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ectoïne cosmétique

Everything you need to know about ectoine in cosmetics.

Ectoine is derived through the fermentation of bacteria that thrive in salty environments. As a natural active ingredient, it is now finding its place in cosmetics, specifically in skincare products. Discover everything you need to know about the use of ectoine in cosmetics.


Ectoine in a nutshell.

Ectoine, or 1,4,5,6-tetrahydro-2-methyl-4-pyrimidinecarboxylic acid (C6H10N2O2), is an amino acid derivative (aspartate). Its molar mass is 142.16 g/mol. It is primarily produced by fermentation, carried out by halophilic bacteria that live in salty environments for their protection. Ectoine was first identified by Galinski and his team in 1985, in the halophilic bacterium Ectothiorhodospira halochloris.

Indeed, this small molecule plays a crucial role in preserving life by regulating osmotic, thermal, and chemical stress. By capturing water and stabilizing cellular structures, it allows organisms to survive in hostile conditions.

But ectoine is not limited to this. Its properties make it a valuable ally in many fields, particularly in biotechnology, where it serves as a stabilizer for various applications, and in cosmetics, where it is used notably to hydrate and protect the skin against external aggressions.

Designed on PubChem.

What are the benefits of ectoine?

Theectoine can be used in topical application or hair care, found in care products such as creams, shampoos, masks, or serums. Included in these cosmetics at a rate of 0.3 to 3%, it is believed to have various benefits for the skin and hair.

  • Ectoine protects against photoaging.

    Ectoine works against photoaging by increasing the levels of antioxidant enzymes, which are responsible for trapping free radicals produced by UVA rays, among others. This helps limit the damage related to oxidative stress, such as the alteration of dermal fibers like collagen and elastin.

    Indeed, one of the main causes of skin aging is oxidative degradation, ectoine could therefore protect the skin from this damage and improve skin elasticity at the same time. This is why it is included in anti-aging skincare products and sun protection products.

  • Ectoine as an anti-inflammatory agent.

    Studies have shown that the topical use of ectoine can reduce the inflammatory symptoms of skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis. Specifically, ectoine may maintain the stability of membrane structures in epithelial cells. In this way, it blocks pro-inflammatory signal cascades, which are essential for regulating the increase of inflammatory molecules like ICAM-1, associated with the development of topical diseases such as psoriasis. Overall, it is apparent that ectoine has anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Ectoine to accelerate skin healing.

    The application of ectoine on burns could enhance the healing process. Although the associated mechanisms have not yet been discovered, hypotheses have been proposed. Indeed, ectoine would stimulate cell proliferation by lymphocytes, which promotes better skin repair. Lymphocytes produce growth factors and cytokines that allow the migration of cells associated with tissue repair, such as fibroblasts and endothelial cells. This could therefore contribute to the improvement of healing following the topical application of ectoine.

  • Ectoine enhances skin hydration.

    Ectoine is believed to have the ability to bind with water molecules. Indeed, water molecules cluster around ectoine and establish hydrogen bonds with it. As a result, water is retained within the skin. Consequently, skin hydration is preserved and the skin's water content is increased. This ability can help combat skin dryness.

  • Ectoine possesses depigmenting properties.

    Through its action on tyrosinase and the melanotropin hormone (α-MSH), both involved in the synthesis of melanin, which is a skin pigment, ectoine can reduce melanin production and thus prevent and reduce areas of skin hyperpigmentation.

  • Ectoine could potentially have effects on hair and the scalp.

    No study has proven the effect of ectoine on hair. However, it is assumed that it acts in the same way as it does on the skin in terms of photoprotection. Hair pigments provide photochemical protection for hair proteins by absorbing and filtering radiation. However, when they act to preserve these proteins, they themselves can be altered, leading to the formation of white hair.

    Given that ectoine acts against free radicals and oxidative stress by increasing the content of antioxidant enzymes, it could also prevent lipoperoxidation, and thus play a role in preventing or reducing the onset of white hair by preserving hair pigments. It can also be thought that it hydrates the scalp in the same way as the skin, and prevents it from drying out.

The hazards and precautions for use concerning ectoine utilization?

Theectoine is a natural molecule that presents no risk in cosmetics. Several studies have proven that its use in cosmetic care products at the intended concentrations (up to 7%) exhibits an excellent and optimal safety profile, without incompatibility with other ingredients and suitable for sensitive skin.

In the majority of studies, no side effects were observed during its topical application. However, there have been instances where some individuals experienced tingling and redness during trials, which quickly subsided. Nonetheless, it's important to note that these cases are extremely rare.

Observationsreveal a lack of direct studies on ectoine in pregnant and breastfeeding women, although the scale tips towards lesser risk. However, it is essential to conduct further specific research on ectoine and pregnancy to obtain satisfactory safety assessments.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended to consult your doctor before using products containing ectoine.

We advise you to always follow the usage precautions indicated by brands on their products containing ectoine. When in doubt, it is recommended to perform a skin test by applying an ectoine-based product in the crook of your elbow, on the inside of your wrist, or behind your ear to observe the condition of your skin and see if you react in a certain way.


  • TRONNIER H. & al. In vivo assessment of ectoin:
    A randomized, vehicle-controlled clinical trial. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (2007).

  • DRILLER H. & al. The multifunctional role of ectoine as a natural cell protectant. Clinics in Dermatology (2008).

  • LEE W. S. Photoaggravation of hair aging. International Journal of Trichology (2009).

  • BILSTEIN A. & al. Ectoine-containing cream in the treatment of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis: A randomised, comparator-controlled, intra-individual double-blind, multi-center trial. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (2014).

  • SOLDATOV V. O. & al. Gel with ectoine improves wound healing on a thermal burn model in rats. Journal of International Pharmaceutical Research (2018).

  • YANG H. L. & al. The skin-whitening effects of ectoine via the suppression of α-MSH-stimulated melanogenesis and the activation of antioxidant Nrf2 pathways in UVA-irradiated keratinocytes. Antioxidants (2020).

  • KAUTH M. & al. Topical ectoine application in children and adults to treat inflammatory diseases associated with an impaired skin barrier: A systematic review. Dermatology and Therapy (2022).

  • ZHAO D. & al. Protective effect of ectoin on UVA/H2O2-induced oxidative damage in human skin fibroblast cells. Applied Sciences (2022).


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