Allantoin is an active ingredient with countless properties, allowing it to be incorporated into skincare to provide a multitude of benefits. But could it be a suitable solution for eliminating acne?
Acne, in a nutshell.
Primarily located on the face and back, acne is a non-contagious skin condition characterised by the appearance of spots and blackheads at the level of the pilosebaceous follicles. Three factors are involved in a person developing acne: excessive sebum production (hyperseborrhoea) or overly thick sebum (dysseborrhoea), the obstruction of pores by the accumulation of dead cells (hyperkeratosis) and the proliferation of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes within the follicle.
Indeed, an excess of sebum creates an oxygen-deprived environment conducive to the proliferation of this bacterium, which will be present in large quantities. It secretes enzymes into the pilosebaceous follicle that hydrolyse the sebum's triglycerides into irritating and pro-inflammatory free fatty acids, triggering an inflammatory response. Hormones, particularly androgens, are the primary cause of this overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands.
In the battle against acne, more and more people are seeking "so-called natural treatments", composed of plant-based active ingredients that are gentler on the epidermis. Theallantoin has often been mentioned as a potentially beneficial active ingredient for combating acne, but its effects on acne-prone skin are not entirely clear.
What are the benefits of allantoin on acne?
Theallantoin is a highly favoured ingredient in skincare for its numerous benefits. It can also be used as a preferred active ingredient in treatments against blemishes.
Allantoin promotes cellular regeneration.
Allantoin is often cited for promoting cellular regeneration due to its keratolytic action. It helps to soften the stratum corneum by facilitating the removal of dead cells. It eliminates corneocytes by loosening the intercellular cement or desmosomes (protein bridges) that maintain the adhesion of corneocytes to each other. By removing dead cells on the surface of the epidermis, allantoin helps to contribute to reducing pore obstruction.
Allantoin and its anti-inflammatory activity.
Allantoin has the ability to inhibit COX-2, a cyclooxygenase that contributes to the production of prostaglandins, which in turn are responsible for some of the symptoms of inflammation. It also interferes with the activation of NF-κB, a protein involved in the immune response at the level of p65 transactivation. This property would be beneficial in reducing inflammation caused by acne.
The hydrating power of allantoin.
Dry skin can also exhibit acne. Indeed, skin dryness can cause a disruption in the barrier of the stratum corneum, leading to an increase in water evaporation and the onset of an inflammatory response. Therefore, some doctors recommend the use of moisturising treatments as an adjunct therapy for acne to prevent the occurrence of additional inflammation. It has been mentioned in several studies that allantoin possesses moisturising properties, although its mode of action is not detailed.
Its moisturising potential could be explained as it is a water-soluble humectant ingredient that helps to increase the water content of cells and create a protective film to combat water loss. This property is interesting because it complements the anti-inflammatory activity, it helps to soothe the skin and prevent potential irritations. However, it does not prevent the appearance of spots and blackheads on the skin.
Allantoin is often used in anti-blemish treatments and appears to have promising properties for acne. However, this is not sufficient, and the lack of clinical studies on acne-prone skin also prevents us from asserting that it can help reduce this skin condition. On the other hand, allantoin-based treatments could potentially serve as supplementary care to acne treatments.
Note : Studies suggest that allantoin may be capable of eliminating excess sebum, a cause of acne onset. However, this property requires further research to confirm its effectiveness and elucidate its mode of action.
SILVA-BARCELLOS N. M. & al. Profile of wound healing process induced by allantoin. Acta Cirúrgica Brasileira (2010).
SAMUELS L. A Multifaceted approach to acne. Skin Inc Magazine (2012).
DINICA R. M. & al. Allantoin from valuable romanian animal and plant sources with promising anti-inflammatory activity as a nutricosmetic ingredient. Sustainability (2021).