New products, brands, and categories pop up every day in the world of skincare. And we get it, it can be very overwhelming. (Hint: It is for us grooming editors, too). Truly, the only people that probably knows all ingredients, their meanings, and benefits are dermatologists. Although we feel your pain, we aim to serve as a crash course behind some of the best formulations on the market. Next up: Lecithin.
What is lecithin?
Put simply, lecithin, sourced from animal-based items like egg yolk and milk, is a multi-functional ingredient rich in skin and hair nurturing fatty acids.
Okay, what are the benefits in skincare?
Lecithin has a way of making products more moisturizing and penetrates the top layer of the skin for added moisture retention. Because of its high lipid and fatty acid content, it replenishes the skin by filling the gaps in its natural moisture barrier.
Formulated with steric, palmitic, and oleic acids, it helps to soften and smooth the skin. Phospholipids and triglycerides help replenish moisture and protect the skin barrier. As an emollient, in the hair, it helps soften and smooth out hair, making it a great add for damaged and parched strands.
Emulsifies (helps keep product from separating)
Emulsifiers, agents that help the retention of water- and oil-based ingredients, in lecithin is used to prevent disruptions of the skin barrier. If found in hair products, an emulsifier helps create a creamy lather that can be worked into the scalp or hair.
Encapsulates active ingredients
Lecithin works well at encapsulating unstable, active ingredients like Vitamin C and retinol to help them better penetrate the skin and prevent loose skin.
Got it, so how often should I use it?
The best part about lecithin is that it’s in most grooming products. You probably have it in your bathroom right now. When used as an emollient, you can find it in face creams, heavy serums, and hydrating hair products.
They can be used up to twice and day and without negative side effects. However, when formulated with other actives, either as an emulsifier or encapsulate, it’s best to follow the product-specific directions to avoid irritation or redness.
The nice thing is lecithin works well in almost every formula and ingredient. AKA, no need to worry about reactions when layering this with other products.
Okay, are there any side effects?
Although experts confess lecithin works well on all skin types, especially on dry skin and dry scalps, it’s important to state there can be side effects to any skincare products; which is why it’s best to patch test everything.
Not to mention, lecithin is one of the most gentle emulsifiers out there and works wonders on sensitive skin types. Be sure to look a the ingredient label of the product you are after to ensure stability and hydration.
With that being said, if you have a soy allergy, you might not want to use lecithin as it can cause a trigger reaction. However, given the chance, lecithin is great for skin, and hair-softening and penetration benefits. All in all, lecithin is a helper ingredient that will increase the level of efficacy in other active formulas.
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