Allantoin: The wonder ingredient for the skin

Allantoin - the Wonder Ingredient for the Skin

Updated 05/10/2020

Is your skin parched and dry and in serious need of a moisture hit?

Or maybe you require something more fortifying, to prop up your skin’s protective barrier.

Or could it be your skin’s feeling a little blah and needs a pick me up?

Whatever the concern we have you covered, in the form of wonderful allantoin, an ingredient that often flies under the radar.

But because it has so much going for it, we’ve made it our mission, to give this skin-loving ingredient the spotlight it deserves.

What the heck is Allantoin?

Allantoin is also known as 5-ureidohydantoin or glyoxyldiureide.

It is the active moisturising ingredient found in the root of Comfrey In its organic form it is found in several other plants, such as sugar beet, comfrey, chamomile, tobacco seed, and wheat sprouts.

Traditionally the comfrey leaves were used to help heal minor skin injuries and swelling, today, this versatile ingredient is used to treat wounds, eczema, burns, psoriasis, acne inflammation, and other skin eruptions.

As if that wasn’t enough, allantoin also works as an antioxidant, encouraging the generation of new cells, and the shedding of dead skin cells, helping to give skin that youthful glow. (Thornfeldt, 2005).

Allantoins Benefits in Skincare

Allantoin is non-allergenic, non-toxic, odourless and completely safe for use, it has been approved by the FDA to temporarily prevent and protect chafed, chapped, and cracked skin, by speeding up the natural processes and increasing water content.

Exfoliating: Allantoin is clever in that it actually interacts with the skin’s keratin to thin out an abnormally thick epidermis (outer layer of skin). This is great because we want this layer to be constantly shedding and producing more cells, which is how you get a faster transit time of the epidermal skin cells, keeping skin healthy and plump.

Anti-ageing: As we age, the transit time of the cells from the base layer of the epidermis to the top layer takes longer, causing the skin to become dull and dry. Allantoin with its natural exfoliating action, helps with cell proliferation, replenishing depleted, dry skin. Allantoin also helps in the synthesis of collagen – a fibrous protein found in the dermis (lower layer of skin), that keeps skin elastic and supplies, which decreases with age leading to sagging skin – allantoin actively boosts this.

Hydrates: It helps to hydrate the skin by exfoliating and removing dead skin cells that prevent natural humectants from binding and retaining water in the tissues of the skin. Allantoin used in cosmetics is a by-product of the production of Diazolidinyl Urea, which is why it is also considered a hydrating ingredient. At larger percentages, it is thought that allantoin may also have the same keratolytic effects as urea.

Repairs: It is well-known for its ability to stimulate rapid cell regeneration, stimulating the growth of healthy tissue. Research has found that it is extremely healing for wounds and can clear away dead skin cells, making way for healthy new tissue. In fact, did you know? One of the reasons that maggots have such a beneficial effect on the healing of infected wounds is thought to be because they excrete allantoin.

Moisturises: Allantoin acts as an emollient that keeps skin moisturised helping to counteract dryness and roughness.

Protects: Various research has demonstrated that allantoin in combination with onion extract is successful at treating scars, one study found, that it also helps to protect against UV-induced cell damage.

Softens: A large number of proteins and lipids are naturally found in the outer layer of skin referred to as keratinization, if this gets out of balance, more keratin than usual is produced and the structure of the barrier function is changed, skin becomes rough and scaly and inflamed. As discussed under the exfoliation section – allantoin by its very nature is keratolytic, gently softening the keratin, keeping the skin smooth.

Soothes: It is considered an excellent anti-irritant, and calming agent, soothing inflamed skin, encouraging sensitive skin to become more resilient.

More than a match for very dry or irritated skin, both Miracle Cleanse and Nectar Treatment Balm harness the benefits of this wonderful herb in the form of comfrey, helping to bring comfort and relief to troubled skin.

Allantoin is a hair savior: No article would be complete without mentioning its wonderful benefits to the hair and scalp; Its anti-irritant properties help to reduce redness and leaves the scalp feeling soothed. The fact that allantoin has active keratolytic properties, means it is the ideal ingredient for combatting dandruff; breaking down large particles in dead skin cells. It also helps improve the softness and elasticity of hair, whilst improving shine.

Wow, after reading this we think you’d agree, its a beautifying ingredient we really need to introduce into our skincare routine. All hail allantoin.

The naked truth

When I first journeyed into the world of formulation, I was fortunate enough to work with a well know herbalist from Switzerland who introduced me to the wonderful properties that Allantoin has to offer as a skincare ingredient, and its ability to regenerate the skin at a cellular level.

Even at low concentrations of up to 0.5%, it can be very effective, one study found that the inclusion of just 0.2% demonstrated significant improvement in over 90% of women with symptoms of redness and cracking.

But wait! There is more. Allantoin is thought to be amphoteric, this means it also reacts as an acid as well as a base. Essentially what this means is that when it is used in a combination with various other chemical substances, it neutralises them, which is thought to avoid the potential irritation that can be caused by other ingredients, thus making it a great inclusion for use in products for sensitive skincare.

One final note, as one of my readers kindly pointed out; most of the allantoin used in cosmetics is largely lab-synthesised now, that is, of course, unless you are lucky enough to work with a traditional herbalist, as I have had the good fortune to do, here at NC we use this nature-identical form.

References and Further Reading

Profile of wound healing: https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-86502010000500014
An evidence-based review of topicals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4506744/
Biological activity of allantoin: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.5356
Face cream and life-extending effects: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151216231254.htm
ingredients and keratolytic effect: https://www.akema.it/pdf/AKEMA_BROCHURE_2010.pdf
Thornfeldt, C. 2005. Cosmeceuticals containing Herbs: Fact, Fiction, and Future. Dermatol Surg 2005; 31: 873-880.
Zasshi, Y. 1998. Inhibitory effects on ultraviolet radiation-induced cell damage and prostaglandin E2 : (article in Japanese). 118(6):241-7

46 thoughts on “Allantoin: The wonder ingredient for the skin

  1. JJ says:

    I used comfrey to heal a badly sprained ankle that was previously operated on to remove bone chip and the ligaments never healed properly so I kept spraining it. I used Comfrey poultices after two weeks and it was healed completely, couldn’t believe it. My friend used it after all his teeth were removed for dentures and the Dentist was astounded his mouth was so healed in one week. Amazing herb, I drank it in early ’80s for about five years, when they sold it as a tea. I stopped when I heard about the liver issue..but I think it was to get more people into their “big pharm drugs”. My liver is great.

  2. Brooke says:

    Hi, I love the synthetic sourced allantoin it has the same properties of that in comfrey, and if the synthetic source is pure, there shouldn’t be any contaminants.

  3. Colleen says:

    Does anyone have any information to back up what I just read about the allantoin in comfrey being best extracted in oil with the aid of a natural emulsifier, such as phospholipids and saponins (my source is Herbal Constituents by Lisa Ganora). Would you add these constituents to the oil medium at the time of extraction?

  4. Megan says:

    Hello, I love this article on Allantoin interesting it can have a similar keratolytic effect as Urea

    Thanks for your time writing this article and bringing us the wonderful benefits.

  5. lynn mcdonald says:

    I know very little about Comfrey oil but know from experience it works. I developed a horrible sore itchy rash right across my left hand. It spread also across my left cheek towards eye. It must have been there for 6-9 months with doctors prescribing various creams, which all made it worse and more inflamed . I thought it was there to stay for ever. I visited Torqueue in Devon and by chance popped into a little shop for a look. The lady in there saw my hand and said she could cure it. I was dubious and thought no chance, i’ve tried everything under the sun. She said try this and gave me a bottle of Comfrey oil. I had never heard of it but had nothing to loose. I spread the green oil on morning and night for 3 days and no joking, it disappeared and has never returned. I have used it on my children who are grown now and they use it. My ageing mother has heart failure and big problems with legs blistering and flaking and had no sleep for days for the irritation. She has many medications to take but nothing helps. In desperation I told her about the Comfrey, but was aware it is not supposed to be used on too much broken skin, but as no prescribed medication was working she said put in on. It seems to calm down all itching and the redness reduced drastically and she managed to get the 1st good nights sleep in a while. It must be doing something good.

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Lynn thank you so much for this interesting feedback, it really does seem that Comfrey has some amazing healing powers on so many levels. I am going to publish this if it alright, as I am sure it will be of great interest to my readers. Samantha

  6. Yvonne B Mitchell says:

    Well in the state of SC where I live Comfrey is illegal smh due to it’s Hallucinogenic properties lol we use it when were sick in my house, as a tea I add honey to cut the bitter taste, and yes it will make you think your in la-la land buut it’s cured many a colds in my home, and cleared congestion for over ten years! while it’s illegal to sell I have a spot I know of in the country where I can still pick it, and that’s what I do when were running low. But I’ve never experienced any negative effects from this natural herb!

    • Angie says:

      Comfrey a Hallucinagen?
      Well that is a first for me. Are you sure it is or is that what the law says. I would not be surprised that there is a law that states this. The DOA had a huge quandary to settle because so many immigrants from Europe wanted to cash crop it.

  7. kyle says:

    if allantoins helps with skin regeneration, will it also help my scarred skin from acne to go back from its natural texture?

  8. Dorota says:

    Most allantoin used in cosmetics is of pure synthetic origin (a byproduct from the production of Diazolodinyl urea). Great article thankyou.

  9. birdie says:

    is allantoin an occlusive? if i use a product with allantoin first, will it impair the absorption of products used afterwards?

  10. Debbi says:

    When I was a child my mother used it all the time. We healed ankles, bruises, and even a chicken who broke her leg (my pet, and I cried because I didn’t want my dad to butcher it for food… So my mom tied a Popsicle stick to it’s leg, set the leg, and put it in a bowl of comfrey, that goofy chicken sat in that bowl for three days! Then it got up and ran around for a few weeks before my mom took off the stick). I personally know people who took it internally and cured themselves of serious health issues… I drink it myself… And my liver is fine! So, as I said, do the research yourself…. Comfrey is great stuff. I did an experiment last year, and put 4-5 comfrey leaves as mulch around some of my plants and not others. Wow.. What a difference between them! All my plants will have them this year… Just sayin….

