Soya Lecithin: Beautifying Benefits For Hair and Skin Care

With anti-ageing cosmeceuticals like Retinol and Niacinamide,

It’s true; we’ve all become closet skincare chemists – customising what our skin needs on any day.

But have you given phospholipids a second thought?

They are one of the mechanisms that maintain your skin’s natural barrier.

A fragile barrier function means a tendency towards drier skin and more wrinkles, dull skin, lack of tone, and sagging.

Lovely soya lecithin, in the form of phospholipids, will give your skin a more resilient first line of defence.

A barrier against environmental aggressors and an increased ability to retain moisture, keeping your skin soft, plump, and hydrated.

So join us as we get under your skin, quite literally, and investigate why these lipids are so essential for skin health.

understanding Soya Lecithin 

The word Lecithin is of Greek origin and is pronounced Lekithos, meaning ‘egg yolk’, but don’t worry; you’ll be happy to know you won’t end up with egg on your face if you see this in your products.

This unique ingredient has a natural affinity with your skin; containing 60% to 70% phospholipids, it immediately penetrates your skin, metabolising ceramides and forming healthy skin cells, stabilising your skin’s barrier function.

Traditionally, in skincare, phosphatidylcholine, as it is technically known, is extracted from soybeans or sunflowers. This creates a thick, waxy substance with several interesting components: 60% natural phospholipids, Vitamin B8 (Choline), ethanolamine, glycerol, biotin, and choline.

It is also rich in  fatty acids; linoleic acid 16%, linolenic acid 55%, palmitic 30%, oleic 26%, stearic 15%; they are vital for skin health,

benefits of soya lecithin

Barrier repair: This beautiful ingredient’s most significant benefit is probably its ability to restore the barrier function.

This article explains that our outer layer’s stratum corneum looks like a brick wall in structure. The dead cells are the bricks, and the lipids (oils) between the cells form the mortar, determining the effectiveness of the skin’s protective layer.

If your skin’s barrier is disordered, your skin will have an undesirable look and feel and is more susceptible to penetrating foreign substances because of its irritated state.

Phospholipids easily merge with your skin’s membrane structure, keeping it soft, supple, and hydrated. They also keep the barrier in its natural and intact condition, ultimately warding off premature ageing.

Dry skin conditions: Soya lecithin is an occlusive that helps restore moisture to dry skin due to its high oleic and linoleic acid levels.

Regular topical application of a soya lecithin containing formula has been shown to correct skin imbalances associated with dry skin conditions like neurodermatitis and psoriasis.

Acne: Phosphatidylcholine is effective against minor forms of acne in grades 1 and 2. Clinical studies have demonstrated a 60% decrease in comedones and a significant increase in the skin’s linoleic acid content.

Penetration Enhancer: Soya lecithin resembles your skin’s membrane structure, so it can positively alter its structure. It is an active penetration enhancer, helping other ingredients to penetrate deeper.

This is why we include it in our Xcell skin shot: it is a unique oil that helps to replenish missing lipids in your skin.

Antioxidant: It helps repair free radical damage and oxidation, soothing inflamed and irritated skin and warding off premature ageing signs.

Hydrophilic ingredient: Soya lecithin attracts water to your skin, preventing moisture loss deep within its tissues. Vitamin B8 (Choline) in Lecithin has been shown to increase skin hydration; it acts as a humectant, bringing water to your skin.

In one study, Lecithin increased water retention by at least 40%, lasting around 3 hours.

Another ingredient in Lecithin is inositol, which decreases trans-epidermal water loss. Seriously, with all these lovely hydrating benefits, who could blame us for including this valuable ingredient in our moisture-magnet formula Quench Gel? Its list of ingredients reads like a cooling, soothing drink for your skin.

Moisturising: Lecithin is an excellent moisturiser with high oleic and linoleic acid levels, which help restore a damaged skin barrier. These active omegas last a lot longer because of their slow and even release due to the phospholipids binding to keratin, the protein in your skin.

