alpha lipoic acid


Enzyme that, when applied topically on skin, appears to be a very good antioxidant. Taken internally, alpha lipoic acid is a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant that is capable of regenerating other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. It is also believed to exert numerous anti-inflammatory effects.

While studies of alpha lipoic acid do exist, few of them were carried out on people, and none were double-blind in an attempt to evaluate its effects on wrinkling. [1, 2]

The majority of alpha lipoic acid research was performed on human dermal fibroblasts in vitro (test tube) in cell-culture systems. In vitro results are interesting, but it’s not known if the results translate to human skin. These models do mimic human skin, but something that mimics human skin is not the same as living skin.

It’s clear from the research that alpha lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant, but it isn’t the only one; there are lots of great antioxidants, whether in the form of food, supplements, or applied topically to skin. Note that alpha lipoic acid is extremely vulnerable to degradation by sunlight. Last, higher concentrations of alpha lipoic acid (5% or greater) are capable of causing a burning or stinging sensation and/or a mild rash on skin. [3]

References Cited:

  1. Beitner H. Randomized; placebo-controlled; double blind study on the clinical efficacy of a cream containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid related to photoageing of facial skin.. Br J Dermatol.. 2003;149(4):841-9.
  2. Podda M, Grundmann-Kollmann M. Low molecular weight antioxidants and their role in skin ageing. Clin Exp Dermatol.. 2001;26(7):578-82.
  3. Wada T, Wakami H, Konishi T, Matsugo S. The Degradation and Regeneration of a-Lipoic Acid under the Irradiation of UV Light in the Existence of Homocysteine.. J Clin Biochem Nutr.. 2009;44(3):218–222.
See antioxidant

«Back to Ingredient Dictionary

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

View Media Highlights

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

Skip to Top of Page

Free Email Sign-Up

- (Less Frequent)
- Expert Advice Newsletter (twice a month)
- New reviews on Beautypedia (twice a month)

Birthday (Fill out to receive a birthday surprise)



Paula’s Choice Auto Delivery is a quick and convenient way to make sure you never run out of your favorite products again. Just select the products you can’t live without, choose how often you’d like them delivered and we’ll take care of the rest.

Get 10% off your first order when you sign up today.