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Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine

Also-called-like-this: Sepiwhite MSH
What-it-does: skin brightening

Official CosIng Information


If you have pigmentation issues, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine is something to look at. It is an amino acid (Phenylalanine) derived molecule that is thought to hinder the pigmentation process in a unique way by being a so-called MSH-antagonist

MSH stands for Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone, and as you have probably guessed by its name, it is important in the process of melanogenesis, i.e. the generation of melanin pigments. MSH binds to a receptor on the melanocyte (the skin cell that creates melanin) called Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R), which kicks off a bunch of biological processes that result in the formation of pigment. Our guy, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine can hinder this binding and thus the whole melanin creation process afterward.  

The efficacy of the molecule is definitely promising. The manufacturer did several in-vitro (in test tubes) and in-vivo (on people) tests and found Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine to be more effective than a bunch of well-known skin-lightening molecules, such as arbutin, kojic acid or MAP (the vitamin C derivative). 

We also found two research studies that show that 2% Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine is effective both in the treatment of age spots (or sunspots, the pigmentation that comes with UV and age) and melasma (that comes at a younger age and is usually influenced by hormones). A third study done by Procter&Gamble examined our amino-derivative, combined with Niacinamide and found that the combination of 1% Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine with 5% Niacinamide is more effective than niacinamide alone

Show me some proof

  • Katoulis, A. C., et al. "A randomized, double‐blind, vehicle‐controlled study of a preparation containing undecylenoyl phenylalanine 2% in the treatment of solar lentigines." Clinical and experimental dermatology 35.5 (2010): 473-476.
  • Katoulis, Alexander, et al. "A double‐blind vehicle‐controlled study of a preparation containing undecylenoyl phenylalanine 2% in the treatment of melasma in females." Journal of cosmetic dermatology 13.2 (2014): 86-90.
  • Bissett, Donald L., et al. "Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation by topical N‐undecyl‐10‐enoyl‐l‐phenylalanine and its combination with niacinamide." Journal of cosmetic dermatology 8.4 (2009): 260-266.

Products with Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine