What is it?
Lecithin is a naturally occuring mixture of the diglycerides of stearic, palmitic and oleic acids, linked to the choline ester of phosphoric acid whose form varies from a waxy mass to a thick, pourable liquid. Hydrogenated Lecithin is the product of controlled hydrogenation (addition of hydrogen) of Lecithin. Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin are used in the formulation of a large number of cosmetics and personal care products.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Lecithin on its list of substances affirmed as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS
) for direct addition to food.
The safety of Lecithin, and Hydrogenated Lecithin, has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review
(CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin are safe as used in rinse-off products. The CIR Expert Panel limited the use of Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin in in leave-on products to concentrations equal to or less than 15%.
Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?
Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness. These ingredients also help to form emulsions
by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified.
Lecithin can be found in all living organisms and is a predominant component of nervous tissue. It can be obtained from soybean, corn, and egg yolks. Although Lecithin includes diglycerides of stearic, palmitic and oleic acids, the exact fatty acid composition of Lecithin varies depending on the source from which it was obtained.