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Decoding Chirally Correct Skincare

Elizabeth Dehn's picture

Even if you can’t pronounce chiral (rhymes with spiral), you’re bound to see the word crop up on more and more beauty labels. A Greek-derived word, chiral loosely translates into “handedness.” And just as our hands are mirror images of one another, molecules in our body exist in both right-handed and left-handed forms, or isomers. Each molecule is composed of an L-isomer and a D-isomer.

What does this have to do with skincare? The theory goes something like this: For years, brands have been adding isomers to skincare products to help deliver whatever results they’re promising—anti-aging effects, restorative effects, etc. One of the most common isomers is vitamin C, a popular antioxidant and collagen booster. Some scientists suggest that not all skincare products containing vitamin C are equal because the vitamin exists as two isomers: L-ascorbic acid and D-ascorbic acid. Unless the L-ascorbic acid is isolated within a product, your skin won’t respond as positively—if at all. In the worst-case scenario, the presence of D-ascorbic acid will lead to increased dryness, allergic reaction, and free radical production.

Here’s where lots of pricey products that do absolutely nothing come into play. Only a handful of companies currently go to the trouble of isolating isomers—Arcona and Sircuit Skin are two of my favorites because they also utilize natural, nontoxic ingredients. Whenever I’ve used products from these lines, particularly when I’ve used an entire regimen, the results have been glowing. My skin feels more balanced and hydrated and looks clearer and brighter. And that, dear readers, is no mumbo jumbo.

Read more of Elizabeth’s musings at Beauty Bets.


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