We all know melatonin as a sleeping pill because it is released by the pineal gland in the brain, and helps us fall asleep at night when it is dark. Melatonin is very connected with our circadian rhythm and the environment.
Recently it was discovered that melatonin’s endocrine properties extend to the skin and hair. Could that be why animals shed their fun in the summertime and grow thicker fur in the wintertime? Perhaps.
We do know for sure that there are melatonin receptors in the skin and hair follicles.1 Our skin makes the melatonin that is needed to keep our skin healthy and youthful. Taking melatonin orally does not have the same effect and therefore you may see a surgent of melatonin topical products.
Melatonin keeps our skin healthy and youthful by 2 major mechanisms. It has antioxidant effects that neutralize the oxidative damage from the sun2-4, and by stimulating growth receptors in the skin.1
The antioxidant effects of melatonin are so strong, they are thought to be strong and more potent than glutathione2, Vitamin C3, and Vitamin E.4
Melatonin is also being studied in other areas of health, such as neurodegenerative diseases, cancers, and anti-aging in general.
- Leszczynski K, Fischer TW. Melatonin and human skin aging. Dermato-Endocrinology 4:3, 245–252; July–December 2012;
- Lopez-Burillo, S., Tan, D. X., Mayo, J. C., Sainz, R. M., Manchester, L. C., and Reiter, R. J. Melatonin, xanthurenic acid, resveratrol, EGCG, vitamin C, and alpha-lipoic acid differentially reduce oxidative DNA damage induced by Fenton reagents: a study of their individual and synergistic actions. J Pineal Res 2003;34(4):269-277.
- Montilla-Lopez P, Munoz-Agueda, MC, Lopez M, et al. Comparison of melatonin versus vitamin C on oxidative stress and antioxidant enzyme activity in Alzheimer’s disease induced by okadaic acid in neuroblastoma cells. Eur J Pharmacol. 9-20-2002;451(3):237-243.
- Mayo JC, Tan DX, Sainz RM, Natarajan M, Lopez-Burillo S, Reiter RJ. Protection against oxidative protein damage induced by metal-catalyzed reaction or alkyl peroxyl radicals: comparative effects of melatonin and other antioxidants. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – General Subjects. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-4165(02)00527-5. Published March 17, 2003. Accessed April 3, 2019.