Lecithin is a naturally-derived substance that functions as an emollient (read about emollients here) in personal care products. From the formulator’s point of view, it blends or emulsifies ingredients together and also aids in better product penetration into the skin.
It is made up of fatty acids and takes a yellow to brownish tinge. It can be derived from sources such as egg yolk, soybeans, milk, marine sources, rapeseed, cottonseed, and sunflower, etc.
Its primary benefits include:
– Softening the skin
– Soothing the skin
– Functioning as an antioxidant
– Helping the skin retain its moisture
– Reinforcing the skin’s barrier and defense system
– Penetrating deep into the skin and helping in delivery of active ingredients to their target location
– Supplying trace quantities of nutrients such as B vitamins, choline, biotin, phospholipids, glycerol, essential fatty acids (read more on essential fatty acids here) etc. from within itself to the skin
– Stimulating cell regeneration, thereby improving skin texture and preventing the formation of wrinkles
Lecithin, being similar to the skin’s natural barrier, is not recognized as foreign to the skin and metabolized well by it. No wonder it is such a fab ingredient, used popularly in ‘natural’ skincare. In fact, in case you didn’t realize yet, lecithin possesses all 3 properties of an effective moisturizer in its only self (emollient, humectant and occlusive)!
Lecithin is particularly useful for dry and mature skin and for regions of the body where the skin tends to be thick such as the palms of the hand and feet. It is a common ingredient found in hair conditioners as well but may be slightly overpowering for those with normal, oily or combination skin.