Ectoin For Skin: What It Is & How to Use It

There are a number of skincare ingredients that have become “household names” in previous years, thanks to their wide range of benefits: Hyaluronic acid and niacinamide come quickly to mind, especially in terms of their near-universal tolerance for most skin types. And there’s another ingredient that belongs on a pedestal with those two—one that is likely going to be talked about much more moving forward: Ectoin.

Think of ectoin (pronounced ect-oh-in) as one big defense mechanism for skin. From boosting hydration to minimizing UV-induced damage, ectoin’s benefits improve skin’s overall barrier function. Thus the ingredient is increasingly popular in products targeting dry, sensitive, and damaged skin.

Ectoin is an amino-acid derivative, and in its natural forms, ectoin is acquired through bio-fermentation. You’ve heard of prebiotic and probiotic skincare; think of ectoin as post-biotic, if you will. (Prose uses a patented and exclusive bio-fermentation process to obtain its ectoin at the highest possible ingredient quality, notes Prose R&D Skincare Director, Celine Leconte.)

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    Ectoin Benefits for Skin

    Here’s a general look at ectoin’s key barrier-benefiting skills:

    It’s rich in antioxidants

    Because of its antioxidant abilities, ectoin helps minimize the damage caused by environmental aggressors like UV rays and urban pollution. (Think of it like a cousin to niacinamide or Vitamin C for these skin-protecting benefits.) 

    However, you still need to wear SPF, reminds Leconte. “SPF is used to reduce the amount of UV rays touching the skin, and ectoin is used to help with the potential UV-induced damages, like photoaging, of the UV rays that have touched the skin. It’s a complementary action,” she explains.

    And here’s hopeful news for those of us whose screen time is through the roof: “Several clinical studies show that ectoin helps to protect cells from blue-light oxidative stress,” Leconte says. 

    It boosts moisture levels

    Ectoin is a “kosmotropic” ingredient, meaning it attracts moisture into the skin in order to maintain proper hydration levels. (Think of it as a cousin of hyaluronic acid or glycerin in this way, Leconte adds.) 

    It calms irritated skin

    Ectoin also has soothing properties that benefit irritated, sensitive, and/or dry skin, making it a favorite ingredient in moisturizing products. (Since we’re doing the comparison game, think of it like aloe vera in this way, and ditto for its moisturizing properties.) It is also commonly paired with more “aggressive” active ingredients like chemical exfoliants (alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid or glycolic acid), to cushion skin against any redness and irritation.

    It plays nice

    In tandem with being so soothing, ectoin is well tolerated by most skin types, and pairs well with most other skincare ingredients. (Again, this would be like niacinamide.) 

    How to Use Ectoin

    Because of its agreeability with skin, ectoin is generally suitable for twice-daily use, both day and night, notes Leconte. In the morning, it will help with protection against the environmental stressors you encounter throughout the day, sun-induced damage (including both UV and blue light.) In the evening, you can wear it to help aid in skin barrier repair and overall skin health improvement, says Leconte.

    As is the case with Prose, ectoin is most commonly found in moisturizing products, especially those for dry or sensitive skin.

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