What do you think of when you hear “melatonin”? For most of us, we associate melatonin levels with our constantly cycling circadian rhythms. Melatonin is available as a supplement to help regulate sleep cycles; i.e. for those that have difficulty with insomnia or falling asleep, melatonin supplementation may help.
But melatonin has many other roles. It is an effective antioxidant, protecting our cells from damage from the free radicals that we encounter daily. And due to its lipophilic properties, melatonin is able to more easily travel through the membrane of cells, delivering its antioxidant properties directly into the DNA and mitochondria of cells. Melatonin also plays an important role in the homeostasis of the skin.
So what does this mean for our skin? Early studies have shown that topically applied melatonin actually suppresses ultraviolet-B induced inflammation, and this effect is compounded when melatonin is combined with other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Melatonin also has proven benefit in healing wounds(1) and suppressing eczema flares(2).
All of this translates to significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of melatonin, in topical or supplement form, on our skin. And antioxidant properties lend to an anti-aging effect by fighting against the damaging agents that our skin encounters daily.
Our melatonin levels decrease as we age. So it is important to recognize the potential benefit that supplementation, whether oral or topical may provide to us as our instrinsic levels start to decline.
- Ozler M et al. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2010 Oct;70(6)447-52.
- Kim TH et al. J Pineal Res. 2009 Nov;47(4):324-9