With aging, poor diet/lifestyle and environmental insults (such as UV rays), the skin is placed under incredible stress that may offset its natural homeostasis and accelerate its aging process. Being the barrier from our external environment it is also a direct reflection of the lifestyle we lead.

The most visible effect of skin aging occurs when there is a weakening of the extracellular matrix within the dermis(a breakdown of collagen rich connective tissue).Visibly, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile losing its strength and resilience.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), also known as dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2) and methyl sulfone, is an organic sulfur-containing compound that occurs naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animals including humans. However, processing, heating, storage, and preparation of foods removes essential MSM sulfur.

MSM is 34% sulfur by weight, and sulfur has long been a valued ingredient in dermatology. Sulfur may contribute to the cross linking of proteoglycans/collagen (the structural framework in skin tissue) and is a building block of keratin, the chief structural constituent of hair and nails. MSM is featured in many major dietary supplements brands’ hair, skin and nail formulas.

As a source of bio-available sulfur1, MSM maintains disulfide bonds that hold collagen strands in strong form and preserve the pliancy of connective tissue. By maintaining healthy collagen, cross-linking or “hardening” of the tissue is inhibited allowing for healthy dermal functioning.

Glutathione is important to maintain a healthy skin defense against oxidative stress induced by UVR 2,3,4. Similar to intense exercise that creates oxidative stress and reduces glutathione levels. The skin (when exposed to UVR) also experiences an influx of oxidative stress. Although not a direct antioxidant, MSM has been shown in humans to significantly increase plasma glutathione levels5.

Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the body; it makes up 70% of the dry weight of human skin and is a highly flexible structure. Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen and sulfur active bonds (disulfide bonds) that hold collagen fibers together6.

Structural deterioration that occurs within skin’s connective tissue is due to progressive cross-linking of protein within collagen fibers.

Known as the “cross linking theory” the increased cross-linking defragments its natural chemical structure and causes “stiffening” or “folding” within the tissue (wrinkles).

1) Otsuki, S., et al., “Elucidation of dimethylsulfone metabolism in rat using a 35S radioiostope tracer method.” Nutr Res (2002): 313-322.
2) Steenvoorden DP., et al., “The use of endogenous antioxidants to improve photoprotection.” J Photochem Photobiol B. (1997) Nov;41(1-2):1-10.
3) Beani, JC. Enhancement of endogenous antioxidant defenses: a promising strategy for prevention of skin cancers.” Bull Acad Natl Med. (2001);185(8):1507-25.
4) Verschooten L., et al., ‘New strategies of photoprotection.” Photochem Photobiol. (2006): Jul-Aug;82(4):1016-23.
5) Babak Nakhostin-Rooh., et al. “Effect of chronic supplementation with methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exercise in untrained healthy men.” J of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (2011): 63: 1290–1294.
6) Pulgliese, P. “Vitamin C in Skin Care.” Skin Inc. 2009. http://www.skininc.com/skinscience/physiology/46738787.html accessed March 25th 2012