Once you dive into the rabbit hole of skin care ingredients, it doesn't take long to be overwhelmed by all the options. But there's one category of compounds you should pay close attention to before making your next skin care purchase: amino acids. Your skin needs them—especially if you have dry, cracked skin or other signs of a damaged skin barrier. Here's everything you need to know about amino acid benefits for skin and how to incorporate them into your skin care routine.

Amino Acid Benefits for Skin

Amino acids are known as the "building blocks of life" for a reason. They form proteins that support many bodily functions, from blood flow to digestion. But they also have key benefits for your skin. Here's how amino acids can support your complexion:

  • Maintain a healthy skin barrier
  • Keep skin hydrated, vibrant, and smooth
  • Help reverse visible signs of aging
  • Support and strengthen the skin's structure
  • Encourage wound healing and repair
  • Promote a healthy skin microbiome

Your skin is constantly working to keep you healthy and protect you from harmful external forces, from air pollution to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. And to do its job well, your skin must have all the necessary amino acids. Your body produces some amino acids on its own, while others can only come from outside sources like food.

Considering everything your skin does for you, it's no surprise that it may sometimes need a little support. Incorporating amino acids in skin care is a great way to do just that.

Smiling woman applying serum on her face

Understanding Amino Acids in Skin Care

As you're considering skin care products with amino acids, look for variety. A label may not necessarily say "amino acids," but the ingredients list will include individual amino acid names. To make it easy, scan the list for taurine, arginine, and glycine.

These amino acids work together to help rejuvenate damaged skin and visibly reduce redness while protecting it from future irritation. However, each acid offers unique biological properties that contribute to optimal skin barrier repair. Here's a breakdown of each amino acid's benefits.


Taurine plays a significant role throughout your body and immune system, boosting eye, brain, and heart health. Your body naturally produces taurine, but you can also get it from meat, dairy, and seafood.

When applied to the skin, taurine does something special. Targeting the stratum corneum (your top layer of skin), it works to accelerate skin cell metabolism for faster regeneration. This process helps heal damaged skin while moisturizing and nourishing it.


Arginine is a "conditional" amino acid. This means that, while your body can make it on its own, you may need more of it during periods of increased stress or illness. You can add it to your diet by incorporating high-protein foods like nuts, meat, soybeans, and lentils.

When it comes to the skin, arginine plays a critical role in maintaining skin barrier health and fighting damage from external aggressors. Arginine's antioxidant properties keep your skin supple by supporting collagen regeneration and decreasing inflammation. It's also a natural moisturizing factor component, attracting and retaining moisture to nourish and reinforce your top layer of skin.


Like arginine, glycine is a conditional amino acid, so your body may need more of it from time to time. It helps keep you healthy in many ways by building muscle, lowering inflammation, and improving brain function. Protein-rich foods like seeds, fish, and poultry are good sources of glycine.

Glycine is also key for skin health. This amino acid quickly penetrates deep into the inner layers of the skin down to the dermis, which contains the skin-strengthening protein collagen. Once there, glycine helps stimulate collagen production. This process helps repair damage for healthier, stronger skin and fight signs of premature aging.

How to Harness the Healing Power of Amino Acids

First, make sure you're getting enough amino acids through your diet by prioritizing foods that include them.

Then, give your skin an amino acid boost by adding them to your skin care routine. This doesn't have to be complicated or take extra time. You can find amino acids in many different skin care products that are probably already part of your routine.

Start strong by adding them to your bedtime routine with a mask infused with amino acids, like EltaMD Skin Recovery Night Mask. This formula has a patented combination of three amino acids that help repair, calm, and regenerate your skin while you snooze.

If you're looking for more opportunities to include amino acids in your regimen, the EltaMD Skin Recovery System gives you plenty of options with a toner, serum, and moisturizer. Each product is formulated with AAComplex, an amino acid combination proven to improve skin health and vibrancy, reduce redness and irritation, and accelerate skin repair.

Giving Your Skin Needed Relief

Given the benefits of amino acids for your skin, it's no surprise that so many products leverage them to help heal and recover skin from daily wear and tear. By supporting antioxidant activity, these products also help defend against free radical damage, penetrating deep to strengthen and heal the skin barrier from within. Combine this with daily sun protection—like using sunscreen, wearing sun protective clothing, and seeking shade—to promote vibrant, healthy skin year-round. After all, your skin does a lot for you. Isn't it time you return the favor?



    Maria Robinson, MD, MBA is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist with over ten years of clinical experience. Dr. Robinson has a passion for nutrition and integrative dermatology, and is the co-founder of www.integrativederm.org, where people can explore holistic dermatology treatments. Through her writing, she strives to empower people with accurate health information so they can make positive decisions that lead to healthy and vibrant skin.

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