Allantoin: the K-pop beauty star you have never heard of
Does your skin thirst for something more…fortifying? Something to boost your skin’s moisture barrier. Or could it be your skin’s feeling a little blah and needs a pick me up? If you lived through some of the hottest temperatures western Canada has ever experienced and your skin is parched, dry and screaming out for TLC – you’re not alone! Enter your new friend from Korea, Allantoin!
What is allantoin you may ask? It’s a hugely popular ingredient in the K-beauty world, but relatively unknown here; however this is beginning to change. Also known as glyoxyl diureide and first isolated in 1800 by the Italian physician Michele Francesco Buniva and the French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin. Allantoin is found in most mammals (except humans and higher apes), where it is excreted in the urine, as well as plants and bacteria. Rest assured, this ingredient is not isolated from pee! While the comfrey plant is notable for containing allantoin, specifically in its leaves where it has been used as a natural medicine, today it is produced in bulk by reacting urea and glycolic acid. This method of production produces a higher purity product that is non-toxic, safe, compatible with other raw materials and most importantly, is exactly like the natural allantoin.
Allantoin has several beneficial effects such as a moisturizing and keratolytic effect, meaning it increases the water content of the extracellular matrix and enhances the desquamation (flaking off) of upper layers of dead skin cells. It also increases the smoothness of the skin and promotes cell proliferation and wound healing. Allantoin is also known to have a soothing, anti-irritant, and skin protectant effect by forming complexes with irritant and sensitizing agents. In a 2010 animal study, researchers found that based on the results from histological analyses, a soft lotion with 5% allantoin decreased wound healing time by modulating the inflammatory response. The study also suggested that allantoin also promotes collagen synthesis in the skin.
If you’re convinced you need to add this amazing newcomer to your regime, take a peep at Étymologie’s Vitamin B3 Balancing Masque, formulated with Canadian glacial clay, charcoal and of course allantoin. This mask works to decongest the epidermis, absorb excess oils, pull out impurities, and works in tandem with fruit enzymes to desquamate the upper layers of dead keratinocytes (outer layer skin cells) to reveal a radiant and smoother you! Allantoin is amazing and so is this mask; a must-have addition to any routine!
By Jamie Stanton – @Jamie_the_Chemist
[1,3] – “Allantoin.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 May 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allantoin.
 – Becker, Lillian C., et al. “Final Report of the Safety Assessment of Allantoin and Its Related Complexes.” International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 29, no. 3_suppl, 2010, doi:10.1177/1091581810362805.
 – Araújo, Lorena Ulhôa, et al. “Profile of Wound Healing Process Induced by Allantoin.” Acta Cirurgica Brasileira, vol. 25, no. 5, 2010, pp. 460–461., doi:10.1590/s0102-86502010000500014.