Wait, melatonin does more than help me fall asleep? Yes! Melatonin is the latest skincare trend. Crazy, I know, BUT it actually has some serious scientific benefits to back it up. The best way (in my humble book loving opinion) to describe it is through our two main characters: melatonin vs serotonin. Melatonin is the antagonist to serotonin, but think of it in like a “we love the villain and all morally grey characters” kind of way because melatonin is obviously something we want. Because serotonin is our hero and melatonin our deliciously devilish villain, with the increase of serotonin in the body, comes an increase in melatonin as well.
The Glorious Hero: Serotonin
Serotonin is that happy hormone we all want so badly (our shiny hero) and is produced when sunlight enters your eyes, stimulating parts that then send cues to the brain to develop serotonin. It’s known for regulating moods, emotions, appetite, and digestion and can only be produced by the brain. Curse you Ohio in the winter for hating us and giving us grey days instead of the glorious sun!
The Villain that’s Not Really a Villain, but Just the Opposite of Mr. Glorious Hero: Melatonin
So I guess you can’t have a villain (anti-hero?) without a hero, right? Our bodies need serotonin to produce melatonin. We need that sunlight to sleep better at night. I know there’s another metaphor somewhere in there, something about dark and light, but I think we have enough of those for now. Back to science! Melatonin helps regulate sleep, calms the skin, and can help alleviate stress. Our pineal gland which is located deep in the brain alters serotonin to create melatonin. The body’s sleep cycle depends on the amount of light we receive on a daily basis. The more serotonin we have, the more melatonin we get. If you have trouble sleeping, experts say that enjoying daylight in the morning and afternoon and dimming all types of lights (including phone, computer, and tv screens) a few hours before bedtime is the best way to ensure a healthy sleep schedule. Team whomever the villain is for the win!
The Part Where the Metaphor Ends and We Talk About Skincare!
Yeah, yeah, yeah we get it, but what does any of this have to do with skincare? Melatonin may play a role in collagen production, helping to maintain skin elasticity. It has been found to have anti-aging properties and helps produce and maintain a healthy skin barrier because of its skin calming abilities. Less stress on the skin and the body is a huge boon when it comes to anti-aging. Melatonin also helps produce antioxidant enzymes which combat everything your skin encounters on a daily basis (UV exposure, pollution, other damaging free radicals). It acts as an excellent skin protectant and has been known to repair oxidative damage to the skin. Because of its production of antioxidant enzymes, melatonin is evidenced to rival Vitamin C and E for beneficial antioxidant properties!
It can be taken internally or topically (3-6mg a day).