Want Brighter Skin & Less Inflammation? Look Out For This Ingredient In 2023
Every so often, age-old skin care ingredients cycle through their time in the sun: What's tried and true becomes "trendy" again and again. For example, over the past few years, niacinamide has received a ton of hype. While not a new ingredient by any means, the buzzy vitamin B3 has captured the hearts of many skin care aficionados of late (for great reasons: It balances oil production, smooths fine lines, and brightens tone), so many brands include at least some niacinamide concentration in their formulas—to the point where we may actually be overwhelming our skin with the ingredient, some experts theorize.
And in 2023, we're already seeing a shift in power when it comes to these center-stage beauty ingredients. Nothing against niacinamide—but now, it's allantoin's time to shine.
On a recent episode of Clean Beauty School, mbg's beauty director Alexandra Engler and I chatted extensively about the recent explosion of allantoin; Engler even deems it the "new niacinamide," given its similar rise to the top. If you haven't yet familiarized yourself with the hero ingredient, take a peek below. You'll see it in plenty of upcoming skin care formulas, so you'll want to get acquainted.
What's the deal with allantoin?
As board-certified dermatologist and YouTube creator Andrea Suarez, M.D., previously tells mbg: "Allantoin is an extract that comes from the comfrey plant but also can be found in a variety of other plants," which includes beets and chamomile.
It functions similarly to panthenol (aka, vitamin B5), as it can soothe redness and irritation. For this reason, Suarez explains, allantoin is frequently found in cosmetics marketed for irritated skin and after-sun products.
But that's not all the star ingredient can do: Allantoin can also gently accelerate natural cell turnover. "Allantoin is thought to have keratolytic properties," says board-certified dermatologist Christina Lee Chung, M.D., FAAD. "It is derived from urea, which, like the ubiquitous alpha-hydroxy acids, can help smooth and soften skin by getting rid of excess dead skin."
Those soothing-slash-smoothing properties make it a hero for sensitive, acne-prone skin. It also speeds up wound healing1 and reduces inflammation, which is why you can find it in a bunch of scar creams, ointments, and the like.
So, what suddenly put allantoin back on the map? Well, it also generally plays nice with other skin care ingredients (similar to niacinamide). Not only that, but "[allantoin] enhances the efficacy and appeal of formulas by acting as a skin protectant and providing necessary moisture," says clean cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline.
As more and more brands include the versatile ingredient in their formulas, beauty fans start to recognize (and even crave) its soothing properties. It then becomes an active that brands highlight in their ingredient lists rather than letting it play the supporting role.
Check your recently purchased skin care formulas, and chances are you'll notice allantoin flying under the radar. The beauty space is brimming with allantoin-infused launches lately, but here are the ones I recommend adding to your routine:
Paula's Choice Nourishing Milky Toner
EADEM Dew Dream Cleansing Balm
Youthforia Pregame Setting Spray
ILIA C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40
Is allantoin a new ingredient? Absolutely not, but more and more beauty fans are falling in love with its soothing, healing, and exfoliating properties, and the market is enthusiastically responding with more allantoin-infused products. So, keep a sharp eye out for this active—we suspect its reign will last throughout 2023 and beyond.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.