ Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

£31 | Buy now

Fresh Soy Face CleanserFresh

Best used at the end of the day, this Soy Face Cleanser from Fresh gives your skin a much-needed boost while removing your makeup with ease.

Not only does it nourish your skin, but the soy proteins in this pH-balanced gel are also rich in amino acids.

Unlike some cleansers that can dry your skin, this soy face cleanser from Fresh will make your face feel hydrated, smooth, and clean.

The glycine ingredient is also an amino acid that helps improve the elasticity of your skin.

You would have to eat a lot of soybeans if you wanted to gain the equivalent orally. Therefore it’s a fantastic cheat to get the amino acid benefits for your skin!

READ MORE: Best cleanser: Discover which face cleanser best suits your skin from oily to dry and acne-prone

Buy now from Cult Beauty

♥︎ SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator

£90 | Buy now

SkinCeuticals Retexturing ActivatorSkinCeuticals

This anti-ageing serum with amino acids from Skinceuticals is designed to refine and resurface your skin.

It’s oil-free and lightweight when it comes to application. It helps to get rid of your dead skin cells, as well as give your skin a moisture boost to help your complexion.

You’ll want to use 4-6 drops on your face, neck, and chest twice a day.

It will help to make your pores appear smaller – although it can’t actually shrink them, no product can… – and it helps make any damage to your skin less obvious.

At this price, you will want to see results and this anti-ageing serum certainly delivers. Don’t just take our word for it though. You only need to look at the thousands of online reviews to see how highly thought of this serum is.

READ MORE: What is hyaluronic acid and what does it do to your skin?

Buy now from Lookfantastic

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