chirally correct ingredients

Hi Brains,

I'm a licensed esthetician, owner of Gräfin Skin and Beauty, and a huge fan of educating my clients on what is and what isn't going to give them real results in beauty.  I keep hearing about chirally correct ingredients, and as I understand this means they are using the left or the right side of a molecule in their formulations.  Admittedly, I only had one upper level chemistry course in college (way back in the 90s) and I can't seem to wrap my brain around the idea of a left and right side of a molecule (doesn't that mean they are using one or several of the atoms making up the molecule, because isn't the molecule the smallest form of a compound that can retain the properties of that compound?).  Can you explain how this works and can it really change the effects of topical products?  If it does, is it changing the electrical charge? What is it actually doing, supposed or actual?  Thank you so much, I look forward to a better understanding of this concept.  Keep up the good work, the public needs you!!!


  • The term chiral is derived from the Greek work for handedness and a molecule is called chiral if it differs from its mirror image. (A simple way to visualize this concept is to think of your right and left hand. You can’t fit your left hand in your right glove, right? That’s because they’re chiral. You can learn more about the idea here.)

    Some chemical reactions produce both the left handed and right handed version of the same molecule. These versions are called isomers. This concept is very important in drug manufacture where the Left and Right isomers may have different chemical properties. If the Left isomer is effective against a given disease, you want a chemical reaction that produces pure Left, not a mixture of Right and Left. So for drugs, chiral purity is very important.

    But for cosmetic products, chirality isn’t really an issue. That’s because cosmetic ingredients don’t interact with the biological systems of your body the same way drugs do. So this is really just a marketing gimmick.

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