SKINCARE 101: What is Chirality?

Let's start with a quick analogy: People are either right-handed or left-handed. Right-handed people work better with their right hand, while left-handed people work better with their left hand. Very few people are ambidextrous, working equally well with their right or left hand.

Here is how hands work on the molecular level: all organic materials must contain carbon atoms, and each carbon atom has four hands arranged in a three-dimensional manner. Two hands are on the sides, one is in the front and one is in the back. Each hand must be connected to another hand. If at least two elements attached to any single carbon atom are identical or right-handed, these organic materials are called chiral. If none of the elements attached to any single carbon atom are identical or left-handed, the organic materials are called chiral. Chiral molecules exist everywhere. Sugars, carbohydrates, hydroxy acids, amino acids and proteins have similar configurations. Your own DNA is chiral €” as are your hormones, enzymes and the structural components of tissue, blood, hair and skin.

Just like people, these right-sided or left-sided natural ingredients often perform differently. A left-handed ingredient (L) can have a greater skin wrinkle reduction benefit than a right-handed ingredient (R) €” ascorbic acid or vitamin C is a prime example. A recent study has shown that D- and L-forms of ascorbic acid have different affinity for the enzyme Tyrosinase, which catalyzes the production of melanin and other pigments. The skin brightening results of L-ascorbic acid and D-ascorbic acid are vastly different. When both forms are together, D-ascorbic acid can reverse this beneficial effects of L-ascorbic acid. The use of the pure 100% L form in such cases is essential.

At COSMEDIX, we use chirally-correct ingredients, meaning our formulas have been filtered to contain only molecules that positively interact with the skin. The result? Less irritation and more concentrated formulas capable of real change.



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