Aspartic acid is an amino acid that has been proven to exhibit benefits for the skin.
Aspartic acid is a skin-exfoliating acidic amino acid
This is confusing: All amino acids aren’t necessarily acids. Instead, they are compounds that can be acidic (aspartate, glutamate, asparagine, glutamine) and basic (histidine, lysine, arginine). Scientifically speaking, amino acids are organic compounds that have three different components:
- An amine, or -NH2 group on one end
- A carboxylic acid, or -COOH, group on the opposite end
- A side chain that makes each amino acid different
It is the side chain that is the most important, and which will determine the specific properties of the amino acid (including the pH). The key elements of the side chain include organic elements like carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. There are over 500 different amino acids (Angewandt Chemie), all varying by the side chain. In this case, aspartic acid is an acidic amino acid, which imparts some degree of skin exfoliation, skin-refining, and increased penetration into the skin.
Aspartic acid plays a clear role in health
The active form of aspartic acid and all amino acids is the “L-form.”
However, a process known as racemization occurs in all of the tissues of the body, in which L-aspartic acid is turned into R-aspartic acid, d-β-aspartic acid, and other inactive or damaged forms. In studies, these inactive forms of aspartic acid have already been discussed as factors in atherosclerosis, lung emphysema, presbyopia, cataract, degenerative diseases of cartilage and cerebral age-related dysfunctions throughout all of the tissues of the body (Ageing Research Reviews, 2002).
Intact aspartic acid means younger-looking skin
It is well-established that levels of amino acids decrease with age. Some of the amino acids are depleted because they are not produced in as high of concentrations, but some of the amino acids are also depleted because they are altered by metabolic processes within elastin, collagen, and other critical skin proteins.
Aspartic acid becomes damaged in your skin with age, and especially under UV light conditions. The damaged form of aspartic acid is known as “d-β-aspartic acid” (Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications).
Since protein is made of amino acids, incorporating damaged “d-β-aspartic acid” into skin instead of fresh, healthy aspartic acid makes a clear difference in the integrity of collagen, according to research published in the British Journal of Dermatology. The age-dependent modification of aspartic acid appears to be common in aging elastin, independent of the tissue source. This indicates a lack of turnover and an accumulation of elastin damage in diverse aging tissues, possibly as part of programmed aging. It also suggests that supplementing skin with fresh stores of aspartic acid may help skin incorporate intact (rather than damaged) aspartic acid into the skin, helping it to look younger and fresher for longer.
L-aspartic acid is an important amino acid that is incorporated into collagen, elastin, and other supporting structural proteins within the skin. With natural aging processes, your skin’s natural stores of L-aspartic acid become depleted, replaced instead with inactive and damaged forms like R-aspartic acid and d-β-aspartic acid. These altered forms of aspartic acid are incorporated into collagen and elastin, resulting in weaker, thinner collagen and elastin — and hence weaker, thinner skin!
So it’s ultra-important to keep providing your skin with stores of L-aspartic acid daily.