All Topics
Bienfaits ectoïne peau.

The benefits of ectoine for the skin.

The world of skincare products is brimming with innovations. Today, ectoine is gaining considerable fame due to the properties it possesses for the skin. In this article, let's explore the various benefits of ectoine when applied topically.


Benefit #1: Ectoine protects against photoaging.

Dan ZHAO and his colleagues aimed to elucidate a photoprotective role ofectoine against the effects of UVA rays and oxidative stress (tobacco, pollution, etc.) on the skin. To do this, models of oxidation of human skin fibroblasts in vitro were irradiated with UVA rays and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), a reactive oxygen species (ROS). This compound and UV rays together generate free hydroxyl radicals: it is these radicals that accelerate skin aging through the alteration of collagen and elastic fibers. The cells were then inoculated into plates, and ectoine ranging from 8 to 500 μg/mL (0.8 to 50%) was added for 24 hours.

Ectoine has significantly increased the cellular proliferation of fibroblasts after UVA radiation and exposure to H2O2 (from 50% to 100% cell viability), with the best efficacy at 0.8%. Additionally, researchers found that the use of 0.8% ectoine halved the levels of ROS within cells compared to the control without ectoine. Concurrently, 0.8% ectoine has significantly increased the activities of antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and the glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), previously decreased by UV and H2O2.

Given that one of the main causes of skin aging is oxidative degradation, we can hypothesize that ectoine works against photoaging by increasing the levels of antioxidant enzymes. These enzymes play a role in trapping free radicals produced by UVA rays, among other sources, thereby limiting the damage related to oxidative stress, such as the alteration of dermal fibers.

Benefit #2: Ectoine has anti-inflammatory properties.

Ectoine could also function as ananti-inflammatory. In a study, Andreas BILSTEIN and his team sought to observe a potential benefit of a topical application of ectoine in cream form on 65 patients suffering from atopic dermatitis. The patients applied the ectoine cream and a "control" cream (another anti-inflammatory cream) to the lesions twice a day for 28 days.

After 7 and 28 days, the treated skin areas were evaluated using SCORAD (Scoring Atopic Dermatitis) and IGA (Investigator's Global Assessment) scores. The SCORAD measures the severity of atopic dermatitis for each of the five symptoms (erythema, papules, crusting and oozing, excoriation, and lichenification), assigning them an intensity score from 0 to 3, and then adding them up to get the total sum. The IGA measures the severity of the condition by scoring from 0 (no inflammatory signs of atopic dermatitis) to 5 (very severe erythema and papulation/infiltration with oozing/crusting)

Researchers found that after the treatment application, the average sum of the SCORAD decreased from 7.51 to 5.32, and to 3.77 at the final visit, proving more effective compared to the "control" cream, which decreased from a score of 7.55 to 5.74, and to 4.45 at the last visit. Regarding the IGA score, it decreased from 2.82 to 2.20, and to 1.57 at the final visit, again proving more effective compared to the "control" cream, which decreased from a score of 2.82 to 2.31, and to 1.86 at the last visit.

Topical application of ectoine thus reduces the inflammatory symptoms of atopic dermatitis. It has been demonstrated that ectoine stabilizes the membrane structures of human epithelial cells, including epidermal keratinocytes. It thereby prevents the triggering of pro-inflammatory signal cascades, necessary for the upregulation of inflammatory molecules, such as ICAM-1 on the surface of human keratinocytes. This adhesion molecule is a characteristic of skin inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Overall, this clearly indicates that ectoine possesses anti-inflammatory properties.

Benefit #3: Ectoine improves skin healing.

An experiment conducted by Vladislav O. SOLDATOV and his team aimed to assess the reparative activity of ectoine using a thermal burn model in rats. In 30 male rats, two thermal burns were inflicted, one of which was treated with a topical application of an ectoine gel (500 mg) for 7 days, while the other served as a control. On day 8, skin samples from the burn area were taken for morphological examination.

The ectoine observation group revealed almost complete skin recovery. On the burn surface, a crust is visualized, beneath which lies a thin layer of newly formed epidermis. In the underlying layers of the dermis, a fibrous skeleton is made up of mature collagen fibers, which meet all the necessary morphological and functional criteria for the formation of connective tissue. Finally, numerous lymphocytes were detected. In the control group, researchers observed the presence of edema and necrosis on the wounds, with less effective healing.

The precise mechanisms by which ectoine affects wound healing have not yet been elucidated. However, it can be hypothesized that ectoine works by stimulating cellular proliferation through lymphocytes, allowing for improved skin repair. In addition, lymphocytes can secrete growth factors and cytokines that promote the migration of cells involved in tissue repair, such as fibroblasts and endothelial cells. These mechanisms could therefore be involved in enhancing wound healing following topical application of ectoine.

Benefit #4: Ectoine increases skin hydration.

In order to measure the hydrating power of ectoine, Hansjuergen DRILLER and other researchers applied an emulsion containing 0%, 2%, and 5% ectoine to the forearms of five volunteers twice a day for a week. The Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) was artificially increased, then determined using a TEWAmeter before and after the application of ectoine, while the skin's water content was determined using a corneometer before the application and after the final application.

In the short term, ectoine in an emulsion protects the skin against dehydration, and produces a higher water content than the control. On the final day, we observe 40 A.U. of hydration (arbitrary unit) without ectoine and 60 A.U. with ectoine. The results also show that ectoine maintains a degree of skin hydration higher than that of untreated skin or skin treated with a placebo. The skin's water content after 24 hours of dehydration is 50 A.U. without ectoine and 60 A.U. with ectoine. In the long term, after eight days of application, hydration significantly increased up to 200% compared to skin treated with a placebo and remained constant until the end of the test period.

This effect can be explained by the ability of ectoine to form complexes with water molecules. Indeed, water molecules organize themselves into clusters around ectoine molecules and form hydrogen bonds with them. This property is vital for halophilic bacteria living in salty environments that synthesize it, as it allows them to limit their water loss induced by the salinity of the environment. Therefore, it is this property that would allow ectoine to maintain skin hydration and increase the skin's water content.

Benefit #5: Ectoine helps combat hyperpigmentation.

In 2020, the team led by Hsin-Ling YANG aimed to demonstrate a depigmenting effect of ectoine. To do this, they irradiated human keratinocytes with UVA to stimulate the production of melanin, pre-treated cells with low concentrations of ectoine (0.5 - 1.5 μM), and tested for various depigmenting and anti-melanogenic parameters.

Keratinocytes exposed to UVA were stimulated for their proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and also the melanotrope-alpha hormone (α-MSH) derived from POMC. Indeed, melanin production is regulated by α-MSH, which is produced from POMC. They found that pre-treatment with ectoine downregulated the expression of POMC and α-MSH.

Furthermore, in cells previously stimulated with α-MSH, it is observed that those exposed to increasing concentrations of ectoine (100 - 400 μM) show a significant decrease in their percentage of melanin and tyrosinase, with a decrease in melanin of 85% for 400 μM of ectoine.

It is hypothesized that ectoine works in this way through a decrease in the activity of tyrosinase, an enzyme essential for the synthesis of melanin, and a decrease in α-MSH, which results in a reduction in the amount of melanin and thus a lightening effect.


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

  • 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).

  • OESTERHELT D. & al. Neutrons describe ectoine effects on water H-bonding and hydration around a soluble protein and a cell membrane. Scientific Reports (2016).

  • 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).

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


Understand your skin
and its complex needs.