Benefits of Amino Acid Cleansers for Skincare

Trying to understand chemical compounds or interpret atomic structure isn’t necessarily a common pastime for most. However, scrutinizing the details of the ingredient lists on the label of the skincare products has become something of a common habit when one is in the market for skincare products that match his/her skin type.

It is time consuming to continuously search online for information about the latest skincare ingredients that can actually deliver great results. Especially with the overwhelming amount of information that turns up each time you do a search on any of the multitudes of ingredients and contents found in a skincare product.

Nonetheless, it can be said with confidence that one of the most common results that pop up in searches is amino acids. Being one of the most used ingredients in many skincare products, amino acids plays a vital and foundational role in skincare. However, when questioned on its true purpose, most skincare enthusiasts fall short in elaborating its properties and benefits. So what do amino acids do?

What are Amino Acids?

Before we dive deeper into the world of amino acid cleansers and their specifics, let’s get to know about the basic properties of amino acids first.

What are amino acids and why is it important for us to be paying attention to it at all? 

We all know that ingredients in skincare and cosmetics come and go in waves of trends but these organic compounds are keepers that are here to stay.

In Biology, we learned that these natural compounds “are the building blocks that make up proteins and have a role in virtually all biological processes that occur in our bodies. The sequence in which they combine together determines which particular protein they will form and how they will function.”

Amino acids play a very important role in maintaining one’s overall health and having healthy skin. This is simply because they are the building blocks that contribute to every process that happens in our body. In the correct sequence and usage, amino acids are capable of forming the right type of proteins required to build, maintain and heal healthy skins.

According to dermatologist Richard Bottiglione, MD, there are twenty types of amino acids. Of the twenty, eleven are considered ‘nonessential’ and nine are considered very ‘essential’. Irrespective of that, all these are important for the body’s survival.

Nonessential amino acids are those that our body is able to produce naturally without necessarily needing additional supplementary consumption. Essential amino acids, on the other hand, are those that can only be obtained from food consumed as the body does not naturally produce this acid on its own.

In other quarters, this compound plays a very important role in all our body’s biological functions. Of course, these protein building blocks are therefore also vital in anything happening at skin level, too. 

Common Amino Acids used in Skincare

As mentioned earlier, all amino acids play a very important role in beautifying the skin. However, there are some types that come with skin-specific benefits:

  • Arginine: helps restore visible skin damage such as surface scars and damage from time spent under the sun.
  • Histidine: soothes the skin and has antioxidant properties, helps keep the skin fresh and looking young.
  • Methionine: protects the skin from harmful substances that we exposed it to on a daily basis such as dishwashers, detergents or even oils.
  • Lysine: strengthens the skin’s surface, making it more flexible and able to resist stresses that comes with constant movement of the body.
  • Proline, leucine and glycine: make fine lines and wrinkles less deep

Of course, these are just a few examples. Among all the multiple types, there are many which bring benefits to skincare. 

Benefits of Amino Acids in Skincare

A number of studies have shown that amino acids are crucial in maintaining good skin health. There are lots of benefits one can receive from these compounds as they are the building blocks of peptides and proteins, and different amino acids have different functions in skin care. 

Some of these building blocks occur naturally in the skin and work with aquaporins (water channels) to transfer moisture through the skin, ensuring that moisture levels at the skin level is optimum, not too dry that it will cause cracks or not too moist that it causes discomfort and bacterial growth.

Other types act as antioxidants that protect your skin cells from free radicals. Research has also proven that synthetic amino acids hydrate better than those originating from a plant or animal source. 

These compounds, whether produced internally or directly applied to the skin, help to keep the immune system strong, maintain the skin’s moisture levels and helps maintain vibrancy in your skin.

It also acts as healing accelerators. One of the strongest qualities that they have is the ability to heal any sort of damaged skin quickly while preventing further breakdown of skin tissue in the future.

Additionally, this amazing compound has the potential to remove dead cells and support new cellular growth. It also contributes to cell metabolism which is a key process in healing scar tissues. Similarly, the types that are rich in glycine help to reduce the depth of stretch marks as well.

We all know that too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be very harmful to the skin, commonly resulting in skin cancer such as carcinoma. Other than skin cancer, UV rays can cause other skin problems such as wrinkles, leathery skins, solar elastosis and even formation of scaly spots/ patches on the top layer of the skin. In some cases, skin dehydration can also be a problem.

Thanks to these protein molecules, all these effects can be reversed and treated. This is because there are specific amino acids that are capable of absorbing the harmful UV rays that results in these skin ailments.. 

