Ingredient Focus | Glutathione

In 2015 I was stung by a lot of mosquitoes in Bali. Unfortunately it gave me an allergic reaction. The itching was unbearable! I scratched my whole skin which cause ugly scars. So I decided to go to a local pharmacy.

I told the pharmacist about my allergic reaction. And she did have an ointment for that (which turned out not to work afterwards). She also had something to lighten my dark skin.

“Excuse me?”

I was a bit surprised, because I’m not used to get unsolicited advice about my skin color. That is not done in The Netherlands. She picked up a box of glutathione pills and told me that these pills could lighten my skin. I didn’t trust this and thanked for the offer.

Once back in The Netherlands, I learned that glutathione is big in Asia. Asian women use it to lighten their skin and frankly, some before and after photos look impressive.

Glutathione isn’t well known in The Netherlands and not that easy to obtain. Still, I’m curious about the benefits of the skin. Yet I also read a lot of skeptical stories from doctors. Time to dive deeper into it!

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a powerful and important antioxidant found in every cell of your body. It’s made of 3 types of amino acids: glutamine, glycine and cysteine.

What is special about glutathione is that it is produced by your liver. Most antioxidants aren’t produced by your liver.

Glutathione is sometimes called ‘the mother of all antioxidants’. That’s because glutathione has many benefits for your body: it makes DNA, boosts your immune system, breaks down free radicals, prevents cell damage and cell death, and much more.

The benefits for your skin

Photo: RyanKing999

Glutathione breaks down free radicals (among other things). Free radicals can cause cell and tissue damage. This causes hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, inflammation and melasma. Glutathione can help to reduce these skin problems, leaving you with a more even skin tone.

And that’s why glutathione is often used as a skin lightening product. It’s a powerful antioxidant, it helps to lighten dark spots and it brights the skin. Therefor you can often find topical glutathione in skin care products.

Yet researchers aren’t yet fully convinced of the benefits of glutathione for the skin. Research on this is still going.

How to take glutathione

The simplest way is to take food that stimulate glutathione production in your body. For example, think of garlic, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts.

Taking extra vitamins can also help to boost your glutathione production like vitamin C, selenium, Nacetyl cysteine and milk thistle.

And exercising also helps, as long as you build it up slowly. Start with 10-30 minutes daily. But if you exercise too hard, you add more stress to your body. This depletes the glutathione.

You can also take a glutathione beauty shot. This increases your glutathione value by means of an injection. You can have this done by beauticians, but it is not so well known in The Netherlands.

In addition, there are glutathione supplements. Yet it is claimed that these aren’t properly absorbed by your body. Because of this your glutathione value doesn’t increase in your body when you take this. A glutathione injection would be much more effective.

Skin care products with glutathione

You can also use skin care products that contain topical glutathione:

Front Photo: Jacob Lund

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