Many of us worry about fine lines and wrinkles at an early age, with our work and life stress speeding up the aging process . But with the help of glutathione, we can work alongside our body to boost the detoxification of toxins that make us age quicker. Glutathione is hailed by doctors and dermatologists for its impressive collection of benefits for the skin. From fighting off harmful chemicals to fading hyperpigmentation, glutathione is the secret to that youthful and radiant glow we all crave. Discover why glutathione is the king of antioxidants and how you can harness its power for your skin.
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant naturally produced by the body. It’s primarily known for combatting free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, but has also been linked to a number of health benefits, such as reducing cell damage and improving circulation, immunological response and insulin resistance .
Glutathione is a type of tripeptide, built from three amino acids; cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. These amino acids are unique in their ability to attract harmful free radicals, mercury, toxins, metals and more, dispelling them from the body to prevent cell decay.
Tripeptides, peptides, and amino acids, are naturally-occurring molecules that form protein and provide structure to cells and tissues. They’re essential for almost all bodily systems, and are particularly hailed for their role in boosting skin strength and suppleness. With powerful detoxing and anti-agingproperties, it’s no wonder peptides such as glutathione have become cult skincare ingredients.
Although glutathione is made organically in the body, like collagen, levels decline with age. Moreover, ongoing stress, infection, insomnia and toxin exposure can cause stores to deplete faster, making it ever-more important to integrate glutathione into your lifestyle. Various food sources, particularly those high in sulphur or selenium, can help boost levels, while integrating glutathione into your skincare regime can provide a targeted approach to leverage skin health.
What are the benefits of glutathione for skin?
As one of the body’s strongest antioxidants, glutathione is packed full of detoxifying and anti-aging benefits for the skin. By eliminating toxins and improving the health of our cells, glutathione protects from oxidative damage that leads to fine lines, acne and dullness. Studies have verified the compound’s ability to reduce wrinkles, as well as improving skin elasticity and evenness [3, 4]. One study in particular found that topical use of glutathione improved skin moisture significantly, demonstrating its ability to hydrate dull and dry skin . However, this wasn’t the case for oral alternatives, meaning that creams, serums and patches containing glutathione may be more beneficial in achieving that refreshed and renewed glow [3, 4].
Glutathione is also commonly associated with anti-melanogenic activity, which lightens the skin through inhibiting melanin production. This makes it great for brightening dark circles and inducing a luminous complexion. The antioxidant superpowers of glutathione promote cell turnover to replace damaged cells with healthy ones, which contributes to reducing hyperpigmentation and fading the appearance of spots, scars and marks for a more even skin tone .
These properties make glutathione great for skin that’s been exposed to UV radiation for long periods of time, such as through sunbathing or using tanning beds, helping to reduce redness and lighten dark, blotchy and speckled skin. However, glutathione should not be considered as a substitute for SPF to protect against UV radiation.
Another key benefit of glutathione is its great safety profile. This means that topical application of the tripeptide can be used without worry of irritation, which is not always the case with other skincare ingredients.
How do I know if my skin would benefit from glutathione?
The short answer is that everyone can benefit from incorporating glutathione into their skin regime. Although it occurs naturally in the body, levels decrease over time so it’s important to top up our glutathione regularly to maintain optimal skin health. Moreover, glutathione benefits for skin are diverse, helping to tackle minor skin issues such as dark circles, dry skin and fine lines, to more advanced skin concerns such as psoriasis.
Over the years, many forces leave our skin susceptible to signs of aging. From toxins, hormonal changes daily stress and yes - even gravity, our skin elasticity and renewal slows down. Fortunately, antioxidants are the anti-agers of nutrients, and glutathione is one of the best. Working it into your skincare regime can help decelerate signs of aging and keep skin looking firm and supple for longer.
If you’re the 1 in 3 of us suffering from poor sleep , glutathione can also help waken tired-looking eyes. Its energising and lightening qualities make it a great remedy for dark circles (and late nights).
How can I incorporate glutathione into my skincare routine?
There are many ways to reap the benefits of glutathione, but some studies have pointed towards topical applications being the most effective treatments for skin . It’s often paired with vitamin C, as their complementary skin brightening properties can be more effective.
Serums, creams and lotions can provide good coverage of glutathione for the whole face. But if you’re looking for a targeted treatment – such as treating the delicate eye area for fine lines and wrinkles, thinning skin and dark circles, you may want to opt for microneedle patches. The advanced skincare technique is becoming increasing popular, where decreased time to see results is often associated with the microneedles sending active ingredients like glutathione to the skin’s epidermis and lower levels. Microneedle eye patches containing glutathione (and vitamin C for added luminosity) can lead to rejuvenated and youthful-looking skin.
The bottom line is that glutathione benefits the skin in multiple ways. Frequently dubbed the ‘master antioxidant’, it plays a critical role in the detoxification of harmful substances and healthy cell renewal, which helps delay the outward signs of aging. Incorporating glutathione into your skincare routine topically, such as through serums or microneedle patches, can have significant positive changes to the skin’s texture and tone, as well as reducing fine line, wrinkles and dark circles.
 Deccan Herald (2014) British women start worrying about wrinkles at 24, https://www.deccanherald.com/content/408842/british-women-start-worrying-wrinkles.html
 Chasseaud L. F. (1979)The role of glutathione and glutathione S-transferases in the metabolism of chemical carcinogens and other electrophilic agents. /Advanced Cancer Research./29:175-274.
 Weschawalit, S., Thongthip, S., Phutrakool, P and Asawanonda, P (2017) Glutathione and ins antiaging and antimelanogenic effects, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 10, 147-153
 Watanabe, F., Hashizume, E, Chan, G. P., and Kamimura, A. (2014) Skin-whitening and skin-condition-improving effects of topical oxidized glutathione: a double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trial in healthy women, /Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology,/7, 267-274
 Etnawati, K, Adiwinarni, D. R, Susetiati, D. A, Sauchi, Y, Ito, (2019) The efficacy of skin care products containing glutathione in delivering skin lightening in Indonesian women, 11(S1), 23rd Regional Conference of Dermatology, Indonesia 11-18 August, 2018
 Prussick, R., Prussick, L and Gutman, J. (2013) Psoriasis improvement in patients using glutathione-enhancing, nondenatured whey protein isolate: A pilot study/, Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology,/6(10) 23-26 NHS (2021) Why lack of sleep is bad for your health, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/