Ectoin Is the Little-Known Skincare Ingredient That's About to Be Everywhere


(Image credit: @jacquefalc)

As beauty editors, we remember every time we've ever introduced a new hero ingredient into our skincare routines. (It's not crazy if it's part of our job, right?) For example, we remember the first time we discovered the hydrating and plumping powers of hyaluronic acid. We also remember discovering the smoothing effects of retinol and the pore-minimizing powers of niacinamide. The list goes on. The point is that all of these hero ingredients played a role in changing our skin for the better, and now, there's another one to incorporate. 

We're talking about ectoin. If you've never heard of it, you're not alone. While it's lesser known than other skincare ingredients, it's basically a multitasking miracle, tackling a number of skin concerns all at once. Keep scrolling to learn everything there is to know about ectoin, according to expert dermatologists. Plus, see a selection of the best ectoin skincare products to shop. 


(Image credit: @nitsanraiter)

What Is Ectoin, and How Does It Benefit the Skin?

According to double-board-certified dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD, "Ectoin is an organic compound found within bacteria that acts as an osmolyte, meaning that it helps cells maintain an appropriate fluid balance." Translation? It acts as a moisturizer and emollient, hydrating and softening the skin. 

Don't be fooled, though. Ectoin offers many more benefits than just smoother, more moisturized skin. Take it from board-certified dermatologist Geeta Yadav MD. "Emollients work by helping skin retain moisture, but ectoin also offers protective and anti-inflammatory properties as well as skin-brightening benefits," she says. "A recent study of the ingredient in children and adults with inflammatory skin conditions showed that ectoin positively influences change in skin dryness, is safe and well tolerated, and can support the health and repair of the skin barrier. Another study shows that it activates antioxidant pathways while inhibiting tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for skin cell pigmentation." 


(Image credit: @claire_most)

So yeah, ectoin targets everything from dryness to inflammation, dullness, and pigmentation. Talk about a multitasking ingredient. That explains why some people have deemed it the "new" niacinamide. "I think that's just a way of saying that it's an ingredient people should know about or it's about to become very trendy. Though, it is an interesting comparison," Yadav says. "Not everyone can tolerate niacinamide well, especially in high concentrations, and ectoin can be comfortably used by those with impaired skin barriers."

Camp agrees. "Niacinamide is a different derivative of vitamin B, so it has a different molecular structure than ectoin. Niacinamide and ectoin work differently but are often compared because they are buzzy skincare ingredients that help protect and maintain skin health," he says. 

What Skin Type Is Ectoin Best Suited For? 


(Image credit: @cassdimicco)

Because ectoin offers multiple benefits, it's well-suited for multiple skin types. "Ectoin can be used on most skin types, though it may be most beneficial on dry, rough skin because it is an effective emollient, which means it helps skin feel soft and smooth," Camp says. 

Yadav seconds that, saying it can benefit multiple skin types, but it may be best for those who need moisture and anti-inflammatory effects. "It's best suited for skin that needs help retaining moisture, but it's well documented as being a safe ingredient, so a variety of skin types could use it," she says. "Because of the clinical study I mentioned earlier, this is a great ingredient for those with inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema, to rely on as well as those who have overexfoliated with retinoids. It'd also be a good pick for use in the wintertime when the skin barrier may be imbalanced due to harsh weather conditions." 


(Image credit: @cassandra.cadwell)

Shop the 10 Best Skincare Products With Ectoin

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Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.