Use Topical Melatonin to Prevent the Way Sleep Deprivation Can Age Your Skin

Page content

Recent research suggests that the skin has melatonin receptors in it, meaning that melatonin has some role in the structure of the skin [1]. Melatonin interacts with skin cells, particularly keratinocytes and fibroplasts, protecting them again deterioration. Melatonin has antioxidant properties as well. As the body ages, melatonin reserves are depleted, creating a sort of vicious cycle where sleep deprivation can age your skin. he effects are visible as bags under the eyes, lines, and other obvious signs of skin deterioration.

Skin and Sleep

From research studies, it appears that the skin goes through a restorative process during sleep. However, this restoration ability is decreased to a sub-par level when sleep is chronically disturbed. Furthermore, oral melatonin supplements do not do a good job of reaching the skin because there is less blood circulation there than in other organs like the brain. In addition, the capsule or pill versions of melatonin degrade in the liver, reducing the available amount for skin benefit.

Topical melatonin, particularly when combined with other substances that enhance skin absorption, can work to reverse and rejuvenate some of the aging skin effects and improve sleep quality as well.

Combination Skin Therapy

  • To decrease the time required for melatonin to be absorbed by the skin, the lotion can be combined with methylsonylmethane (MSM). This substance is used in other applications to reduce inflammation without toxicity.
  • Adding Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to a melatonin lotion increases the sleep improvement effects by reducing anxiety and restlessness.
  • Combining melatonin with topical versions of Vitamin C and E will add to the antioxidant effects and provide support for collagen synthesis. As long ago as 1998, a research study in the British Journal of Dermatology by F. Dreher et al. found that adding these vitamins to melatonin in a skin application “enhanced the photoprotective response of skin” [2].
  • Many studies have found antioxidant benefits in teas of all colors. Adding tea extracts to a combined topical version of melatonin increases the benefits.
  • A combination topical melatonin cream with several or all these ingredients may provide multiple benefits, both on aging skin and sleep quality [3].

Sunburn Damaged Skin

Several small-scale clinical studies found that topical melatonin preparations might protect against sunburn and other types of skin damage. Some of these studies used melatonin in combination with topical Vitamin E before exposure to UV light [4].


According to the Mayo Clinic, melatonin, in amounts less than 5mg daily, is generally regarded as safe. The Clinic does mention some case reports of blood clotting problems, seizer and disorientation with an overdose. Other possible side effects may occur [5]. However, only very small amounts of melatonin are needed in the skin, particularly when applied as a gel or cream.


[1]. Fischer, T.W., et al., “Melatonin as a major skin protectant,” Experimental Dermatology, 2008 Sept; 17(9):713-30.

[2].Dreher, F., et al., “Topical melatonin in combination with vitamins E and C protects skin from ultraviolet-induced erythema,” British Journal of Dermatology, 1998 Aug; 139(2):332-9.

[3].Goldfaden, Gary, M.D., and Goldfaden, Robert. “Getting your beauty sleep with topical melatonin,” Life Extension magazine (April 2010): 27-31.

[4]. University of Maryland Medical Center: Melatonin

[5]. Mayo Clinic: Melatonin Safety


Please read this disclaimer regarding the information you have just read.