I first met methylsulfonylmethane/dimethyl sulfone (MSM) as an athlete. More than 20 years ago. My friends were using it to help with their joint and muscle pain. They swore by it.
I was a little suspicious of long chemical names. I only wanted “natural” ingredients with names I could easily pronounce.
NOTE: Just because a substance has a long chemical name, doesn’t mean it’s not good for you. Actually, just about everything has a chemical name. An example of this is dihydrogen monoxide. It sounds like a scary chemical, but it’s actually the scientific name for water.
After some ribbing from my friends, I did a little research (not as easy in the early days of the internet).
Turns out that I was wrong.
MSM is actually a naturally occurring substance in plants, animals and humans (although it can be and often is made in labs too). It’s in this form that sulfur occurs in all living organisms, and is vital for life and health.
It’s also important for your skin
MSM is the form that sulfur takes in living organisms. Sulfur is a key component in collagen and keratin.
Collagen is the protein that’s responsible for the structure and firmness of your skin.
The bad news is that as you age, your body makes a bit less collagen each year. After about age 25, you’re losing a little more collagen than your body is making. By age 30, you’re losing about 1% each year.
Menopause accelerates the process as does stress, sun exposure, smoking, and poor diet (especially sugar).
As collagen and elastin break down faster than they’re replenished, you start to see changes like wrinkles and fine lines, sagging, and skin that just doesn’t bounce back well.
MSM can help because the natural (to your body) form of sulfur it donates to your skin is an important building block of collagen.
MSM has also been shown to work by signaling the genes in your skin cells that are responsible for maintaining structural integrity. 1
So it works in two ways to support your skin’s structure and tone.
Keratin is another fibrous structural protein that you often hear associated with hair.
It’s also an important component of your skin (and other body parts like your internal organs). It’s role is to maintain the structural integrity of your outer skin layers and to protect your skin cells from the bangs, dings and other insults from the outside world.
By helping with keratin production, MSM strengthens your skin barrier. Your skin barrier has several jobs:
- Controlling water balance
- Guarding against invasion by microbes and foreign matter
- Shedding old skin cells
- Maintaining the skin’s elasticity, which lets your skin bounce rather than tear (ouch!)
When your skin barrier is damaged, you get dry, flaky skin . By helping to maintain your skin barrier, MSM increases your skin’s moisture and health.
Another benefit of MSM is that it helps reduce inflammation and redness.
The beauty of MSM is that you don’t need a lot of it to get the benefits.
We use MSM in several SunWindSnow products:
RainShower Renewing Daily Cleanser
DewDrops Vitamin C and Stem Cell Serum
SnowDrops Peptide and Stem Cell Serum
SunUp Antioxidant Day Cream
Why we use MSM in our skin care
Using MSM as a topical ingredient can have a tremendous effect on the way your skin looks. By supporting collagen and keratin production, it plays a part in reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and keeping your skin firm and elastic. It also helps keep it moist and plump.
MSM is an ingredient that can really help your skin look healthy, radiant and glowing.
So, lesson learned for me. Don’t dismiss a supplement or an ingredient just because it has a scary chemical name. Sometimes that complicated compound is actually an important natural component of your body. And sometimes, it’s a super helpful skin care ingredient.