This is why we have encapsulated it in our skin-loving Barrier Repair Balm, which contains several skin-identical ingredients that replenish depleted skin.

Nail care: When it comes to nail care, Lecithin is a true warrior. It works to moisturise your nails, replenishing lipids that can cause dry and brittle nails.

A natural emulsifier 

Many skin care formulas are oil-in-water, requiring emulsifiers to help bind small amounts of oil to large quantities of water.

We use soya lecithin in Fortify Barrier Repair Cream instead of traditional emulsifiers because emulsifiers can deplete these lipids. Fortify prevents water-hating (hydrophobic) and water-loving (hydrophilic) substances – such as oil and water – from separating.

This is why it works well in a barrier cream; we include it in several formulas.

When you try to get a little bit of water in a lot of oil, you need to utilise an emulsifier that favours the oil phase with a Hydrophilic-Lipophilic Balance (HLB) at the low-end scale.

This can be anywhere between 3 to 5, precisely where soya lecithin comes into its own.

This is especially true in a balm formula, for instance, Nectar Balm, which contains honey; its sugar/water mix can sit on top of the oils and not blend. Add a little chemical diplomacy to prevent the formula from separating by adding Lecithin.

To conclude. The naked truth

So, let’s quickly recap the benefits of this skin-loving ingredient:

  • a nail and hair conditioning treatment
  • supports skin regeneration and renewal
  • can help to reduce the depth of acne scars
  • a natural occlusive, it can protect against barrier disorders
  • it helps to balance oily secretions and relieve acne conditions
  • hydrating – a natural humectant that helps to prevent transepidermal water loss
  • a skin-identical ingredient, it integrates easily into the skin, helping with dry skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis

So, we think you’d agree that it’s the perfect ingredient that can help restore skin health.

20 replies on “Soya Lecithin: Beautifying Benefits For Hair and Skin Care”

Your information is really great, I have learnt so much regarding the cosmetic research field with your articles Samantha thank you so much 🙂

Very informative, thanks so much! 🙂 may I ask how is soy lecithin supposed to look like? Is it a powder or liquid? The only one I can find is a powder and the supplier doesn’t mention anything about it being suitable for cosmetics, only in food. Just wanted to make sure that this is the same thing before I buy the wrong thing!
Also, do I mix soy lecithin with the oils first and then add water, or do I mix with water and then add the oil?
Highly appreciate your help!

Hi Samantha,
Can you recommend a face moisturiser and eye cream without paraben and phytoestrogens? As cannot use these due to having HER2+ breast cancer. So soy in particular is a no-no in by beauty regime and diet. Regards, Katie

How would I go about making Soy Liquid Lecithin easier to use as aneeded eczema ‘lotion’ for my toddler. Allergy tests show it’s the only thing she can tolerate but it’s so hard to rub onto her.

Thanks, I really love this site, it is like the best I have come across. The chemistry back ground is unique and very informative. Thanks

Great website and great information, you present complicated information in a manner that is engaging and fun. Have you ever thought about teaching this information in a class room or webinar setting?

Hi Felicia
Thanks so much for the lovely feedback, as the founder of The Naked Chemist and the range comes from my knowledge as a skin esthetician and I do actually work as an educator, for students going into both the beauty and spa industry…so it seems I have found my caling. I agree webinairs are somethign I am also interested in.

Hi Samantha, love your post so much, this save my day 😀
As a beginner, I sometimes want to add honey & glycerine to my lip balm, can you help if I add honey & glycerine (e.g. 15 & 5% respectively), then how many % of soya lecithin is required? Do we have any formula to calculate amount of lecithin in a recipe?

Hi Ghy

Thanks really glad the post was useful. You only want to use a very small percentage of lecithin upto about 2% otherwise it will taint your product, enjoy formulating.

I agree . This is indeed a very informative. I just received my shipment for Soy Lechitin and I didn’t liked the way it looked so was to call the company but not anymore. I think I made a right decision to buy it.

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