A Powerful Natural Antioxidant for Health and Beauty

Help Your Skin Stay Healthy and Look Great with Alpha Lipoic Acid

Skin care and cosmetics companies use many natural antioxidants, herbs, and herbal compounds such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), green tea, vitamin C, vitamin E, resveratrol, and turmeric. The claim is that these vitamins, nutrients, and plant polyphenols can treat acne, repair skin damage, and make your skin look better. Alpha lipoic acid is no exception. It is frequently used in skin care and anti-aging products. But does it really work? (v.13-14)

What Affects Skin and Hair?

Skin is a multilayered organ that includes hair and hair follicles: (v.15-16)

Figure V.1: Structure of Skin

Figure V.1: Structure of Skin

Excess sun exposure and damage from UV radiation strongly affects the condition of skin and hair. Other important internal and external factors to the health and appearance of both include: (v.61417)

Figure V.2: Internal and External Factors that Affect Skin

Figure V.2: Internal and External Factors that Affect Skin

Does Alpha Lipoic Acid Protect Against Ultraviolet Radiation?

Do-It-Yourself Spot and Wrinkle Remover

Dermatologist Dr. Mitchell Fleisher suggests that using alpha lipoic acid with DMAE can help improve wrinkles and age spots. He's developed an affordable recipe for anti-aging skin cream you can try at home: (v.9)

  • 2 capsules of alpha lipoic acid (R form), 50 mg each
  • 1 capsule of DMAE, 250 mg
  • 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil
  • 2 bowls, one larger than the other
  • Hot water

Place the smaller bowl into the larger bowl. Pour hot (not boiling) water in larger bowl so that it surrounds but doesn't get into the smaller bowl.

Add all ingredients to the smaller bowl and mix as the hot water melts the mixture from the outside. Apply a small amount of the mixture to your thigh or stomach and wait 2 days to be sure you're not sensitive to any ingredient. If not sensitive, use a small amount twice a day to problem areas on your face. Taking DMAE and alpha lipoic acid oral supplements will hasten signs of improvement.

Study results are mixed. Some animal and lab tests suggest that topical alpha lipoic acid offers little to no protection against the sun's UV radiation. However, in other animal research and a small, placebo-controlled trial in healthy human volunteers, alpha lipoic acid protected against UV radiation. All investigations in live subjects measured alpha lipoic acid's effect by its ability to prevent color changes (e.g., sunburn). (v.3-418)

The upshot is that research shows alpha lipoic acid protects against UV radiation in some people. Even those experts who say alpha lipoic acid doesn't offer UV protection recognize that it does improve skin's appearance — including the following: (v.3-48-1019)

In combination with other antioxidants (such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and melatonin), topical cream and oral supplements of alpha lipoic acid: (v.5-6)

  • Improves dry skin.
  • Reduces free radical activity on the skin.
  • Improves the thickness, elasticity, and overall appearance of aging skin.

How Does Alpha Lipoic Acid Work?

In addition to alpha lipoic acid's known antioxidant benefits, it is also a power anti-inflammatory compound. Alpha lipoic acid supplements may also prevent the damaging effects of AGEs, molecules that could make skin more susceptible to sun damage and premature skin aging. (v.5)

Alpha lipoic acid's ability to increase levels of a chemical commonly linked to brain function may also help your skin. In clinical trials, dermatologists have found that using DMAE, a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and liver spots. That's because skin cells have acetylcholine receptors. Studies show that alpha lipoic acid increases acetylcholine levels in the brain, suggesting it may also do so in the skin. One of the ways alpha lipoic acid increases levels of this important neurotransmitter is by blocking the enzymes that break it down. (v.920-22)

Younger-Looking Skin with ALA

Interestingly, recent research indicates that although UV radiation quickly decomposes alpha lipoic acid, other natural sulfurous compounds (such as homocysteine and cysteine) can protect ALA. These results suggest that topical lotions combining these compounds could maximize ALA's protective benefit against damage to the skin from the sun. (v.23)

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed physician. If you require any medical related advice, contact your physician promptly. Information presented on this website is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard medical advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.