You may be familiar with magnesium when it comes to digestion or bone health but do you know what it can do your skin?
From a general health perspective, magnesium plays a role in processes throughout the entire body – it sets enzymes going, allowing necessary chemical reactions to take place inside us! As you MAY know by now, the skin is an organ so our general health is inextricable from our skin health, whether we like it or not.
Magnesium deficiency is fairly common as foods tend to contain some magnesium but not an abundance of it and many do not realise that they are low in magnesium!
How magnesium benefits skin from the inside
Magnesium and making sure we have enough of it for our general health benefits our skin but magnesium also plays quite a specific role with regard to a very particular hormone that can be to the detriment of our skin…
I’ve spoken before about the stress hormone, cortisol. When we are stressed or feel under pressure, our levels of cortisol rise. If they remain elevated for longer than a brief amount of time, such as in prolonged periods of stress or in someone who is in a consistently high-pressure job, they can have a huge effect on the skin.
High levels of cortisol exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema and bring on flare-ups – if you suffer from any of these, you may identify stress as one of your personal triggers and this is possibly why!
On top of that, magnesium deficiency is associated with systemic inflammation, meaning inflammation throughout the entire body.
Cortisol increases how much oil (sebum) our skin is producing. More oil = breakouts galore, as the excess of oil can become clogged in your pores alongside any debris or dead skin cells.
Bad news – heightened cortisol levels also accelerate our skin’s ageing process. Someone who has been consistently stressed may look older than their years, which is what many people turn to topical skincare to stop.
Magnesium can help to prevent the release of cortisol and reduce the effect of the hormone that prompts adrenaline and cortisol to be released! We-fricking-hooooo.
Why are so many people magnesium deficient?
It’s not that there is a shortage of foods that contain magnesium – whole grains, spinach, quinoa and black beans are all supposed to contain moderate amounts of magnesium. However, these foods are reliant on soils to help them absorb magnesium and soil quality ain’t what it used to be – we have no guarantee that these foods contain as much magnesium as they purport to!
Supplements contain an unchanging amount of magnesium. They can’t guarantee that you will absorb or use the full amount per capsule or tab but they certainly can ensure that what is listed is what is in the capsule. If you think you may be deficient in magnesium, speak to your GP!
Magnesium skincare: the benefits
That is how magnesium helps on the inside but these benefits don’t necessarily apply when we find magnesium in topical skincare products. Let’s get nerdie about why magnesium is popping up in more and more skincare formulations…
It helps with wound healing
Topical magnesium is said to assist in the skin’s wound healing ability. If you are thinking that this is only useful once in a blue moon, think again. Assisting in how our skin heals is beneficial for those with acne and spots (especially pickers who create wounds).
Pestle & Mortar’s Balance Facial Spritz (€32.00) contains deep sea Irish magnesium for its healing properties.
This beautiful spritz also has an abundance of amino acids which are what make up peptides and proteins, making them a phenomenal ingredient for overall skin health. It is highly soothing and hydrating due in part to the moisture-holding and anti-inflammatory aloe leaf extract! I can’t help but support an Irish company making waves either.
The healing capabilities of magnesium can also be found in Avène’s signature thermal spring water. The brand believe that it is possible that the near-unbelievable healing powers of the water may come down to the ratio of calcium to magnesium found in it. This ratio is 2:1 and in this ratio, calcium and magnesium can help to restore the skin’s process of cellular turnover (ie. the creation of new skin cells) in those with inflammatory skin conditions.
Not only can you get the Avène thermal spring water in pure spray form (€14.99 for 300ml), you can additionally find it in their other products such as the Skin Recovery Cream (€21.99), formulated for those with very reactive, very easily irritated skin.
Find out more about the benefits of a good Spritz O’Clock here!
Magnesium can be incredibly hydrating, especially in forms like magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride acts a humectant which means that as an ingredient it draws moisture towards it – this is the same reason that hyaluronic acid is super hydrating.
You can find magnesium chloride in the Yon-Ka Booster Hydra+ (RRP €49.50 but on promotion for €39.60 at the moment), formerly known as Yon-Ka Hydralia. Boosters are a great concept in that they can be added to other serums, creams and moisturisers to supercharge them with skin goodness. The Hydra+ Booster additionally contains glycerine, another humectant ingredient, sodium PCA, which is found in the skin’s own natural moisturising factor, lactic acid, yet another humectant, and antioxidant protection in the form of vitamin C.
All you need to do is pop a few drops into your usual products and voilà, maximum hydration.
It can help to bring down inflammation
Magnesium can also have an anti-inflammatory action when in the form of magnesium sulfate – a form you perhaps already know! Magnesium sulfate is otherwise known as Epsom salt… When you had muscles cramps, did the big white tub of Epsom salts get pulled out?!
Magnesium sulfate is found in Académie Scientifique de Beauté’s Moisturising Care Age Recovery Premium Hydrating Treatment (€72.00) alongside ceramides, the lipids (fats) found in the uppermost layer of the skin. Ceramides are a potent anti-ageing ingredient, as they help to strengthen the skin’s barrier which prevents a loss of moisture from the skin and protects it from environmental damage. A stronger barrier means plump, hydrated, softer and smoother skin!
The nerdie verdict on magnesium
When it comes to magnesium and the skin, it is important to make sure you are not deficient in it, especially when it comes to how it affects cortisol levels! Is it something you should be chucking your vitamin A serum out for? I would say no but there are plenty of reasons to give magnesium skincare a go!