With anti-ageing cosmeceuticals like Retinol and Niacinamide,
It’s true; we’ve all become closet skincare chemists – customising as to what we think our skin needs on any given 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.
In the form of phospholipids, lovely Soya lecithin 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 important for skin health.
What the heck is lecithin anyway?
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 real affinity with your skin; containing 60% to 70% phospholipids, it immediately penetrates your skin, metabolising ceramides and forming healthy skin cells, which in turn stabilises your skin’s barrier function.
Traditionally in skincare, phosphatidylcholine, as it is technically known, is extracted from soybeans or sunflower, which creates a thick, waxy substance with several interesting components; natural phospholipids 60%, Vitamin B8 (Choline), ethanolamine, glycerol, biotin, 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,
The beautifying benefits
Barrier repairing: Probably the biggest benefit of this wonderful ingredient is its ability to repair the barrier function.
We know that our outer layer’s stratum corneum looks like a brick wall in structure from this article. 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, keeping the barrier in its natural and intact condition, which ultimately wards off premature ageing.
Dry skin conditions: Soya lecithin is an occlusive that helps put moisture back into your skin due to its high oleic and linoleic acid levels. Regular topical application with a formula containing lecithin has been shown to correct imbalances of the skin associated with dry skin conditions like neurodermatitis and psoriasis.
Acne: Phosphatidylcholine is effective against minor forms of acne grade 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: Because Soya lecithin resembles your skin’s membrane structure, it can alter the skin’s structure positively. It is an active penetration enhancer, helping other ingredients to penetrate deeper. This is why we include it in our Bio Lipid Complex, 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: Lecithin attracts water to your skin, preventing moisture loss from 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 was found to increase water retention by at least 40%, which lasted around 3 hours. Another ingredient in lecithin is inositol – this was shown to decrease 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 Ultra-hydrating Gel, which has a list of ingredients that read like a cooling, soothing drink for your skin.
Moisturising: Lecithin is considered a great 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; this is due to the phospholipids binding to keratin, the protein in your skin. This is the reason we have encapsulated it in our skin-loving Ceramide Barrier Repair Balm, which contains a whole host of 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 that won’t dry your skin
Many skin care formulas are oil in water, and because of this, they require emulsifiers to help bind the small amounts of oil into large amounts of water.
We use lecithin in Fortify Barrier Repair Cream instead of traditional emulsifiers because emulsifiers can deplete these lipids. Fortify works by preventing water-hating (hydrophobic) and water-loving (hydrophilic) substances – such as oil and water – from separating. This is why it works really well in a barrier cream and the reason we include it in a number of our 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 of the scale. This can be anywhere between 3 to 5; this is exactly where soya lecithin comes into its own. This is especially true in a balm formula, for instance, Nectar Treatment Balm, which contains honey; its sugar/water mix can sit on top of the oils and not blend. By adding lecithin, you are adding a little chemical diplomacy to prevent the formula from separating.
So, let’s quickly recap on 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; it’s the perfect ingredient that can help restore skin health.