These organic compounds also help to maintain skin hydration via an increase in water retention because of their unique ability to bind with water molecules. It is actually present in the top layers of our skin and it helps to keep our skin hydrated by pushing moisture through and into the skin.

Lack of moisture in our skin makes our skin dry and gives way for acne, wrinkles and pimples. For example, glycerine helps to plump the skin by retaining the moisture.

So, always remember the specific type of amino acids that helps keep your skin hydrated, as a properly hydrated skin is key to looking younger and more vibrant.

What are Amino Acid Surfactants?

Amino acid surfactants (AAS) are biodegradable and biocompatible surfactants acquired by condensation of natural amino acids with fatty acids. This highly biodegradable and environmentally friendly product is gentle and tender towards even the most sensitive and delicate skin, making it a better substitute for various other skincare compounds that may be either harmful or chemically too strong for certain skin types.

To top it off, these amino acid-based surfactants possess excellent emulsifying property that is  once again mild on the skin.

How do Amino Acids work with Peptides?

Peptides are small chains of amino acids and because of this smaller chain structure, they are much easier for the body to absorb for use. This allows the amino acids consumed to be more effectively and efficiently used, significantly increasing skin health and reducing signs of aging.

Usually, all amino acids incorporated in skin care products work with other ingredients that are also part of skin’s natural moisturizing factors. This includes glycerine, ceramides, hyaluronic acid and various peptides.

How do Amino Acid based Skin Products Work?

In order to ensure skin is healthy and youthful, certain types of nutrients are required to maintain its structure and systems of self-repair.

Trying to keep skin healthy without additional compounds is like trying to bake a cake without flour and we all know that flour creates the basic structure of an entire cake!

While other items are equally important when baking a cake (eggs, butter, etc.), if you don’t have enough flour, your cake will not turn out good. Similarly, when your cells are producing collagen, elastin and other compounds, if your skin does not have enough amino acids, your skin will not turn out nice. 

As an example, glycine is a type of amino acid that is great for elasticity and smoothing fine lines. This can be found in soy but there is only so much soy you can eat. Thankfully, it is now also found in skin products.

Skin-friendly cleansing agents derived from these acids help to promote cellular repair and rejuvenates the skin. 

Also, when you apply this compound on the skin, it has been shown in multiple studies to have significant effects, ranging from boosted UV protection to the promotion of tissue repair

With its unique blend of pure essential oils, Recherche face cleanser washes away all traces of dirt, grime, pollutants, and makeup thoroughly in just one simple step. This product will significantly reduce your yearly makeup remover bill as you don’t need a separate makeup remover!

Final words

Amino acids are one of the most overlooked elements of modern skincare. This is because the idea of great skincare products is continuously changing. Thankfully, science has proven that it actually helps that when added to skincare products, amino acids help with building healthy skin. This natural compound has unique abilities that can hydrate, heal, reverse damage and increase structural support, keeping us youthful for longer!


Richard Bottiglione, M.D. (Online) Available at: [Accessed 06 August 2020]

Amino Acids for Skin (Online) Available at: Amino Acids for Skin [Accessed 06 August 2020]

The Role of Amino Acids in Healthy, Youthful Skin (Online) Available at: [Accessed 06 August 2020]

Amino Acid Surfactants – Nature’s Pure Cleansing Ingredients (Online) Available at: [Accessed 06 August 2020]


Coreenna Ong

Head of Research

Coreenna Ong has more than 20 years of extensive experiences in research and development, conceptualization, formulation, production process development and bring to market skincare products in the beauty industry. Ms Ong is currently the Director, Research and Development at Recherché skincare.

Recherché is a Singapore cosmeceutical skincare brand, with its products clean, green, plant-based and specially catered for Asian skin. It is also the pioneer in developing edible skincare actives to specifically address skin concerns.

Within just 2 years, Ms Ong’s research has led Recherché to win several awards and accolades for its products.

Ms Ong’s research focuses on harnessing the latest formulation technologies, knowledge and techniques to distil and extract nature's essence, and then apply them synergistically for maximum results.

She has authored 2 best-selling Beauty and Wellness books with Marshall Cavendish. The books had multiple runs and remained popular and in print circulation for several years. They are currently available in the Singapore National Library collection.

Ms Ong was also a Beauty columnist for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper publication, with huge regional presence. As its weekly expert contributor, she shared the latest research and technologies from the Beauty industry, and addressed the many skincare issues and concerns of the newspaper's readers regionally, including offering beauty tips, quick fixes and insider knowledge.

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