Folic acid (Vitamin B9)
Evidence from multiple studies proves that many well-known vitamins could be successfully used in dermatology or skincare. Folic acid or vitamin B9 is one such useful vitamin. Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9, while folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9.1,2
Folic acid is required for the normal functioning of DNA. Folic acid is an essential factor in DNA metabolism. Adequate levels of cellular folic acid are necessary to protect the cells from errors during DNA synthesis.3,4,5
Folic acid deficiency increases the level of DNA damage. Folic acid deficiency is frequently observed in people who take sunbaths due to the engagement of the folic acid in the repair of skin damage. UV-A and UV-B radiation cause genetic damage, and together with folic acid deficiency may cause skin cell death.6,7
Folic acid for skin repair
Apoptosis or cell death occurs when a cell is damaged, infected with a virus, or undergoes stress conditions such as starvation or radiation. DNA damage from UV radiation can also induce apoptosis if no repair mechanism is in place. Folic acid, due to its skin regeneration properties, can modulate DNA repair in UV-damaged skin. Folic acid is thus useful in personal care products as a great regenerating and anti-photoaging ingredient. Folic acid-containing cream improves skin condition in patients with different stages of skin after the radiation syndrome. 8,9
Studies have found confirmed the beneficial effects of folic acid on skin fibroblast growth and conditions. Human dermal fibroblasts increase their intracellular folate levels when exposed to UV irradiation provided that sufficient amounts of folic acid are supplied externally. Skin fibroblasts are cells within the inner layer of skin that are responsible for generating connective tissue. Skin fibroblasts also allow the skin to recover from injury.1,5
Treatment of cultured dermal fibroblasts with folic acid stimulates cellular DNA repair capacity, demonstrating that this essential vitamin may be a useful treatment option for photo-aged skin. A study by Debowska et al. found that treatment with folic acid increased the repair rate of UV-induced DNA damage. The study showed that a 30-day treatment with folic acid cream improved skin moisturization and decreased water loss (Transepidermal water loss) without any significant change of sebum secretion. Skin elasticity was almost two times greater after using the tested cream. A decrease of skin roughness and desquamation index (linked to the level of skin dryness) was also observed.1
Folic acid may also be used to increase skin firmness and retard skin aging. Treatment of aged skin with a topical formulation containing folic acid and creatine improved firmness of aged skin by exerting sustained effects on collagen metabolism. The in-vivo effects were found to be due to an overall improvement of collagen metabolism.3
Folic acid-enriched cream also increases the hydration of the outer layers of the skin. Retaining the proper water gradient in the skin is essential for maintaining the mechanical properties of collagen and elastin fibers. Collagen and elastin retain their three-dimensional structure in hydrated form only – water deficiency leads to altered physical qualities of the proteins.1
Studies have shown that folic acid-containing cream stimulates the synthesis of the protecting barrier, which reduces water evaporation and protects the skin from water loss. This is essential in case of skin dryness due to aging.1
- Debowska R, Rogiewicz K, Iwanenko T, et al. Folic acid (Folacin) – new application of a cosmetic ingredient. Kosmetische Medizin. 2005;3:16–22.
- Greenberg JA, Bell SJ, Guan Y, et al. Folic Acid supplementation and pregnancy: more than just neural tube defect prevention. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011;4(2):52-59.
- Fischer F, Achterberg V, März A, et al. Folic acid and creatine improve the firmness of human skin in vivo. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2011;10(1):15-23.
- Khan KM, Jialal I. Folic Acid Deficiency. [Updated 2020 Jun 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535377/
- Gisondi P, Fantuzzi F, Malerba M, Girolomoni G. Folic acid in general medicine and dermatology. J Dermatolog Treat. 2007;18(3):138-146.
- Merrell BJ, McMurry JP. Folic Acid. [Updated 2020 Mar 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554487/
- Williams JD, Jacobson EL, Kim H, Kim M, Jacobson MK. Folate in skin cancer prevention. Subcell Biochem. 2012;56:181-197.
- Knott A, Koop U, Mielke H, et al. A novel treatment option for photoaged skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008;7(1):15-22.
- Pustisek N, Situm M. UV-radiation, apoptosis and skin. Coll Antropol. 2011;35 Suppl 2:339-341.
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