Silk proteins are becoming a popular buzzword in skin care, but like many trending subjects, there is a lot of misinformation about the latest and greatest skin care ingredients. Here’s what you need to know about what silk proteins are, why they might be beneficial for your skin, and which products to look for.
What’s So Great about Silk Protein?
First things first, what is silk protein? Also called sericin, silk protein is the protein used by silkworms to create silk, a fibrous substance that the worm uses to make its cocoon. Sericin can also be replicated in a laboratory, so if you’re concerned about using animal products in your skin care, be sure to look into the source of this ingredient before using. The reason silk protein has been gaining so much attention in the skin care world is because it is very rich in amino acids. In fact, it contains 18 different amino acids, with serine, aspartic acid, and glycine in the highest concentrations .
The Problems with Silk Protein as a Topical Ingredient
There are a few problems with using silk protein as a topical ingredient, however. First, not all products that may contain silk protein or amino acids have been formulated properly or contain enough of these ingredients to make them highly effective. For this reason, you may need to do a little digging to find the true amino acid content included in skin care products that claim to contain sericin. In addition, although silk proteins may contain plenty of amino acids, it is a much more effective approach to choose products that have been specifically formulated with all or nearly all of the 20 amino acids in the genetic code, in their free form. That’s because when amino acids are contained within other ingredients, they lose much of their potency and availability. For example, aloe vera is a very well-known plant that is commonly used for its many skin benefits. However, the amino acids that naturally occur in this ingredient are interwoven within the plant’s proteins, making them much less effective than amino acids in their free form. The same is likely true of silk proteins, which contains amino acids that are competing with other nutrients within the structure of the silk. Thus, it’s best to look for products that contain amino acids that have been isolated from their surrounding compounds, such as those offered by AminoGenesis.
Benefits of Amino Acid Skin Care
The bottom line is that silk protein is rich in amino acids, but your skin may not be able to use all of those amino acids to their full capacity because of the way that they are integrated into the structure of the protein. Instead, choose amino acid skin care products that contain bio-available ingredients in order to reap their many benefits, which include:
- Stimulating collagen production, which, in turn improves the appearance of lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and other signs of aging
- Promoting healthy barrier function and skin hydration, as amino acids are the primary components of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor NMF 
- Aiding in your skin’s wound healing process, which may help to prevent the formation of scars
- Providing protection against potentially harmful free radicals, as many amino acids possess strong antioxidant qualities
Before jumping right into the silk protein skin care craze, you might want to double-check the ingredients and formulations of those products. If you’re unsure about their amino acid content, consider trying a different product that clearly lists the individual amino acids that it contains right on its label.