Neurophroline: The Cortisol-Neutralizing Ingredient to Know About Now


It’s a stressful time to be a human. For many of us, the past few years have sent our stress hormones spiking. Considering what this stress does to our brain is most important, but we shouldn’t forget how stress affects our skin. From acne breakouts to expedited aging, cortisol, the primary stress hormone, can be damaging. Experts explain what stresses out our skin and share insight on neurophroline, an ingredient that may help alleviate stress on our skin.

What is neurophroline?

Neurophroline is derived from wild indigo, also known as tephrosia purpurea seed extract, says Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD. Founder and CEO of Trinny London Trinny Woodall says the ingredient was used in Ayurvedic tradition for its skin benefits. Now she and other brands use the ingredient in skin-care lines.

What causes stressed skin?

Before understanding how neurophroline helps alleviate skin stress, we have to pinpoint how skin gets stressed in the first place. There’s a variety of internal and external factors that play a role in skin stress. “Internally, it’s an interplay of psychological, neurological, hormonal and immunological systems,” says Dr. Blyumin-Karasik. The major stress cycle in our bodies uses cortisol as the messenger to many organs, including the skin, she explains. “Therefore, when emotional stress is heightened, cortisol has many detrimental effects on the skin, including poor wound healing, decrease in collagen production, acne breakouts and inflammation. This translates to lower quality of skin wellness and expedites skin aging (wrinkles, dark circles and rough/dull complexion).” 

Clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants Krupa Koestline notes that overproduction of cortisol can also prompt the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, resulting in clogged pores and inflammation. She adds that many people who are prone to chronic skin disorders can experience flare ups when cortisol spikes.

Lifestyle habits also impact the stress level our skin experiences. “For example sleep deprivation can reduce skin elasticity and increase formation of fine lines,” warns Dr. Blyumin-Karasik. “External factors such as UV radiation, pollution and cigarette smoking can also contribute to skin stress by generating reactive oxygen species.” Much like us, our skin is more stressed than ever. “As a response to tiredness, tension, HEV light (increased screen time), lack of sleep, poor diet and pollution, our skin is constantly producing stress-fighting hormones including cortisol,” says Woodall.

Neurophroline can help de-stress the skin

Woodall calls neurophroline the brand’s “stress-busting ingredient,” and for good reason. She recalls receiving a clinical report on the ingredient years ago that talked about its ability to reduce cortisol on the skin, which started her journey with the ingredient. Dr. Blyumin-Karasik explains that by both “breaking down the stress hormone in the skin, cortisol, and elevating mood-enhancing endorphins in our skin, we can regain skin-calming balance.”

Koestline notes that “While the exact mechanism is not known, neurophroline has been shown to significantly increase the production of beta-endorphin, which is a natural relaxing peptide produced by the body.” The release of this calming neuropeptide can result in a visible improvement in skin, she adds.

“When stress is constant, our cortisol production doesn’t switch off, and our skin ends up without enough recovery time at night, resulting in a slowing down of our skin’s regeneration processes. We wake up looking tired, dull, fatigued, and over time, we start to age faster,” explains Woodall. Neurophroline neutralizes cortisol, so your skin can manage stress throughout the day and regenerate efficiently overnight, she adds.

Neurophroline functions as an antioxidant

Dr. Blyumin-Karasik cites a study that found that the extract functions as an adaptogen and antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce the activity of harmful free radicals that come from external stressors like UV radiation, pollution and cigarette smoke. Using antioxidants in skin care can enhance the skin’s resilience and radiance, says Dr. Blyumin-Karasik.

Expert-approved products with neurophroline

Woodall uses unique scientifically proven technology that combines five times the active concentration of neurophroline. She also employs a triple broad-spectrum antioxidant complex. This combo helps “boost skin’s antioxidant balance, neutralize cortisol and stimulate collagen production to defend and protect the skin from daily life stressors,” she says. A trial found that 86 to 89 percent of participants using Trinny London BFF De-Stress Serum-Foundation ($50) started seeing brighter, more radiant, well-rested skin just two hours after application. Another study found just as impressive results after 28 days of use.

Both Woodall and Dr. Blyumin-Karasik recommend Garden of Wisdom Neurophroline Serum ($25). It’s calming, helps break down cortisol and improves the appearance of skin. Koestline suggests trying Cocokind Resurfacing Sleep Mask ($18).

More studies need to be done

While many are confident in neurphroline’s benefits, more research would help bolster this ingredient’s reputation in skin care. Eagan, MN dermatologist Charles Crutchfield III, MD wants to “monitor the development of products that contain neurophroline” and see more studies on humans rather than in laboratories to get a deeper understanding of the ingredient.

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