Allantoin was an ingredient that I picked up early on. At the time I was buying more ingredients than I could reasonably use, so it got shelved and inevitably forgotten (whoops). When I rediscovered it I struggled to remember what it was beyond the brief description on the label. So, I started researching what allantoin was I realized what a great ingredient it is! Therefore it’s a perfect choice for my first ingredient spotlight.
So what is this mysterious white crystalline powder?
What is Allantoin?
Chemical Formula: C4H6N4O3
Synonyms: 5-ureidohydantoin, glyoxyldiureide, 2,5-dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl-urea
The chemical description of allantoin is an ‘oxidation of uric acid.’ It is a naturally occurring chemical that can be sourced from various plant and animal sources – most notable from the comfrey plant. Though it can be sourced naturally, most allantoin used in industry is synthetically produced to meet demand. Synthetic allantoin is nature identical and functions exactly as ‘natural’ allantoin does.
Allantoin is approved by the FDA as an Over-The-Counter (OTC) Category I (safe and effective) active ingredient skin protectant, which means it can be used as an active ingredient in OTC drugs. As long as no drug claims are made about products including allantoin it remains a cosmetic ingredient – so if you plan on selling products containing allantoin be especially careful about what claims you make about it! In this article, I’ll mark any potential drug claims with an *.
Allantoin is used in many products and can be used in pretty much anything with an aqueous phase. Some examples of products that may include allantoin are lotions, shampoos, sunscreens, toothpaste, and pretty much anything else you can think of! As long as it is water soluble allantoin can be used.
So we’ve said some fancy scientific words about allantoin now. We’ve talked about where it comes from and where it’s used. But what exactly does it do? Why should I use Allantoin?
What Does it Do?
Good Question! Allantoin is a pretty nifty ingredient, and it’s super versatile!
- Humectant: Allantoin is a great humectant, meaning it helps to hold moisture in your skin. Humectants are hygroscopic substances that help trap and hold water. The lower levels of your skin are constantly moisturized by blood vessels, but this doesn’t easily reach into the upper layers. Humectants help grab that moisture and hold it in the upper layers of your skin, keeping it soft, moisturized, and smooth.
- Keratolytic Effect: Allantoin is a keratolytic ingredient, meaning it interacts with the skin to enhance desquamation. Desquamation is the skin’s natural exfoliation process – when the outer layers of dead skin shed off naturally. This reveals softer smooth skin and helps it to develop in an even and healthy manner.
- Anti-irritant and Soothing: It forms bonds with irritants and sensitizing agents to help protect and soothe skin. *Be careful with this claim, as it comes awfully close to being a drug claim!
- Healing and Protecting: Allantoin is said to help with skin-cell proliferation and healing. It is FDA approved as an OTC drug ingredient to protect minor cuts, scrapes, and burns, as well as protecting and relieving chapped skin and lips. *These are definitely drug claims! If you are selling your product as a cosmetic you absolutely can not declare these as effects!
Neat, huh? Overall allantoin is a great ingredient to use in pretty much anything! It helps promote smooth and healthy skin, and most reports and reviews say that it is incredibly effective!
So how do you use it?
Allantoin can be used in most products that have an aqueous phase (so no anhydrous products!). Usually, it is added to the liquid at (relatively – like room temperature!) low temperatures, then heated with the solution, staying under 60-90 degrees Celsius. Some sources say to add the allantoin in the cool down phase of a product, but most say that heating helps to dissolve it. Be careful though! Adding allantoin to the solution at high temperatures and cooling it quickly can cause it to crystallize and create a gritty and irritating final product.
The usage rate for allantoin is 0.2%-2% of the aqueous phase. Frequently it is suggested to keep the usage under 0.5%, because anything greater can be hard to dissolve fully, leading to a gritty product. This is okay though, as allantoin is effective even at low usage rates like 0.2%, so don’t feel like you need to use a ton!
It really is that simple – just combine, heat, and dissolve! Then complete whatever other steps are necessary for you formula.
- Purpose: Humectant, Natural Exfoliation, Soothing
- Appearance: White crystalline powder
- Phase: Water/Aqueous stage, usually heated
- Usage Rate: 0.2%-2% of aqueous phase
- pH: 4.0-6.0 in a 0.5% solution in water
- Flash Point: >100 degrees Celsius
- Incompatible Ingredients: Strong oxidizers
Here’s a collection of some recipes that use allantoin:
- Humblebee & Me Hydrating Summer Facial and Body Mist
- Humblebee & Me Lemon Chiffon Body and Hand Lotion
- Soap Queen Lavender & Honeyquat Lotion
- Lotion Crafter (Supplier and Suggested Recipes)
So that’s allantoin or you! I’m excited to start using it in my products! (I’m not currently selling any aqueous products – I feel I need to learn more about them before I can sell them safely – but I’ll definitely be using it in my personal experiments!)
Are you planning on using allantoin any time soon? What do you think of it? Do you have any great recipes with it! Share your thoughts in the comments!