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Oh wow what an amazing story really? i would love you to write a little article for me on Comfrey from your first hand experience and i will post it and give your credit let me know samantha

  11. Debbi says:

    Comfrey has been used for thousands of years with great benefits! The study cases used to say comfrey us toxic is outrageous. The study was this. They gave to mice the dose equivalent to humans ingesting 90,000 leaves of comfrey a day for 20 years. At the end of the study, ONE mouse had slightly elevated liver enzymes, and they jumped on the band wagon and deemed it dangerous and “could” cause liver damage and death. Really? Did you know that if you drink over a gallon of water at one time, it “could” cause death. Or that if you eat 3/4 cup of salt, you’ve reach the LD 50 limit, which is toxic and causes death to 50 percent of the people? The govt refused to look at the documents of whole communities, who volunteered to have their blood work done, who had been eating comfrey for over 20 years, and not one of them had elevated liver enzymes. This was back when they were banning comfrey… Just makes you wonder… Do the research yourself.

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Debbie i couldn’t agree more these one off studies are ridiculous and damaging. I absolutely love Comfrey and use it in many of my herbal preperations and I am all for doing the research yourself, thankyou for your comments

    • ANNETTE FOURNIER says:

      Tylenol is more toxic to the liver than comfrey and people pop that like candy. Even recommend safe dosages of Tylenol have killed people by causing total liver failure.

    • Angie says:

      Thank you for pointing this out, I read this study also but I can no longer find it on the internet. It was apparently done to support the DOA’s decision not to approve Comfrey as a cash crop to feed livestock and humans back in the 60’s. Do you know of any new studies that have been published?

  12. Jonathan says:

    Allantoin is not toxic. Comfrey can contain toxic PA alkaloids. It is still not clear if occasional use of comfrey cream on the skin presents a real risk or not. There are also comfrey products that are free from PA alkaloids as well.

  13. Thomas says:

    Gina, Comfrey is NOT toxic, so to speak. Some compounds (paralyzidine alkaloids) that are found in varying concentrations CAN be toxic. However, there is no data that I am aware of that suggests using comfrey externally is in any way toxic. If you have such data we would all like to see it.

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Thomas I really appreciate this answer because that comment did leave me a little perplexed, have to admit comfrey is my go to ingredient for a lot of topical healing, never mind the fact it is well documented that traditionally comfrey was referred to as knit-bone and was used as a poultice and as a food to encourage healing of broken bones and wounds. But I am open to all my readers comments and if Gina has data to back this up,I would be more than interested to read it. Samantha

  14. Gina says:

    Comfrey is toxic, even in small amounts on the skin, as it is my understanding that it’s absorbed through the skin and harmful amounts may build up in the body. It causes liver failure and even death. It seems that no one is aware of this. ?

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Gina, I would like to clear things up, first of all, this is allantoin I am referring to in this article, and doesn’t possess any pyrrolizidine, which can damage the liver.
      Allantoin has been classified by the FDA as an Over-The-Counter Category I and is an active and safe ingredient to use. Secondly, I have personally used comfrey on the skin in poultices for many years and never had a reaction?

    • Brian says:

      You’re not literally putting comfrey on your skin… your using Allantoin which is synthetic and derived from a chemical process. So uh.. no you’re not putting comfrey on your skin or any of it’s hazardous compounds.. I know that at least the sbs -40 I use is synthetic.. so take a chill pill

    • Liz says:

      Hi Gina, have you got any documentation to back up your claim.i been working with comfrey for years with no adverse effects.

    • Dee says:

      Gina,
      Comfrey used externally is not toxic, except you shouldn’t use in on open wounds or deep wounds. The reason for this is it speeds healing, and if there is a possibly of infection, it could cause the wound to heal over the infection.
      Internal use of comfrey can cause damage to the liver.
      Allantoin is extracted from comfrey, and doesn’t possess any pyrrolizidine, which can damage the liver.
      Allantoin has been classified by the FDA as an Over-The-Counter (OTC) Category I (safe and effective) active ingredient skin protectant. It is FDA approved for this use at 0.5% to 2.0% in formulations. If you include it in your formulations and on your ingredient labels, but make no drug claims for it, it remains a cosmetic ingredient and need not be declared as an “active ingredient.”

    • Olivia Pascale says:

      That is absolute nonsense. Comfrey is a very beneficial herb that heals skin so quickly it should be applied externally after the wound has begun to close to prevent possible infection. It can safely be taken as a tea as well and the leaves used as a poultice. Comfrey was also called boneset because it helps broken bones heal quickly. It should be taken for short periods, it is not necessary as a health maintenance tool. Comfrey is also very good for animals who love it and those who eat it have remarkably healthy livers and immune systems.
      Don’t believe the anti-herb drivel put out by the AMA, do your own research first. I know you did not because if you had you would have seen that comfrey is extremely beneficial.

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