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Skin Health

There is limited, but encouraging, evidence of maca’s ability to provide some benefits to skin health. Human studies have yet to emerge; however, animal studies suggest that the antioxidant activity and select phytochemicals found in maca may provide protection from ultraviolet radiation.


A 2008 study of aqueous yellow maca extracts (boiled and non-boiled), applied topically, provided protection from ultraviolet radiation (UVR); however, the boiled extract had a better effect compared to the non-boiled extract on skin protection in a dose-dependent manner. The glucosinolates and polyphenols found in maca are credited as the reason for this benefit, with the authors suggesting this may be an alternative means for solar protection (1).


In 2011, a team of researchers used the extract of three varieties (black, red, and yellow) of maca leaves, a part of the plant that is much less utilized. The hydroalcoholic extracts were applied topically to the dorsal skin of mice before exposure to UVR. Each of the three phenotypes demonstrated UVA/UVB absorptive properties and antioxidant activity, with the highest activity occurring from red maca, followed by black and yellow. Black maca showed the highest superoxide dismutase levels, whereas black and yellow maca showed higher catalase levels in the skin, and red maca provided protection to the skin and liver against lipid peroxidation. Each of the three colors prevented the development of sunburns, epidermal hyperplasia, and leukocytic infiltration (2). 


Using topical preparations of maca for skin protection may interest researchers given the robust information available on the phytochemicals, such as glucosinolates, found in maca.


Author: Kim Ross, DCN

Reviewer: Mona Fahoum, ND

Last Updated: February 19, 2024



1. Gonzales-Castañeda C, Gonzales GF. Hypocotyls of lepidium meyenii (maca), a plant of the Peruvian highlands, prevent ultraviolet A-, B-, and C-induced skin damage in rats. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2008;24(1).

2. Gonzales-Castañeda C, Rivera V, Chirinos AL, Evelson P, Gonzales GF. Photoprotection against the UVB-induced oxidative stress and epidermal damage in mice using leaves of three different varieties of Lepidium meyenii (maca). Int J Dermatol. 2011;50(8).

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