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When you think of melatonin, sleep (or lack thereof) is probably is the first thing that comes to mind. As an oral supplement often taken as a natural alternative to OTC and prescription sleep aids, the naturally-occurring hormone produced by our brains is responsible for signaling the transition from daytime to bedtime. It’s often touted for its ability to help soothe the aftermath of jet-lag as well as provide short-term relief for insomnia and other disruptions in the sleep-wake cycles (circadian rhythm). While research regarding melatonin’s efficacy seems to be a patchwork of varying views, an emerging field looking at its topical benefits is emerging —and now brands are making melatonin skin products.
We’re well aware of wide-ranging skincare benefits a topical antioxidant can deliver to the skin, ranging from protection against environmental pollutants, UV rays and oxidative stress to improving elasticity and softening fine lines. Vitamin C is the most common and arguably the most derm-approved antioxidant active, lauded for its dark-spot-erasing and glow-inducing magical powers –just to name a few.
There is a slew of other antioxidant ingredients with powerful anti-aging properties as well, including Vitamin A (retinol), niacinamide, flavonoids, Vitamin E and polyphenols. They’ve all been shown to offer a number of benefits including accelerating skin rejuvenation, reducing inflammation, shielding your skin from sun damage and helping to soften fine lines. However, melatonin –while technically a hormone — is now being used as an antioxidant in tandem with other topical antioxidants in skincare. While it’s an emerging active on the market, dermatologists and skincare brands are seemingly standing behind it.
“Melatonin is actually highly lipophilic which means it can easily penetrate into skin cells and impart important cellular functions such as repairing mitochondrial and DNA damage. It also has been shown to upregulate important antioxidative enzymes which activate further protection against oxidative damage. It has been shown to repair mitochondrial and DNA damage,” according to New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Melissa Levin. While melatonin may be skincare’s hottest newcomer, “efficient free radical scavenging and repair from triggers such as UV light, allergens, pollutants, irritants, and mechanical insults which has been studied and shown by topical melatonin.”
However, in order to reap melatonin’s visible anti-aging effects, you’ll have to apply it topically. “There is no evidence that oral ingestion of melatonin will impart skin anti-aging benefits. Topical melatonin currently has the most robust data for providing skin benefits as an antioxidant and skin brightener.”
One of the pioneering labels endorsing melatonin-infused skincare is ISDINCEUTICS, who has introduced a line of advanced skincare products harnessing the powers of both stabilized vitamin C in unison with melatonin. The brand’s best-selling serum, Melatonik works to accelerate your skin’s natural repair process, promoting faster cell turnover while you get your beauty sleep — pun intended. According to Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, the serum’s combination of antioxidant actives and botanicals “…work while you sleep to protect and repair your skin against the damages it faces during the day: free radicals, environmental pollutants, and the effects of UV radiation. Meanwhile, the third ingredient bakuchiol, an organic botanical that activates approximately 90% of the same receptors as retinol, helps to replenish collagen and help with skin turnover.”
Other skincare brands have quietly introduced melatonin to their skincare products, from Dr. Dennis Gross’s best-selling sunscreen infused with the double protective properties of topical melatonin to Peter Thomas Roth’s hemp-infused night cream, which contains 2% topical melatonin to assist in cellular repair while you sleep. Here are some of the innovative melatonin skincare products paving the way for beauty’s latest active.
Alpyn Beauty Calming Sleeping Mask with Melatonin & Wild Dandelion
A night cream enriched with brightening melatonin and smoothing bakuchiol (a popular retinol alternative) for restoring moisture and increasing firmness.
ISDINCEUTICS MELATONIK™ 3-IN-1 Night Serum
In addition to this multifunctional serum’s blend of melatonin and Vitamin C, it also contains a botanical ingredient called bakuchiol, which acts as a gentler alternative to retinol, so you reap the benefits of added exfoliation overnight as well.
Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen
This best-selling sunscreen amplifies protection from sun damage as well as environmental aggressors thanks to its addition of Vitamin C, E and melatonin. Hence, not only does it protect you from damage, but it’s also helping to repair the existing signs of it as well.
ISDIN ISDINCEUTICS Flavo-C Melatonin Serum
This two-in-one offers both a set of daytime Vitamin-C ampules for the daytime and a melatonin-Vitamin C version to be applied before bed.
Youth Corridor Ultimate Antioxidant C Boost Serum
Designed by a top plastic surgeon, this powerful serum contains a proprietary blend of antioxidants –including melatonin alongside hydrating actives like Vitamin E to prevent over-drying the skin and lock in moisture all day.
Peter Thomas Roth Green Releaf Therapeutic Sleep Cream Skin Protectant
Hemp and CBD skincare is undoubtedly a rising trend in beauty about to go rival. This night cream takes forward innovation to the next level by incorporating a base of hemp seed oil with other progressive actives including colloidal oatmeal to soothe and calm irritation and 2% topical melatonin to expedite the skin’s rejuvenation process.
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