Glutathione: Your Guide To The Antioxidant With Major Skincare Benefits

If you have Googled the best antioxidants for the skin, you may have heard of glutathione. Glutathione is a naturally occurring antioxidant in our body and also a peptide. Made up of three amino acids including glycine, glutamic, and cysteine acid, glutathione holds a litany of anti-aging effects. 

Glutathione serves to protect the skin from oxidative stress produced by free radicals that leads to visible signs of aging, in addition to reducing inflammation and promoting healing. In fact, the decline of glutathione in the body is believed to speed up the manifestation of external signs of aging. Glutathione can also influence the skin pigment and brighten the complexion. A 2021 study published in The International Journal of Dermatology concluded that a combination of topical and oral glutathione produces a noticeable effect in lightening the skin.

If you're looking to build an anti-aging skincare routine, consider making glutathione the core of it. Here's some essential information about the anti-aging benefits of glutathione and how to rightly bless your skin with it. 

The benefits of glutathione for your skin

Aesthetic physician Dr. David Jack explained to Glamour that glutathione can support healthier and smoother skin by protecting it from damaging environmental elements such as pollution, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and cigarette smoke. It also supports healthy cell function and slows down the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. 

"When used in skincare, glutathione helps against premature aging; it helps to brighten and even out the skin tone by reducing the production of melanin (by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase) which is responsible for discoloration and hyperpigmentation," dermatologist and nutritionist Dr. Thivi Maruthappu told Glamour. For this reason, glutathione is a boon to those with hyperpigmentation as well as those with acne and scarring issues due to its anti-inflammatory and healing effects, per Dr. Maruthappu. 

Dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman told Paula's Choice that glutathione has the ability to impede an enzyme that induces melanin overproduction. It is also able to impact the pheomelanin pathway and reduce the free radicals that form as a result of prolonged exposure to UV light and environmental pollution, evening skin tone. A 2014 study published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology suggested that using a 2% concentration glutathione cream on the skin twice a day for 10 weeks decreased the melanin index on dark spots.

How to use glutathione in your skincare routine

Glutathione is well-tolerated by all skin types and can be safe to use on a daily basis. Since glutathione is a substance that can be found naturally in our skin, it's unlikely that you'll have an allergic reaction when using this product, per Glamour. Glutathione can be used topically or taken orally. In certain cases, medical professionals can administer glutathione in the form of an IV drip.

However, if you have specific skin concerns like hyperpigmentation or melasma, or you're pregnant or breastfeeding, it's better to apply topical products.  "Topical skin care products containing glutathione are the best way to apply the ingredient directly to the target area," dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman told Paula's Choice. Glutathione gets along well with other brightening ingredients, such as vitamin C, licorice, arbutin, or azelaic acid, meaning there is a low chance of adverse interaction. In fact, combining glutathione with other skin-whitening agents can amplify its dullness-banishing effect. However, don't hesitate to speak to your doctor if you have questions about glutathione or an underlying skin condition.