Glutathione as a skin lightening agent: Facts, myths, evidence
The low molecular weight of thiol-tripeptide glutathione plays a crucial part in preserving intracellular redox equilibrium. The discovery of its antimelanogenic qualities and its exceptional antioxidant characteristics has resulted in its marketing as a skin-lightening agent.
Within some ethnic groups, it is frequently employed for this indication. Evidence for its safety and efficacy, however, contradict each other. The claims made about its depigmentary abilities could be a pharma-cosmetics company marketing ploy.
The many functions of glutathione, as well as its metabolism and mode of action, are the main topics of this review, which also examines the available scientific data to assess its effectiveness as a systemic skin-lightening agent. Glutathione is found inside cells in its reduced form and is crucial for a number of physiological processes.
By both, directly and indirectly, inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme and altering the formation of eumelanin to phaeomelanin, it has the ability to lighten skin. It comes in topical, parenteral, and oral forms. Although intravenous glutathione injections are often used, there is little proof of their effectiveness.
In fact, the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines issued a public warning criticizing the use of intravenous glutathione for off-label reasons such as skin whitening due to the negative consequences it causes.
There are now three randomized controlled studies that back up topical and oral glutathione's skin-lightening impact and strong safety record. However, important issues including the length of therapy, the permanence of the skin-lightening effect, and maintenance procedures still need to be solved.
To determine the significance of this molecule in diseases of hyperpigmentation and skin lightening, more randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with bigger sample sizes, long-term follow-up, and well-defined effectiveness outcomes are required.
An extract of human skin that had an active sulfhydryl-containing molecule had an impact on the link between thiols and skin, which was one of the early pieces of evidence to support the theory.
Tyrosinase inhibition stopped the production of melanin. When this chemical was exposed to heat, radiation, or inflammation, which resulted in its inactivation and loss of its ability to inhibit tyrosinase, hyperpigmentation was shown. Physical and biological data from Halprin and Ohkawara demonstrated that this "sulfhydryl substance" was glutathione.
Natural sources of glutathione in food
Natural sources of glutathione include fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other foods. Asparagus, tomatoes, avocados, oranges, and walnuts are some of the most popular foods that support the body's production of glutathione. Another excellent source of glutathione is whey protein, which has been utilized to raise systemic glutathione levels in people with cystic fibrosis.
Glutathione's potential influence on coloration
When skin lightening was observed as a side effect of high dosages of glutathione, its potential as a skin-lightening agent was unintentionally discovered. The most significant of the several mechanisms for glutathione's hypopigmentary impact is its suppression of tyrosinase. Tyrosinase activity can be decreased by glutathione in three distinct ways.
Tyrosinase is directly inhibited by the thiol group's chelation of the copper site. Second, glutathione prevents the transfer of tyrosinase from cells to premelanosomes, which is necessary for the production of melanin.
Thirdly, the antioxidant impact of tyrosinase suppression has an indirect effect. By causing interactions between thiol groups and dopaquinone that result in the creation of sulfhydryl-dopa conjugates, glutathione causes melanogenesis to switch from eumelanin to phaeomelanin synthesis.
There are many skin benefits associated with glutathione
1) Removing pigment
The ability of glutathione to reduce pigmentation is well known. When administered topically or in any other manner, this chemical is known for achieving lighter, brighter, and more radiant skin.
According to research, glutathione affects hyperpigmentation through three different mechanisms:
Inhibition of tyrosinase activity
Glutathione primarily inhibits tyrosinase activity, which is the major mechanism by which it effectively reduces dark spots, patches, and uneven skin tone.
Tyrosinase is a crucial enzyme in melanogenesis, the process that produces melanin, and its inhibition has a major impact on melanin levels (the pigment which imparts color to your skin, the higher the levels darker the skin). This enhances the evenness and brightness of the skin.
Opening of the pheomelanin pathway
Another method by which glutathione lessens hyperpigmentation is by activating the pheomelanin pathway. Regardless of whether a person is exposed to the sun or not, glutathione regulates melanogenesis by changing eumelanin into pheomelanin.
In addition, glutathione may reduce pigmentation as a result of its antioxidant activity. As was previously mentioned, it considerably lowers the production of reactive oxygen species in skin cells as a result of prolonged exposure to UV radiation and environmental pollutants, hence reducing the risk of melanogenesis.
2) Inflammatory-reduction effects
Inflammation causes a variety of skin problems, including acne and hyperpigmentation. It reduces inflammation by lowering the mediator levels caused by inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The results are the reduction of melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and acne.
3) Anti-aging measures
Glutathione has been shown to have anti-aging benefits. All sun-exposed areas of the body respond positively to glutathione, reducing wrinkles and improving skin suppleness.
Try several home treatments in addition to glutathione to reduce wrinkles more quickly.
The aforementioned traits show how crucial it is to maintain healthy levels of glutathione in the body. These glutathione properties contribute to soft, youthful, brighter, and more radiant skin.
How safe is glutathione?
Before utilizing the concerned items in daily life, you may be troubled by the uncertainty around glutathione safety. Therefore, it's crucial to research the negative effects of glutathione usage as well as the different safety measures you should keep in mind.
According to scientific research, topical supplements are the most rational, and safe, and are only likely to have minor negative effects, if any. However, large doses of glutathione administered directly into the blood through the injection can result in a number of negative side effects, including hypopigmented patches, melanoma, a decrease in liver glutathione levels, and a lightening of the hair color.
Therefore, it is safe to use this antioxidant topically to your skin on a daily basis to improve your general health. The only thing to keep in mind is whether or not you are sensitive to this component. If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, see a doctor before using this. Before incorporating these supplements into your regular regimen, you might speak with a dermatologist or doctor.
Glutathione performs a number of functions in the body, including acting as an antioxidant. Numerous chronic illnesses and diseases are linked to low levels of glutathione in the body. However, there isn't enough data to determine whether taking glutathione supplements lowers the risk of such illnesses or offers any other health advantages.
The body produces glutathione from other amino acids. Additionally, it is in the food we consume. Before beginning any dietary supplements, be careful to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of supplementation with your healthcare physician.
Glutathione may only be recognized by people as a skin-brightening, depigmenting agent. However, it is linked to total skin renewal and healing. It is really important for skincare, and including it in your regimen may seriously result in a noticeable improvement in how attractive you appear overall.
It will give your skin a healthy shine, manage acne and prevent acne scars, slow down the aging process, shield skin from environmental aggressors including the sun, lighten freckles and pigmentation, and fight wrinkles and aging.
Additionally, while feeding the skin's general structure, it helps to balance out skin tone and makes skin smooth, fresh, and bright. The product is effective on its own as well as when combined with different vitamins and treatments.