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Melatonin in skin care – application, effect and risks

The so-called sleep hormone melatonin not only regulates our day-night rhythm, but is also increasingly used in cosmetic products. What it has to do with it and how it works there – Tikbow asked an expert.

The natural hormone melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, controls our day-night rhythm and acts as a kind of counterpart to the stress hormone cortisol. Melatonin is released more strongly in the dark and causes energy consumption, body temperature and blood pressure to drop. It allows the body to rest and is important for healthy sleep,” explains Dr. Steinkraus, a specialist in dermatology and aesthetic medicine in Hamburg. But melatonin is now also used in skin care.

Melatonin and skin

The skin itself also actively produces melatonin and has so-called melatonin receptors, which contribute to the regulation of skin homöostasis. Melatonin synthesis in the skin decreases with age and varies according to skin pigment, with dark skin having the highest melatonin concentration.

How can melatonin deficiency be detected?

If you suffer from inner restlessness, daytime drowsiness, chronic fatigue, poor stress response, difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and early awakenings, melatonin deficiency may be the cause. The concentration of melatonin in the body can be determined by means of a saliva sample, which is evaluated in a specialized laboratory.

Causes of melatonin deficiency

A dysbalance of the melatonin level is often due to one’s own lifestyle, whereby the following influencing factors come into consideration:

1. alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine have a negative effect on the biorhythm and impair the body’s own melatonin production.

2. blue light
Blue light refers to artificial light with a high blue light content, which is emitted primarily by smartphones, televisions and computers. You should avoid these media, especially before going to sleep, so as not to reduce your natural melatonin release.

3. time changes and changes in time
Flying through different time zones, shift work, but also the changeover from summer to winter time can upset the natural biorhythm and negatively affect melatonin production.

4. aging process
Over the years, the body’s natural melatonin production decreases. From the age of 40, the body produces only 60 percent of the original amount of melatonin.

What benefits does melatonin promise in skin care?

"Melatonin is a small molecule with lipophilic properties, which means it is easily absorbed by the skin and enters the bloodstream", says Dr. Steinkraus. "In addition, it also penetrates deep enough into the cell nucleus to be able to influence the skin"s collagen production;

This makes melatonin an anti-aging booster – the first signs of wrinkles caused by the natural breakdown of collagen are thus reduced. Furthermore, products with melatonin often contain additional anti-aging active ingredients such as retinol, vitamin C or hyaluronic acid.

Cosmetic products containing melatonin can strengthen the skin’s natural defenses and ward off visible signs of stress and pollution. Topical application of melatonin, itself an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, can neutralize free radicals and stimulate the natural production of antioxidant enzymes at the gene level,” says Dr. Steinkraus.

Use of melatonin in skin care

It is recommended to use it before going to bed, because at this time our metabolism, cell metabolism and cell renewal of the skin are running at full speed. That is why active ingredients can best develop their full skin care potential overnight,” recommends Dr. Steinkraus.

If taken orally as a food supplement, melatonin is less easily absorbed by the body and is very quickly broken down by the liver. For this reason, it is recommended to apply it through the skin, although no significant studies are currently available.

Risks of melatonin

In general, it should be remembered that melatonin is a hormone whose intake can sometimes have massive effects on the body. The hormone is extremely well absorbed by the skin and has been shown to enter the bloodstream, even when applied topically, where it affects the entire body. In general, caution is advised with hormone preparations, and consultation with a medical specialist is recommended. This is especially true when, as in the case of melatonin, there is little scientific evidence of optimal dosage, use and effect.

With expert advice from Dr. med. Susanne Steinkraus, practice for dermatology & ästhetic medicine in Hamburg.