The Many Skincare Benefits of ALA

The Many Skincare Benfits of ALA
Credit: MNT

Antioxidants are widely in use, especially in the skincare industry. The manufacturers claim that they can protect your skin against environmental damage. The body makes its antioxidants, and Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is one of them.

ALA is made by mitochondria in your body. Mitochondria are present in every cell in the body. They act as the powerhouse of the body and contain enzymes that transform energy into your food into energy your body can use. 

Mitochondria needs ALA as they are required by these enzymes to function.

The body makes a very limited amount of Alpha-Lipoic Acid. Most of the amount you get is through your diet. Meat, spinach, broccoli, rice bran, tomato, and Brussels sprouts are among the best sources of ALA.

It’s effects are very strong, and it helps prevent signs of aging.

Without further ado, let’s look at the many uses of ALA.

ALA Skincare benefits

Alpha-Lipoic Acid has been an area of interest for more than 60-years now. The supplementation of ALA is in practice since 1959.

Alongside the skin effects, recent research highlights the many benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid that can give in multiple sclerosis (MS), pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia. Despite the beneficial properties, our body has trouble absorbing ALA.

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However, some Modern formulas continue to improve the amount that your body can absorb. The absorption is both topically and orally. A study asserts that people over 75-years of age have the best bioavailability.

The skincare benefits of ALA mostly relate to the high antioxidant content. A molecule that protects your cells against damage by donating electrons to potentially dangerous molecules called free radicals is an antioxidant.

Vitamin C and E are the most popular antioxidants on our skin. They protect us against ultraviolet light, air pollution, and also cigarette smoke.

Despite the limited research on ALA, some studies have provided us with the necessary information.

ALA Sun protection

The outer layers of the skin usually don’t have any ALA. For decades it was not sure if ALA could act as a protective layer against ultraviolet (UV) light rays.

study found 1.1% alpha-tocopherol and 0.5% lipoic acid to be effective at delivering antioxidants into the skin in vitro. However, protective benefits need to be further investigated.

Antiwrinkle Skincare

There’s a limited amount of research looking at ALA’s effects on wrinkles. However, one study did find promising results.

study examined the effect of a 5% topical ALA solution for treating facial wrinkles. The topical application completely reduced fine lines in areas around the eyes and upper lip in most of the study participants. 

Furthermore, there were no side effects of the use of ALA.

A Cure For Dark Spots?

Another study dives into the use of Alpha-Lipoic Acid and new nano-capsule technology. The subjects of the study were animals and researchers found that topically taken ALA was successful in reducing pigmentation caused by photoaging.

The Anti Anti-aging Properties of ALA

Among its many benefits, researchers think ALA’s strong antioxidant benefits protect from sun damage and stress caused by pollution and other environmental factors.

Researchers conclude that ALA has the potential to be a powerful anti-aging agent when used appropriately. However, until more research is done, it’s unclear how significant ALA’s effects are.

Skin damage Reversal

Cigarette smoke can cause oxidative stress that can damage the skin. A study examined the potential of ALA to reduce skin damage caused by cigarette smoke exposure.

The study subjects, again, were animals and researchers found that rats showed an improved ability to heal smoked-induced skin damage. This is largely due to ALA’s anti-oxidative properties. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties too.

Improved wound healing

Another rat study, dating back to 2013 linked Alpha-Lipoic Acid to speedy wound healing. ALA was applied topically to surgical incision wounds.

More than 60% of the rats given ALA were showing signs of better healing. In comparison, the control group had average results.

ALA Risks and Side Effects

Although ALA supplements seem to be safe in the recommended dose orally or topically, there’s a lack of research looking at how an overdose will affect your body.

In a 2017 study on diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) were given 600 milligrams (mg) of ALA daily for eight weeks. The dose was intravenous. One person developed mild nausea, and the others had no side effects.

Another prior study studied the effect of 600 to 1,800 mg of ALA taken orally per day. Most of the subjects had schizophrenia. There were no serious side effects, but some people did report mild gastrointestinal symptoms. Furthermore, some even had mild skin irritation over the 12-week study.

Pregnant women and children should avoid taking ALA unless advised by a doctor.

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Alpha-Lipoic Acid supplements are under any regulation. Neither the FDA nor any other drug authority has any guidelines for it. So, one should talk to your GP before starting a new supplement. 

Using the Supplements

Topical application can be through gels, creams, or orally in supplement form. Oral intake warrants sticking to the dose on the bottle. Daily doses up to 1800mg are safe. However, long-term effects are still unknown.

While most ALA skin products contain other ingredients that can moisturize your skin and also help prevent photo-aging.

Although it is safe, any time you apply a new product to your skin, always apply to a small patch of skin to see how your body reacts before applying it to your face. 


Alpha-Lipoic Acid has strong antioxidant effects. Moreover, it can do wonders for the skin. However, there’s a limited amount of research on human subjects at the time. More clinical evidence will find out how effective it is for skin health.

A lot of skincare products on the market contain ALA in one form or the other, and with different concentrations. The products usually are for moisturizing your skin and help in preventing environmental damage. 

It is better to take it as a blend so until extensive researches back ALA.

Adeena Tariq Lari
The author is a graduate of dental surgery from the Dow University Health Sciences, Karachi. She has an academic background in content writing as well as English literature, giving her an edge in the field. Adeena is always curious about physical and mental health. She is always passionate about research and delivering high-quality reliable content to users.