What Is MSM In Skincare? Your Need-To-Know Guide Starts Here
Now you have a solid grasp of AHAs and BHAs, it’s time to study up on one of our favorite skincare ingredients, the mighty MSM.
Skincare ingredients are not easy to decipher, we get that. Knowing your retinol from your tretinoin or understanding the difference between squalane and squalene? Minds constantly blown. And that’s OK, because this is why our blog exists, to educate and inform you of all the important stuff without hopefully coming across as too lecture-y. (Btw, please let us know if we’re doing a decent – or terrible – job of this. Full disclosure: we love hearing from our TruSkin family. Honestly.)
So, back to today’s 'fun' lesson in skincare: MSM.
Otherwise known as methylsulfonylmethane, MSM is an ingredient that’s regularly used in skincare, but often gets overshadowed by the likes of hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and glycolic acid. Don’t get us wrong, we’re big fans of these major players, but we do think their notoriety is kind of unfair to the rest. And especially to MSM. Why? Because MSM is a) effective b) versatile and c) very well tolerated by all skin types. Now we don't know about you, but we reckon this makes it just as worthy of A-list skincare status as all the other aforementioned big guns we know and love.
Here’s the lowdown.
What Is MSM?
Simply put, MSM is a naturally-occurring form of sulfur that’s present in every living thing. Sulfur is one of the most important elements in the human body and is often touted as the ‘beauty’ or ‘healing’ mineral because it not only promotes circulation and fights inflammation, but plays a key role in the production and composition of two essential skin proteins: collagen and keratin. MSM is not pure sulfur, but rather a sulfur compound (consisting of about 34 percent sulfur along with oxygen, carbon and hydrogen) and is vital for the healthy function of every cell, organ and tissue in your body.
Further to its use in skincare (more on that later), MSM has been used traditionally as a dietary supplement for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Research suggests that it may even help increase joint health and relieve inflammatory disorders like arthritis, cystitis and osteoporosis.
The Benefits Of MSM In Skincare
First let's talk about collagen: one of the building blocks of healthy, ageless skin. As as with all good things in life, your rate of natural collagen production decreases around your mid-30s. As this layer of collagen becomes thinner, the uppermost layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) starts to lose its firmness and bounce which is why, as you hit middle age, your skin becomes drier, saggier, less radiant and more wrinkled. The answer? Do everything you can to reduce this loss of collagen by staying out of the sun, eating a healthy diet and including clinically-proven, collagen-boosting skincare ingredients in your daily routine. Obvious contenders for the latter include retinol, peptides, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, but MSM is also right up there. In fact, studies show that MSM can offer a significant improvement in wrinkles, firmness and skin elasticity.
As well as its collagen-boosting benefits, MSM works hard to fight environmental damage which often manifests itself in visible annoyances such as discoloration, fine lines and sagging. It does this by helping to increase your production of glutathione, one of the body’s most important, naturally-occurring antioxidants. MSM’s anti-inflammatory qualities also help decrease damage to the skin caused by other lifestyle baddies such as stress, lack of sleep and a cruddy diet. This makes it pretty hard to beat in the fight against extrinsic (lifestyle and environmental) aging. Just saying.
Finally, MSM has been shown to help the skin become more permeable which not only allows toxins to escape more easily (buh-bye clogged pores and pimples) but enhances your skin’s ability to absorb other active ingredients in your skincare products. This means all the good stuff in your regime can penetrate the skin quicker and deeper giving you much more bang for your skincare buck. Neat, huh?
How To Up Your MSM Game
You’ll find MSM in many TruSkin products such as our top-selling vitamin C range which includes Vitamin C Serum, Daily Facial Cleanser and C-Plus Super Serum. This is because vitamin C assists in the absorption of MSM so they make the perfect power couple.
Due its awesome anti-aging qualities, MSM has also been formulated in our Eye Cream and Eye Gel. As you all know, the skin around the eyes is super susceptible to the visible signs of aging. It's also very fragile which makes MSM the ideal ingredient for applying to the eye area.
Just remember, MSM is sometimes listed as dimethylsulfone or DMSO2 on skincare labels, so keep your eyes peeled for any of these terms when scouring your products’ ingredients lists.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.