Glutathione at a glance

  • Occurs naturally in skin
  • Defends against visible effects of environmental damage
  • Offers restoring and tone-improving benefits in topical skin care
  • Composed of three amino acids

Glutathione description

Glutathione is a powerful, non-enzymatic antioxidant which naturally occurs in the skin where it serves to help defend it against the visible effects of environmental damage. The gradual decline of the natural supply of glutathione in the body is believed to be a key marker of many outward signs of ageing. Glutathione is a tripeptide comprised of three amino acids (cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine), which work in unison when used topically to brighten a dull complexion while offering skin-restoring benefits. It has value for visibly fading discolourations when used in a 2% concentration due to its ability to interrupt an enzyme within skin’s surface that triggers hyperpigmentation.

Glutathione references

  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2019, pages 728–737
  • Clinical Cosmetic and Investigative Dermatology, April 2017, pages 147-153 and October 2014, pages 267-274
  • Nutrients, August 2017, pages 1-27
  • DermatoEndocrinology, July 2012, pages 308-319
  • Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2011, pages 3,940-3,949
  • The Dermatologist, October 2011, volume 19, issue 10
  • Journal of Dermatologic Science, May 2010, pages 85-90
  • Free Radical Biology and Medicine, October 1994, pages 333-349

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.