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Melatonin - Can it work from the outside in?

April 24, 2009 Reviewed by admin 11 Comments
You’ve always known that a good night’s sleep does wonders for the skin. Melatonin, one of the hormones responsible for that well-rested glow, is now being used by Murad to apply that same benefit to skin from the outside in!

Murad’s new Sleep Reform Serum ($97) touts itself as a new way to “Let the Night Transform You” with melatonin, which has been used as an OTC sleep aide since 1993. But can it provide any anti-aging benefits when it’s applied topically?

According to Wikipedia, Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is important in the regulation of circadian rhythms, or your natural biological clock that monitors sleep patterns. Anyone who has suffered from jet lag knows how important it is to keep that natural clock in check. When the body is exposed to the shift in daylight and nighttime patterns, it absorbs this information, produces melatonin in the pineal gland, and biosynthesizes the majority of it all in the skin cells via the amino acid tryptophan (the infamous amino acid blamed for Thanksgiving naps). Melatonin production is actually squelched by light and thrives in darkness: more darkness + more sleep = more melatonin. As a frequent visitor and soon-to-be resident of Alaska, where darkness prevails, I'm hoping Murad is onto something here.

This, in theory, is why Murad’s Sleep Reform Serum, applied each evening, would be effective. Basked in darkness, the melatonin can go to work. As a natural antioxidant and free radical scavenger, melatonin definitely has anti-aging properties. With all of the biosynthesizing naturally occurring within the skin, it’s plausible that applying melatonin to the skin topically would provide an efficient boost. According to a study done by the University of Tennesee, melatonin, when applied topically, was found to counteract the effects of internal and external stresses on skin and help maintain its natural balance and integrity. Studies have also shown melatonin’s ability to counteract the harmful effect of UV rays, so expect to see it popping up as an ingredient in sunscreens in the near future.

As far as the Sleep Reform Serum’s other highlighted ingredients go, the Repair Enhancing Matrix (REM) claims to “to add depth and power to critical down-time skin needs to rebuild and maximize the anti-aging potential of deep skin sleep” … however, Murad doesn’t clarify what this matrix really is. And Oligopeptide-1 “encourages plump, firm texture and increases proliferation of cells so mature skin looks and acts younger.” I couldn’t find much on Oligopeptide-1, but it seems to be related to the growth and synthesis of collagen. Nonetheless, Murad claims that the Sleep Reform Serum improves collagen production potential (interesting inclusion of the word potential) by 62% and multiplies collagen-building cells by 78%.

Murad’s patent is still pending for its Sleep Reform Serum, and the Sleep Reform Dietary Supplement is also available to “speed onset of sleep and provide the nutritional building blocks for resting repair.” More information is available at

Active Ingredients: Melatonin, REM, Oligopeptide-1

Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycereth-7, Xylitylglucoside, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium, Acrylodyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Schizophyllan, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Hydrolyzed Myrtus Communis Leaf Extract, Aminobutyric Acid, Zinc Gluconate, Calcium PCA, Algae Extract, Sodium PCA, Dimethyl Sulfone, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Butylene Glycol, Tephrosia Purpurea Seed Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silyate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chitosan Ascorabte, Corn Starch Modified, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 20, Linalool, Anthemis, Nobilis Flower Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Yellow 5 (Cl 19140) Red 40 (Cl 16035)

  • June 2, 2009

    by MaryJ

    I've used it for the past month and it definitely works. My skin has never looked better. It has not only worked on lines, but my skin also looks a bit firmer and my acne scars look a bit less noticeable. The only downside is the price. One bottle lasts about a month if you are careful. I use it on the backs of my hands too.

  • May 31, 2009

    by nikkyme

    I've used Murad before and have been impressed - and who couldn't use more transformation in their life? I'd love to try it out and see if it really makes a difference!

  • April 30, 2009

    by Dana Pond

    I would love to try this product. I have been looking for a night cream for awhile now and think this one could be worth it's weight.


  • April 30, 2009

    by Lina Jacobson

    I've been an esthetician and have owned a skincare business for the last 14 years. Not only am I aware of how loss of sleep can impact the skin, I have personally be taking melatonin for the last 3 three years. If you have trouble getting to sleep they now have fast-acting melatonin, vs timed release for those that awaken during the night. So long story, I would love to try a topical application since I'm aware of the tremendous benefit of taking it internally. I'm not surprised that Murad has developed this product, given the amount of research that they continually do for the skincare world.

  • April 30, 2009

    by Paula

    Longer days and more sun now mean less darkness. Sounds like Sleep Reform Serum is just the thing to re-balance the melatonin production needed. Would love to try it!

  • April 29, 2009

    by Felicia

    It would be my pleasure to test and review Murad Sleep Reform. I could definitely use some help.

    Thank you :)


  • April 29, 2009

    by Veronica

    I need a good excuse to go to bed early. ;)

  • April 29, 2009

    by fastbluebunny

    I'll definitely try it. I've been looking for a good night serum.

  • April 29, 2009

    by Beatriz

    I will like to be a happy TIA Guinea pig testing this serum. Melatonin is a oral supplement forbidden in my country. So, Why not topic use?

  • April 29, 2009

    by Amy

    I would love to test drive this latest product from Murad. I am intrigued by it's nocturnal nature and am looking for anything that will help to combat the internal & external stresses my skin is bombarded with on a daily basis. I promise I will compose a complete yet concise synopsis on the benefits and/or shortcomings of this serum. Thank you in advance for considering me as a TIA 'guinea pig'. :-)

  • April 29, 2009

    by Katya Narozhnaya

    Sounds like an interesting product. I wonder if you could use a liquid form of melatonin in conjunction with your everyday moisturizer.

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