Arginine is an amino acid that is used in cosmetics and skincare products that are used to help protect the skin from free radicals, increase the skin’s visible hydration levels, and potentially support collagen production.
In addition to building protein, arginine releases nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels in the bloodstream, which may help certain circulatory conditions. Arginine also plays an important role in cell division, wound healing, immune function, the release of hormones, and the production of growth hormone.
What Are The Benefits of Arginine?
In cosmetics and skincare products, arginine may help to protect the skin from free radicals, improve the appearance of hydration, and support collagen production.
Antioxidant: Arginine has been shown to have antioxidant activity. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Free radicals damage important cellular components, such as the cell membrane, DNA, and cellular proteins like collagen. Damaged collagen is a major factor that contributes to the appearance of aged skin. Therefore, by using topical antioxidants like arginine, the skin may potentially benefit and be better protected from free radicals.
Hydration: Another function of arginine in skincare products is to increase skin hydration by acting as a humectant. A humectant acts by pulling water into the skin from the environment and trapping it in the skin. Studies also suggest that arginine may be involved in the synthesis of components of the skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF), such as ceramides, cholesterol, urea, and glycosaminoglycans. Together with the naturally-occurring lipids in the skin, NMF components work to keep the skin’s surface intact, supple, and hydrated.
One study evaluated the effects of topical 2.5% arginine hydrochloride ointment on transepidermal water loss or water loss from the surface layers of the skin. The results of this study indicated that topical arginine increased urea content and improved skin hydration. It is important to remember that one study doesn’t indicate a causational link but this is an interesting potential benefit of arginine.
Anti-aging: Lastly, arginine is often used in anti-aging skincare products because of its potential ability to support collagen production. Studies have suggested that when arginine is metabolized to urea and ornithine by the enzyme arginase-1, L-proline is generated. L-proline is an amino acid that is a substrate for collagen synthesis. Collagen improves skin firmness and decreases signs of aging, so this potential property of arginine may help support skin health and anti-aging. In addition to these anti-aging effects, the potential ability of arginine to support collagen production may also help to speed wound healing.