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All the Amazing Skincare Benefits of Silk Proteins

August 18, 2020

All the Amazing Skincare Benefits of Silk Proteins

Your skin barrier plays a vital role in both your skin’s health and appearance. It’s a physical barrier to the external environment, filtering out pollution and oxidative stress.

Silk proteins act as an extension of this barrier by creating a shield to defend your skin against aggressors. This helps seal in hydration and stabilize active ingredients so they can work harder. By replenishing your skin's barrier function, silk proteins reduce fine lines, smooth texture and improve skin firmness and elasticity. 

Silk bonds with other proteins and molecules in the skin, firming it up and increasing hydration levels. It may also help deliver ingredients that are notoriously hard to get into the dermis.

Silk protein is a moisturizing, anti-aging, and pollution-protecting miracle skincare ingredient that enhances your overall radiance and glow.

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about the benefits of silk in your skincare routine below.

The History of Silk

The cultural history of silk is an important part of Chinese heritage and dates back to around 3000 BC. According to Chinese history, an empress watched a silkworm spinning its cocoon on her morning walk through her gardens.

She dreamt of an entire wardrobe made exclusively from the fabric of those lux, shimmering threads. The production of silk in China was so guarded that the penalty for exporting silkworms was death.

But eventually, under the Han Dynasty, it was exported through the Silk Road. This network of routes crisscrossing Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India used to sell and trade silk, formally beginning trade between the Far East and Europe.

Where does silk come from?

Silk is a natural protein fiber that comes from insect larvae. The most common silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm, or Bombyx mori.

The Bombyx mori is native to, you guessed it- China. These mulberry silkworms feed on the leaves of the white mulberry tree. White mulberry leaves are rich in antioxidants, making the silk produced by these silkworms naturally antioxidant-rich as well.

Because silk is a protein fiber, it is chemically very similar to human skin. This is what makes silk protein such an ideal ingredient to use in skincare.

What is silk protein?

Silk protein is a fibrous protein formed by converting silk from the cocoon of the silkworm. Its molecular structure is similar to that of the collagen fibers that make up our skin. It naturally helps to increase skin elasticity, speeds up skin cell functioning, prevents wrinkles, and tightens and smooths the skin.

There are two specific proteins in silk with skincare benefits: sericin and fibroin. Sericin forms a layer of protection over the skin and helps promote hydration. Fibroin helps repair skin cells and balance moisture levels. Let’s take a closer look at each.


Sericin is the outer layer of silk protein that helps bind the strands of silk together into a cocoon. It helps to coagulate and heal wounds, reducing the risk of infection. Sericin is the silk protein most commonly found in hair products. This is because silk proteins help to prevent and repair hair damage.


Fibroin is the protein on the inside of silk. Because it’s on the inside, fibroin is responsible for silk’s structure. Most skincare products use the fibroin protein because of its high percentage of glycine and alanine. This combo has amazing effects on the skin. 

Breaking Silk Protein Down Further

Fibroin has a high percentage of the amino acids glycine and alanine. The combination of these two acids is very easily absorbed into the skin and has the following benefits when combined.

  • Promotes cell repair and regeneration.
  • Reduces transdermal water loss to maintain skin’s hydration levels.
  • Boosts collagen levels, leading to firmer skin and anti-aging benefits.
  • Very gentle exfoliation.
  • Protective against sun damage.

Let’s dive into these amino acids further...

  • Glycine is the simplest form of amino acid that the body is able to manufacture through the diet. It produces a protein that has a high concentration of collagen. Because of this, glycine can help to repair skin damage and to speed up the wound healing process.
  • Alanine is another amino acid that your body is also able to manufacture through diet. Alanine is a great skin nourishing acid that can penetrate the epidermal cells. This helps to fill fine lines and wrinkles for a plumper, smoother appearance.

Five Reasons to Add Silk Protein in Your Skincare Routine

If you’re not already using skincare products formulated with silk protein, these five reasons might convince you to start.

  1. Silk protein is similar to human keratin and helps in the production of keratin protein. 
  2. Silk protein consists of 18 amino acids. More than ten of these are similar to the amino acids already contained in the skin. When the nutrient elements of silk enter the body, they are organically bound to skin cells and absorbed.
  3. Silk protein is beneficial for maintaining the normal function of the skin’s surface film. This film on the outermost layer of the epidermis prevents external factors from irritating it, prevents the evaporation of water, and protects the skin. 
  4. Silk protein can maintain water content of the skin and has the function of natural humidity-regulating factor. Because of silk’s molecular coil structure, the peptide chain is loose and disordered. This helps transfer water in the body to the skin. 
  5. Silk has the function of preventing ultraviolet radiation. Silk inhibits the formation of excess melanin in the skin, preventing the formation of dark spots and freckles.

More Silk Protein Skincare Benefits

The following benefits can be reaped by adding products with silk protein into your daily skincare routine.

You’ll notice firmer skin.
Silk protein improves skin elasticity, resulting in more buoyant, younger-looking skin.

Your skin will clear up.
Silk protein calms inflamed, red skin by increasing cell metabolism and promoting blood circulation. Because of this, firoin promotes an even skin tone and keeps breakouts at bay.

You’ll see fewer fine lines and wrinkles.
Silk protein helps in plumping up the skin, reducing the signs of aging like fines lines, crows feet, and wrinkles. 

Old acne scars will fade.
Silk protein increases blood circulation to scar tissue. This reduces the appearance of those leftover reminders of previous breakouts.

You’ll repair existing sun damage.
Sun-damaged skin (particularly from UVB rays) has a hard time retaining moisture and reduced elasticity, often appearing older than it is. Silk protein can help to repair and reverse this damage.

Common Silk Protein Names Used in Skincare 

Ingredients derived from silk go by many different names. So how do you know what’s what? And how do you choose the right one? Silk powder, silk peptides, silk protein, and silk amino acids are all common names for silk proteins used in skincare. They all contain the same 18 amino acids, originating from the cocoon of the silkworm. 

How are these silk derived ingredients different?

The difference lies in their particle sizes. This affects their water solubility. It also affects their penetration power into the skin and cuticles of the hair. Silk proteins that can penetrate the skin more deeply are often more powerful. 

What should you look for on product labels?

To get the most out of silk protein in your skincare, look for ingredients like silk amino and silk protein hydrolysate.

These two forms are the most effective at penetrating the skin’s many layers. To produce these proteins, raw silk must undergo alkaline hydrolysis and de-alkylation. This leads to smaller particle sizes for easier absorption.

Hydrolyzed silk promotes elasticity and a smooth complexion. When used in skincare products, hydrolyzed silk protein helps the skin’s water barrier to retain moisture. It also provides a radiant glow.

Silk and Sustainability

Silk is a by-product of an animal and is not vegan. But producing silk has a low carbon footprint.  Silk is a biodegradable, compostable material. Sustainably derived silk is harvested after the silkworm sheds its cocoon. There is little to no impact on the land, water, and air, and silk doesn’t involve the use of pesticides.

Putting it all together...

With all of its amazing skin-boosting benefits, it's no wonder silk protein is known as the superhero ingredient of skincare.

With a history dating back to ancient China, silk has always been a sought after material. Once only a highly prized ingredient only the rich could afford, silk is now way more easily accessible to us. Give skincare products featuring silk protein a try and get your glow on today.