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The Hesperidin Skin Benefits According to Science: Is It Good?

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Everyone’s talking about the big skincare guys, aka retinol, vitamin C, or niacinamide, but so little attention goes to hesperidin. Although hesperidin is found in quite a few products and possesses legit skin benefits, most people aren’t familiar with this hidden gem and its topical effects on the skin. So, as usual, we are going to puzzle out all the research-backed skin benefits of hesperidin.

Whether you want to know what hesperidin does for skin, who can use it, or how safe it is, you’ll enjoy this read. Shall we start?

What we have found

Ingredient studied: Hesperidin

Type of ingredient: Flavonoid antioxidant

Main benefits for skin: Increases antioxidant protection, reduces UV damage, and inhibits melanin.

Other research-backed benefits for skin: Anti-inflammatory properties, fortifies skin barrier, soothes redness, minimizes wrinkles

How to use it: Hesperidin can be used both topically or internally.

Who should use it: Overall topical hesperidin is considered well-tolerated and suitable for all skin types.

How often can you use it: It can be used daily unless it causes irritations.

What is hesperidin?

Hesperidin is a bioflavonoid found in large concentrations in citrus fruits, including lemon, orange, and grapefruit. Shortly, the theory behind the hesperidin skin benefits is pretty much related to its flavonoid content. Since it’s a flavonoid, hesperidin has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as healing properties. Besides, hesperidin provides anti-aging and skin lightening benefits, boosts skin blood flow, and stabilizes the protective barrier when applied topically.[1]

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However, despite its benefits, hesperidin has low solubility in water, meaning its skin penetration rate is reduced. This could stop hesperetin from reaching its site of action.

Therefore, the need for hesperidin derivatives with increased solubility has emerged. One of these derivatives is glucosyl hesperidin (GH). Glucosyl hesperidin is a synthetic form of hesperidin, composed of glucose and hesperidin. This process results in a substance that is 10,000 times more soluble in water than hesperidin while retaining its natural functions.[2]

The methylation (a form of alkylation) of hesperidin is another common practice to enhance the absorption rate of hesperidin, resulting in hesperidin methyl chalcone (HMC).[3]

Because hesperidin alone has low solubility, GH and HMC are more often used in skincare products’ formulations. But don’t worry. Both hesperidin derivatives, GH and HMC, have equal or better benefits.

Now that you know what hesperidin is, it’ll be easier to understand where all its benefits come from. We’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

Antioxidant

As you’d guess, the hesperidin skin benefit we start with is its powerful antioxidant activity. Hesperidin is itself a flavonoid and provides strong antioxidant protection to skin cells, being a promising free-radical scavenger.[4] Studies also suggest that hesperidin can mitigate UV-induced damage, reducing both UVA and UVB radiation effects on the skin. According to their results, more than 76% of cells survived after UVB exposure when hesperidin was applied before exposure.[5]

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Anti-inflammatory and soothing properties

Hesperidin also has anti-inflammatory properties.[6] Since it fights free radicals, hesperidin can soothe inflammations caused by oxidative stress, preventing skin cells damage. This may as well accelerate skin healing and improve conditions such as redness.

Skin lightening

Hesperidin is often used as an active ingredient in skin lightening products since it regulates melanin content (skin-darkening pigment). Studies have confirmed that topical hesperidin can inhibit tyrosinase activity, the enzyme responsible for melanin production, leading to pigment decrease.[7]

Hesperidin also possesses anti-melanogenic effects, meaning it reduces melanin transfer to skin cells. In one study, topical applications of 0.2% hesperidin for 14 days decreased pigment level by almost 25%.[1] These findings suggest that hesperidin can lighten the skin, improve dark circles, minimize dullness and puffiness, providing a more radiant complexion.

Recovers skin barrier

Another hesperidin skin benefit is the enhanced skin barrier function, which results in increased thickness and protection against external aggressors. One study shows that twice-daily applications of 2% hesperidin for six days accelerated the recovery of the skin barrier, though the tests haven’t been done on human skin.[1]

There’s also some evidence suggesting that hesperidin may reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), helping skin retain moisture.

Anti-aging

Last but not least, hesperidin helps prevent and minimize the look of aging marks such as wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. When applied topically, hesperidin increases the skin’s antioxidant defense, relieves inflammations, inhibits melanin, and consolidates the protective skin barrier. Besides, flavonoids are known to increase cells proliferation, which in turn thickens the skin. In other words, hesperidin maintains skin integrity, leading to fewer wrinkles, less dullness, and more glow. 

Oral consumption of hesperidin was also found to improve collagen synthesis by preventing its degradation. However, no studies confirm that topical application would have the same effects. Similarly, hesperidin boosts blood circulation when it’s digested, while the topical effects aren’t known. 

How to use hesperidin for skin?

There’s not much to say about how to use hesperidin. Just get yourself a hesperidin-containing product and apply it following the indications. You’ll mostly find hesperidin as an active ingredient in eye creams and treatments targeting skin firmness, puffiness, and dark spots. Hesperidin is also often found in anti-wrinkle and brightening serums or face masks. 

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What are the side effects of hesperidin?

Hesperidin is generally safe whether it’s applied topically or orally consumed as a supplement. During studies, topical application of 2% hesperidin caused no adverse effects having a high tolerance profile. If your skin is easily reactive would be best to start with a patch test. Like any other skincare ingredient, hesperidin may cause sensitivities and lead to allergies, although the chances are low.

References
  1. Man MQ, Yang B, Elias PM. Benefits of Hesperidin for Cutaneous Functions. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 Apr 2;2019:2676307. doi: 10.1155/2019/2676307. PMID: 31061668; PMCID: PMC6466919.
  2. Gonçalves TT, Lazaro CM, De Mateo FG, et al. Effects of glucosyl-hesperidin and physical training on body weight, plasma lipids, oxidative status and vascular reactivity of rats fed with high-fat diet. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2018;11:321-332. Published 2018 Jul 4. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S153661
  3. Felipe A. Pinho-Ribeiro, Miriam S.N. Hohmann, Sergio M. Borghi, Ana C. Zarpelon, Carla F.S. Guazelli, Marilia F. Manchope, Rubia Casagrande, Waldiceu A. Verri, Protective effects of the flavonoid hesperidin methyl chalcone in inflammation and pain in mice: Role of TRPV1, oxidative stress, cytokines and NF-κB.
  4. Wilmsen PK, Spada DS, Salvador M. Antioxidant activity of the flavonoid hesperidin in chemical and biological systems. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Jun 15;53(12):4757-61. doi: 10.1021/jf0502000. PMID: 15941311.
  5. Madduma Hewage SR, Piao MJ, Kang KA, et al. Hesperidin Attenuates Ultraviolet B-Induced Apoptosis by Mitigating Oxidative Stress in Human Keratinocytes. Biomol Ther (Seoul). 2016;24(3):312-319. doi:10.4062/biomolther.2015.139
  6. Tejada S, Pinya S, Martorell M, Capó X, Tur JA, Pons A, Sureda A. Potential Anti-inflammatory Effects of Hesperidin from the Genus Citrus. Curr Med Chem. 2018;25(37):4929-4945. doi: 10.2174/0929867324666170718104412. PMID: 28721824.
  7. Lee HJ, Lee WJ, Chang SE, Lee GY. Hesperidin, A Popular Antioxidant Inhibits Melanogenesis via Erk1/2 Mediated MITF Degradation. Int J Mol Sci. 2015;16(8):18384-18395. Published 2015 Aug 7. doi:10.3390/ijms160818384
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