Amino acids - the ingredient that keeps you looking young

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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 skin elasticity and firmness. In the hair, it makes keratin for strong hair. Amino acids are also found on their own in the epidermis, the upper skin layer, where it attracts water to keep your complexion hydrated.


Amino acids - the ingredient that keeps you looking young

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Your body makes amino acids constantly. But it can only produce so much. And this too, depends on your age. The older you are, the longer your body takes to replenish your 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 one per cent every year. By the time you’re 40, the regeneration process will be 25 per cent slower.   

You also lose amino acids when you perspire or bathe, says Dr Heng Jun Khee, associate consultant at the National Skin Centre.  

What happens when you lack amino acids? Your skin sags, is dehydrated and looks more lined. Your hair becomes dry, brittle, and thins out. But to make up for the shortfall, you can “feed” amino acids to your skin and hair through amino acid-rich beauty products.

Amino acids - the ingredient that keeps you looking young

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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.

American-Japanese haircare brand Amino Mason is also taking advantage of how tiny amino acid molecules are. Their products contain the 16 amino acids that make up the hair. Being so small, these get into the hair shaft more easily than keratin, for better moisturising and repair.

Dr Heng does caution that there are limited studies on how deeply amino acids can penetrate the skin, so no one really knows how effective these products are. That said, they can still function as moisturisers to retain water and keep the skin and hair hydrated.

Here are some skincare and haircare products that contain amino acids: